There is no doubt that the hospitality industry was one of the hardest hit industries as a result of the pandemic. Hotels closed down and entire staffs were furloughed. Those hotels that stayed open began reducing the services offered to their guests. One of those services was housekeeping. Because of the uncertainty of how COVID-19 was transmitted and consumers wanting limited exposure by people coming into their room, hotels began limiting housekeeping to once every 3-4 days unless requested. These labor cuts cost tens of thousands of jobs.
The housekeeping staff was cut down to skeleton crews and even now with leisure travel picking up faster than business travel, housekeeping staff has been reduced but their workload has increased.
Housekeepers may have had fewer rooms to clean as a result of this, but they had more work by having to sanitize all surfaces. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, hotel housekeepers make an average of $12.09/hr. Nationally, the average wage for a hotel housekeeper is $10.41/hr. The living wage in the United States is $16.54/hr.
Until hotel corporations are mandated to pay their staff a living wage, it is incumbent upon us to educate our attendees and even ourselves that leaving a couple of dollars per day of our stay is the only way these workers are able to survive. This “tip” should be left each day since it’s not always the same housekeeper in your room each day.
Housekeepers, many of whom are women of color and immigrants, can’t even afford to lay in the beds they make each day. With hotels continuing to offer opt-in housekeeping and trying to reduce their labor costs, the issues are only exacerbated.
Most housekeepers work more than 40 hours a week and don’t get paid overtime. The least we can do is give them a few extra dollars a day. After all, they are cleaning our rooms, bringing fresh towels, and emptying trash. Don’t we give other service providers tips?
Perhaps we need to advocate for them more.
Tips on Tipping
The tourism industry continues to struggle to attract and retain service employees who are essential to our hotels, restaurants, and attractions.
Service employees look at their tip potential as a piece of their overall salary potential.
Hotel and restaurant managers are competing with other industries to gain new employees and the competition is fierce. Tipping is an important perk for our service employees, so please do not forget to travel with some cash so you can tip them. This will help our industry and especially our employees who have struggled during the pandemic. Tipping shows your appreciation and gratitude to everyone from the doormen, bellmen and valet attendees to bartenders, waiters and, especially the hard-working housekeepers.
Tip your housekeeper daily since the person cleaning your room may change daily as well. Even if you do not have daily housekeeping, please leave a tip on departure day. The travel and hospitality industry are critical to destinations across the world, and with your support, it will thrive again.
Ann D. Hayes, CTA, CGMP | Visit Loudon
Annette M. Suriani, CMP, CFMP, DES