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Hotel House Cleaning Gratuity?

A neighbor in our apartment building is the GM of a local boutique hotel. My discussion with him the other day prompts me to ask: When staying at a hotel ...

  1. Do you leave a gratuity for the house cleaning staff?
  2. If you do leave a tip, how much - per night - would you leave?
  3. And when and how do you leave it?
Posted by
1751 posts

We always leave a tip. We leave it each morning on the pillow with a note that simply says thank you in the native language. It is usually maybe 2-3 euros or local currency. We do it each day because we don’t know if it is the same person each time.

Posted by
4898 posts

I have thick skin, so here goes.

No, I rarely tip the cleaning staff. The only times I recall doing so is when my actions result in added effort for the staff. I recall one time, my wife suffered two days of excruciating food poisoning, and despite my attempt to clean, it was a mess.

I have from time to time had this discussion with others though, and those who do, list their rationale (beyond the "oh, I leave a small amount") as feeling sorry for the cleaning staff, they are underpaid, or they believe they will somehow get a better made bed or cleaner room than otherwise.

I will tip people (waitstaff, guides, etc.) when I think they have personally helped me, and I acknowledge them face to face. A faceless gratuity just does not seem to cut it for me most of the time.

I know many feel obligated or feel it is the proper thing to do. Whatever trips your trigger and makes you feel good, I have no issues with that.

Posted by
6790 posts

Ron--- What did this GM have to say about tipping?

I have seen many discussions here about "should I tip?', but have not read any comments from the 'receiving' end.

EDIT-- For clarification, I do not expect the GM to do the housekeeping or be the reciepient of a tip. It was a a request for insight on what the expectation is from 'that side' of the situation.

Posted by
94 posts

The age old debate, tipping. To each his own on tipping but my wife and I have been tipping more since the pandemic. We stayed at Hampton and there is no house keeping on a daily basis. You want something, you ask. No problem but that means the hotel has less staff or cut hours. Yes, we tipped the house keeping when we left. We stayed a nice hotel last month and I pulled a Rodney Dangerfield on the bellman. https://youtu.be/phagxOal7_A?t=6 I've wanted to do this all my life. The young man looked at us like we were crazy. I guess he never saw the movie...

Posted by
2660 posts

I'd be interested in knowing the opinions of those on the receiving end, too. But I wouldn't consider a GM to be on the receiving end, unless he's pitching in with the toilet cleaning and bed making too..

I follow the usual recommendations on tipping that prevail in the location I'm visiting when it comes to waiters, guides, drivers, etc. Waiters, especially, in Europe are well paid compared to their US counterparts. But I would wager that housekeeping staff is not. No facts to back that up, just a hunch. So we tip the equivalent of 1-2€/day. I've never had one refused.

Posted by
172 posts

Hello RoninRome...where we long to be.
Yes, whenever we stay in a hotel, either locally or abroad, we leave a tip of $2 (US), or 2 euros, 2 pounds, etc, each morning, with "thank you" written in the language of the country we're in. We usually leave it in the bathroom. I just want to show my appreciation for someone coming into our "personal space" and cleaning, etc. However, we do not leave any tip the morning we check out.
We have received cute responses to our note and tip.

Posted by
24386 posts

My response would be similar to Paul, above

Posted by
2588 posts

There was a lively thread about this very topic in 2018 in the France forum. What did the GM say about tipping?

Posted by
3342 posts

It all depends on where I am. A $2 tip in Tanzania is close to the average daily wage....in other words 'too much'.

Posted by
2562 posts

I know y'all will correct me if I'm wrong. It's my understanding that in the EU(but not necessarily other countries) that housekeeping staff and waiters are paid appropriately. Since this is often not the case in the US(waiters may not even be paid minimum wage due to expectation of tips), I do tip housekeeping staff at US hotels.

Posted by
483 posts

When can tipping just simply go away? I rather prefer that service workers be paid a living wage and not have to rely on tips. I want to assume that people are doing their very best and they are paid accordingly.

Why doesn't the cost of the hotel room include paying the cleaning staff appropriately?

That being said, when I do tip, I try to be as generous as I can. I just wish we could all move to something more humane, like a living wage.

Posted by
4175 posts

I think tipping for house keeping is generally an American thing. I certainly never do it in Europe but have done it in Sri Lanka and Africa.

Posted by
1865 posts

@JHK, I did go back and read the 2018 thread... and I would imagine if this thread ran as long as that one, there would be similar responses. Providing a gratuity is apparently a very personal choice.

My father was a USAF sergeant so while in college, I - like many college students - worked in the service industry to pay my tuition. After college, after a few job transitions, I found myself back in the service industry. I was fortunate to eventually land in ownership and corporate officer positions in multiple businesses that owned restaurants, retail, and a few hotels. At one point, I was responsible for 10,000+ employees... and probably about 4,500 of them were servers, working at less than minimum wage.

In the states where our businesses were located, servers were paid about 2.35/hr, the minimum wage for servers. The "standard" minimum wage - for cooks, dishwashers, etc - was probably about $5.15 back then. Servers would each day claim their tips and they had to report enough "tip income" to get them above minimum wage ($2.35 + XXXX/hr). It was "expected" that servers would earn far more than the minimum. If they underreported - and each day the managers had to calculate their daily earnings based on what they reported - the company would have to kick in the balance to bring them up to the minimum wage level. That's because state and federal rules would not allow you to work at a level below the minimum wage. Thus, a server who repeatedly under-reported would be retrained - and if necessary - counseled, and if they did not improve - terminated. Yes, it's tough to be a server in the USA system.

That said, many of the best servers made FAR above the minimum hourly wage. At the end of the day, when they gathered in the breakroom to count their tips and figure out what they would declare, IRS and corporate accountants would have been impressed by their accounting skills. In our fine-dining establishments, hitting the minimum wage was never a concern. Those servers did quite well.

In our hotels, the house cleaning staff started out at minimum wage - so back then they were cleaning rooms for $5.15/hr. If they were fortunate to be full time, they would earn about $200 before taxes, insurance, etc. Currently, the Federal Minimum wage is $7.25/hr, although many states have higher minimum wages. That same housekeeper, starting today and hitting full time, would be earning about $300 before taxes, insurance, etc. So in 20 years, they've moved about $100/week.

Not sure if that gives folks a different perspective but it is the reality of working in the service industry. Most of our servers worked two jobs to make ends meet. A lot of the housekeepers would clean office buildings on the 3rd shift. Thus, having worked in that environment, I am a gross over-tipper ---- just ask my wife!

As you can see, I had some service experience and thus my conversation with the GM evolved into a longer talk. I did press him about what housekeepers made at his hotel. He hemmed and hawed - told me they made a "living wage. " Eventually, I only got an "average range" from him of about €17,500-19,000 per year --- about 9€ an hour --- for a less experienced employee. But what did he say about TIPPING?

Posted by
1865 posts

His answer was simple... and it is summed up by posters here and in the 2018 thread: Tipping is not mandatory and totally at the discretion of the customer.

  • Does the staff appreciate a gratuity? As you would expect, most definitely.
  • Do they expect a gratuity? Apparently, that often depends on where the guests are from, how long they're staying, and the level of service they request or need. Americans, not surprisingly, are the best tippers.
  • If a gratuity is provided, what is the "standard" nightly gratuity? That depends on the service level and cost of the hotel. For a boutique hotel, located in The Hague, it would be €1-€2 per hour. In a 5-star luxury hotel in Switzerland, 4CHF-6CHF per night (the most of any country!). Thus, the Swiss also tip well (I found that surprising).
  • How should a tip be paid Tips should be placed in an envelope with "something" written on the outside, like "thank you." House Cleaners are not allowed to take any money left on the dresser or sink, for understandable reasons. Most front desks will have envelopes for this.
  • When should a tip be paid? It's best if tips are paid daily for the reasons many of you outlined.

This is just one opinion, but I've heard similar comments from other hoteliers I've talked with. It's also interesting to note at a 4 or 5-star hotel that has a bellhop service, the bellhops get tipped when they carry your bags for you. If there's a doorman, you'll tip him to call you a taxi. If a concierge scores you those hard-to-get theater tickets, they receive a gratuity. If you get a massage, you'll probably tip the masseuse.

As one hotelier said to me, the most overlooked and non-tipped group in any hotel... is the house cleaning staff. And their jobs - in this COVID environment - are only getting more difficult and more important.

So, his answer is.. it's your call. Those that do tip will tip - those that don't, won't. As for me, having worked side-by-side with these folks in a previous life, having heard their stories and seen how hard they work for low wages... yes, I'll keep tipping. That's my choice!

Posted by
4287 posts

I hate the tipping culture, and wish it would go away in the States. And yes, I've worked in food service, but never in high end restaurants.

When I was in grad school, I worked in a "family restaurant" that was woefully understaffed, in a college town. When there were 50 tables, and I was the only server on a Saturday night, as you might expect the tips were sparse. There was no way I could provide good service under those conditions. But the restaurant chain for which I worked assumed I was getting at least 10% of the ticket totals in tips, and reported it that way to the IRS. So I was paying income tax on income I hadn't received. At the time, the server's wage was $1 per hour.

Back to the housecleaning staff: they have the nastiest job, and don't get tips for each service rendered, as do the bellhops and doormen. So yes, we always leave a tip in an envelope on the dresser. Usually about €1 or 2 per night.

Posted by
5590 posts

In a perfect world, the housekeeping staff would be paid a living (not just survival) wage, sick and vacation time off benefits along with medical and retirement benefits. In a less than perfect world, those of us who can enjoy travel should be grateful and leave a gratuity.

Posted by
7376 posts

We always tip €3 per day, each day, for the cleaners. Hardest, most difficult, sometimes disgusting, job in a hotel. They deserve to be appreciated and thanked, with money.

If i can afford a vacation, i can afford to tip the person who cleans rooms and bathrooms for a living.

Posted by
31137 posts

Ron,

What a great topic for discussion! It's been so long since I've travelled, my memory is getting a bit foggy on details like this. As I recall.....

  1. Yes, usually.
  2. Typically an average of about €2-3 per night. For a two night stay, I'd typically leave €5.
  3. I often just leave it on the bedside table. I didn't think of using an envelope, and usually don't have one available anyway.

As I usually travel solo, I keep things fairly tidy and organized and it doesn't take the cleaning staff long to go through my room. However I figured it was only fair to leave them a gratuity.

Posted by
4112 posts

In a perfect world, the housekeeping staff would be paid a living (not just survival) wage, sick and vacation time off benefits along with medical and retirement benefits.

That's most of the EU.

Posted by
1865 posts

@Jane, thanks for the reminder of the 10% threshold - we had the same policy. You jogged my memory and explained it far better. Tipping is a part of the American dining culture. not so much in Europe.

I remember my first dining experience in Rome with five Italian friends. At the end of the meal, the server brought the bill and we all SPLIT the bill, which was about 180 euro. Even though I had just had a salad and one glass of wine, my "share" was 30 Euro. When I tossed in my 30 Euro, I then - to tip the server - added a 5 Euro note for my part of the gratuity. They stopped and looked at me like I was crazy and asked, "What are you doing?" One of them said, "If you're giving away money, I'll take it" and pocketed my 5 euro. A long discussion ensued. I learned a few things that night.

  1. Bring Cash because "check-splitting" will be handled at the table by the diners
  2. EAT & DRINK WELL (or at least, similar to what everyone else is eating) because if not, you're paying for part of everyone else's meal
  3. Don't leave a gratuity on the table

One of our group had been a server in a restaurant years ago. He pointed out there's no place on a bill to add a tip. I'd not thought of that? Why not, I wondered. His interpretation was that any money collected and recorded by the management was taxable income -- and no restaurant owner wants to pay taxes on income he's not getting. (I have a great example of that in a sec...). A big part of the argument revolved around, "I'm not tipped at my work - why should they be?" Or, "They're paid a living wage." And of course, "The tip is built into the menu price; if not, it should be."

In addition, he said that in his restaurant - and made it seem like this was true in most Italian restaurants - the tips are put into a pool and that pool is handled by management and split with everyone --- the servers, the cooks, the dishwashers, the MGT, and in some cases, the owners. So what you think you're giving the server is not what the server is getting. (He also said that since MGT handled the pool, he and his fellow staff members were convinced the mgt/owners were double-dipping).

As an American, I pushed back, asking - "How do you reward a server when they've done an excellent job?" And because I was new to Italy, spoke little Italian (and no Google translator back then), I struggled when I went to the smaller, Italian-only menu restaurants. I often needed help! I was told that the best way to tip a server was to do it discreetly - and separate from the bill. For example, they'd stop the server on the way to the restroom and discreetly hand them a tip. Whether they added that to the pool was entirely up to them.

So yes, members of the group did tip - more the exception than the norm. They also blamed me - as an American - for helping to create a "tip mentality" among service staff. It was a lively and passionate discussion! That was 15 years ago and in some circles, the "tip mentality" has changed.

Posted by
7076 posts

We all hate tipping. We all wish for an ideal world. Cleaning staff make survival wages, not living wages, unless they are agency contract workers. Then they make slave wages.

Yes, we always tip the room cleaner. Miss Jo, who used to direct hotel staff in Germany, taught me the lesson. Glad to learn about the envelope.

Posted by
1865 posts

Regarding my "taxes" experience in Rome... A few months after we moved there, my wife and I finished dining at a small restaurant, paid our bill, and walked out. As we exited, we were stopped by two policemen - who I later learned were actually members of the Guardia di Finanza. In English, they asked if we had just dined in this restaurant and we said yes. Then, they asked to see our receipt.

I'd left it on the table and now they wanted us to go back in with them. Oh no, we thought - we have to prove we paid for our meal?

Back towards the kitchen we went, trailing the officers. Once they met the owner, an escalating conversation ensued in rapid Italian that we could not follow. It got loud! I asked our server, who was nearby watching (as were many people in the restaurant), "Are we in trouble - what's happening?"

He explained to me it was not about us. By Italian law, restaurants MUST provide detailed receipts to their customers. This practice was not just for the protection of the customer, but also to make sure that all purchased items are being rung in as sales! And thus taxable income could be collected by the government. In our case, the owner did eventually show the officers his copy of our receipt, we verified it, and with a tip of the hat, they left. For months, I never left another Italian restaurant without my receipt.

But I did learn the menu is not always the price. Each day I'd stop by the cafe across the street from our apartment to get an espresso. Standing at the counter, I'd pay my 80 cents (ottanta) - the amount posted on the menu on the wall - and then head off to work. After 2-3 months of stopping by almost every day, I came in and ordered my caffè and the owner said, "Sessanta." And from that day forward, I always paid 60 cents.

A couple of shops down from the bar was a restaurant we went to at least once or twice a week (you do tend to eat out more living in Rome!). After we became regulars, the owners would give us a free apertivo or bring out a dessert for us to "sample." So yes, for us, there was "locals" pricing - but only after we were regular and loyal customers and known to the owners. Now, when we go back to Rome to visit, we do stop by... and it's like we never left - Lots of hugs, kisses, and dialogue!

Posted by
778 posts

I know y'all will correct me if I'm wrong. It's my understanding that in the EU(but not necessarily other countries) that housekeeping staff and waiters are paid appropriately.

Absolutely not. They get paid the absolute minimum possible while working the maximum hours possible. Many are on limited work permits for the season, so they get kicked out at the end of the season without benefits.

Disappointed by many of the opinions expressed, but not at surprised, American tourists are not high on most staff's lists for obvious reasons.

Posted by
1066 posts

Short answer to the question, "no" we do not tip hotel staff.
Our perspective, a business model based upon the customer underwriting the expense of employees is flawed.

Posted by
6058 posts

We always leave some money on the pillows daily during our hotel stays worldwide.

Posted by
1473 posts

Jim, what are the obvious reasons, I missed them.

I was wondering the same thing.

Tipping outside of Canada and the US continues to be a great mystery to me. I want to meet local standards, but I have no idea what that is. I'll be honest, comments from North Americans that we tip because that is what we do at home, is not helpful.

Posted by
4175 posts

The minimum wage in the U.K. is the equivalent of $11.65 per hour, which sounds to be much higher than the American base, which maybe why tipping is less prevalent. In France, it’s equivalent to $13 per hour. Of course the cost of living varies in each country.

Posted by
5590 posts

Minimum wage is country dependent and not a EU standard.

https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Minimum_wage_statistics#

Variations in national minimum wages Minimum wages in the EU Member
States ranged from EUR 312 to EUR 2 142 per month in July 2020

In July 2020, 21 out of the 27 EU Member States (Denmark, Italy,
Cyprus, Austria, Finland and Sweden were the exceptions) had a
national minimum wage, as did the United Kingdom and all of the EU
candidate countries (Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania, Serbia and
Turkey). As of 1 July 2020, monthly minimum wages varied widely across
the Member States, from EUR 312 in Bulgaria to EUR 2 142 in Luxembourg
(see Figure 1).

And I've been told that foreign guest worker benefits in Switzerland vary with the number of years the guest worker works in Switzerland.

Posted by
1473 posts

So is tipping supposed to be a social benefit to top-up low paid workers, or a reward for a job well done? I can't speak for other locations, but in my home province of Alberta it appears to be an expectation and nothing more. In 2014 our minimum wage was $10.20 and now it is $15. In 2014, when handed the debit machine to pay in restaurants, there was an option for tip percentage of 15-18%. Now, even though minimum wage has gone up close to 50%, that same option in many restaurants is now 18-22%.

Posted by
7895 posts

I've actually had a couple of sweet "dialogues" with hotel housekeeping staff in my usual hotel in Paris. I travel with a small notepad and just leave a note on the bedside table with 2E or so. I usually write something like "Merci Madame" which is the extent of my language skills. A couple of times ago one of them started writing back a short note to me and we carried on for a number of days (until she was off, I suspect). It was fun!

On the other hand, it really ticks me off when (in Europe) a restaurant server "asks" for or implies I should leave a tip. In that instance I always pay with a credit card so I can't leave a tip.

Otherwise, I do usually leave a restaurant server a tip. I am vegan and usually have questions or want something modified so figure I am viewed as PIA customer.

Posted by
6013 posts

I’ve never understood why one low paid job “deserves” a tip and others don’t.
Why do hotel domestics get the tips but retail shop floor staff don’t?
I worked for years on the shop floor providing a service as personal, certainly as exhausting, as a hotel cleaner but no envelopes came my way! I had no expectation of a tip( I don’t usually tip hotel staff either) but I am curious about the thought process of people who do tip.

Another conundrum is why visitors to the USA are expected to abide by the local norms on tipping, but some (many?) visitors from the US to Europe struggle with the local norm of not tipping.?

Posted by
2114 posts

I’ve never understood why one low paid job “deserves” a tip and others don’t.
Why do hotel domestics get the tips but retail shop floor staff don’t?

Those are very good questions - I don't have the answer, other than just tradition, and a presumption, maybe, that retail staff gets a discount on whatever the store sells. After Covid-19 reared its ugly head, a small liquor store near my house set out a tip jar labeled "Hazardous Duty Pay". I had no problem leaving a few bills for those guys, in the early days of the pandemic. At this point, I haven't had any cash in months.

Another conundrum is why visitors to the USA are expected to abide by the local norms on tipping, but some (many?) visitors from the US to Europe struggle with the local norm of not tipping.?

I struggle with that local norm because I am so used to tipping people who are relying on tips for the majority of their income that I can't turn off that reflex in Europe.

Posted by
7754 posts

Having managed a hotel here in Germany, the answer is yes, the housekeeping staff truly appreciates a daily tip. No, they do not expect it, but they are always pleased and it makes their day. Most housekeeping staff are foreign, just like I imagine it is in the US.

This is one of the most back-breaking, and sometimes filthiest jobs around. You have no idea what some people do in hotel rooms and bathrooms or what those sheets and towels can look like.

For those of you who feel like you haven't made a mess, so why should you tip? The housekeeper still has to clean your toilet, shower, dust the windowsills, vacuum, check your lights, clean your remote, dust baseboards, etc. and all in a short amount of time.

Leave some coins on the pillow each day, not at the end of the week, as housekeepers usually change rooms each day.

Posted by
24386 posts

there's even a (probably spam) thread up at the moment about an app to tip your pilot after the flight arrived safely

Posted by
11739 posts

Depends.

Recently a the cleaning staff at a hotel I stayed at did me a few favors. Excellent tip.
Generally these days hotels don't want to clean your room unless you ask so the tip represents the frequency of cleaning. Maybe a euro or two each day they clean.

With COVID, I have increased my tips considerably. They risk their health daily while I work from home. They deserve it and with the businesses folding right and left, they sure cant afford bonuses or raises. Some people would rather the government tax them and distribute it but I sort of think its better to just do the right thing.

Posted by
7376 posts

I think anyone that does not tip a cleaner would change their perspective if they had to clean rooms and toilets all day, every day, for low pay.

I do not understand, or respect, people that don’t. You’re lucky to be on vacation. That €2 a day changes nothing for you, but could mean the world to someone cleaning your toilet.

Posted by
1485 posts

I fall in the “tip & note everyday” group. I leave a note so no one ever is accused to taking money. I have yet to meet anyone who said their goal in life was to grow up and be a room cleaner.

I am curious how the current (pre-coved) emphasis on not having your room cleaned every day is affecting housekeeping staff in the US? I’m willing to reuse my towels and sheets, but I do like to have the room straightened.

Posted by
4394 posts

This has been a very enlightening thread for me (though at times confusing). Ordinarily I don't tip hotel housekeepers unless I've stayed several nights, and then only on departure. After reading all these responses, I think I'll be more thoughtful in the future and leave a little in the room every morning, whichever side of the ocean I'm on.

Yes, the US minimum wage should be a lot higher (ours is in WA and goes up with inflation), and yes, it would be "better" if room charges (and menu prices too) replaced discretionary tip income, but that's not the world (or at least the country) we live in and people gotta eat. That said, I've had a few experiences with bad restaurant service (not caused by overload like Jane described) and responded with a ridiculously low tip (so no impression that I was careless).

I can't wait to begin traveling again, hopefully next year, and put my newfound altruism to the test. I can use some of the money I saved by not traveling this year.

Posted by
11739 posts

I do not understand, or respect, people that don’t. You’re lucky to be
on vacation. That €2 a day changes nothing for you, but could mean the
world to someone cleaning your toilet.

Yea, thats a bit harsh. I believe in recognizing those that bring merit to their profession, and I guess I should clarify that for below "very good" service I am inclined to leave nothing. I don't see anything degrading in the profession of toilet cleaning if you do it well, and so I don't tip out of pity or as a way to demonstrate I have attained some elevated position where 2 euro means less to me than anyone else. I thrive in the company of those who exhibit the best of their profession, no matter what that profession is.

I tip out of recognition for excellence. Same as I bonus my excellent employees or take my outstanding consultants and their significant others to nice dinners..

During COVID I tip out of the recognition that in hard times we have to take care of each other when and how we can.

Posted by
275 posts

I usually leave 2 - 3 euro per day. If they have done a little extra like make swans with the pillow, fold the 1st sheet of TP so it's easy to grab or leave me a water each day when it is supposed to be upon arrival only (Budapest) I will leave 5. Like Prophet, I tip because it is something I have been doing my entire life and cannot "turn off the reflex" when I travel. When I am unsure whether to tip a particular service provider I tip if it's a job I would never want to do (not couldn't do), and cleaning up after people is one of them.

I too find I am tipping more during Covid. We all have an obligation to help out those that are struggling during this time while I have been fortunate to keep working and my husband's pension keeps coming.

Posted by
24386 posts

Joann brings up a good point.

Who is paying for the service which makes a good impression and who is benefiting?

If the person takes extra time at the room of a (potentially, maybe American) good tipper, do they then shortchange the rooms of the (potentially, perhaps non-American) because they only have a short time to deal with all the rooms? Is that what management want? Or the other guests?

About the extra bottles of water. So the management has budgeted for so many bottles to be bought, so guests get one on their first day. The staff member sees a good tipper and slips in a bottle every day. Who pays for that? The person putting it in the fridge? Not likely. The guest? Apparently, but actually not. I think it unlikely that that person will reimburse the management for the extra bottles out of their tip. To reduce it to the base - you get a "free" bottle of water and feel good, and your conditioned tip guilt is assuaged. The staff member feels good because of the big tip, and the bottle was in the box anyway, and then just one of many on the cart, and who will notice anyway. The owner has stolen from and has an inflated water bottle bill, because if they give you an extra bottle each day how many other big tippers also get an extra one. Or whatever.

It is the principle.

Posted by
1865 posts

Nigel, it is about the principle, but I guess I view that principle differently. Having worked in the Restaurant, Retail, and Hotel Industry, I've certainly been exposed to budgets. In my last year in the industry, I think my budgetary responsibility was about $268 million. 

In the Food Segment, we had an IDEAL FOOD COST. All stores were evaluated against this target. Bonuses, Promotions, etc. were based on hitting this goal. But the Ideal also had a "waste" factor, negotiated by different departures annually. That waste factor covered production issues, training, simple waste, sampling, etc. 

In the Retail segment, we had a SHRINKAGE goal. This target included allowances for theft (it's gonna happen), breakage, products USED for display, sampling, donations, etc.

In the Hotel Industry, we also "built-in" budgeted $$$ for towels, sheets, etc. Trust me, we knew how long a towel SHOULD last and budgeted accordingly! This created our Hotel IDEAL Cost targets. We did also add in "waste" factors - as we did for food and retail segments - for guests who TOOK towels, shampoo, soaps, postcards, etc.  And yes, even sampling - like extra bottles of water.

Moreover, I wanted my staff to make decisions that benefitted the customer. If an extra bottle of water convinced a client to COME BACk, that's future sales, and all it cost me was a bottle of water and a thoughtful employee. In our surveys, guest loyalty and guest satisfaction were always the top reasons folks came back to many of our properties. 

Sure, you can say that the employee had their own self-interests in leaving that extra bottle of water... but as leadership, I hoped it was because they were trying to exceed the guest's expectations. I hope that we empowered our employees to make the RIGHT decision, the BEST decision that would enhance the guest experience. If an extra bottle of water defines our BRAND, I'm all for that. 

But that BEST decision does have parameters. If a hotel house cleaner gave an entire BOX of 48 shampoos to a guest, whether it was to garner a larger tip or not, we'd terminate them for theft. I'm idealistic, but I'm also a businessman. And those BEST decision parameters are all in the training of your employees. It's imperative that training helps them understand the vision AND the policies of the company and how their day-to-day actions impact each.  

Posted by
6013 posts

I do not understand, or respect, people that don’t

I don't have much respect for people that think theirs is the only way to do things and disparage the norms in other countries. Just because it's how you do things in the US doesn't mean that other ways of doing things in other countries are wrong, just different. I thought the point of travel was to experience the difference?

I tip because it is something I have been doing my entire life and
cannot "turn off the reflex" when I travel.

Well try harder! :-) When I travel to the US my reflex is to tell the 15th person that day expecting a tip for just doing their job to "sod off" but I don't because that is how it works in that country. So I politely and cheerfully hand over money whilst inwardly shaking my head in bemusement at the ridiculousness(in my opinion) of the situation.
This is not in anyway saying don't tip. Just respect how tipping works in other countries and don't force your cultural norms on others.

For those of you saying that they tip hotel cleaners (out of guilt? pity?) because it's terrible job that you would never do, why not turn the argument on its head. They are doing a difficult but valuable job that you or someone you know, might one day find themselves doing. It deserves respect and a wage that they can be expected to live on without having to jump through hoops in the hope that someone will leave them a few notes at the end of the day.

And yes I know this statement is very "ideal world" and doesn't help people who have to work for unliveable wages but its a place to start the conversation.

Posted by
1865 posts

Certainly a lot of different perspectives on the topic of tipping --- which is why we have forums: to share these different viewpoints. Not to muddy the water, but I'd be interested in knowing: If those that DO or DO NOT tip hotel cleaners or restaurant servers (the two jobs most discussed in this thread) DO or DO NOT tip other professions. Here are a few I've come across in my travels.

  1. Taxi Drivers
  2. Bartender
  3. Porters/Bellhops
  4. Doorman (for example, calling you a taxi)
  5. Hotel Concierge
  6. Private or Airport transfers
  7. Private car & driver (ie. an extended day trip)
  8. Bus Driver for Large Tour Group
  9. Private Tour Guides
  10. Group Tour guides
  11. Masseuse at a Spa
  12. Barber or Hair Stylist

Maybe a response like: I do this but not that... or I do ALL or NONE.
I guess the root question is...what makes us tip or not tip?

Posted by
24386 posts

I think you are looking at a different level of hotel than I:

Taxi Drivers - don't use a taxi that I pay for - used to have contract taxis provided as part of job - no

Bartender - don't drink - no

Porters/Bellhops - I carry my own bags, and they aren't at hotels I use - no

Doorman (for example, calling you a taxi) - don't use one, and they aren't at my hotels - no

Hotel Concierge - don't have concierges at hotels I use - no

Private or Airport transfers - don't use them - no

Private car & driver (ie. an extended day trip) - don't use them - no

Bus Driver for Large Tour Group - don't use them - no

Private Tour Guides - maybe, but use very rarely

Group Tour guides - don't use them, but if RS, tips are not required

Masseuse at a Spa - no, but have been to a spa for a massage exactly once before

Barber or Hair Stylist - used to but don't (not accounting for Covid-hair)

Posted by
11739 posts

If the person takes extra time at the room of a (potentially, maybe
American) good tipper, do they then shortchange the rooms of the
(potentially, perhaps non-American) because they only have a short
time to deal with all the rooms? Is that what management want? Or the
other guests?

Tipping is a social injustice? That's hilarious.

Posted by
7076 posts

I tip all of those, Ron, with three exceptions: if the hairdresser is the owner/boss, I don’t tip. I don’t tip the masseuse, and cocktails are added to the dining bill, so the tip is mixed in with other wait staff’s tips.

I’ve had my problems with doormen but have learned a few lessons. In Brussels, if you don’t ’t tip the doorman who blows a whistle to summon the next waiting cab, you’ll see what happens next time you need a taxi from the same doorman. This one refused to summon a cab and just walked away. Another time in Chicago, when I tipped the wrong person, the doorman stomped away.

Posted by
1473 posts

I don't have much respect for people that think theirs is the only way
to do things and disparage the norms in other countries. Just because
it's how you do things in the US doesn't mean that other ways of doing
things in other countries are wrong, just different. I thought the
point of travel was to experience the difference?

Well said. I was trying to think of a way to respond to that same comment that you did, but couldn't come up with the proper wording.

Posted by
1158 posts

Ron, thanks for the last list, I'm w Nigel, that most of those are services I never use.
I have a complex relationship with tipping, made worse that I've never had a job where I was tipped (but that not meant to be classest, my summer jobs as a teenager were cleaning up after live stock on my and friends farms and chopping weeds by hand) in those years, My hair was cut by a sole proprietor who literally owned the shop, so again, tipping wasn't a part of the dynamic. My parents only occasionally ate in restaurants that had waitstaff.

In terms of other low paid work, I think of the aides in my mom's health care facility, who are also stripping beds and dumping trash and worse. I've worked in health care, and most employers make it clear that accepting any gift or gratuity from a family may be grounds for dismissal and is to be reported to HR. That memo usually gets sent out again December 1st, thanks Scrooge. I still remember the day my colleague put a jelly donut in a inter office envelope w a note that said "patient's daughter gave me this but I know the rules say I must relinquish it to you" and sent to HR 🤩
My college educated brother drove tour bus for five years, and because of that would always have a big roll of one dollar bills.

Posted by
2593 posts

I feel like we've already had this conversation. I tip a housecleaner in the US daily when I use them. I tip for service not after service, unless something above the usual has been requested. TIP means "to insure promptness". Internationally, it depends. Usually, internationally, I don't have my roomed cleaned; I place the sign on the door so a cleaner knows they can skip my room. By not having my room cleaned daily, I am escaping the should or shouldn't I, IMO. When I leave, I don't leave a disaster as I am quite organized and neat in my room. Second guessing, am I limiting employment by doing this? I don't know. Economies will continue operating whether I have the correct system or not. IMO. I do the best I can in the situation. IF I get a sense of someone particularly needing a tip or have seen rudeness to them by someone else, I will be particularly nice to them and/or defend them, etc. and leave a tip if in the correct situation.

Posted by
11739 posts

Do keep in mid, for what its worth, in some locations tipping is part of the base pay. Here for instance the hourly pay is well below minimum wage, but the restaurant must demonstrate that base pay + tips equals or exceeds the minimum wage or the business must make up the difference. Still, I dint know many good wait staff that doesn't make significantly more than minimum wage with tips included. I guess I'm different, cause I enjoy doing something in return for those who do a little extra for me. And if that means the mundane do a bit worse, well then its incentive to become better at their trade. I like the system: pay raise through merit. And I enjoy my role in that system.

Posted by
5370 posts

One of those never-ending disagreements. "When in Rome, do as the Romans" has been good advice for many things for decades. If that's too old fashioned, then follow the Starfleet Prime Directive: "No starship may interfere with the normal development of any alien life or society." Tipping American-style distorts the service industry. I've been in plenty of places abroad where service-providers have come to expect a big American tip when they identify you as one, and en courage you to do so.

I used to travel domestically often for my job, and I can guarantee you that there are many Americans who do not tip for most of those services on your list, even here. Then, what do you tell people who themselves don't have much money, when they have to use a taxi or get a haircut, and a tip is expected, even demanded? I once went to restaurant (in the US) with a group of visitors from a Central European country, who laughed when I suggested we leave a tip. Their followed their reflexes, I guess.

I've tipped abroad for good service like housekeeping (and generously too), but made sure the person receiving the tip knew why. Not just from guilt, charity or an assumption that their wages and benefits parallel conditions in the US. I have no issue with people who want to share their wealth, but most of the Americans I've traveled abroad with tip out of reflex, not out of thoughtful principles.

Posted by
3561 posts

For a Masseuse at a Spa, Hairdresser and Taxi, I do tip. My hairdresser is the shop owner, and I still tip her - just as I would for another stylist for the reasons below. And during Covid, I especially appreciate her!

I tip according to how well they completed their task, listened to my requests, etc. So if a taxi driver is not taking a direct route or rude, the tip will be much lower.

The other jobs you mentioned, ie doorman, I don’t stay in those types of hotels.

We tip housecleaning the normal amounts.

Posted by
2660 posts

Ron in Rome, regarding your list, yes, we do tip each of those at home and in most European countries- except the hotel concierge. We've never needed their services. I tip Spa masseuses, but not my regular massage therapist. She is part of the physiotherapy clinic I attend, and is paid rather handsomely by my health insurance.

Posted by
7076 posts

To add confusion: a concierge in a hotel is a well-paid management position so wouldn’t be tipped by a low-roller like me who is asking where to find the bus stop, whereas a high- roller may fork over $100 to thank for hard to get tickets or reservations. Complicated? Fair?

Posted by
1865 posts

From a friend, I received a three-page list of gratuity recommendations by multiple Destination Management Companies (DMC's). These DMC's are among the leaders in their industry and you'd see their names in Condé Nast Traveler or Travel and Leisure Magazines. They are Europeans, locally-based, and not American companies. This chart included feedback from DMC's for the following locations: Spain, Portugal, Greece, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, England, Ireland, and Scotland

DMC's generally work with 4 and 5-star properties, which is why you see some service categories that may not apply to your travels. For most of these companies, 65-75% of their clients come from North American. Thus, these gratuity recommendations are directed towards that market. If they were speaking to a European client, there might be a different result.

Despite the differences in countries and currencies, the DMC's results were fairly similar. Thus, I built this chart only in EURO and you can substitute the conversion to local currency, if applicable. For wide variations, I added the exceptions or range. These are their thoughts on the "tip expectations" of service employees when working with North American travelers.

  1. Restaurant Server: 5%-15% of the total bill (Unless separate service charge already applied); A few stated 20% was OK for exceptional service.
  2. Hotel Cleaning Staff: 1-2€ per day. The Switzerland DMC stated 4-6 CHF (depending on hotel category); The German company suggested €3 per day.
  3. Taxi Drivers: Round up to the next Euro in most countries. Suggested 10% by the French and German DMC's. Also, for longer rides in the UK, those DMC's suggested 5-10% of the bill.
  4. Bartender (when no server is involved): German DMC's recommended 10-15%; others 5-10%.
  5. Porters/Bellhops: 1-2€ per bag. Swiss DMC suggests 4-6 CHF (depending on hotel category)
  6. Doorman (for example, calling you a taxi): 1-2€ unless exceptional service is performed
  7. Hotel Concierge: Split among the DMC's, depending on the country they were located in. At the guest's perception: Either NO TIP or 10-15% (or more) depending on the level of service and complexity).
  8. Private or Airport transfers: 10€ -15€ depending on cost, distance, & time involved.
  9. Private car & driver (ie. an extended day trip): 40-50€, again dependent on cost, distance, & time involved.
  10. Bus Driver for Large Tour Group: 1-2€ per person
  11. Private Tour Guides: Half Day 30€; Full Day 60€
  12. Large Group Tour guides: 2-3€ per person
  13. Masseuse at a Spa: 10-15% depending on the depth and quality of service

These are THEIR NUMBERS, not mine. These service personnel DO NOT work for the DMC's although some of these positions are contracted through their parent companies for the DMC itinerary (for example, tour guides and drivers). Gratuities were higher in Switzerland, Denmark, and Norway. NOTE: All did recommend some form of gratuity for the hotel cleaning staff and servers.

Whether you tip or not is your choice. Full Disclosure: I generally tip for all these positions, and the amount would vary depending on the level of service. As I mentioned earlier, I worked 25+ years in a service-driven industry. I was fully aware that my success was dependent on the performance of the servers and hotel cleaning staff, literally the FACE of the company. For servers, that easy to understand as they are probably the best marketeers - they know the product, the margins, and they interact directly (and more) with the customer. For those that doubt that the Cleaning Staff are the FACE of the company, how many hotel experiences have been branded into your memory by a hair in the sink, a dirty toilet, or stained sheets. As a business traveler, when that happened to me, I was staying at another hotel on my next trip into that town.

Posted by
1473 posts

For most of these companies, 65-75% of their clients come from North
American. Thus, these gratuity recommendations are directed towards
that market. If they were speaking to a European client, there might
be a different result
.

For me, this just adds to the confusion.

Posted by
7076 posts

What Ron has posted concords with our family's practice, and is also what the European side of our family does. It's a bit of a myth that Europeans don't tip. They do. Discreetly. You just don't see a tip jar on every counter.

Heck, at the movies in France an usherette used to show people to seats, even if the theater was empty. They were often struggling, poor, heads of households. It was an unwritten convention to give her half a franc even if you then change to the seat you really wanted.

Posted by
2593 posts

Ron, These are the people in your latest list whom I tip:

Taxi Drivers
Bartender
Porters/Bellhops
Doorman (for example, calling you a taxi)
Hotel Concierge
Private or Airport transfers
Private car & driver (ie. an extended day trip)
Private Tour Guides
Masseuse at a Spa
Hair Stylist (Athough I've gotten darn good at cutting my own hair with C-19 so maybe never again.)

I feel very lucky in life and it is the least I can do to spread the wealth, so to speak, for their personal attention. This is not all I do, but I love personal interaction even if they are getting paid for it.

Posted by
7376 posts

I asked all my English friends in the past few days if they tip the maid who cleans their room each day and they all said Yes, of course.

Posted by
11739 posts

Susan, did you tell them of the social and cultural harm that was causing?

Posted by
275 posts

Ron, I tip all on your list except for bus driver and large group tour guides as I have never taken a large group tour. If it helps, even though I do tip during my European travels, I tip much less than I do at home. For example, for a meal in the US I will tip 20 – 25%, while in Europe I will leave only 10%.

@Emma, I did not say I tip for a job I would never do, rather a job I would never “want” to do. I learned a long time ago that life can turn on a dime and I may have to do things I don’t want to.

Posted by
6013 posts

Susan, could your English friends have picked up the habit from hanging around with Americans? :-)

I was on a zoom call with some friends this morning and out of curiosity I asked them what they did regarding tipping hotel cleaners. We all go through life thinking how we do things is “normal”. No harm checking in case you are the weird one!

Conclusion from this select sample a resounding No. If some one went above and beyond, or if for some reason there was a particular mess to clean up they would tip to say thank you but not as a matter of course. The idea of tipping in advance in the expectation of getting a “better” service was seen as particularly odd and a bit unpleasant. One friend, who runs a small travel agency and travels the world said, and I quote “I never leave a tip in the U.K. It just doesn’t seem normal!” Please note these comment just relate to this situation, not tipping in general.

I then remembered that my baby brother, until recently (thank you Covid!)had a responsible job in the hotel trade. (I tend to forget he is an adult that knows stuff....he’s 46 and married with two kids....)
So I asked him. He said if he was staying a few days he would leave a small tip at the end but that it was neither the norm nor expected.

Definitely a range of opinions on this one

Posted by
4112 posts

I tip because it is something I have been doing my entire life and cannot "turn off the reflex" when I travel.

Hmmm, I wonder how well that would go down in the US and with many of our American contributors here if I took that approach in the US and didn't tip anyone. Probably the same way as when I committed the heinous crime of paying a 10% tip on an expensive meal of which the wine made up a large portion of the bill. Having absorbed all the vitriol I worked out that my server (in an International Drive, Orlando restaurant) made more in one night than an Orlando police officer. How could that ever be justified? When in the US I rarely tip a percentage of a meal not least because the 'helpful' suggested tips are ridiculously high but also because it's such an arbitary way of recognising good service, which is what a tip is for. I've tipped 10% and I've tipped 100% in the US, none of which was based on the cost of the meal but rather what I feel was justified. On occasions I've not left a tip at all because the service has been appalling.

Posted by
2593 posts

I've tipped 10% and I've tipped 100% in the US, none of which was based on the cost of the meal but rather what I feel was justified. On occasions I've not left a tip at all because the service has been appalling.

JC, this is perfectly fine. If someone didn't earn their tip, by no means should they receive it...but always leave at least a penny so they know what you thought of the service.

Posted by
7076 posts

Having absorbed all the vitriol I worked out that my server (in an International Drive, Orlando restaurant) made more in one night than an Orlando police officer. How could that ever be justified?

Yep, it's not always logical. How do I justify tipping my, young, perky, light-skinned, good-looking hotel maids in Cuba who end up earning 10-times more per month than the police officer and doctor combined because she comes into contact with tourists? Meanwhile, people in other parts of the island are begging, hoping we have a spare ballpoint pen to give them, or a plastic bottle of hotel hand lotion for their dried out skin. It's not right, but we've been told what to "gift". It's in the contracts between the Cuban government and the US tour organizers. Fair? Not at all, but it's the standard, so we do it.

PS This restaurant tipping scene in my midwest hometown irked us enough that we almost never go out to eat at there anymore. Putting outrageous suggested tips on the bottom of the tab was bad enough, but every time I called for take out they would ask if I wanted to add a tip. Gimme a break, are they coming to my house to keep my water glass filled or something. So we've given up the overly salted, poorly cooked, obsequious restaurant scene in our US hometown and wait until we're elsewhere. Love all the ethnic eateries where my kids live, though.

Posted by
5590 posts

Interesting that the housekeeper gratuity discussion has drifted to relative compensation of housekeepers in second/third world economies. If the free enterprise or free market economy model applies, those underpaid (fill in the blank, eg police officers) would be rushing to those highly compensated (by western gratuities) housekeeping jobs.

The free market model seems to say that housekeepers in first world (e.g. G20 countries) tourist economies are not highly compensated reflecting those housekeeping jobs seem to be filled my new immigrants and/or guest workers. That said, to paraphrase Yoda, Do or Do Not Tip....

Posted by
11739 posts

Okay Bets, while I am somewhat mystified about some of what you wrote, I do agree on the "tip recommendations" on the bills. If they begin at 15% or more it generally results in no tip. Otherwise for good service and a pleasant experience will result in 15% or greater. On a small bill, like breakfast, $5 might be the equivalent of 30 to 50% and thats still my minimum .... that or nothing. Thanks to minimum wages kiosks and IPads are becoming more prevalent in cheap places, again if a tip is requested most often the tip is lower or non existent. Not recommending this, just saying its my way.

By the way, is a W.A.S.P. an ethnicity? And is an authentic Fish & Chips place in Alabama an ethnic restaurant? And is a kabob house an Asian restaurant?

Posted by
6013 posts

Edgar, regarding that free market discussion. My brother previously worked for a large popular chain of family restaurants here in the U.K. Waiters and Waitresses were on the minimum wage which was topped up ALOT by tips. They were on really good wages, earning significantly more than the managers who didn’t get tips. This was actually detrimental to the service in the restaurants. Good staff who he really wanted to develop in their careers rarely showed an interest in moving into management. Customers tipped anyway, pretty much regardless of the service because that’s “what you do” so staff who were basically bored and going through the motions often didn’t try particularly hard meaning service actually wasn’t that great. It was a bit of a nightmare from a management point of view.

Regarding police officers not choosing to become better paid cleaners I think more would be inclined to if the work wasn’t seen as “women’s work”. It’s interesting how jobs traditionally seen as done by women earn less than comparable roles done by men.

This was an interesting case from the U.K. from a few years ago.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-20294633

Posted by
1865 posts

@Edgar makes an interesting point about global economies. In my service experiences, I've met folks from all over. Part of my job required I "train/experience" all positions. So at different times in my career, I worked as a server, a hotel room cleaner, a cook, etc. I have a lot of respect for folks in those jobs because I was not good at any of them. My "best" position was probably washing dishes.

During one of my "dishwashing experiences," 20+ years ago, I met Ahmed. He was from Pakistan, in his mid-40's, and although he was my trainer, his English was a challenge for me. He was smart, organized, and a hard worker. This store did $85000+ a week in sales so there were 10-12 dish personnel on the busiest shifts. At times, the dish room was staffed with citizens of Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Mexico, etc. Ahmed was a leader in the group and sometimes had to "keep the peace." I quickly grew to admire his handling of the many diverse cultures.

On a break, he asked me if I was "the boss." I said, "I'm A boss" but deferred to the in-store mgt staff. He got quiet and I knew something was bothering him, so I asked him about it. In broken English, he explained to me that he needed time off next week. Even though he'd asked weeks ago... he was on the schedule. He did not want to lose his job, but he really needed the time off. He was able to get time off from his night job (Thus, I discovered he was working 80+ hours a week). Trying not to step on my manager's toes, I simply asked him, "Why do you need the time off?" His answer floored me... He said:

Mr. Ron, I need to go to New York, to Cornell University, as they have asked me to do a presentation.

Turns out in Pakistan, he had a doctorate degree and was published and well-regarded in his field. Yet, there was no job available to him in Pakistan (never found out why), so he came to America. Unable to get a job in his field due to his English, he told me he made more money washing dishes than he made in Pakistan. He was sending money home to his wife and children and hoped to bring them to America one day. Needless to say, we got him the time off. Weeks later, I received a thank-you note that I am sure was painstakingly written with an English dictionary close by (This was long before Google translator).

Ahmed left his country and his family to try and build a better life. From his perspective, it was better for him and his family to wash dishes in the USA than work in Pakistan (His issues were deeper than just money, but I never found them out - he was a proud and private man). His story made an impression on me and the now, "in the know," mgt team. They helped get Ahmed into an English training course and eventually - and good for him - he left our company. Unfortunately, we lost track of him but I know he became successful, on his own terms.

There's no doubt that that are many inequities in the world. And yes, tipping is one of them. As noted in this thread, there are many opinions. When to tip IS confusing and driven by many personal factors. I understand those who say. "The concept of tipping is not consistent with my values." Yet, my response would be to think in terms of the person receiving the tip and educate yourself on the local customs and tipping rules before you travel.

For example, if you are not from the USA - and you don't tip in your country - when you travel to a USA region where a server makes $2.25 an hour, what statement are you making by not tipping? It's not the server's fault. She's got kids at home, bills to pay, a car that needs parts so she does not have to walk to work, etc.

If you disagree, work to change the system. If you cannot or will not, then you should probably tip according to the local custom - whatever the service position. Certainly, the function of a forum like this is to exchange ideas and I think we all learn - respectfully - from everyone's experiences and perspectives.

Posted by
5590 posts

Emma. We were in Vuokatti, Finland during the winter of 2016. Vuokatti is a 7 or 8 hour train trip north of Helsinki. Judging from skin color and accents the housekeeping staff were migrants from Africa. Our housekeepers were both men and women. Conclusion is that migrants will go where they are work opportunities and men will do traditional women's work. And African migrants will locate to towns with sub-zero temperature and snow for work opportunities.

Posted by
7076 posts

And risk their lives in rickety boats floating from Senegal to the Canaries or Algeria to Lesbos or crawling through a killer desert in Arizona. They're desperate.

Posted by
2938 posts

Ah, the perennial tipping conundrum.
I don’t think there will ever be a definitive answer for Americans traveling outside their own country, mostly because our practices are so far outside those of the rest of the world, like tip jars on retail counters. I have learned a few things, which I’ll share; but I do confess to never feeling completely at ease about tipping when traveling.

Waiters and most other service personnel in most western and central European countries are decently paid, and tipping is not expected. Where is the geographic line? Can’t say. I often try to see what is being done by other patrons, and the absence of a tip space on a cc slip suggests nothing is expected.

I’ve had gratuities both refused and accepted by guides on day tours in Italy, but usually accepted elsewhere. In fact, the so-called free tours, now so common all over Europe, are 100% tip driven. I find the concept obnoxious, and avoid them.

Cleaners are a different case, to me, especially when their skin color or accents suggest that they are immigrants from poorer countries, who have undergone unendurable economic pressure. Their jobs are physically demanding and at the bottom of the compensation and power pecking order. No one aspires to clean up other people’s messes. A tourist can’t know for sure, but I suspect there is sometimes exploitation of of undocumented immigrants involved. For these reasons, I always leave a daily gratuity, with a thank you. Two of us, so the equivalent of €2/day.

In a perfect world everyone would be adequately compensated, and tipping would disappear. Not leaving a tip for the poor and overworked is not a way to bring about that outcome.

Posted by
2114 posts

A traveler can’t know for sure, but I suspect there is often exploitation of of undocumented immigrants involved. For these reasons, I always leave a daily gratuity, with a thank you.

If that is why you leave a tip when you don't have to, then your reward will be great in Heaven!

Posted by
2482 posts

I have read this thread with interest and am quite shocked at the presumptive , xenophobic. sexist, classist , racist and downright superiority of many of the replies on it.
If you are so worried about the way many of your servers and cleaners are being treated in their place of work why not write to the COE of the hotel chain you are using and ask them to sort things out. Before you stay anywhere ask about their policy on using low paid /illegal workers, make some effort to check the actual tipping policy of that country and follow it, do not presume anything.
just reading this thread really has put me off contributing to this forum anymore quite frankly the attitude of many people on this forum shows that my values and attitudes are really at odds with many of the folk on it.
I have suggested before on tipping threads that if you are so consumed with guilt about not tipping, then at the end of your trip make a donation to a local charity .

Posted by
11450 posts

First off - tipping cleaning staff in England is NOT . When one goes to a grand house weekend party and the house has staff one most certainly did too staff at end of stay .
Secondly when younger I did housekeeping and worked in shops . Housekeeping is MUCH harder so I’m surprised that Emma felt they were about the same . I never had to scrub 10 toilets and tubs when working at a shop .

I do tip housekeeping - 2-4 euros per night - and I tip daily as staff can change .

I tip housekeeping staff here in Canada too - simply because I know the work load .

I don’t tip doormen for calling me a taxi - sorry lifting your arm for one minute isn’t exactly “ work “ - if he helps load baggage or carry it in I might tip a dollar or two .

I always tip hairdresser , as long as she is not the owner of shop .

In Europe I tip - but much less than at home ( usually just rounding up ) and only of server was decent . I’ve heard of servers reminding tourists they can tip - if they did that to me they would get not one penny - it’s rude to ask .

When in a taxi ( which I rarely am while in Europe ) I ask driver if he is car owner , if he is - I rarely tip .

Posted by
2938 posts

@uncle gus
Do you really think the CEO of a big hotel chain is going to respond to a tourist’s letter asking them to “sort things out?” Or that anyone would admit to illegal labor practices? Get real. Imagine a certain luxury chain hotel owner turned politician feeling remorse at using the undocumented status of some workers to pay substandard wages.
And, btw, I did read some stingy and/or self serving viewpoints; but nothing racist, sexist, or xenophobic.

Posted by
6013 posts

If you think staff are being mistreated or illegal activity is taking place you absolutely should report it to the head office and potentially the police. Any reputable business will not want to be implicated in criminality. If you think you are being ignored escalate it.
Giving a tip to the staff you think are being mistreated might make you feel less guilty but doesn’t help anyone, not least because if they are being mistreated they almost certainly won’t be allowed to keep the money you give them, it will be going straight into the pockets of the people that “control” them.
These criminals are highly likely to be involved in other forms of crime, not least drugs, money laundering and prostitution. If you have concerns report it, don’t just hand over some notes out of guilt.

Pat, the start of you comment looks like it is missing something so I am not sure what you were wanting to say. I can only talk about my experience of working in department store glass and China / cookware departments for a number of years.
10 hours on my feet( 12 at Christmas) walking literally miles between shop floors and stock rooms, lugging heavy and/or fragile boxes. Up and down rickety ladders retrieving goods for customers. Constant tidying and dusting whilst also keeping often rude and grumpy customers happy. Dealing with occasionally aggressive shoplifters and also perform regular bomb sweeps because at the time both the Irish and Welsh were trying to blow us up. So if you asked me, when I was lugging my 10th 5 pan Le Crueset set of the day across the shop floor or man handling a 48 piece dinner set down a ladder, if I would rather be cleaning 10 toilets I can’t guarantee what my response would.have been even though I actually enjoyed my work
But this isn’t a competition in “my job was crappier than your job”. The point is why do some jobs warrant generous tips and others don’t?

Posted by
24386 posts

Agree with Emma.

Something I haven't written before - my first two jobs after university were cookware and housewares department of a major New England department store and then scooping ice cream sundaes and cooking burgers and serving them at a counter and a few tables and booths at a major ice cream/burgers/hot food New England chain.

Never saw a tip but worked my butt off (and built muscles) at the department store job (where I got my first car), and worked steady but never exhausted at the restaurant - and gots lots of tips for doing very little.

Where's the equality?

I completely agree about humping sets of china and saucepans about - but my best seller was Farberware which is WAY lighter than Le Creuset.

Posted by
11739 posts

I never realized the extent if social inequity and cultural corruption tipping caused. No more tips from me. Maybe that will help force a $20/hr living wage world wide.

Posted by
6013 posts

Nigel, glad to see there is someone out there who understands my pain! :-)
I actually really enjoyed the job but it has left me with a residual hatred of all forms of cast iron cookware!

Posted by
1061 posts

I'm sure glad I rent apartments. How about we ask our wise leaders to repeal all the laws which force hotel and restaurant owners to pay their staff low wages.

".....left me with a residual hatred of all forms of cast iron cookware!" - Emma, I have a good collection of heavy cast iron pots and pans, and I'm willing to take all yours, if you still have any. Send them to me, prepaid, and I'll send you a tip in return.

Posted by
1865 posts

How about we ask our wise leaders to repeal all the laws which force
hotel and restaurant owners to pay their staff low wages.

Having worked in the industries, I would say the current laws (minimum wages, for example) do not force hotel and restaurant owners to pay their staff low wages, but rather allow them to pay low wages.

There's no doubt they could pay higher wages should they choose to do so - and some do.

Posted by
2593 posts

I've followed Leyla of Women on the Road for several years now. She happened to post about etiquette last week:
"In some countries, tipping is a foregone conclusion and the absence of a tip on the table signals dissatisfaction. Tips can range widely. In the USA, tipping is easily 20% of the bill in a restaurant whereas in Australia and several Asian countries, there is no tipping culture. In Japan, tipping is actually insulting, as though you were highlighting someone's lack of money. So make sure you find out about tipping etiquette in your destination before you pull out your wallet."

Her site is Women on the Road

I will add that before UK trips I usually ask my British son in law if I should tip in this scenario or that scenario. On occasion, I'm told I can round up, but essentially he looks at me as if I'm crazy and keeps saying "No". (Well, I am the MIL so he probably does think I'm crazy, but that's beside the point). It is hard to follow his tipping instructions, but I try or I do my best just to avoid the situation...hence no maid service at hotels.

Posted by
94 posts

Uncle Gus,
It's great to hear from you again, I truly miss you. Yes, you were a curmudgeon during the holidays and you were pretty much miserable all the time but I know you are a good person deep down inside. Anyway, I ... uh. Wait is this the Uncle Gus from Scranton, NY? Sorry, wrong Uncle Gus.

Posted by
1158 posts

To think just about hotel room cleaning again......
Way upthread someone said they usually refuse daily cleaning but is now wondering if that is limiting someone's paid hours....
For lots of reasons I tend to do the same thing, like discovering that the plastic fork i had been hoarding for leftovers must have been thrown away.......
Seems to me that after that deranged man in Las Vegas turned his hotel room into a sniper nest there was some push back from the industry. Suddenly I was getting xeroxed notes slid under my door saying "we must have access at least every third day ". Anyone else notice that change in travel within the US?

Posted by
4898 posts

Yes, I travelled for Business at the end of my career (before Covid shut it down) and I usually would put the "Do not disturb" sign out during a 2-3 night stay since I had plenty of towels and do not change my sheets everyday at home, but I usually just had a note under the door indicating they could not clean. The "3 days" thing was likely a Hotel policy rather than a requirement. I usually also let the front desk know I did not require housekeeping.

I did once, when staying a week one place, get a call from the desk after several days, asking if I needed housekeeping.

As for your other comment regarding that affecting "hours"; I stayed at the same HI Express 2-3 days every week, or every other week for about 6 months. I got the impression that the cleaning staff was a contracted third party group and that they probably did get paid by the room (plus I imagine a base fee). For a while, all the "do not disturb" signs disappeared, and they were pretty insistent about wanting to clean.

And, per my comment at the beginning of the thread, no, I did not leave a tip.

Posted by
5370 posts

doric8, I'd been in a couple of US hotels, where the cleaners basically ignored the signs for saving water by not changing the sheets or towels (on rack versus on the floor, e.g.). I asked a couple of housekeepers in the hallway about this once (casually, not confrontationally), and were told they didn't like the policy because it cut them out of work.

Posted by
604 posts

About 10 years ago I attended a national gardening conference in California and stayed in a considerably more fancy hotel than I normally would for 3 or 4 nights. The hotel gave me the choice of having my room cleaned or not, and actually offered me a $5 credit that I could use for a meal in the hotel, etc. I was so happy not to have anybody cleaning and tidying my room I would have paid extra not to have them do it.

My husband would tell you that I overuse the word "creepy," but it just seems creepy and annoying to have total strangers in my personal space doing things for me I don't need or want, and monkeying with the way I have my stuff set up the way I like. It's the opposite of "luxury" for me. Privacy is luxury. This is one of many reasons why we stay in apartments rather than hotels in Europe as much as possible.

I also feel creepy about tipping people in America, although I do it. It just feels so weird to hand another adult a few bucks, and it seems so odd that we traditionally tip some people who do things for us and not other people. I've never had a job earning more than $10 an hour and I would have felt awful if someone had tipped me. Sort of demeaned, I guess. I would have wondered if the tipper imagined I would do a better job if tipped. Luckily, the country we mainly visit in Europe is Italy and tipping does not seem to be the norm in the kind of the places we eat or stay. We do round up for taxis there. Never left a tip in a hotel (our rare one-night airport hotel stays).

Posted by
1473 posts

Good article This sentence describing the reason for tipping covers my frustration with, whether it be in North America or anywhere else;

a chance to show appreciation for work done with extraordinary care.

in my mind it's gone too far and it seems we tip because it's an an expectation and not to show appreciation for a job well done. What do I do if I pre-tip the maid and then she forgets my towels? Can I ask for the tip back? No, instead I then have to tip again when I have to call down and a different member of housekeeping shows up with the towels I should have gotten in the first place.

Posted by
1801 posts

I go with the "when in Rome" philosophy, ie if the local custom in whatever country I happen to be visiting is to tip then I will - if not then I don't.
OTOH, I always make it a point to tip the housekeepers when traveling here in the US.

Posted by
11739 posts

What do I do if I pre-tip the maid and then she forgets my towels? Can
I ask for the tip back? No,

Its a practice with two sides. Recognition and Grace.

Tip upon leaving takes care of the recognition.

Grace comes from the act of giving, not the expectation of return.

Yes, in one's heart, there is always going to be a conflict between the two. Worse conflicts could exist.

Posted by
5590 posts

Different philosophies:

There is the Mother Teresa "Love means to be willing to give until it hurts".

And then there is Paul's "Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."