The topic of tipping hotel housekeeping is a controversial one, and there are people on both sides with strong opinions. It’s always interesting to me to hear what executives in the hotel industry think, and in particular how one hotel CEO recently changed his stance on this.
Hilton’s CEO changes stance on tipping housekeeping
Just over a week ago Hilton’s CEO, Chris Nassetta, was interviewed at the NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference. He was asked about whether he tips hotel housekeeping, and he answered that he doesn’t — “I typically do not leave a tip.”
There are a few interesting things to note here:
- You’d think a hotel CEO would be trying to encourage tipping as a way of shifting the cost of paying housekeepers from the hotel to guests
- Nassetta made about $20 million last year
- I do have to give him credit for the fact that he truly worked his way up in the hotel industry — he has been in it his entire career, and started by working at an actual hotel
Suffice to say that his comments were controversial, and he’s now walking back his statement. Hilton’s CEO now says that he will be tipping housekeeping during his hotel stays:
“When it comes to tipping in hotels, I have always had a different approach to work and personal travel. I also never meant for my approach to work stays at Hilton properties to discourage others from tipping when they are traveling. Going forward, I will tip when traveling for both work and personal travel.
Nothing is more important to me than Hilton’s culture and team members, especially our housekeepers, who are central to delivering Hilton hospitality around the world. I have always been generous with my time and engagement with team members when on property, and I will remain focused on keeping Hilton the #1 best place to work in the United States.”
It sure seems to me that he didn’t have a change of heart here, but rather is just caving to pressure. I’m not sure I see the distinction here between personal and business travel:
- When he made the statement to begin with, he didn’t differentiate between business and personal stays
- A housekeeper has to clean the room in the same way regardless of whether it’s a personal or business stay
My take on tipping hotel housekeeping
I tip hotel housekeeping in the US. My perspective is as follows:
- I don’t love the tipping culture in the US at all
- At the same time, what I hate more than the tipping culture is how many people aren’t being paid livable wages
- Rather than protesting the system and not tipping (which ultimately punishes the hardworking people who are on the receiving end of our system), I want to do my small part to make things better
- Not tipping housekeeping is inconsistent with the rest of our tipping culture, and I think that comes down to the fact that we don’t interact with housekeepers face-to-face, so there’s less guilt; however, they perform among the most important functions at a hotel
- While I’d love to be able to say that not tipping housekeeping will lead to higher wages and force the hotels to pay these workers more, the reality is that this doesn’t end up happening
It’s interesting to see how quickly Hilton’s CEO has changed his stance on tipping here. I generally really respect Nassetta — he’s one of my favorite hotel CEOs, and has truly worked his way up in the industry to his current $20 million per year job.
My guess is that this is something he just hadn’t put much thought into before being asked about it, and he wasn’t anticipating this type of response.