(POLL) Hotel Tipping – Beyond the Norm

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I’ve had several interesting off-blog conversations about hotel tipping recently.

One came up in a side discussion about my issue last week with a Starwood hotel failing to deliver on a service request(A friend asked whether I would have tipped if the requested item eventually showed up, even after the lengthy delay… my answer, YES.)

Another was broached last week when I mentioned that I tipped a hotel bellman $20 to come pick up three boxes from a hotel exhibit hall and deliver them to the hotel’s Fed Ex Office location.  (Total distance from bell desk to booth to Fed Ex back to bell desk was maybe 100 yards.  My friend thought $20 was excessive.) 

And then last night, on Facebook, a consulting friend of mine asked whether she should have tipped the hotel engineer who was in her room for the second night in the row fixing the broken heat.  (He lingered, as if waiting for a tip, which prompted her question.  One of her friends commented that she *always* tips when a person has access to her room.)

This prompted me to think about all the occasions when individuals come to my hotel room – some based on my request for something out of the ordinary, but some to deliver a service that the hotel should already be providing me.

For example, I probably have at least one occasion a year where I have to make the early morning emergency call for a hair dryer because the one in my room is either missing or broken.  I also encounter missing or dead television remote control batteries just as often.  Do you tip then?

What about the individuals who just show up when you happen to be in the room – turndown service, daily refresh of a fruit plate?  Or the individuals who tend to ring the room doorbell about 30 minutes after I arrive at certain Asia-Pacific hotels to deliver me a plate of sweets or other amenity I was not expecting?  Is there a place where you draw the line?

I still remember one of the more ridiculous situations where I felt pressured to tip.  I checked in with a friend to a hotel in London where we had requested two beds and assured we had them.  We checked in and did not have the beds set correctly so we stopped at the front desk and they assured us they would fix the issue.  When we got back to the hotel after midnight, they still were not fixed.  We had to call down twice and finally someone was sent up to pull them apart for us.  That individual remade one of the beds and then tossed the folded linens for the other one on the bed and moved back towards the door.  But then he waited.  And waited.  And continued waiting by the door.  And finally one of us awkwardly pulled out a couple of pounds which he smiled and accepted, promptly exiting the room.

Which of THESE situations do you tip in?  I’d love to see your thoughts in this poll.  And if you have other situations or stories, please share them in the comments below.  Maybe together we can all figure out the clear cut tipping lines!

Which of the following individuals do you tip for services in a hotel room? (Please select ALL that apply to you)

  • Bellman for luggage delivery (19%, 35 Votes)
  • Housekeeping for routine services - daily or end of stay (13%, 24 Votes)
  • Room service - only when delivery/service charges aren't added (13%, 24 Votes)
  • Housekeeping for special requests (such as extra towels) - as delivered (10%, 19 Votes)
  • Person delivering extra items you have requested (more hangers, forgotten toiletries) (10%, 19 Votes)
  • Bellman for delivering items when not requested (packages, mail) (9%, 16 Votes)
  • Person delivering a status amenity (wine, snack) requested by you at check in (8%, 15 Votes)
  • Engineering when providing a special service (such as helping connect to the internet) (4%, 8 Votes)
  • Room service - on top of already added delivery/service charges (3%, 6 Votes)
  • Person delivering a status/suite amenity not requested (daily fruit, etc.) (3%, 6 Votes)
  • Person providing turndown service (when requested) (3%, 6 Votes)
  • Person bringing items that are missing from the room (such as a hair dryer) (2%, 3 Votes)
  • Person providing turndown service (whether requested or not) (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Engineering when fixing room defects (broken heat/AC, inoperable television, etc.) (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 39

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About Jennifer Moody

Jennifer is a management consultant and avid volunteer. Her career and volunteer duty travels have helped her log top-tier airline and hotel status annually for the last nineteen years. In addition, she embraces the opportunity to maximize her vacation time by planning extracurricular trips that have taken her to over 60 countries and 48.5 US states. Once an "every week" road warrior, she now only travels around 100 days a year. She resides in her native Fort Worth, Texas where she enjoys cooking, gardening, sewing, needlepoint, wine, and playing with her Border Collie/Great Pyreness mix puppy Harley Quinn.

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  1. I don’t stay in hotels as much as others probably do, but I don’t think i would tip an engineer for fixing something in my room. I would expect everything to be working when I arrived. If somehow I broke something in the room, then I would probably tip. In general, I would tip if I needed something that was not included in the room (extra towels or pillows), but I wouldn’t tip if something were missing from the room that was supposed to be there (hair dryer missing, dead remote control batteries). It is a very gray area and I generally dislike tipping people for services that I can do myself (like bringing suitcases up to the room). I will tip the front desk for holding onto my bags though. Does that make any sense Jennifer?

    • Makes perfect sense and I think your personal thoughts are in line with mine, Grant! The way I feel, if I “ASK” for and it’s over and above what is in the room already, I tip. If its missing or broken (or you just show up with it at my door without me asking), no tip!

      I remember the worst scenario… I was on a week long trip and I shipped four boxes to myself at a hotel that I’d need later in the week. My plan was to get them from the bell desk later that day – and tip the bellman when he put them in my car. Instead the bellman brought them up to my room and unloaded them, without asking – and then wanted a tip. I told him I needed them downstairs in my car and he said “oh, just call when you are ready to go and we’ll get them”. Of course by then it was a different bellman so I needed to tip him too. AND then it was a third guy who took them to my car and loaded them.

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