Please sign in to post.

Tip for housekeeping

hello
Rainy day in Varenna 😕. On to Venice tomorrow. My question is do we leave a tip for housekeeping at the hotel? Thanks for any feedback

Posted by
3580 posts

I usually leave a small tip in my room when I leave. If I'm not sure the housekeeper will get it, I hand the money to them.

Posted by
4152 posts

You don't need to tip. They get paid for doing their job.

Donna

Posted by
11613 posts

I usually leave a few euro per night.

Posted by
126 posts

We always leave something for housekeeping whether in the U.S., Mexico or Europe. We write "Thank you!" in whatever language is appropriate and leave a tip on top of the note. ..not just when we check out but each morning. It's not a pleasant job and certainly doesn't pay much no matter what country one is in.... We've never had anything disappear from our room and we get great service!

Posted by
4152 posts

Cathy, why do you say it doesn't pay much? In the U.S. and in Italy they get paid at least the minimum wage. Most hotels pay much more than the minimum wage.

If you wish to tip you can, no one is going to stop you but the question is "do we leave a tip for housekeeping" and the answer is you do not need to.

Donna

Posted by
1628 posts

Well, it wasn't Italy, it was in Bruges where I asked the gentle, soft-spoken owner of our hotel what he thought might be a suitable amount to tip the maid. "NOTHING! LEAVE HER NOTHING!" He went ballistic-- I mean red in the face, frothing ballistic. He started counting off on his fingers his costs, wages, benefits, insurances, even that he was required to pay an additional month's wages in December, or something close to that. Honestly, we were so stunned we were trembling and really didn't hear the entire diatribe, looking instead for a speedy means of egress! True story.

Posted by
8293 posts

Denny, what a nasty piece of work that hotel owner was. Why should he get so angry at the thought of one of his employees getting a tip? He sounds a little nuts to me.

Posted by
126 posts

Donna, I assumed that Carolyn was asking if she should leave a tip for housekeeping...my point was that it's a nice thing to do...not that yes, "we do leave tips". Tips are by definition a voluntary thing...it's common to leave tips for servers in most restaurants and in Italy we round up as is the local culture. Saying thank you, in whatever way, is a nice way to recognize someone's work...not necessary certainly, but always appreciated. I was simply passing on our thoughts about tipping housekeepers...this forum is packed with wonderful ideas, hints and often personal feelings about experiences and travel ideas. I'll go with Zoe's message about leaving a Euro or two.

Posted by
1994 posts

Cathy, your suggestion of writing "thank you" is a good one. I always feel bad if the tip is there when I return in the evening... presumably because the maid wasn't sure if it was for her.

And re the fact that they are paid for their work -- When I see someone working a lot harder than I work and for a lot less money, I think it never hurts to give. It's certainly something I would appreciate if the roles were reversed!

Posted by
7146 posts

I totally agree with cathy and I believe leaving a tip is the right thing to do. As others said, it is a hard, dirty, thankless job and if I'm lucky enough to be on vacation I would never not leave a tip.
I leave a euro or two on the unmade bed each day so the cleaner that cleaned my room that day gets it and because it's on the unmade bed, they hopefully know it's for them.

Posted by
255 posts

Hotel housekeepers in Italy have a wage of about €1000 euros a month, they also have a bonus payment (an additional wage a year), health etc, which means the hotel has to pay at least double for each person in taxes, which is the reason I think the owner was so adamant in his response.

Maybe it is not a pleasant job, but it is a serious job that has a living wage and benefits, so a tip is not needed.

Posted by
247 posts

Not long ago I worked for minimum wage. Its almost impossible to survive on those wages. 1,000 euro a month? That's all??
I'd like to see how well most travelers would fare in big expensive European cities on a 32 euro a day budget!

I always leave a small tip when I can afford to do someone else a kindness. :)

Posted by
5703 posts

Unlike in the US where living wage is not paid and many people working these type jobs do not get health insurance or vacation as part of their wages, in Europe, people are better paid for these jobs AND they have ample vacations and excellent health care without onerous co-pays. These are not tipping cultures for a reason. To not tip in the US in restaurants is to literally steal service and maids are don't get health care (or if they do it has huge deductions and co-pays) and vacations.

Posted by
255 posts

I am sorry but 1000 euro a month is not bad! In fact, engineers have a salary of about 1200 euros, psychologists sometimes less than 1000, so your parameters are a little off. It's an ok salary that allows a 2 person family to live ok.

Posted by
5504 posts

I am sorry but 1000 euro a month is not bad! In fact, engineers have a salary of about 1200 euros, psychologists sometimes less than 1000, so your parameters are a little off. It's an ok salary that allows a 2 person family to live ok.

http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_countries_result.jsp?country1=Italy&country2=United+States

Consumer Prices in United States are 0.26% higher than in Italy
Consumer Prices Including Rent in United States are 12.64% higher than
in Italy Rent Prices in United States are 56.08% higher than in Italy
Restaurant Prices in United States are 21.23% lower than in Italy
Groceries Prices in United States are 27.78% higher than in Italy
Local Purchasing Power in United States is 41.37% higher than in Italy

As many have noted, a tip or gratuity to the invisible "little people" who make your stay pleasant is not mandatory. But if it make you feel a little better about your self, why not express a little gratitude to those "little people", especially if you are a pig-like guest.

Posted by
2229 posts

As far as the U.S. is concerned, I dare say that minimum wage qualifies as "doesn't pay much".

Posted by
255 posts

Well I live in Milan and we live ok, we live in the city center in a small but comfortable apartment, spend € 35 per person per n month in transportation. We eat out sometimes, go travel once a year. My husband used to make 1200 and my salary was 700. We both are professionals and nobody gives us tips. I'm not telling is forbidden, but it's not necessary, and you should not be feeling sorry or compassionate about someone who makes a decent salary.

Posted by
11613 posts

Little people? Are you referring to height/size, or some outdated and elitist socioenomic caste system?

Posted by
5504 posts

Zoe, the "little people" are the ones who do the hard and/or dirty work but are never "seen" because they are so "little". For some reason the immigrants and migrants tend to be the " little" unseeen folks cleaning, carrying and bussing.

Posted by
126 posts

People! Yikes! Pig-like? Seriously? On the good side, I've learned a lot about European labor law....hopefully all those hotels, large and small, comply. All this over a simple way to show appreciation. Happy travels everyone!

Posted by
1628 posts

Re " the little people". Reading this comment on a post concerning maids, hotels and tips, I immediately recalled hotelier Leona Helmsley AKA "The Queen of Mean". At her trial, it was a housekeeper who testified that she'd overheard her say "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes". Maybe she mentored our guy in Bruges.
And yes, Norma, it was weird. And after it, we did leave her something. I just hope that our guy isn't reading this; I'd hate to be labeled an Ugly American for contravening local customs because we felt sorry for his housekeeper.

Posted by
4152 posts

The point is it's an American tradition to tip everyone and not an Italian one. You are visiting a different country so you should do as they do and not continue to do like you do at home because you feel sorry for them. Why on earth you would feel sorry for someone with a good job is beyond me but to each their own.

the question is still. "Do we leave a tip for housekeeping at the hotel". The locals and those of us who travel frequently say it's not necessary. Those saying it's the "right thing to do" are Americans who are used to a tipping culture.

Donna

Posted by
328 posts

I've managed hotels in Canada for roughly 20 years and can tell you that every hotel is different in terms of how they pay their housekeeping staff (some are minimum wage, some more), benefits, etc. Working in a hotel, housekeepers generally see their colleagues either getting paid more (i.e. front desk attendants often - but not always - get paid a little more) or receiving tips (i.e. restaurant or banquet staff). That being said, I'd like to see the hotel that can survive without its housekeeping staff - they are without a doubt the backbone of the hotel. Every room attendant I have ever met has always been grateful that their hard work was noticed.

My experience studying at a hotel school in Switzerland taught me that job of being a room attendant is generally given more professional respect in Europe than it is in North America. I also agree with the posters who said that tipping is not an expected practice in Europe the same way as it is in the US/Canada and so should be treated accordingly.

If you do decide to tip, I suggest leaving a note indicating that the tip is for the room attendant. Most hotels are very strict about security and a good room attendant will not touch any money unless they are absolutely certain it is for them.

Posted by
96 posts

People, pleae realize we are talking about 2 different cultures. Just because we do things "our" way, doesn't make it correct, pleasant, appreciated in another culture.The entire scenario between help in the US and Europe are totally different. When in Rome .....

Posted by
5504 posts

Just because we do things "our" way, doesn't make it correct, pleasant, appreciated in another culture.

Perhaps tips in some cultures could be construed to be offensive or demeaning. But my limited experience in Asiago, IT was that handing the housekeeper a gratuity after a 10 day stay with a poorly pronounced grazie seemed well received. I don't think I offended the housekeeper.

Posted by
4506 posts

Carolyn,

I'm sure you didn't expect so many varying responses to your post.

Bottom line: It's really up to you.

Posted by
1761 posts

If I am able to tip early to get better service I will. If I tip the first night chances are I'll get slightly better service than the room next to me who doesn't. Housekeeping is a service and a Euro or two left on the pillow is a clear sign in any country. Cultural differences aside, working people appreciate money, a little respect ( I don't leave underwear on the floor) and a nice gesture.

Has anyone tried tipping a Maitre'D in Europe to get a table at a crowded restaurant? It sure works here in the States.

Posted by
1628 posts

Well, I am indeed aware that tipping is not mandatory. I am also completely cognizant of the fact that when I visit a foreign country that I am, in fact, in a foreign country - where habits and customs are different. Truth is, "For I was a stranger in a strange land" is almost always uncontrollably looping somewhere in the back of my head..it's on autoplay. I try to act accordingly. In the case I mentioned, I did feel sorry for her. Not because she had a job but because her boss was a jerk. Jerks scream at guests in lobbies. They flail and froth and carry on like madmen. I'm certain that's not a typical Belgian custom, and even if it were, I would never strive to emulate it just because I was a guest in his country. His behavior was, in my book, inexcusable. And rude. Very rude. HIs job is to thank me for patronizing his business and paying whatever he has seen fit to charge me for it, not to intimate me. I don't generally run through hotels or city streets tossing euros wildly in the air. But now and then, I give the maids a little something, not because they are doing a job of work, but because I was treated with kindness beyond their duties of making the bed or cleaning a bathroom. I also occasionally give money to beggars. It reminds me that that I have much to be grateful for...the good health that enables me to travel as I choose, some money in the bank and two good legs. Perhaps not the noblest of reasons, but there it is. And for the record, the young lady was as far from offended as one could imagine.

Posted by
91 posts

How does one get "better service" in a hotel room? Make the bed, clean the bathroom, empty the trash-what else is there?
I don't see the point of tipping maid service.

Posted by
23579 posts

so its really down to bribery? If you don't bribe with a tip your neighbor gets the same service as you rather than you getting slightly better? Or, god forbid, your neighbor might get slightly better service than you if they tipped and you didn't? The heavens would part and thunderbolts descend?

You know, I really don't care what my neighbor gets and if I am better than them (or at least I can throw more money around).

Posted by
1761 posts

You can tip out of generosity or you can tip for receiving good service or you can tip in hopes of receiving better service.
I learned early on (about 14) when I went to a show in Vegas with my sisters. Dad gave me the tickets and an extra $10, folded it and showed me how to shake hands with the seater and slip him the ten. It was general admission but we got seats in the front row and it was a real life lesson I learned. You can go to a crowded restaurant here in L.A. with a waiting list and slip the Maitre 'D some money and get seated quickly. Call it bribery if you want but it works.
I've had extended stays in hotels and noticed when I tipped I had extra towels and toiletries, things folded nicely (like clothes that I may have left out) and generally just a tidier room.
We are dealing with people in the service business and they work for money, human nature is that you will be nicer to someone who is nicer to you, pretty simple.
Something I learned from my wife is whenever a cashier says an obligatory "how are you today?" my wife says "good thanks and how are you?" They always look at her and say "thanks for asking" because most people treat them as if they are invisible and just mumble "OK". Try it and see because I have learned to do it and it makes the interaction more pleasant and I never cease to be amazed that they are slightly surprised that I asked and waited for an answer.
So you can think it shouldn't be necessary to tip or that they don't expect it or need it but you can also use it to get better service or feel better about yourself. I don't tip waiters in Europe like I do at home but I always round up and leave at least an extra Euro or two. If I plan on going back a few times I might over tip in hopes of a better table next time or friendlier service. I like good service and a table with a view.
Why is it some people complain of rude waiters and people in Europe and others never seem to have a problem? You reap what you sow and it goes well beyond just tipping but that's the subject of this thread.

Posted by
3809 posts

I wouldn't be offended if I was a maid and someone left me a few Euros...regardless of my pay. I worked at a 'coffee' shop wayyyy back in the early 90's (OK, it was Tim Hortons) here in Canada making minimum wage and people left tips and at the end of the night we'd split them and I'd have about another hour or hour and a half worth of wage...living at home at the time, it was my spending money for the week and the actual pay went into the bank.

You never know - maybe they've immigrated from another country and send home any extra...maybe they save it for the future...I know tipping isn't a necessity overseas, but why would someone be offended by money? We all could use a little more. And if it makes you feel good, than have at it!

Posted by
8889 posts

I would say, form a European point of view, what Richard describes is definitely "bribery and corruption":
"an extra $10, .... shake hands with the seater and slip him the ten"
"slip the Maitre 'D some money and get seated quickly"
I would say these are both admissions of bribery which are verging on the criminal. Both these people are paid to do a job, and you are bribing them to do a better job to some customers than to others. If I was their employer I would fire them for not doing their job properly, and the employees should be insulted by your implication that they are bribe-able.

I would not "feel better about yourself" if I did this but rather I would feel guilty about bribing somebody.

But, that is an opinion from my side of the Atlantic.

Posted by
1761 posts

Chris...thanks for another point of view. I don't plan on "bribing" anyone in Europe, just pointing out that it works here in the States and is common and not seen as criminal. I do wonder if we can lump all of Europe together and what might be an insult in Switzerland might be normal in Italy? As I understand it they are completely different cultures. Am I wrong in assuming that Switzerland has fewer immigrant workers than Italy? It leaving a small tip for the mad not a good idea in Switzerland? I'm on this forum to learn and have no desire to be an unwitting "Ugly American".
I can tell you if you visit Las Vegas you'll have a better experience by "greasing the wheels".

Posted by
5504 posts

Re: Am I wrong in assuming that Switzerland has fewer immigrant workers than Italy?

I have heard from a Swiss born friend whose family has run a hotel for several generations that migrant labor is common in the Swiss hospitality industry. Half of Swiss hospitality workers are foreign. The only statistics I could find to quantity that assertion is a bit dated, 10 years old:
http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/switzerland-faces-common-european-challenges

Switzerland has one of the highest immigration rates on the continent.
According to the 2000 census, 22.4 percent of the total population of
7.4 million is foreign born, and 20.5 percent, or nearly 1.5 million, are foreigners, defined as persons with a foreign nationality. While
Switzerland used to be a destination for employment-seeking French,
Germans, and Italians, in the latter half of the 20th century it
became home to Eastern European dissidents, Yugoslavian refugees, and
asylum seekers from the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.

Immigrants Numbers Today

The proportion of foreigners in the population has steadily risen
since 1950, when 5.9 percent of the people did not have Swiss
nationality. By 1970, that number was 15.9 percent, and by the end of
2002, this figure stood at 21.6 percent. Within Europe, only
Luxembourg, at 37 percent, has a higher percentage of foreigners.

Switzerland clearly depends on its foreign labor. Immigrants compose
25 percent of the total workforce, 50 percent of hotel and restaurant
industry workers, and 33 percent of those in construction.

The distribution of the foreign population according to citizenship
(see Table 1) shows the increase in migrants from the former
Yugoslavia, Turkey, and non-European countries. Between 1970 and 2000,
the number of Italian and Spanish migrants decreased as the number of
Yugoslavians, Turks, and Portuguese strongly increased. Sri Lanka,
India, and China are the main Asian countries of origin, with most Sri
Lankans seeking asylum and most Indians and Chinese coming as
students.

Read full article for Table.

Posted by
4152 posts

I don't understand why people are still comparing what the practice in North America is to what it is in Italy. There have been Italians on this board explaining the tipping practice and still people are arguing that they will somehow feel better if they leave a tip because that is what they're use to.

The whole point of traveling to a different country is to try something different. You wouldn't go all the way to Italy to eat at an Olive Garden or an Outback Steakhouse, you eat at local restaurants and try the local dishes that are available. Why is it so hard to do the same thing with lodging? Why do you assume that the housekeepers are so poor that they need your help to survive? Why do you assume that you need to bribe the seating host/ess in order to get a good table? Why do you assume that people don't have pride in what they do and need to be bribed into doing their job correctly?

I have never had to wait for a good table at any restaurant that I've visited. I've never had a housekeeper refuse to clean my room or do a bad job of cleaning it. I've never had a front desk host not give me the room I booked or a better room. They've all done this without a bribe because it's their job and they are paid to do it.

People should remember that things in Italy are NOT the same as they are in North America. Just because something makes you feel good doesn't mean you should do it.

If you want to see some true feelings on tipping you should go to the Disney World/Orlando forums on Trip Advisor and read those. You'll see that most people coming from the U.K. and from Europe don't understand our tipping culture because it's not what they do at home. Those threads are very interesting and should tell you what it acceptable and what is not when in Europe. Most think tipping 15-20% is unheard of because it's not what they do at home. Then it's goes on to be the same conversation that is going on here but in reverese, when in the U.S. you should do as they do, when at home do as you normally do. When the regulars list all the different people who should be tipped because of their job most Europeans can't believe it. Those threads are very interesting and give good insite into different cultures.

Donna

Posted by
1761 posts

Donna....I looked back through this thread and nobody from Italy has posted so I did a little search. It seems Ron in Rome (who I suspect is considered an expert on Italy travel here) posted on this same subject....

I think Micheal has a good appreciation and explanation of the tipping system in Italy. Americans are seen as good tippers and a good Italian waiter will want to wait on you. Their perception of other nationalities is not as positive... Know that all tips are pooled in Italy so if your waiter gives you GREAT service, hand the tip DIRECTLY to him discreetly and separately from the bill. In many restaurants EVERYONE, including management and ownership often participate in the tip funds! That can explain why some Italian waiters can appear indifferent. Most restaurants, if you look closely at the menu, will acknowledge "servizio inclusivo," or service included. If they do not, there may be an "additional charge" added on - Know this before you leave any tip! Most waiters WILL point out if service IS NOT included!
For a cab driver, 10% is the top-end usually... unless you have extra luggage and then most of them will ADD this charge as the cab STOPS at your destination! My biggest "taxi disagreement" was in Paris over this point - The concierge had to come out and rescue me (or maybe the taxi driver!).
In hotels/B&B the maids usually get 1 Euro a day - I often ask for an envelope at the desk and write "thank you" so they know I know... Bellman usually get 1 Euro per bag, unless you're packing your 95 lb. bag!
Concierges are tipped based on their level of help. Simple directions are part of their job... but getting those special tickets (like we scored for The Last Supper in Milan) should be rewarded - the level of tip dependent on how difficult the task was. Since we did the last-minute decision to see The Last Supper again, the tip was MORE than the tickets as it was sold out for weeks. In Italy, it's often who you know - and who they know!
Hope those suggestions help....
Ciao,
Ron
Blockquote

So it seems tipping the maid a Euro a day is OK with him. I did a little more searching and can't seem to find anyone from Italy commenting on the subject, Maybe you could point out one or two examples or Roberto will weigh in on the subject.

Edit to add...I see member maferuizv agrees with Donna and seems very knowledgeable on what hotel maids in Italy are paid. They make almost the same as Engineers it seems and about 300 Euro more than whatever job she held. Perhaps she should have gotten a job as a hotel maid!

Posted by
4152 posts

Ron is an American living in Rome (at least I think he's back in Rome now). You can do a search of past tipping threads where Italians and those of us who visit frequently have explained the tipping rules.

Again, this should all go back to the question asked by the OP, *My question is do we leave a tip for housekeeping at the hotel? * The answer is no, you don't need to. If you feel better about doing it, then go ahead but realize this is not the norm.

Donna

Posted by
1761 posts

Donna, I did a few searches looking for Italians posting on the tipping subject, because that is what you were quoting, and couldn't find any examples. So basically we have non-Italians here saying what is and isn't proper etiquette with no clear answers. It reminds me of every dressing like a tourist thread where people argue over what we think is right while there is no clear cut answer to any of these questions. People here have strong opinions on how others should act so as not to give tourists some image that we have in our heads about how we want to be perceived. What was a common conception as few as ten years ago has changed and the world is a much smaller place where cultural norms have become a lot less and that is especially true in tourist destinations.
Threads like these get so much response because there is no correct answer.

Posted by
4152 posts

Richard, since you couldn't find anything on this site and it's easier for me to search the TA site I found this for you. Post 5 is from an Italian women living in Rome and post 7 is by a woman who has lived in Italy for over 20 years.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g187791-i22-k8377796-Tipping-Rome_Lazio.html

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g187791-i22-k8377796-Tipping-Rome_Lazio.html

post 1 is by an Italian living in Italy.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g187791-i22-k7468012-Tipping_is_service_no_longer_included-Rome_Lazio.html

post 1 is by an Italian living in Turin

They all say the same thing. Italians don't tip other than rounding up in a restaurant. They certainly don't tip American style and they don't tip everyone and their brother just because someone is in the service industry. Since you won't believe those of us who don't actually live in Italy perhaps you'll believe those who do live there.

donna

Posted by
1761 posts

Donna, Don't get me wrong, I sincerely believe you don't tip. I believe the people you quoted don't tip as well and that is what is normal for them so like you said, a tip isn't required anywhere. The point I was making is you can still tip if you want and with few exceptions, nobody will be offended. My other point is when dealing with people in the service industry who are used to dealing with Americans, you can receive better service with a timely tip. If someone wants to get on a high horse and call it bribery or some other silly name they are within their rights to do so but it doesn't change how things work in todays world.

Posted by
255 posts

I would not say the service industry is used to cater to americans (with the exception of tourist restaurants next to tourists attractions). Contrary to what some people on this forums believe (and I'm not directing it to anyone specifically), Italy is not made for tourists, people live here and go to restaurants, and use trains, much much more than tourists do. So no, italians don't tip, and those who work in the service industry are used to that because most of their customers are italian.
Maybe they won't be offended, but still, you are doing something that is not the custom here, so when other tourists come, and try to do it as italians do, they will be expected to tip just because other tourists from the US do so.
I am not italian, but have been living in Italy for 6 years, so when I say that italians don't tip, I say it from day to day experience...

Posted by
3809 posts

Just a thought I had...when Europeans come to America...do you tip the servers and leave something for housekeeping as it the 'custom'? Just curious...

Posted by
4152 posts

Nicole, there are always huge debates on TA on the DisneyWorld/Orlando forums when tipping comes up. Most Europeans who have never been to the States find our tipping practices insane and say they will not tip 15-20% of the bill, nor tip maids, bell men, taxi drivers..... It's explained to them that this is our culture and that they should plan this in with their budget. Most will argue that waiters/waitresses should be paid a higher wage and not rely on tips to pay the rent. Then it goes on and on and on about why it is the way it is and why people think it should be different and so on. The bottom line is always that when you come to America you tip the way we do here.

Donna

Posted by
3809 posts

They were debating tipping on our radio stn yesterday morning...and we have the same tipping culture here in Canada as the US...but a big difference is, our servers are paid a living wage...at least minimum wage...(which in Nova Scotia is like 10.50 an hour...equiv to maybe $8.25 or so US with the current exchange). Well, 'living' wage compared to what some restaurant workers are paid in the US. So I wonder how Canada fell into that tipping trap...my comment was...I worked just as hard selling shoes (it wasn't self serve...I had to go to the stockroom for almost every customer...sometimes multiple times and up and down a narrow little staircase in the stockroom) and made maybe .50 over minimum...yet why do I tip someone who takes 20 sec to pour a coffee at Tim Hortons...but not the person in the clothing store who runs to the rack 5 times to get me a diff size or colour?

Hopefully the States will get on board with paying servers more and try to stop the tipping culture...or lessen what is expected...more in line with European custom of rounding to the next dollar (or not).

That being said...I one time thought about applying for a housekeeping position with a local motel until I started thinking about how gross people are and some of the horrible stuff I might find left behind on the bedsheets or in the toilet...yeah, they deserve a few dollars ;) And I do tip the coffee people and the servers and housekeeping when we travel (tho, now I got my dander up about the coffee servers, so that may not happen anymore...)

Posted by
255 posts

Yes, when I go to the US, as well as when I go to my country, I tip to waiters (15-20% in the US, 10% in my country), as it is the custom. Before I travel I find out what the customs are and try to adapt to them (for example, negotiate prices in Morocco, to tip or not to tip, how to address people etc). You are the visitor, you should adapt to the country, not the country to the tourists.

Posted by
4152 posts

If restaurants did away with tipping and paid the serving staff at least minimum wage you would see the price of food almost double. So that $15 meal just became about $30. I think people would be just as upset with much higher prices as they are about tipping.

Donna

Posted by
5504 posts

So that $15 meal just became about $30.

So, if restaurants were to pay living wages in place of wait staff surviving off of 20% tips, meal prices will double? I must be miss something in my arithmetic training. If I add a 20% tip to a $15 meal, that is add $3, I get a total charge of $18. Does this mean that minimum wage plus a 20% tip is not a living wage?

Posted by
23579 posts

No, you have assumed that the server only has one table per hour. How many servers do you know who are serving at the $15 a table level who only have one table? Maybe at the $200 level, but not at the $15 level.

So if each table gives $3 per hour shall we say that during the rush times they have 10 tables? For that time their tips would be 3x10 = $30. Say that the rush is 3 hours at lunch and 4 hours at dinner? 7x30 = $210. 6 days a week is 6x210 = $1,260 a week, 50 weeks is $63,000 a year. Is that a living wage if you add in minimum wage?

Posted by
4152 posts

Servers in the U.S. get just over $2 an hour. If they were to be raised to minimum wage it would be $7.25 per hour, almost 4 times what they make now. So if you own a restaurant and suddenly your operating costs quadruple you are going to raise your prices to cover those costs.

A good server can make really good money. My daughter, who is in college, waits tables and on a Friday or Saturday night can come home with several hundred dollars in her pocket. Through out the rest of the week she can come home with $100 or so depending on how busy the night is. I think this is a good wage. If they were to do away with tips and be paid hourly she wouldn't make nearly as much.

Our system is what it is and they system in other parts of the world are what they are. We should all respect the differences and try do as the locals do. I know my daughter would be very upset if she did a great job and someone from Europe decided they didn't like our system and didn't tip her. While the hotel maid might not be upset with getting a tip I think it sets an expectation that they will always be tipped. which isn't the case.

Donna

Posted by
1064 posts

In the U.S., a cute young server can make lots of money in tips working at a restaurant in a college town. A middle-aged server who looks like mom will barely scrape by, and will probably find herself working at a Waffle House, instead of places that attract good tippers, after moving up from Burger King. It is a tough world out there for wait staff beyond a certain age. The same goes for other jobs in the service industry in the U.S.

Posted by
247 posts

Google Translated version of an article in Italian:

http://economia.leonardo.it/stipendi-medi-in-europa-costo-della-vita-e-stipendi-nei-paesi-europei/

"Average salaries in Europe: the cost of living and wages in European countries
OF RAFFAELE ROMEO ARENA , FEBRUARY 21, 2014
The current socio-political context of the European continent highlights the significant changes to the general of the various states, mainly caused by the new wave of migration that is affecting the nation's "strong".
The choice of destination by migrants of the Third Millennium is done according to the possibilities of working abroad, the average wages earned and the related costs involved (here you can read the current domestic situation of the Italian market ), key factors define the level of quality of life in a nation.
A recent statistical analysis published on 'Geopolitical Atlas of Treccani, offers a complete and updated picture of the relationship between wages earned and the costs involved in the major states of the continent, clearly showing how, from the point of view of the citizens who live and work in our country The situation is the most unfavorable of Europe.
...
The average wage per capita in our country is of 1,410 euro (against 1,850 of the Iberian Peninsula), and the city is facing a charge of EUR 39.4 per day (compared to 35.9 in Spain), thereby determining a high cost of living, which employs the well ' 83.8% of the resources of each user.
This percentage is difficult to sustain for many families, and it is disconcerting to note that this exceeds by almost 20 percentage points of the European average .
Let's move to the Italian situation. Because our national situation is so inconsistent? Why, as a result, an increasing number of Italians prefer to leave the country to work abroad? He explains in a clear and concise the Prof. Francesco Daveri, Professor of Economics at the University degli Studi di Parma, during an interview to L'Espresso:
" Coming later this month in Italy is more difficult than in other countries equally affected by the crisis, such as Spain, because the state is too heavy on costs in the country. "
Among the costs that weigh more than the others on the portfolios of Italians there are water, electricity and gas, increased significantly due to the privatization of energy companies.
The same increases uncontrolled involved also indirect taxes such as VAT and excise duties on goods state as gasoline ), parallel to a general decrease of salaries.
Cover costs exaggerated the state bureaucracy to deal Italian public accounts, increases drastically the cost of living, especially penalizing citizens whose earnings fall in the medium-low, forced to buy products and services at a higher price, spending the same digits Workers wealthy.
This explains why our compatriots struggle to get to the end of the month and the national economy is struggling to recover."

Certainly a person can survive on 1,000 or 1200 a month. (Living wage simply implies they won't starve.) But are they living well? Do they have dreams/wishes they could fulfill with a few extra euro a day?

The fact that an engineer gets paid nearly the same wage as a maid doesn't tell me that either one are flourishing financially. This only tells me that there is less disparity in their income.

Personally,at 1200 a month I can still understand how it can be difficult to pay the bills and achieve their dreams (Perhaps they want to start their own company, or have dreams to travel the world?).

When asked about the Economy in Italy by one of my classmates my Italian instructor said (on his last trip to Italy) he saw friends/family struggling financially due to the economic downturn.

Some other interesting reading material:
http://www.wired.it/attualita/2014/02/11/rapporto-oecd-italia-vs-germania-piu-ore-di-lavoro-minori-salari-e-costo-della-vita-piu-alto/

http://moon.com/2013/08/italy-the-cost-of-living/

Posted by
4152 posts

You're comparing their 1000-1200 euros per month to our standard of living. Yes, here in the States that would not be a very good living but in Italy it's a decent living.

Anyway, you don't need to tip and Italians and other europeans don't tip but if it makes you feel better to tip then go ahead. All you're doing is spending money you don't need to.

Donna

Posted by
23579 posts

so do you tip the engineer? Why is the maid more worthy?

See, you have two different reasons people tip where it is not part of the culture.

One is paternalistic. I'm rich, my society is better than yours so I will scatter my wealth and you will be ever so much better because of it - I sure hope you enjoy it.

or

believing that money solves everything. I'm rich - well richer than you - so I will buy what I want from you. Here's a lot of money - now give me that table you saved for somebody else (who cares how they feel when their requested table is gone, put 'em next to the toilet) or move me to the front of the line or slip me that extra cup of coffee or breakfast roll because I saw you yesterday and treated you ever so well. Who cares if the owner has budgeted for two rolls and you "give" me 3? Not me - I'm rich.

Either way, I'm not sure it helps the society at the end of the day...

By the way, I saved a person's life on Tuesday night. Did anybody tip me?

Posted by
1064 posts

Nigel makes some good points. We need to respect the culture of a country. Rounding up a euro or two for a server in restaurants is not a problem in places that have a lot of American tourists, but I sure got a dirty look when I gave a two-euro tip on a 20-euro charge to a waitress near Verdun. Also, we have to draw the line somewhere. It never occurred to me to tip hotel maids until I read it here. Where do we stop? If I tip everyone who performs a service in the travel industry, I could not afford to travel.

Posted by
6808 posts

I was trained by Jo from Frankfurt, who worked in the German hotel industry, that you tip--so I do. A euro a day isn't a lot for me, but it's a big deal to that migrant laborer. Jo--where are you?

Posted by
216 posts

If you want to and are a person who genuinely wishes to sincerely thank an unseen person for a job well done, leave a euro or two per day. It's the loose change you might otherwise come home with. I can't imagine how this will incite a revolution and bring down the non-tipping "culture" but perhaps I am naive.

I am not rich but I am appreciative. It's often difficult to express one's appreciation in person or in a foreign language. It's not going to break your budget and it is a universally understood gesture. Would one tip a London Walks guide? Why? (Slightly off topic but, hopefully, furthering the discussion on tipping, in general.)

I travel extensively in Canada for work; so do my colleagues. I leave a tip for housekeeping even though it is not included in my travel per diem - it's my money; some of my colleagues don't. I don't judge them; they think I am nuts. I take my cues from early Seinfeld: $5 a day in North America. I don't think that's excessive 20 years later.

The minimum wage might be $10/hour in BC but it is impossible to live on that in Vancouver. A house in the city is > $1 million. No one has to live in a house but other options are priced accordingly and, thus, very expensive. Many minimum wage earners have > 1 job, commute long distances and barely see their kids. We all reap the benefits of all members of society being paid a living wage. I'd rather pay now for healthier families and a well-educated population than pay for more prisons. I understand there are some who disagree including our prime minister.

I get paid to do my job. I appreciate it if someone takes the time to acknowledge that I did a good job. Once in a while that includes SWAG. I'd rather the mucky mucks come to my closet to tell me I'm doing a good job. If they wrote a note, it would be nice if they spelled my name correctly.

Bribery is only criminal if it's in the criminal code/statutes. Usually confined to public officials. The maitre d' likely doesn't count. As per Seinfeld, sometimes, it doesn't work the way one intended.

I throw away lots of money when travelling through poor planning, inadvertence, ignorance of the options or language, etc. I'm happy to give a few euro to housekeeping. Don't feel bad if you feel that way, too. And don't feel bad if you don't. On second thought, . . .

Posted by
4152 posts

These arguments are so pointless. Most people who are "for" tipping are from North American and don't want to conform to the culture they are visiting. How would you feel if you were in the service industry and someone from Europe visited and didn't conform to our standard of tipping? Would you be content to say that they are just doing what they're use to doing so it's okay, or would you be angry at being stiffed?

I'm sure if you leave a tip most people are not going to get angry at you but the point is that you should do as the culture dictates! Stop being the ugly Americans and throwing your money around. That's how it's seen! You can't compare how you travel in America with how you should travel in Europe because the cultures are totally different and what is normal in America is not normal in Europe.

Donna

Posted by
216 posts

"Pointless" can apply to so many things.

I don't think this is an argument, pointless or otherwise, but a sharing of viewpoints. This is neither a true-false proposition nor a test: there is no correct answer. Perhaps, Donna, you are failing to see that, thus your failure to accept that in Europe tipping is seen as nominal and completely discretionary. As in one has the discretion to tip as well as to not tip. The answer, for better or worse: if you want to, leave a tip; if you don't, also fine.

I get that one wants to not offend and tipping, rounding or stiffing all depend on who, what and where. And it's confusing.

I cannot be an ugly American; I am Canadian. You must be referring to people from your own country. Yes, I am joking. I get that "Ugly American" can refer to those who are neither ugly nor American. I don't think tipping housekeeping a euro pushes one over the line into UA territory. Perhaps if you are expecting housekeeping to retrieve coins from the toilet, then it would apply. One euro left for housekeeping is not throwing around money. Unless you throw it at housekeeping. Also very UA behaviour. A euro buys a baguette. It doesn't result in sitting on mattresses filled with cash laughing at those North American suckas.

I agree that there is a culture of tipping in North America. I consider it discretionary here also albeit with much social pressure. I expect what I requested, served in reasonable manner and at the appropriate temperature. I do not expect a bad attitude or disrespect. If my reasonable expectations are not met allowing for matters beyond the server's control or if I get 'tude, I leave 5% or nothing and I tell the server's manager why. I do not consider it part of the culture to pay for a bad experience or to be disrespected. I do not feel the need to supplement someone's wages if they are incompetent, rude or unable to understand that there is an implicit job requirement to provide good service. I am sure that when servers are told about the job, it would be made clear that surliness would affect their overall remuneration. If they weren't told, surely they figured it out within the first hour. 99% of the time, I tip.

This unyielding desire to honour Europe's non-tipping culture results in more euros in one's own pocket. That is a BIG coincidence. (Yes, there can be degrees of coincidences.)

Posted by
4152 posts

Customs are not pointless. The customs are what they are. Those who choose to tip because it makes them feel better or because they want to say "thank you" are ignoring the customs. Ugly Americans doesn't refer to the U.S. it refers to North America of which Canada is a part of. Ugly Americans are those who thumb their noses at the traditions and customs of other countries.

You can argue the point til you're blue in the face and justify going against the culture as much as you wish but the question posed by the OP is "do we leave a tip for housekeeping at the hotel?" and the answer is NO you do not need to leave a tip at the hotel. Italians don't so neither do you.

Folks, do what you want to do. If it makes you feel good to throw away your money when it's not needed-go ahead. My question would be "where do you draw the line?" Are you going to tip the ticket taker at the colosseum? Are you going to tip the girl who you checks you out at the grocery store? Are you going to tip the bus driver? All of these people do their job and get the same type of pay as a maid or a waiter. The only difference is their job. If you are going to tip one job when it's not necessary why not tip them all-- it's only fair and you'll be helping them out as well.

Donna

Posted by
216 posts

Gee, Donna. You were the one who said it was pointless. I do wish you'd make up your mind.

I guess I was too subtle.

Carolyn, do as you wish. As long as Donna is not doing room inspections, it will be appreciated. : )

As for the myriad of suggested recipients of Donna's new-found largesse, some employees are prohibited from accepting tips. I suspect that housekeepers don't fall into this category. I, of course, stand to be corrected. Unless I was not too subtle.

Posted by
4152 posts

Perhaps if you would read what I wrote you would see that I said the arguments are pointless but the customs are not pointless, or was I being too suble???

Geez......

Donna

Posted by
216 posts

Edited:
Note to self: Carolyn is probably home thinking "After all that, I forgot to tip Lupe!" [Obligatory Seinfeld reference]

So I had a couple of hours to kill during a birthday party and being the geek and MLIS that I am, I headed to the library to research our upcoming trip . From the RS 2011 Paris book and a more recent Vienna, Salzburg book (I realize that neither is in relation to Italy but I expect that the situation in Northern Italy is more in keeping with Vienna than possibly in the south, but I digress.) "Tipping in ________ isn't as automatic or generous as it is in the US, but for special service, tips are appreciated, if not expected. As in the US, the proper amount depends on your resources, tipping philosophy, and the circumstances, but some general guidelines apply."

From the Paris book: "I don't tip the maid, but if you do, you can leave a euro per overnight at the end of your stay." Suggests tipping the usher at a cinema or theatre and the hotel porter who carries your bags.

This was in both books "In general, if someone in the service industry does a super job for you, a small tip (the equivalent of a euro or two) is appropriate but not required."

Both books also suggest that if you are in doubt, ask the hotelier (except in Belgium, apparently) or the TI.

This appears to boil down to: tipping housekeeping is discretionary and nominal.

Posted by
72 posts

I'm from NZ (New Zealand near Australia, not a state of the US). Tipping is not part of our culture. I would sometimes 'round up' in a restaurant or taxi, but this would be more out of convenience to me (ie. so I'm not carrying loose change) than to reward or thank someone for good service. I would never tip anyone in a hotel. I would think that someone leaving tips everywhere they went was just a bit stupid for giving their money away! Anyway, eating in NZ is expensive enough, what you see on a menu in NZ is what you pay - no extra tax or tips. In saying that, tipping is not unheard of (possibly more so in the kind of places that I don't go to) and no wait staff is going to turn your money down if you're offering it.

I expect good service in any restaurant or hotel, and don't expect to have to tip to receive it. If someone provides good service in a restaurant, then they are just doing a good job! They are getting paid for doing their job and I am polite and thank them. It's a nice way to be!

When visiting North America, I will tip but find it completely bamboozling and a bit insincere. i also don't like tipping when there isn't really any service - then it just feels like an extra tax. Actually the taxes are pretty bamboozling too.

When visiting Europe, I think the same as in NZ - will round up in a restaurant, but would not tip in a hotel.

Just my view from my part of the world looking in. I do love these discussions though. ;)

Posted by
216 posts

Interestingly, we were in Sydney (Australia, not British Columbia or Nova Scotia) last year and did notice a tip jar at the counter at some inexpensive local hangouts. I did read that servers are paid well thus the high cost of eating out. To me it makes sense. I am not a fan of the tip jar as it seems to be a less than subtle hint. I also get irritated by the tip envelope in hotels but recognize the potential confusion of random cash laying around.

Canadians are notoriously bad tippers according to Americans. I vaguely recall a joke comparing our practices with fooling around in a canoe with the punch line "no tipping" - mmm, it wasn't funny even when told properly.

Posted by
72 posts

jar in cafe = somewhere handy to leave your change. No expectation attached.
Many would pay by card, and therefore no change and no 'tip'.