Melanie Lieberman writes that Hilton Hotels CEO Christopher Nassetta told Andrew Ross Sorkin during a panel for the NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference that he does not tip hotel housekeepers. He said “I typically do not leave a tip.”
The truth is that tipping is a terrible way to pay housekeepers.
- When you leave a tip it gets picked up by someone that may not have been the one cleaning your room during most of your stay.
- Some guests tip, others don’t, pay for work becomes more dependent on luck than anything else.
- And housekeepers doing the most work, or the most disgusting work, aren’t necessarily the ones receiving the greatest compensation.
More importantly tipping does not ultimately increase hotel housekeeper pay overall. Housekeepers are willing to work for a certain wage. Hotels need to pay the minimum necessary to attract the workers they need to run the property. When some of the money is paid directly by the guest, hotels are able to pay their housekeepers less. When housekeepers expect a certain amount on average in tips that’s factored into their willingness to work.
Marriott, for instance, doesn’t pay their housekeeping staff enough, so they want you to top off their wages with tips.
The more guests tip, the less hotels have to pay in wages to secure the housekeepers necessary to clean their rooms.
Just as with mandatory resort fees, the cost of cleaning a room should be included in the room rate. Now, to the extend that it isn’t I grudgingly pay the resort fee. And the last person I want to ‘stiff’ is the employee that cleans up after me in my room.
So I’m not suggesting any individual guest protest tipping by not tipping — the way that Hilton’s CEO says he does — but I am saying that we’re faced with a collective action problem. If nobody tipped hotels would have to pay higher wages. But as long as those wages aren’t yet being paid, it’s hard not to tip housekeepers, even if a bit grudgingly over the practice.