The Tipping Point was originally written by Bashar Wali, President of Provenance Hotels
Originally posted on LinkedIn

Want more? Come hear Bashar's INDIETalk: 'WTF Pt. II' at the 2019 INDIE Congress in L.A. October 17.


Who do you trust with your deepest, darkest secrets? Maybe that’s dramatic. We’re talking about people who you let see your unvarnished self, baggage and all. Now, do you ever find yourself taking those people for granted? Giving them less energy than you would a new friend or a total stranger? Then you catch yourself and promise to do better, hopefully before they call you out on it. With me? Okay - hold that thought for a minute. 

Recently, the conversation around tipping housekeepers in hotels has reignited. The main opposing argument is that this position should be paid a wage equal to the task. Because of these discussions, employers are becoming more aware of the pivotal role these incredible humans play in guest experiences and why it’s crucial to compensate them accordingly. Kudos to those of you who already are. It’s the first step, but certainly not the last.

Tipping is not just about the money. It’s about being seen. Valued. Appreciated for the very unique thing that you bring to the table.  The act of slipping a valet 5 bucks might feel rote. But it’s still a face-to-face, personal acknowledgement representing a “Hey, thanks for taking care of this for me.” Or when we leave $2 lingering on the bar long after we’ve taken our drink to a more comfortable chair, we’re recognizing the brief exchange we enjoyed with the bartender. We even go above and beyond the typical 20% when we “grill” the server on the menu only to end up ordering the most banal item available because after a long day, chicken parm is about as adventurous as we’re going to get. Each person we encounter on our way in or out of a hotel has to put up with a pieces of our mood, our idiosyncrasies. Maybe your car is a mess, or you were a little snippy with the bartender. Or you interrupted the server while they were telling you about the specials because you actually knew you just wanted that chicken parm (yes I love chicken parm). We clearly understand that those service people deserve extra acknowledgement for the positive impact they had on our stay.

Now, remember that thought from the start of this rant? The one about how the people who are exposed to the worst parts of us tend to get the least appreciation? Consider the team that cleans up after you’re gone, whether for the day or for the next guest. They are privy to your most intimate items. They handle the fallout from your after-hours bacchanal. They remove all traces of you from the bathroom. More importantly, they remove all traces of the previous guest from the bathroom. Even if you never meet them, they get closer to you than anyone else in the hotel orchestra of service. Why does that not justify the same token of appreciation as the one given to the person twisting the cap off your beer? The effort is much greater, the job much more necessary. I can park my own car, open my own door, hail my own cab–all without expending much time or energy. But clean my own room? An entirely different story. So why skip the gratitude for those who help you the most?

I come down emphatically on the side that says we should not skip it.

FOR GOD’S SAKE, TIP YOUR HOUSEKEEPER!

Even as a fellow hotelier who can empathize with not tipping, the human in me cannot believe we’re still even discussing it. These are fantastic people doing a difficult job. We should be leaving them thank-you notes along with a tip. In fact, I had some cards printed up for that exact purpose that I bring on all my travels. It’s a billfold sleeve, like the kind you used to get money from Grandma in, with a short message expressing my gratitude and warm wishes. Now, I know some of you live a cashless existence and carrying paper money sounds like a tremendous chore. But is that really a good enough excuse? I can think of plenty cash-only scenarios where no one lets that mild inconvenience get in the way of a good time. So until someone comes up with an app that replaces cash tipping (call me if you’ve got it, I will download it or even back you), quit your whining and find a way.

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You know how good it feels when someone goes even a little out of their way for you? To acknowledge you? Do that for others. And if you already do, do it more often. Don’t take any of the people in your life for granted. That’s a blanket statement meant to reiterate how vital it is that you recognize everyone you encounter who positively impacts your life, no matter how small the impact might seem. Keep your eyes open and see people. Even the ones you might never actually see. The ones working those in-between roles, allowing you space and privacy, and tidying up the mess. Trust me, you need them.