Seems I struck a nerve with a few folks when I wrote last week
about tipping hotel housekeeping staff. Overwhelmingly, e-mails I received scolded me for suggesting guests should tip, with most folks saying it is the hotel's responsibility to pay its employees enough to live on and, with the rising cost of hotel rooms, we have already paid enough.
All I can say is, I doubt any of those e-mails came from people who ever worked in a service industry. In a perfect world, waiters, bartenders, housekeepers, etc., would all make more than minimum wage and tipping would be obsolete. But we don't live in that world, so it's common practice to tip such employees for services rendered. And I stand by my advice; housekeeping staff do a job most of us wouldn't want, and a couple bucks as a way to say thanks for the clean towels and extra pillow has never seemed like a big deal to me.
Not all readers were offended by my suggestion; some had ideas of their own how to make tipping easier. Noting that companies often question or disallow cash expenditures, one reader suggests hotels allow guests to add gratuities to their room bill, much in the same way you do at a restaurant. Other readers wrote they were often confused where to leave such a tip, with one saying they had even seen a supervisor take a tip intended for the staff. Hotels could make this easier by providing envelopes, either in the room or at the front desk, that are clearly marked for tips. I've seen a few handwritten notes from housekeepers, letting me know who cleaned my room and usually including a phone number to call if anything is out of order. I've used those notes to wrap a tip in, but I still feel a little odd about leaving it, because I'm unclear if the same person who left it is cleaning my room each day. I think the "tip on the room bill" idea would solve this confusion, also.
Do you have to tip? No, of course not. Hotel prices are getting higher each day, and budgets can be hard to maintain when you're traveling. But at the very least, leave a comment card or let the hotel manager know if you've received good service. Yes, good service should be part of doing business, but unfortunately, bad service is found all too often, so why not say thank you when you have a good experience?
About the Author:
Megg Mueller Schulte is an assistant travel editor at USATODAY.com. Her column runs every Wednesday.