Saturday, January 28, 2017

What would happen if I accidentally left behind a $50 bill in my hotel room?

Rules vary by hotel, but if I left a loose fifty bucks in a room when I stay in one, I wouldn't count on ever seeing it again.

The policy in hotels that I run is, if a housekeeper's 'tip' is over twenty bucks, she must tell us, and turn it in. We'll let her keep twenty bucks of it, and hang on to the rest in accordance with the usual lost and found procedure (thirty days). If the guest calls with a credible story (as in, he or she names close to the correct amount of money left behind) about how he left loose cash in the room, we send a check to the guest for the total amount we found, and we take the hit on the twenty bucks ourselves and let the housekeeper keep that part (we don't want to supply an incentive to dishonesty, or a disincentive to honesty). 

Image result for money on the dresser

If it's in a wallet, there's no question: any indicator that it wasn't left for the housekeeper intentionally by the guest means that it all belongs to the guest. We handle it in accordance with our usual lost-and-found procedure. (With wallets and other things of obvious value, we don't wait for a call: we contact the guest.)

Back in the day, tipping the housekeeper was as to-be-expected as tipping a waitress. Large chains and franchise organizations have gotten away from it (you can still order tip envelops from a hotel supply house, but chains and franchise organizations forbid the use of them.)  Hotel owners went right along. Tips present a management challenge (disputes arise over how to divide them if more than one housekeeper services the room over several days, and any room attendant with any 'seniority' at all demands the 'right' to pick and choose what rooms she'll clean, and we'll get to some others . . .) 

Partly as a result, in mid-market, select service and limited service properties, we've now gotten a traveling public well trained in 'nobody really expects you to leave a tip anymore'.

Some nice people do tip the housekeeping staff. We're launching a new brand, and we'd like to find a way to bring it back, but without giving the appearance that we're putting the arm on the guests, or requiring, expecting, or asking them to tip; and without bringing back the problems that always seem to go with tipping, and with managing tipped employees. One of the drivers behind development of the limited service business model in hotels back in the '80's was to create a hotel operation completely free of tipped employees - no bellmen, no food and beverage staff, and you're not expected to tip the 'maid' - and eliminate that element of it altogether. 

With large tips, staff corruption is a concern, as are questions of, 'with a tip that large, what does the guest expect in return?' No, we're not going to provide the guest with hotel supplies much in excess of what we normally provide all guests. No, we're not going to have the room attendant spending an extra hour or two a day - either on or off the clock - doing extra chores, of any kind. No, we can't guarantee the same room attendant every day of a stay of several days . . . We don't want our staff in a conflict-of-interest, or a fraternization situation. 

No, if you're only paying for one or two people to be in the room, you're not going to get eight extra sets of towels each day. We actually get such requests. One came from someone managing a rock band at a nearby club, who insisted upon it because he was using his room as the 'change room' after the show each night, allowing the entire band to shower up and change clothes there before going home. I ended up growling at the sales manager who neglected to tell us this part when she negotiated the low rate he'd been asked to pay: after I cut off her offending, indignant 'I worked too hard to get them here' speech for which hotel sales people who bring in bad business are infamous, it turned out she hadn't picked up on this particular requirement herself, nor had she bothered to ask. Usually, when a demand for that much extra linen or terry gets started, it turns out to be a woman - or someone traveling in the company of a woman - who I end up banning from the hotel after I find her 'independent escort' ad on Craigslist or before they each stopped accepting 'escort' ads . . .

And no, we're not going to preside over or try to manage the workplace politics, catfights and bickering often found in cocktail lounges between waitresses competing for advantage over the others in maximizing their tips. We try to pay our housekeepers a little more than the going rate in the area, and we want getting the work done, not maximizing their personal tip income, to be the primary focus of each of them.

Originally appeared on Quora

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