Most consumers at least are aware certain services provided require a tip. Not everybody does it, of course, but the knowledge exists.
Restaurant servers, hair stylists, cab drivers and hotel bellhops not only derive a significant portion of their wages from tips, they are taxed for a percentage of their gross sales because of the expectation that tips are coming in. Some professions, particularly restaurants, are exempted from state and federal minimum wage laws because of the same expectation. Individuals who choose not to tip in the customary social situations are being more than rude, they're denying those individuals the chance to earn a reasonable wage.
But what if you're not aware of a particular position's reliance on tips? Perhaps we're hopelessly naive, but count us among the many who did not know hotel housekeepers work for tips.
Making the news this week is Marriott International, which has more than 3,700 hotels and resorts in approximately 74 countries and territories. It has decided to begin placing envelopes in guest rooms to encourage the tipping practice.
The non-profit organization A Woman's Nation, founded by former California first lady Maria Shriver, reportedly approached the world's third largest hotel chain about the idea.
"I was talking to room attendants, who were overwhelmingly women, and they would tell me that people were pretty sophisticated about tipping the bellman or concierge, but they hadn't been educated that they could leave a tip for a room attendant," Shriver said in an interview with the Washington Post. "There didn't seem to be a general awareness that you could, or should, tip a room attendant."
It strikes us that any member of the hotel staff that doesn't have personal contact with the customer should not be reliant on tips. Why would the housekeeper be any different than the hotel's janitor, electrician or front desk representative?
Again, apparently our naivety gets in the way. The American Hotel and Lodging Association recommends tipping housekeepers between $1 and $5 per night. Emily Post suggests $2 to $5, left daily with a note marked "Housekeeping -- Thank you."
Who knew? Not enough travelers, we would surmise, or else there would not be the need for Marriott to be involved with such a campaign.
Marriott, Shriver and anybody else that jumps on the housekeeper bandwagon should be reminded most hotel guests will tip for personal service only if they receive personal service. Tasks performed behind the scenes should be compensated by the employer.
Our tip for the hotel industry would be if they want housekeepers to earn more money, raises are in order. Encouraging the public to pick up this tab is an embarrassingly shallow gesture.
Editorial by Patrick Lowry