My Rules for Tipping

September 16, 2014
Envelope Please
To celebrate International Housekeeping Week, we are placing tip envelopes in 160,000+ rooms.

Most people are not sure who to tip and who not to tip when they receive good service. I try to tip everyone from the pizza deliveryman to the parking attendant to the waiter and bellman.  I also tip hotel housekeepers, who are not always on everybody's radar. Most housekeepers do their job when we are out and they remain unseen, but your hotel room doesn’t magically tidy up itself.  Someone is pushing a cart down a long hallway, stopping in every room to clean it. They deserve tips too, and timed with the kickoff of International Housekeepers Week (September 14-20, 2014), we’re going to provide a gentle reminder to our guests.  

We’re partnering with Maria Shriver and A Woman’s Nation to launch “The Envelope Please.” As part of the campaign, we’ll be placing envelopes in over 160,000 guest rooms at participating hotels in the U.S. and Canada.  This will make it easy for our guests to express their gratitude.

Leave a tip in the envelope if you like the service and remember that housekeepers take great pride in presenting a clean and neat room. When you open the door to your room and it’s immaculate, the housekeeper is the reason why. 

My mother loved to look up Emily Post's etiquette guidelines when reminding me of my manners -- and my manners were not very good.  Mother could have written most of them herself. Here’s what it says about tipping: “When a service has been rendered that makes you feel like someone has really made an effort, it’s worth rewarding their attentiveness.” Over 40 years ago, I took my mother out to dinner.  When the valet delivered the car, I gave him a quarter.  My mother asked the valet to return and gave him a dollar.  She said don’t be so cheap, share.  We are very fortunate, so share with many and be generous.  The room cleaning service performed by housekeepers certainly fits this criteria. 

Many people have forgotten the rules of tipping. A recent headline in USA Today read: “Millennials: Big eaters; small tippers.” One expert thought math might be the reason for their poor tipping ability. I think he was joking.  But did you know that only very few hotel guests tip their housekeeper each day?

It’s not old fashioned to leave a gratuity.  It’s the right thing to do.  I tip housekeepers daily not knowing if the same person is assigned to my room throughout my visit.  So, on your next stay, if your room is in top shape, leave a tip as a way to say thank you to the hotel employees who truly are the heart of the house.

I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the Move.

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Bill, it's great you are caring enough about your less visible employees to engage in this initiative, but the tipping policy is somewhat misguided. As a millennial that's also been a loyal Marriott customer, my perception is that I am buying a premium product when I stay at your hotels, often in the best parts of the various cities across the globe. Your rates are higher than the Best Westerns and Motel 6 of the world, because of the quality and service level your company promises to provide. That quality is reflected in your staff which has always delivered an excellent level of service. I expect the dollars I spend to cover the costs of those services. That said, your company is profitable and trading near all time highs that the perception I have from this initiative is that some of your hardest workers are not able to participate in the success of the company and squeak by on a meager wage. Rather than engage in this campaign, which is not likely positively perceived by many travelers including myself, why not simply give employees better living wages? An extra buck, two, three, or four an hour won’t break the bank for folks breaking their backs while your fat cat executives and investors profit incredibly. Another important aspect to mention is that the 20-30 something travelers are less likely to carry small bills and change as most of our purchases are made via cards and electronic payments solutions. Why not leave options to tip the staff upon check out as part of the final bill?