Hilton President and CEO Chris Nassetta took some flak for saying he doesn’t tip housekeepers, but I’m guessing a lot of us don’t do it as often as we’d like to think we do.
I’m the type of person who prides himself on tipping well.
I understand that there are a lot of really smart macro-arguments against the practice of tipping versus better base pay, but I still get joy out of expressing that I appreciate other people’s work and effort.
So I think of myself who tips often and generously for housekeepers while I’m on the road, or at least I want to be. But the reality is I probably don’t tip more often than I do anymore for practical reasons.
To just back up for a second, I’m writing about tipping housekeepers right now specifically because it became the topic du jour earlier this week at the NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference when Hilton President and CEO Chris Nassetta admitted he doesn’t typically leave tips for housekeepers. A quick, informal poll of the audience during that general session talk also revealed—from what I could see—that a little less than half of the people in the room claimed to be regular tippers.
The problem from my perspective, though, is not a lack of desire to tip but a logistical one. I frankly just don’t carry cash on me all that often any more, which is the only way you can tip a housekeeper.
Other industries where tipping is welcome or even expected have adapted to this by allowing people to leave tips on credit and debit cards.
It would be great to see the hotel industry follow suit here. If I can charge a meal—with a gratuity built in there—on my room, why can’t I opt to tack some nominal amount to my room rate each night as a tip for whomever cleans my room?
This also solves a problem that probably isn’t all that common but hits a little close to heart for me. When I was a college student working in the laundry room of a particularly terrible (since demolished) hotel in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, the owner/manager of the property would go through the vacant rooms and lift the tips before the housekeepers could get to them.
That guy was the worst. Anything that can avoid enabling people like him is a positive in my book.
Ultimately, making tipping easier could be a boon for the hotel industry in desperate need of luring more employees for those jobs. Unlike wait staff, housekeeper compensation isn’t formulated with tipping in mind, so if it becomes easier and more of a norm, then that equates to more money in the pockets of your housekeeper, and a bigger reason for more people to work in the hotel business.
That’s something we can all get behind, right?
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