Stop Tipping Housekeeping Staff For No Service During the Current 2019 Novel Coronavirus Pandemic?
The main reason why people stay at hotel properties is to get a good night sleep on a reasonably comfortable bed in a clean room equipped with the minimum necessities: lights, secure doors and windows for privacy and protection, and a bathroom with a place to wash and bath or shower…
Stop Tipping Housekeeping Staff For No Service During the Current 2019 Novel Coronavirus Pandemic?
What if you received virtually no service at all at the hotel or resort property at which you stayed — especially during the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic, when many amenities and services were either substantially reduced or temporarily eliminated altogether?
“Do you leave a tip when a property has stripped every service element out of the experience, and there is no contact with any employee?” This ethical question was asked by FlyerTalk member BearX220, who had stayed at a Hampton Inn hotel property earlier this month with his wife for four days and three nights “with no housekeeping, no breakfast, no hot coffee, almost nothing in the lobby pantry, disabled ice machine on our floor, etc., etc. We used the digital key so never spoke to the front desk except to confirm coffee wasn’t possible. The only sign of service was the blue sticky sanitized-for-your-protection style seal on the room door upon arrival; it was of course impossible to tell whether any of Hilton’s promised CleanStay measures were actually taken in the room, but when we entered we did our own clean regime before touching anything, sealed the TV remote in a Ziploc bag, etc.”
Suggesting that service had already been performed prior to arriving as a guest, FlyerTalk member craigthemifclaimed that “Presumably you tip housekeeping because they’ve cleaned your room, not because they haven’t.”
FlyerTalk member ebuckposted that “I continue to tip when I leave a hotel, mostly because I know people are struggling with lower occupancy rates and job security. I’ve actually been tipping more since the pandemic, since I know service workers are being hit hard. I haven’t been to a restaurant to dine in, but have done take out, and I always leave a large tip, even though I’m not using the wait staff.”
Is that considered a gratuity — or is leaving extra money more of a charitable gesture, like a donation? FlyerTalk member funkydrummerdisagreed about leaving more money being a charitable gesture and opined that “Their job got more difficult. For one, I believe their compensation per room (and they are almost always paid per room cleaned) hasn’t gone up but the work required has (extra cleaning and disinfecting protocols due to covid). For another, their job has also gotten riskier: Aerosoles carrying covid can linger around for hours. There is at least some additional risk of getting infected for housekeeping staff, and there’s a hugey increased risk for wait staff.”
Perhaps your stance is similar to that of FlyerTalk member LondonElite, who simply stated that “I generally don’t leave a tip anyway, but under those conditions, no, what for?”
Gratuities and tips have long been controversial with regards to travel and dining — to the point of contentiousness from all sides of the issue, as evidenced by the following articles which I wrote for The Gate over the years…
Envelopes were to be placed in 160,000 rooms at up to 1,000 hotel and resort properties in the United States and Canada operating under the various brands of Marriott International.
I disliked this concept for various reasons.
First of all, there is usually enough junk lying around the room as it is: advertisements, forms to join the frequent guest loyalty program, notices and menus. I do not need an envelope reminding me to tip to add to the clutter.
Second, why is it my problem that housekeeping staff is supposedly not paid enough in wages? I am not their employer. Besides, whenever lodging companies profit from increases in revenue, why are they not sharing more of the wealth with supposedly underpaid staff?
Third, why is this concept only for the United States and Canada and not being introduced worldwide? Could it possibly be because the concept of tipping might be different in some other countries — especially those where the culture is not conducive to the concept of tipping to the point where it could be considered offensive or an insult?
Here is an idea: How about Marriott use the funds which were spent on this campaign towards increasing the pay to members of the housekeeping staff at its hotel and resort properties?
Other Costs at Hotel Properties
In addition to hotel rates, guests are subject to other expenses — sometimes without those costs being obvious. That $79.00 hotel room can easily exceed $100.00 per night when you factor in such items as taxes, tips for other employees of the hotel property, and resort fees — and that is not including optional services such as room service, which in and of itself has been known to at times have excessive gratuities and fees attached to it.
As I mentioned in this article from Tuesday, April 22, 2014, I have always been against what I perceive as deceptive advertising. I want to know the total cost of what I am paying when I book an airfare — or a hotel room or rental car, for that matter; and I have always believed that the full price should be what is advertised. I do not agree that this should be applied to tips for hotel staff; but a guest might be more inclined to willingly tip hotel staff if not bombarded with other expenses — whether or not they are expected — which are not included in the advertised room rate.
That I vehemently oppose the implementation of mandatory resort fees, facilities fees and destination fees is no secret to you if you have been a reader of The Gate for years — they should either be optional or eliminated altogether — and I would not be the least bit surprised if forcing guests to pay these nefarious fees reduces the number of tips and gratuities members of the housekeeping staff receive.
I will just let this extensive body of work over the years pertaining to mandatory resort fees speak for me…
Was BearX220 wrong to not leave a gratuity at all for the housekeeping staff at the hotel property — even though he would have ordinarily done so — as he had seen no evidence that housekeeping even existed?
If you had a similar experience to BearX220, would you have left a gratuity? If so, to whom would you leave a tip — and if not, what is your reason why? Do you agree with any of the stances which other FlyerTalk members had taken in the aforementioned discussion?
Some people would assimilate leaving gratuities for housekeeping staff at hotels to leaving tips for servers and waitpersons at dining establishments, as both are underpaid sets of employees who work thankless and generally mundane jobs — and some people are apt to give more money when tipping during the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic to help them through these difficult times when customers are fewer and farther between.
I will be the first to wholeheartedly agree that members of the housekeeping staff at hotel and resort properties need to be paid a better wage for their hard work. Artificially lowering the rate for a room at a hotel or resort property — only to have the guest pay resort fees and tips and gratuities and other hidden expenses — can be perceived as deceptive. Perhaps instead of $79.00, the true room rate should be $100.00; or perhaps instead of $213.00, the true room rate should be $345.00. At least the guest will have a better idea of what to pay with fewer surprises — as well as have the option of leaving a gratuity in addition to the real room rate if the service is indeed extraordinary. Lodging companies need to pay better wages to members of the housekeeping staff and not force customers to subsidize them. Tips and gratuities should be optional and at the discretion of the customer. Stop guilting guests into leaving a tip.
Furthermore, when I stay at a hotel or resort property, I try to leave the room as close to the way I found it as possible. I gather up the towels I used and either place them in the bathtub or on the floor in one area. I never leave hair in the drain. I always flush the toilet. Not only do I dispose of garbage properly, but I usually consolidated it in one trash can.
Some people do not leave a tip for housekeeping at all, with the logical and reasonable assumption that the services of the members of the housekeeping staff are included in the room rate — and they receive scorn from critics who claim that members of the housekeeping staff do not earn enough of a wage for their hard work to be able to afford basic living expenses; and by not leaving them gratuities, they are being denied reasonable compensation for doing their jobs.
If I decline to have a porter carry my bags to my room for me instead of doing it myself, am I denying him or her income? Do I not have a right to work for myself if I feel that I do not need any assistance? Is this true even during the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic?
Other people like to state that if you cannot afford to leave gratuities, then you therefore cannot afford to travel or dine at a restaurant. I believe that absolute statements such as that are overly harsh. Unless the service is beyond expectations, is enjoying a stay at a hotel or resort property — or even dining out in a restaurant, for that matter — without automatically acceding to what is basically a justified and glorified form of a handout too much to ask?
I understand the argument that service personnel — mainly in the United States — depend on gratuities due to low and even sub-standard compensation paid to them by their employers. They do deserve to earn a living and be compensated for their work. If those service personnel choose a job or profession which is reliant upon gratuities, then they need to perform their role as best as they possibly can — and unfortunately expect the occasional deadbeat to not leave a well-deserved tip. Others may argue that service personnel earn more than people think as a result of gratuities — but I am not about to tackle that debate here at this time.
The point I am attempting to make is that a tip should be deserved, not expected; earned, not required. If you are a service provider, did you offer a service of value to your customer — and did you do it exceptionally well? If so, that is how you will get a tip out of me. If not — well — that is up to me to decide. Not you.