Hotel Starts Automatically Adding Housekeeping Tips Onto Your Bill At Checkout

A traveler reports that Hilton’s Hampton Inn & Suites Las Vegas-Henderson has a creative new way to squeeze guests. They are automatically adding tips to guest bills, and they aren’t telling anyone.

When I received the receipt this morning, it showed a $5 Housekeeping Gratuity and $0.42 in Sales Tax [on a one night stay].

I’m not particularly amused. I typically tip housekeeping, even on a one night stay… but not usually that much… and I don’t add taxes to it.

According to the hotel they add it automatically for people that use the mobile app to check in. If you check in at the desk, they’ll ask whether you agree to let them to do it. If you leave the hotel without reviewing your bill or visiting the front desk, and you used mobile check-in, you’ll be charged more than you expect. But even if you’re told about the fee in person, you’ll be made to feel a jerk for not wanting to tip generously (plus tax!) at a limited service Hampton Inn. They did take it off the bill when this guest asked.

Hampton Inn & Suites Las Vegas-Henderson, Credit: Hilton

Automatic pre-commitment to tipping seems to defeat the purpose of tipping. You aren’t supposed to be covering a portion of the wage (although in practice that’s what’s going on). You’re supposed to be ‘rewarding good service’. If the tip is set up front, it’s not a reward for service after the fact, nor is it an incentive. People who tip daily on longer stays set up that expectation for staff, even if it’s not the same person cleaning the room each day (staff talk).

And – to be clear – picking your pocket with surprise fees isn’t hospitality. Nor is adding things to your bill that a hotel doesn’t even tell you about.

I don’t like tipping, but I do it because it’s expected and how ‘the system’ works in the U.S. But rather than an opt-out or pressure sell, it seems like something that would boost tipping and increase guest convenience would be to add it as a feature of the chain’s app, so you don’t have to carry cash.

However there’s no reason to think that your tip even goes to the person who cleaned your room when it’s done that way. If you tip in cash in your room at the end of your stay it might not, either, if a different person cleans that day they get the whole amount rather than smaller tips parceled out each day.

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 CEO of a large hotel ownership group with Marriotts, Hiltons, IHG and Hyatt properties in its portfolio is working on ways to ensure customers tip more so they don’t have to pay higher wages. The truth is that tipping is a terrible way to pay housekeepers. It doesn’t actually raise their wages. Housekeepers have to be offered a certain amount of money to work. The more guests tip, the less hotels can pay to attract them. That’s what this hotel chain CEO is saying.

And Hilton’s CEO is trying to keep Covid-19 pandemic cuts in place to hold the line on cost and boost hotel margins. So expect to see more of this. Ironically of course Hilton’s CEO admitted he doesn’t actually tip housekeeping on his own stays.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. @Holy I applaud you for your patriotism . Everyone should think that their country is the greatest regardless of the homelessness, poverty, lack of a health care system to look after the vulnerable or a free higher education for all.
    Indeed it should be every countries dream to have a system in place to make the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. After all, Robin Hood was English, what would they know? Right!
    Look I get it, I’m an American too. I’ve had the great fortune to have lived in two other great countries in my life for 14 and 16 years respectively and love it when in a foreign country watch an American tourist try to converse with a local asking directions in English only and getting frustrated with the local for not understanding the language of the most important country in the world leaving frustrated calling the local an idiot for not being able to get them to their destination in American English. I get it. How dare they to call us Ugly Americans for evoking our god given rights given to us at birth by being born in the best country in the world.
    It’s hard coming from the most powerful nation on earth and nobody gets how superior we are and gives us the proper respect we deserve for holding that power.
    I think your campaign to “educate” the rest of world to the new American ideas of values on how to look after their nations by cancelling free healthcare for all, free education for all, and the numerous other social system programs to look after their population, is of great merit and you deserve a round of applause for your genuinely new and innovative ideas. This of course would include mandatory tipping for all as we cut the wages of the poor. God forbid we had a waiter in another country being paid a minimum wage of $24 an hour with increment increases twice a year. We don’t want these people to be able to pay their bills or be charged the proper tax to ensure it’s paid to support the system.
    Some of these civilisations have been around for thousands of years and it’s time for a makeover so they too can be great countries. I think with your ideologies, you’re just the one to make these changes.

  2. @ScotB

    I’m afraid to applaud your last post lest that reaction be mistaken as being less Holy than thou

  3. @ ScotB @ Roomer you both are typically sheeps and don’t deserve to be Americans. How sad that you dislike your own country which is the most superior one on earth. English is a world language, I see no problem of tourists getting upset of people in other countries who don’t speak it well.

  4. I don’t think anyone has more right than another to determine who’s more “American”. America should be land of the free? Not who’s is more American Nativism. The whole notion is moronic, unless you’re Anglo or pro Anglo. They can’t keep even keep couple little islands together, yet they want to conquer the world? The Anglos are pathetic, and my Irish Catholic friends have always reminded me Anglos stupidity.

  5. @Holy I have your number now. Don’t ever leave the best country on earth as the rest of the world doesn’t deserve you. Do all of us a favour and stay within the confines of the trailer park and don’t leave home. It’s exactly people like you that give Americans a bad name abroad.

    See you when pigs fly! ✈️

  6. @Holy, You assume too much!! You will be overjoyed to know I am not American nor do I reside in the US.( I know, how dare non-Americans access this site, right ? ) By the way to assist you in your command of the English, language, the plural of sheep is sheep not sheeps.
    Adieu, Arrivederci Adios

  7. @Roomer Really? Correcting grammar on the internet? I didn’t finish high school cuz higher education is trash. Anyway, you have no right to comment on American tipping culture if you ain’t one. Go back to where you came from.
    @Holy, you go! Indeed, how dare an educated individual from another country correct your 2nd grade education. I would have never guessed you were not educated. With your worldly views, that came as a big shock to me. Happy 4th of July, I hope the trailer park has some fireworks for the occasion. Make sure and stand back when they are lighting them.

  8. So now I know where not to stay. You pay your own employees I tip depends on how good the service is. It’s a tip not a paycheck. I am also sure the employees don’t see it anyway. So .. I will not use this chain anymore

  9. I apologize if I missed this part, but if the tips are added to your room bill that you pay by credit card and you pay taxes, do the housekeepers have to claim these funds and pay taxes on them? I usually don’t have housekeeping and I will leave a tip on my way out.

  10. Only time Housekeepers get tips, when customers leave it in the rooms. Hotels keeps all tips.

  11. Housekeepers don’t receive any tip, when customers pay online or digitally…

  12. Didn’t the acronym TIP originally mean “To Insure Promptness”? I generally will leave a tip (in cash) to housekeeping IF my room is tidied daily. Not a full “scrub down” but the bed made and bathroom wiped down. I will leave a tip to waitstaff if the service is prompt and polite. I do not pay a tip amount based on the sales/VAT or whatever tax is added to the bill. If a “service charge” is added to a food bill, I do not leave a tip. Waitstaff is “service” as far as I’m concerned. The tip is predicated on the service received from the recipient…not if the kitchen is slow, the front desk is lousy or the bar-tender is grumpy (unless the bartender is also the waitstaff).

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