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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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Comments

  1. Cant blame them for trying.
    How many OPM work travellers review/care about their final bill?

  2. Man, oh man…traveling in the *almost* post-pandemic world just keeps getting worse and worse. Between no cars available or super expensive rentals when they are to getting jacked at the hotel where you are staying I’m not so sure I want to travel – even when it’s safer to do so. Don’t even get me started on the stellar airport/airline experience! Sad.

  3. I guess it’s a good way to get a company to pay a housekeeping tip instead of an employee.

    But I agree with Gary’s reasonings on why this stinks.

  4. Hilton/Marriott/Hyatt should give you an option to tip in the app and have it included on your bill. Something similar to Uber/Lyft. I want to tip but usually don’t have cash or the right denomination.

  5. Not to mention- does this property even have daily housekeeping right now? Most Hilton properties are not currently doing that. I’m curious if they are adding $5 per night even though on a multinight stay, you’d only have the room turned before you arrive and then after you leave

  6. @ Gary — This is why I check every bill at checkout to make sure it matches my expectations to the penny. Of course, that doesn’t stop hotels form tacking on additional charges post-checkout, but at least I know when such charges appear that they are not owed and need to be reversed. This is why class action lawsuits are a good thing.

  7. I did work somewhere once that said tips were not reimbursable. So, adding it to the total bill would enable me to not have to go out of pocket, as I always did.
    But in any other case, it should be up to me whether to tip and for how much. And as another reader noted, housekeeping isn’t coming in on a multi-night stay at most Hilton properties unless you ask. So, five bucks a night (plus tax!) is steep. And I question whether the housekeeper is getting all of that fiver.

  8. This should be illegal. Like “resort fees” it is one more attempt to avoid pricing transparency with customers. It doesn’t show up in comparative pricing. Just pay workers more and if you need to – raise your hotel rates. These end around attempts are bad for workers, bad for hotels, bad for customers. It is lose/lose not win/win.

  9. From what I encounter many are trying to make up for lost rev as fast as they can. Ugly inflation up ahead.

  10. I would want the hotel to prove that this “tip” money makes it to the housekeeping employees. In many instances I have found that the money a business adding “tips” and “service charges” to my bill never make it to the employees. Unless the hotel can prove that the money gets divided among the housekeeping employees, I would call this excess profit and fraud.

  11. FYI, I was looking to stay in Commerce, GA and found a Holiday Inn Express that charges a $5 amenities fee for each night. Really, what amenities are they providing that are so special to that HI Express? Out of principle alone (not cost), I opted to book in Athens at a Springhill Suites that was cheaper and still along the route I had planned.

  12. I think Hilton has a policy against direct solicitation of tips. I pointed a tip jar out to the Twitter team once that was positioned at a Hampton breakfast area that hadn’t been replenished in quite a while, and Hilton seemed pretty concerned about it. Flyertalk seemed to agree that it shouldn’t have been there (and ultimately that I was an evil person because I didn’t tip $1,000 or whatever… internet).

    I think asking for a tip at check-in could certainly be considered solicitation.

  13. I’m sorry but I still do t get this horrible habit of tipping in the US. Why should the consumer pay or tip the housekeeper for a job they were hired to do. Same goes for waiters and waitresses, their job is to take your food order and deliver it when it’s ready. Why aren’t we tipping the bank teller when we go to the bank and deposit or withdraw money? The cashier at the supermarket who rings up our purchases? The retail assistant, etc… It is the employers responsibility to pay their staff appropriately not the consumers.

  14. I always tip about 1-2 % of room rate to the housekeeping. If this is the future, I’ve no problem with it. My issues are will the actual housekeeping staff get all of the funding. I’d hate the management and property owner also get a cut. Then we have to get a housekeeping charge and still tipping. I just hope this won’t end up like the old Starbucks situation, the housekeeping charge gets unfairly split. I pay cash to housekeeping because they clean my crap literally. No one else should have their hand in it.

  15. I always tip $5 (or more for large rooms/luxury properties where they do more), and I travel a lot so it adds up. I would love for that spend to count as qualifying spend and earn points on it! (Though I would certainly be concerned about whether the funds actually go to the housekeeper.)

  16. One should get paid what their job deserves from their employer directly and definitely not expect customers to tip them to make it a living wage. Tipping is literally like treating a worker inferior which is why Japan does not do it. The assumption that only a rich gets to stay in the hotel and can dish out whatever, whoever and whenever requested is 19th century thinking.

  17. Companies scream and cry foul when more regulations are placed upon their businesses. But this is case in point (along with resort fees, or any other junk fees) of why regulation is necessary in many industries. Tipping is not the issue here, its the method and implementation, to be clear. I guess they are testing the waters to see what they can get away with?

    At this point the hotel industry is practically on its knees crying and begging for more regulations. It boggles my mind how stupid with greed they’ve become.

  18. Just when you thought USA tipping culture couldn’t get worse . . . . .
    Oh, how I wish we just lived like the rest of the world and simply paid our service employees for their work.

  19. Everyone just please stop tipping for People literally doing their job. It is a stupid thing us Americans do. If someone is not getting paid or does something beyond their job description, then by all means go for it, but otherwise STOP TIPPING.

  20. The fact that there is a tax on the tip amount tells me it is going to the hotel and not the employee.

  21. This practice of “tip creep” is showing up everywhere. No, I don’t want to tip 15% on a coffee that I’m having poured at a counter and taking out. But I have to change the default to “no tip” and be made to feel like a jerk.

    I call this sort of thing “hate selling” and what it ultimately does is just make me go somewhere that doesn’t do this. I literally changed coffee shops over their POS system that defaults to tips. The workers don’t even get the money; it goes to the owner.

    Everything in the American economy is a scam and a fraud. It’s exhausting.

  22. I’m assuming a worker doesn’t declare any tips they receive as income ? ( or if they do , then it’s not the full amount). so tax revenue suffers as a result ! If so far better then for an employer to pay them a proper wage; taxes paid, dignity restored , How would you feel if your office job wage was insufficient that you had to suck up to your boss each day in order to receive additional but varying amounts of income ?

  23. Two comments. I thought tipping was a private matter for extraordinary service. Mgmt should not even know who gets tipped and how much.
    Two can play this game.
    When mgmt or reception brings up tipping say “If you match my tip, I will tip according to your response.” Then we will really see if the employer cares about their employees.

  24. The last 3 hotels i stayed in this year HAD NO housekeeping….SO glad I did not see a tip on my bills yet!!

  25. Oh HECK NO! My last stay at a Hilton Property I left a tip out for housekeeping the first morning only to come back to my room just as I left it, apparently thanks to Covid. There’s no way I’m prepaying a tip for a service this chain no longer seems to offer during the stay. My Hilton stays may have come to an end.

  26. Post pandemic I have realized that hotel staff deal with me for longer time and provide more service and safety than the restaurant and barber but I didn’t care to tip Housekeer. Now I have started leaving tip in the room at check out.

  27. @Mikey: “My last stay at a Hilton Property I left a tip out for housekeeping the first morning only to come back to my room just as I left it, apparently thanks to Covid.”

    When you return to your room just as you left it, your tip should still be there because housekeeping never entered your room to pick up their tip for NOT cleaning your Hilton room. Thank you for an example of the service level guests will receive from Hilton hospitality.

  28. Almost all of the ones complaining don’t have a problem dropping more than 5 bucks to get an overpriced drink but have a problem with tipping someone cleaning up after their animal behinds. If hotels charge more, people complain. If they cut services, people complain. Guaranteed that if you don’t tip the bartender, you will get a lousy drink the next time (and they do remember you)…but somehow, shirking the tip for the housekeeper is quite okay in a lot of complainers’ books. Why?….Because you don’t actually have to see the person you are not tipping and they have to do their job just the same. So yeah, I would like to see the hotels charge for tipping…because there are enough cheapskates out there who don’t tip and think it’s someone else’s privilege to clean up after their short sticked missed aim.

  29. @RoomerI’m assuming a worker doesn’t declare any tips they receive as income ? ( or if they do , then it’s not the full amount). so tax revenue suffers as a result ! If so far better then for an employer to pay them a proper wage; taxes paid, dignity restored , How would you feel if your office job wage was insufficient that you had to suck up to your boss each day in order to receive additional but varying amounts of income ?

    Do you realize that the server at your favorite local restaurant doesn’t get minimum wage like the rest of working society? Why do restaurants get to pay their servers less money and rely on the patrons to tip more but somehow tipping someone who is cleaning up after your night of drunken debauchery is so egregious that is worthy of scorn and lack of dignity. Would you advocate for all restaurant workers get a proper wage independent of tips? Maybe next time when you are picking out that favorite glass of overpriced old grape juice, maybe send some in the direction of the lady who cleaned up after you at the hotel..not just tipping the person who poured you a glass so you can continue your buzz.

  30. I would be willing to guess the Nevada Attorney General would be interested in, those “tips” are tracked and paid directly to the housekeeping staff.

    The fact there is tax atop the tip leads me to think no.

  31. @Mike I always tip about 1-2 % of room rate to the housekeeping. If this is the future, I’ve no problem with it. My issues are will the actual housekeeping staff get all of the funding. I’d hate the management and property owner also get a cut. Then we have to get a housekeeping charge and still tipping. I just hope this won’t end up like the old Starbucks situation, the housekeeping charge gets unfairly split. I pay cash to housekeeping because they clean my crap literally. No one else should have their hand in it.

    1-2% is like $1.50 to $3.00 at most hotels…how generous of you…you pay more in tip for someone to pour you a glass of the “good stuff” than someone who cleans up after your sloshed night of a lot of the “good stuff.” Great that you leave cash for the housekeepers…glad at least someone puts some thought into it. Leave a 1-2% tip the next time you go to a restaurant and stick around and see what happens. Don’t just run for the door like people do when staying at hotels hoping to avoid the embarassment.

  32. There are 2 separate issues in this debate.

    1) Is the tipping business to housekeepers in this country right or not?
    I am not going to enter this debate, it is very personal, moral, and based on your cultural background to do it or not.

    2) Is it proper or even legal for a hotel to add undisclosed charges/fees on your bill at checkout?
    There are strict laws for hotels/restaurants/airlines/… to disclose all the fees/charges they will add to your bill. They are trying to squeeze by the law by calling it a tip instead of a fee but I think they are just one starving lawyer away from a lawsuit on that.

    That said, it is better for business travelers to have all the tips added to the bill for expense reporting but it should be only when customer requests it.

  33. This is who I tip although I hate having to do it. I hate tipping period. I don’t care what their wage is or is not. they chose to do this work or this is the only marketable skill that they have which means that they are being paid adequate for the services delivered.

    I generally tip 15%:
    waiter/waitress at sit down restaurants where I’m served including a bar
    bartender
    hair stylist
    valet or any attendant who touches my car
    my housekeeper
    delivery services that are not Amazon/Fed Ex etc [that type]
    taxi
    shuttle driver “IF” he actually helps me with a bag or two [$1 per bag]
    dog groomer
    dog walker
    I’m sure I”m forgetting something.

    On that note, I gave the kid at home depot who brought my new lawnmower out and put it in my SUV $10 the other day; he was just a nice kid and could see my hands were full with my dog.

    I don’t tip housekeeping – they are paid for what they do

  34. Liz, aren’t waiter/servers, bartenders and hair stylists being paid for what they do? Why are you tipping them? Interesting how you carved out hotel housekeepers who really are cleaning up your mess…is it because you don’t see their face so you justify it in your mind that they aren’t worthy? Are you just saving yourself the embarrassment of being dubbed a cheapskate?

  35. To CH. how often do you stay at hotel? When we arrive at the hotel room, it’s already cleaned by previous house keeper, and maybe tipped already by the previous guest. If I stay multiple days, tipping generous has the advantages of getting some extras like extra water, chocolates, extra towels. One day stay makes no difference on services. Hair stylist, bell captain, waiter/ waitress; they perform a task in front of us; and we get to evaluate their service. If we aren’t satisfied, we have the right to tip just a dollar. Tipping is a courtesy and respect. Not an absolute requirement. I often tip the hotel bell for calling cab, just couple bucks. Do you think that’s a lot in NYC? Nevertheless they always happy just for the $2. The point is not necessarily the amount of money. It’s acknowledging someone’s work.

  36. Hilton is copying a scam which the restaurant business has been sneaking in for several years now. Many restaurants (who think they are “better) apply an
    automatic 15% tip. Some only do it for parties of 6 or more. In many states, law now requires the restaurant advise customers. It’s usually buried on the back of the menu. When I find this, i tell management this is NOT acceptable and leave. I do tip. And when service is good, i have tipped 25%. But I determine that, not these greedy business people. Vote with your feet and send e-mails or letters to Hilton.

  37. Mike,do you tip restaurant servers 1 to 2%? Just curious about your answer. If you tip your server more than your hotel housekeeper, I would love to know why when the hotel housekeepers is getting paid at least minimum wage while restaurant servers are exempt from being paid minimum wage BECAUSE they are paid mostly on tips.

    Funny how you justified your not paying tip because the previous person who stayed in the room must have paid but when you wrecked the room, you still think the next guy should pay. One day stays make all the difference because checked out rooms get the total run down and take more time to clean. No housekeeper is denying giving you towels but they don’t carry around bottles of water. Do you really want them touching bottles of water after cleaning up a diarrhea tainted toilet??

    So you don’t see the work of the housekeepers who cleaned your room? Would you prefer staying and watching the housekeeper clean your room for 30 minutes to earn your tip? It certainly can be arranged.

    If you don’t want to tip, that is fine but your justification for tipping one group over another is lame….especially considering that someone is literally cleaning up your pooh and possibly other bodily fluids.

  38. Mike. To answer your question, I stay at hotels more than you can imagine and just like the rest of society, there are good housekeepers and bad ones just as there are cheapskate and greedy guests and generous ones. You justify yourself because you don’t actually see who cleans your room, either before only after…to you, they are faceless…how convenient for you. The person who prepared my room may not necessarily be the one who cleans up after me but I can only be accountable for what someone has to do because of me…I seek out my housekeeper when I can to show my appreciation and put the money in their hand…they bend over backwards to help you throughout your stay.

  39. I agree with CH. I always tip $20 minimum a night. $50 a night in luxury hotels. Those people have a very hard job and we all should help out. You can afford to stay there, $20 isn’t going to make you go broke. America has the superior culture of tipping. I wish other countries can follow. When we went to Japan, many service people refused our tips. We had to literally put the tips in their hands and force them to take them.

  40. People who don’t tip deserve to be treated like crap. Including people outside of the US

  41. In response to Holy
    Really ? I take it you’ve not travelled to countries where people are paid a wage and tips are not the norm?

  42. @Roomer Don’t assume when I have or haven’t done. I have travelled all over the world. Always insist on tipping even though some service staff refuse.

  43. @Holy says Don’t assume when I have or haven’t done. I have travelled all over the world. Always insist on tipping even though some service staff refuse.

    Why does that not surprise me? Unfortunate that there are those travellers that insist on imposing their cultural standards upon others. “Its what we do back home in the States” Yeah but you’re not in the States . I recall a very British gentlemen giving a tour of his hometown of Bath and being visibly upset by having money thrust upon him by someone proclaiming that’s what we do back home in the States.

  44. And yet nobody is addressing the elephant in the room. Americans tip as it is customary in their country. I get it…. But the world does not revolve around America and if you’re happy to let business owners get rich by not paying their staff appropriately, so be it. But don’t belittle others in other countries who actually pay and compensate their staff enough that they don’t need to live off the generosity of others.
    In your statement saying that those that don’t tip deserve crap service, does that mean that when I go to buy a car I should be tipping the salesperson otherwise I’ll get crap service? Should I be tipping the cashier at Bloomingdales or Macys in order to not get crap service? What in your humble opinion should I be tipping the car salesman? 10pct or 15 pct of the sale price or the car? I assume by your statement you always tip your when purchasing a car, clothes from Macy’s or going through the drive-thru at McDonalds? In other countries this isn’t so and by saying that those that don’t tip deserve crap service just goes to show how ignorant you are. And yes without presuming (or caring for that matter), it does sound as if you’ve never travelled outside of the United States.
    What we should be striving for are businesses who pay their staff enough to live off of without relying on the generosity of the patrons of the business. Don’t you think if tipping was such a great system the other 146 countries in the world would be doing the same thing instead of it only being an “American” thing? This doesn’t mean I don’t tip when I am in the US, it just means I think the system is extremely flawed and the only real winners are businesses that don’t pay your wage and expect other to pay it for them.

  45. @Roomer Please don’t patronize me. North Korea government sends their people to camps, so you think we should abide by their culture standards too? We are the greatest nation on earth and other countries need to adapt to our more evolved culture.

  46. @Holy
    Patronise ? No, just to point out to you that there is a different viewpoint out there in the world but given your response, I can see there’s no point.. PS don’t forget to put some sun tan on your neck

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