With Hotel Housekeepers Moving To $73,000 Pay, It’s Time To Stop Tipping

Hotels have been on a mission to cut back on housekeeping costs. They don’t want to do full cleans of every room every day. They’ll make you request it (and sometimes fill out paperwork) so that there are fewer rooms to clean, and they can hire fewer housekeepers who don’t work as many hours.

And hotel owners are pushing tips for housekeepers so they don’t have to pay the housekeeper as much. If it takes $15 per hour to attract someone to the job, it doesn’t really matter if it comes all from the hotel or $10 from the hotel and $5 from guests.

  • The usual argument for tipping housekeepers is that it’s a tough job, and housekeepers are poorly paid.

  • In Southern California, though, hotel housekeepers are getting big raises and limits on their workload. A new union contract at 34 hotels (and, potentially at 25-30 more soon) provides up to 50% raises and very low cost health care.

These Southern California hotels included properties such as the Anaheim Hilton, Le Merigot Santa Monica, Fairmont Miramar, Courtyard Los Angeles L.A. Live, Sheraton Gateway LAX, Westin Bonaventure and Marriott Irvine. Many of the remaining 25 to 30 contracts in negotiations with the union are “very close” according to a co-President of UNITE Here Local 11.

Housekeepers will receive 40% – 50% wage increases over four years, with half of the increase coming this year. Under the deal, “workers pay no more than $20 monthly for full family coverage.”

Additionally, hotels will have to keep pre-pandemic staffing levels and the “contract also includes provisions for fair workloads.”

According to a statement provided by the union representing workers, room Attendants at most hotels will earn $35.00 per hour, or $73,000 per year, by July 1, 2027. Top cooks will earn $41 per hour, or $85,000 per year. With benefits, a hotel will pay $100,000 per year to employ a Room Attendant.

The union calls out Aimbridge Hospitality for not having come to an agreement. I’ve written in the past that I’ve found Aimbridge-managed properties to seemingly skip on maintenance as well.

Before the pandemic, Hilton’s CEO Christopher Nassetta admitted that he typically doesn’t tip housekeeping. He quickly backtracked once coming under criticism. But at least now, and in Southern California, doesn’t it seem like he’s right?

Once a job hits $35 per hour with $20 per month full family health insurance coverage, should we take it out of the category where tips are expected? Tipping used to be a way of hotel guests subsidizing the wages of housekeepers, but now their employers are paying their full wages which is as it should be.

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. The majority of housekeepers will not make anywhere near this much money. If you are not going to tip them, why do you tip a waitress? A housekeeper works much harder that a waitress.

  2. Agreed. It would be nice to know what other hotels are paying how much. It’s a real mish-mash if hotels pay wildly different rates. If a chain simply paid this range, it would be simple to know there is no need to tip at their hotels. Wildly different rates at different hotels complicate things. Is the message “No need to tip in L.A.”?

  3. In LA/Long Beach/SF/soon to be San Diego room attendants are making this level of income, perhaps more with OT and other credits, and part of the UNITE Here union agreements has them working less in a typical 8-hour shift than ever before. The article is spot on for certain locations, and even non-union properties are forced to keep pace since they are all recruiting the same labor pool.

    Culinary staff, at least hourly, are making less than room attendants now, so maybe you should tip them instead,

    And who uses the term “waitress” anymore? What is this 1965? Maybe you should have a meeting with “personnel”.

  4. @Ron – you don’t “find” $20 a month healthcare. The contract states that is the worker’s co payment for the coverage. The employer pays the balance

    BTW if you thought hotel rates were high now just wait

  5. Exactly. My rough general rule of thumb for whether I support an employee group’s strike has been: If they’ make more than me, I’m skeptical; if they make less than me, yes. That sort of fits for tipping too, though traditionally the people that got tipped were needing that wage supplement just to have a minimally decent income. Now that tipping is running amok and localities impose minimum wages higher than the national median wage, it’s definitely time to push back.

  6. If the manager breaks into your room in the middle of the night to suck your toes, is a tip required?

  7. Here we go. Unions ruin EVERYTHING. Fast forward one year in California. You will be paying $500 a night for a crappy Hilton Garden Inn overlooking the freeway. Vote Blue, Get Screwed.

  8. With annual earning far above $73k (many times more), it’s time that Gary Leiff stop getting big commissions for credit card referrals. (or maybe he’s saying we should only limit pay for people who do sweat work as opposed to easier work and even passive income. The hypocrisy is stunning)

  9. @Jeff: Did you ever consider people who get passive income do so because they worked their asses off for many years?

    The only hypocrisy is yours. Go build a travel blog and operate it yourself with no help at all. Gary
    runs the leanest operation and manages to respond to almost everyone who makes some degree of sense when emailing him, all while fulfilling his real full-time job as CFO of a think tank.

  10. I rarely tip hotel housekeepers, and I am not going to change on that anytime soon.

    I do tip hired full-time household help at family and friends’ homes if I’m staying for multiple nights, but I don’t do so when staying at hotels.

  11. Jeff,

    I think some of us just want to see an end to tipping culture and are welcoming increased minimum wages that actually work for jobs such as this.

  12. I don’t tip the car wash guys for hitting buttons for me when I drive into the car wash, I don’t tip anyone who’s a cashier at a counter, who rings up and order and hands me a bag or a coffee, I don’t tip delivery people, and I certainly don’t tip housekeeping at a hotel for doing their freaking job. On a rare occasion if the service is outstanding, and I mean freaking outstanding, I’ll tip the wait staff up to 50% of the tab.

    If people are doing those jobs and don’t feel like they aren’t making enough? Find another line of work. If they all leave, the business will either increase the wages or they will close the doors. So tired of all this BS.

  13. @Kevin – agree on counter service but PLEASE rethink your position on not tipping delivery people. If you mean Amazon or UPS I agree but Instacart, Door Dash, Uber Eats, local pizza delivery, etc all pay little and they mainly live on tips. To not tip someone that brings you something that you otherwise could have gotten off your a$$, driven there, waited and picked up is just selfish.

  14. doesn’t it seem like he’s right?

    Not really, at least not yet and only in a very few places. By your numbers the union housekeepers are making about $50k a year. Sounds great, right? Except that’s working every week for the entire year without any days off for vacation, illness, etc. which seems both awful and unrealistic. Then there’s the highly elevated cost of living in Los Angeles. Try finding a house that’s not falling apart or in a war zone for under half a million dollars. And then there’s state income tax on top of federal. Put it all together and $50k or even $73k years down the road is agreeable but hardly big bucks in L.A..

    What would be nice is if this contract would apply to all of Los Angeles or even all of California. Then not tipping wouldn’t require figuring out what the prevailing wage is at your hotel or risking stiffing the housekeeper making really bad money.

  15. If pilots making $400k/year still expect tips, why shouldn’t a $73k/year housekeeper?

    Besides, is it even possible to survive on $73k/year anymore in cities?

  16. @loungeabuser well said. Gary has taken years to transform his immense knowledge of travel and points, and channeled it into a very well known anti-union, anti-government right wing rant blog that caters to a very specific and vocal market segment. I’m sure the very targeted demoographic gets him a lot of clicks and ads trailored for his followers.

  17. All of this is coming back to the consumer. I conduct large events, many in Southern California over the years, and the cost now of hotel banquet functions there has become truly difficult to swallow. I don’t argue the need for living wages for these workers, but I am pretty sure that $73K and (basically) fully paid family health benefits (I pay for my employees individual but it averages around $600 a month for a family plan or $300 for individual) is more than generous for a job that primarily employs new immigrants. It’s beyond reasonable and no way can be sustainable, even in California.

    We have actually moved a lot of our events to Phoenix/Scottsdale as the Hotel contracts are better and more fair as to the product.

    The long term consequences for this are fairly grave, hotels are being put into an untenable situation in these markets. They have no choice but to raise prices across the board with the next effect being, like me, moving many events to other locations. Everyone loses in the end.

    I’m all for immigrants coming and recognize the need for them to fill these positions. But we need to find a better balance.

    With that said, no one really knows (as I can see) just how profitable these hotels are. Restaurants I get…the margins are slim outside of liquor. But hotels are a grey area. If they are making massive profits that are padding the pockets of just a few investors than, yes, a bit more equity to employees AND consumers is the right move.

  18. This is the problem when GOVERMENT tries to fix business. $500 a night to say at a Ramada inn oh my

    Next up Hotels change to a “club ” for members only and thus are exempt from the rule.

  19. @GUWonder. You really have family AND multiple friends who have full-time help (I’m guessing cooks, butlers, waiters, housekeepers and such?). Holy crap, that’s some serious 1% of the 1% living…

  20. @ Lance — Best alternative is just don’t tip! I tip the same way I did 30 years ago — 15-20% for table dining service or a haircut. With rare exception, zero for everything else.

  21. I am liking this trend, of no college required jobs paying decent wages. College was overrated, lengthy, and expensive for no good reason, maybe we’ll be seeing a revival of the olden days when most folks went straight to work out of high school and were able to live a decent life.

  22. Why did I waste 6 years on college degrees, netting me $40k-60k salary, when I could’ve just been a housekeeper at a hotel for $73k ? I guarantee I can be the most-clean, best housekeeper you’ve ever had for $73,000 annually. Cleanliness/sanitization is my niche.

  23. I tip housekeeping on the level of mess I’ve left. I don’t really like other people in my space so my default is declining house keeping and I feel a tip is appropriate for dealing with the garbage that accumulates over a week. (note: NOT food waste, that gets tossed in the lobby trash cans where it’s emptied at least daily.)

  24. Add this to your commentary Gary:

    https://www.minimum-wage.org/tipped

    Tipped Workers:
    Minimum cash wage in Georgia is less than $2.50

    Minimum cash wage in California $11.25

    If you don’t tip in Georgia, you’re basically stealing from the server.

    If you don’t tip in California, you maybe should only be tipping 10%. Especially if you’re a low income person yourself.

    Tipping used to be described as for “waitresses” which of course is sexist.

    I don’t want to wade too far into the discussion but back in my teens I made $2.13 an hour plus tips. Now servers in some states get $10-$20/hr plus tips and they make more than the local school teachers.

    20% in Georgia should be ok, but 20% in California?

  25. I never tip at hotels. It never brings better service.

    Since the new CA minimum wage is $20/hr plus full benefits I may stop tipping in restaurants as well.

    It is not my job to ensure employees are properly compensated. If they are not they can always take another job. Maybe we have too many crappy restaurants and could use a shakeout.

  26. Kluge,

    A bunch of my family and friends have daily home help for cooking, groceries and other household chores such as helping with children. While it is much cheaper to have such arrangements in countries with lower GDP per capita than have such arrangements in high-income/high-cost countries, this hired household help staffing whom I sometimes tip cover living arrangements from there being one person staffed at home of some family and friends to others having a separate cook or two, cleaners, gardeners and a driver or two. In this crowd of family and friends there are a bunch of people whom are on the relatively wealthy side or even absolutely extremely wealthy side. Most of them probably don’t have a net worth above a few million in USD terms while others of them have estimated net worths in the $100 million+ range. Of the few billionaires whom I hung out with most often last year, a couple of them had no daily household help while others of them had one person for daily household help most days of the week. Meanwhile, a military attaché to a US embassy in a low-income country had a full-time maid and a driver for their family while they could never reasonably afford such arrangements at home in the US or in other high-income countries. When I stay for multiple days at the homes of people whose household help I utilize, I do sometimes tip the helpers. I do so because I probably created some extra work for them above their usual work volume and it’s typically much cheaper to tip the helpers than for me to pay for a hotel of my preference. And connections tend to get deeper or be deep when people welcome you into their homes. And that is where the real wealth accrues in life beyond the privileges which are an accident of birth. 😉

  27. @Ryan del mundo – generally employers have to make up the difference between tipped minimum wage and regular minimum wage if employees fall short due to insufficient tipping

  28. Employers in the most tip-dependent segment often don’t “make up the difference” as they may just average out things over a longer period of time and find non-unionized low-paid workers unlikely to be able to make an effective stink about being poorly paid.

  29. Ryan del Mundo,

    Teachers for the public school systems get a lot of benefits — including especially for retirement — as government employees in California; and they have better working conditions and workplace protections than the average waiter or waitress serving them at a restaurant or bar. Much the same goes for police in the state and other government employees in the state. Retirement benefits are rather rich, which is in large part why they attract workers like they do. Sort of the same dynamic in many states in the country: government employment seen as providing good employment conditions for the period of employment and retirement too.

    Even people in the private sector often seek government employment to accrue government retirement benefits. For example, a bunch of rather well-off doctors in private practice in various states end up doing some work in government medical care facilities in order to be better off when they retire from all work in the field.

  30. Personnally …. I am still wondering about the tips culture.
    Would be much easier to pay correct price on the bill, and only be considering complementary tips as in the rest of the world.

  31. @Lindy: Because you chose to seek a degree that led to a $40k-$60k/year job. While cleanliness/sanitization may be your niche, you don’t need a college degree to apply it.

    Real money goes to people whose niche is math.

    (Although while housekeepers at a small set of hotels in one of the highest cost of living areas in the country may be making $73k, you’re probably still ahead on your job if you factor in cost of living and benefits.)

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