Marriott is going to put tip envelopes in every hotel room instructing its customers of their obligation to pay for Marriott’s hired help. This rather than simply paying them a decent wage.
There has been a movement for some time by America’s elites to browbeat us into leaving daily tips for the hotel maid. USA Today is so pro-tipping that they have printed obviously false information.
In March of 2005 USA Today spent a day with a maid at an upscale Maryland hotel, going from room to room as the maid cleaned. Virtually no one tipped. One maid interviewed cleaned 14 rooms without receiving a single tip. In the face of this fact, USA Today printed the following:
Mike Lynn, a Cornell University Hotel School associate professor who studies tipping, cites polls that found only a third of hotel guests tip housekeepers. ‘The social norm is that you do (tip), though not everyone knows it.’Consider this for a moment. The USA Today reporter just personally observed that very few hotel guests tip. Then a college professor allowed that two-thirds of hotel guests do not tip. And yet we are still told that, "The social norm is that you do (tip), though not everyone knows it." Sorry, but if two-thirds of hotel guests don’t tip, then the social norm is not to tip.
When we go to a restaurant we tip the waiter or waitress because we know they are only making $2.13 per hour. For good or bad, the system that has evolved so that waiters are almost completely dependent on tips. It's also created a surly class of waiters who feel they are entitled to a giant tip just for opening a bottle of wine (tips should be based on the cost of the food, not the wine).
Tipping the hotel maid is not the norm, however. And so to hire maids the hotels have to offer market wages. Hotels – like any business – have a simple formula for every employee hired: they pay as little as possible and as much as is necessary.
In some markets hotel maids are paid quite well. In Washington, D.C., maids earn almost $20 per hour, or $40,000 per year. In New York City maids earn in excess of $50,000 per year. If the hotels need help in attracting and keeping help, they should pay more, not browbeat the customer into giving tips.
For what it’s worth, sometimes I tip the hotel maid, sometimes I don’t. If I’m on the late side of checking out, I usually tip. If my children are with me, I tip, because they tend to really mess up a room. But if I’m by myself and don’t create a mess, then the compensation is the duty of the employer.
In other words, I tip on those occasions when my behavior might have caused the hotel maid to work above and beyond her usual amount. But I’m not going to tip someone extra just for doing their job.
As public policy, creating yet another tipped position is a step backwards. Our goal should be a society in which people are simply paid, not one in which more and more people are made dependent on tips.
We don't need a campaign designed to browbeat us, the customers, into paying for Marriott's hired help through tips. Instead, we need to start a campaign designed to browbeat Marriott into paying its employees fair, decent, and market wages.