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Tip of an iceberg?

Marriott International is really turning into an industry trailblazer. It’s latest bold move: putting tip envelopes in its U.S. and Canadian managed hotels, and it is encouraging its franchisees to follow suit.

The theory behind the move is noble: Guestroom attendants do not interact with guests as much as staff who open doors and deliver luggage, which tends to lead to more tip exchanges — albeit sometimes awkward and even with a tinge of resentment, which led U.S. hotels such as the former Elysian in Chicago to open a few years ago with a no-tipping policy so guests didn’t have to continually reach into their pockets or feel unsure about when to tip or how much. When the Elysian was sold, the new manager, Waldorf Astoria, did not change that policy. Of course, in many other parts of the world, tipping is not the norm, especially in Europe where staff are paid more and the job is considered more of a profession.

But in the United States, room attendants — who have one of the toughest jobs in the business — don’t earn as much as some of their more heavily tipped colleagues, and Marriott wants to equal the playing field and help improve room attendants’ fortunes.

Now, some may argue Marriott could just pay a higher wage to its attendants to improve their lots, but the purpose of this post is not to get into that discourse. In fact, as I wrote in my last blog post, I applaud Marriott for at least being sensitive to the plight of its room attendants and trying to do something about it.

I am curious to read what you think. This is a great opportunity to exchange points of view on a very interesting topic. Will more hotel companies follow Marriott’s lead? Will this work, or could it backfire on Marriott? I, for one, am not sure if this will become a trend, and am very curious to see how Marriott’s guests react. Chime in.

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