Tip housekeeping drive annoys Marriott customers

Marriott customers expressed irritation at being encouraged to tip housekeeping staff, saying it is an employer’s job to make sure its workers receive a living wage, and not the customer’s.

Marriot International Inc., the hotel giant, is the first hospitality chain to join “The Envelope Please” program that encourages guests to tip the housekeeping staff.

According to A Woman’s Nation (AWN), The Envelope Please initiative is designed “to encourage and enable hotel guests to express their gratitude by leaving tips and notes of thanks for hotel room attendants in designated envelopes provided in hotel rooms.”

The campaign says hotel room attendants generally go unnoticed as they silently care for millions of hotel guests. Because travelers often do not see or interact with housekeepers, their hard work may be overlooked when it comes to tipping. The aim of The Envelope Please campaign is to make sure they receive a gratuity.

Starting this week, Marriot International will place envelopes in over 160,000 guest rooms in the United States and Canada. It has invited franchise hotels to do the same.

TV anchor and activist, Maria Shriver, founder of A Woman’s Nation, said:

“The Envelope Please was born from having conversations with women I’ve met who have taken care of my room during hotel stays. Their stories of hard work and perseverance inspired and informed me.”

A housekeeper
Is it Marriott’s duty to pay housekeepers a living wage, or the customer’s?

“They told me that room attendants, who are often the primary breadwinner for their families, are often forgotten when it comes to tipping, unlike other front-of-house employees, since most travelers don’t see them face-to-face. I hope this gratitude initiative will make these women feel seen and validated.”

The American Hotel and Lodging Association, which supports the campaign, advises guests to tip between $1 and $5 per night.

Pay my workers more because I won’t

But, isn’t tipping a super-useful way for Marriott to avoid raising wages? Why not tip the people who paint the rooms, clean the windows, fix the tiles on the roof, repair the plumbing, or design and make the hotels?

One thing is to tip because the service was good, and it is something you feel like doing at that moment. But to be encouraged to help subsidize somebody’s income because their wages are low, and to be asked to do so by their employer, a rich multinational which posted a profit of $192 million in the second quarter of this year, whose CEO Anne Sorensen earned about $7 million in 2012..?

According to Payscale.com, housekeepers are among the lowest paid workers at Marriott. Hotel Workers Rising says housekeepers have a significantly higher injury rate than other service sector workers.

Whose responsibility is it to address these problems, Marriott’s or its customers?