With the bulk of hotel housekeepers being women, it makes sense that Maria Shriver, who founded the group A Woman’s Nation, is participating in “The Envelope Please” program that will begin this week.
The initiative includes around 1,000 hotels over Marriott’s many brands including: Courtyard, Residence Inn, J.W. Marriott, Ritz-Carlton and Renaissance hotels. The campaign will include rooms stocked with envelopes with the name of the housekeeper handwritten on each along with the message “Our caring room attendants enjoyed making your stay warm and comfortable. Please feel free to leave a gratuity to express your appreciation for their efforts.”
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30% don’t tip, seems low
At present about 70% of hotel guests tip their housekeeper with 30% feeling no compunction to do so according to Michael Lynn, a professor at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.
The American Hotel and Lodging Association, a trade association, suggests tipping housekeepers between $1 and $5 per night and suggests that guests tip each morning to ensure that the housekeeper responsible receives the tip. Many tip housekeepers for longer stays at the end and could see someone tipped for multiple nights despite only cleaning the room once.
“In conversation with Maria, she said it had struck her that too often women are in positions that we forget to acknowledge,” Arne Sorenson, chief executive and president of Bethesda, Md.-based Marriott, said in an interview. “In a hotel, obviously we tip the bellman or wait staff. But often we don’t see our housekeepers. We don’t have that personal interaction, so we just don’t think about it.”
Marriott Hotels raising awareness
Shriver believes that awareness needs to be raised given this “invisible” job but her plan is not without critics.
“It is not Marriott’s responsibility to remind customers to tip; it’s their responsibility to pay their workers enough so that tips aren’t necessary,” said author Barbara Ehrenreich who once worked as a hotel housekeeper while researching her book “Nickel and Dimed.”
Frankly, she just sounds cheap to me. If Marriott raises wages they will simply pass it on to hotel guests. I don’t see the harm in doing both and leaving the self-righteousness out of the equation.