• Lisa Marie

Tipping Housekeeping: What do you think?

I consider myself a pretty good tipper. I tip my server, hairstylist, nail technicians, and massage therapist to name a few of the people that I tip. However, sometimes I wonder if the art of tipping has become a standard task that we do that doesn't match the quality of the service, and mentally we believe that it only fits certain professions. Initially, most Americans tipped servers in restaurants because they were underpaid. So, why do we allow them to be under paid? I tip my hairstylist well, but why am I tipping her? She isn't underpaid. She came up with her price list. I guess I'm giving her a tip to express a job well done. I assume I'm tipping her because we've been taught to tip any service provided for us. However, if that is the case, why don't we tip our hostess at the restaurant for seating us by the window, our child's teacher for getting the report cards to your child each quarter, the garbage man for picking up that heavy couch, or the mailman for bringing the mail. Does it sound a bit silly to tip people that are doing their job? Maybe it does, or maybe you already tip all of those people. Don't take me the wrong way. I'm not against tipping. I just think that our society has decided in our minds that certain professions deserve a tip and others don't. Let me provide you with two scenarios.

Scenario number 1: My husband and I stayed at a standard hotel in a busy city for 5 days. Before arriving at the hotel, I found out that my relative works at the hotel. We were both excited at the coincidence of me staying at the hotel that he works at. As a result, he told the staff that I was coming. Throughout the remainder of the week, my husband and I asked for the room to be cleaned in the daytime. I saw one of the housekeepers in the hotel one day on my way out and I introduced myself. The conversation lasted less than 10 seconds, and I didn't have any request during my stay other than for my room to be cleaned once a day.

About a week after my trip, the same family member called me and asked me if I tipped the housekeeper when I left the hotel. Now, not only am I being pressured to tip by our society, but I'm being questioned if I did tip. So, I shared my honest feelings. I told him that I didn't think of tipping the housekeeping staff at a standard hotel for standard service. Let me explain. When I travel to luxury hotels and resorts, the housekeeping staff or concierge comes and introduces themselves, shows you the amenities in the room, helps you each day, and basically makes their presence known. I tip this team generously because they have impacted my trip and helped me to have a better experience at the hotel. At most standard hotels, I don't see the housekeeper and the service is standard. The team took care of my room as expected by his/her job requirements. Nothing more and nothing less. Why am I tipping for the standard service that you are suppose to provide?

Scenario number 2: My friend and I stayed at a standard hotel for one night. We didn't meet the housekeeping crew, they did not do anything additional for our room, and we did not request anything. In the morning, my friend took out $3-5 and said,"I'll leave the tip." I was happy that she wanted to provide someone else with a tip because I believe in being generous, but I didn't understand why. We had only stayed one night, the person that was going to clean the room that day may not have been the person that cleaned the room the day before, and we didn't interact with housekeeping. So, now we're tipping people we don't know, that may or may not have cleaned the room to fulfill a standard that society has placed on us. Once again, I was happy that she was being generous, but I was curious what made her think that she should tip the housekeeper under these circumstances. To both of our surprise, she didn't know why she was leaving the tip, and she stated that she always saw her father leave a tip so she thought that she should. So, we started a conversation about tipping. She said that she tips people that are underpaid. However, that wasn't true because there are many professions that are underpaid that she wasn't tipping. Then, I realized that she only tipped the professions that she felt everybody else was tipping. A lot of people in our society tip due to social proof. Since everyone else is tipping the server, valet attendant, and in this case, the housekeeper; we tip. We don't see anyone tipping the teacher, crossing guard, or construction worker, so we don't tip them either. However, are we really tipping because of exceptional service or are we tipping because that's what is expected?

Essentially, every job is providing a service in some form or another. So, should everyone receive a tip for standard or exceptional service? Or just the service providers that are underpaid? And who determines who is underpaid? Share your thoughts. Maybe, I'm wrong and I should be tipping the housekeeping staff at standard hotels even when the service is standard. This is a new concept for me and I am open to learning.

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