International Housekeeping Week (September 8-14, 2019)

Join Down Etc in Celebrating Housekeepers

You have arrived back at your hotel room after a busy day of business meetings or sightseeing; the wet towels have disappeared and the bed is straightened.  You know without being told the housekeeper has been and gone.  What aren’t you seeing?

In the 26-36 minutes allotted for each room, the housekeeper has attended to the bathroom, the bedroom, and any adjacent living room, patio, or balcony. From cleaning the tub or shower and replacing the towels in the bathroom to changing sheets and removing dishes and trash in the bedroom, a lot has happened. As you know from your own home, cleaning is a lot of work. It’s even trickier for housekeepers who are working in someone else’s living space. We hope you will consider saying thank you with a note or a word and consistently tipping your housekeeper for great service.

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Housekeeping Might Be a Tougher Job Than You Think

Particularly during International Housekeeping Week, we can support housekeepers by recognizing what they face on a daily basis throughout the year. Housekeepers are exposed to risks we may not recognize. An article in the LA Times in 2014 reported, “They have the highest injury rates in the hospitality industry: The housekeepers’ union found that the cleaning staff’s rate of injury was almost twice that of other hotel workers, 10.4 per 100 workers, compared with 5.6 per 100 for non-housekeepers, according to an analysis of data extracted from Occupational Safety and Health Administration-mandated records of employee injuries.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as part of its National Occupational Research Agenda, recently identified four categories of hazards that affect hotel housekeepers: Ergonomic hazards that result in musculoskeletal injuries were the biggest contributor to injury. That was followed by slips and falls, exposure to chemicals that can lead to respiratory problems and infectious diseases that lurk in biological wastes as well as blood-borne pathogens.” In spite of these concerns, housekeepers get the job done with a great attitude.

Tipping Your Housekeeper

Housekeepers can make the difference between an average stay and one that results in a great night’s sleep.  Although housekeepers try to remain out of sight as they perform their duties, their presence can be felt in everything from the cleanliness of the bathroom to the positioning of the pillows on the bed. Like porters who assist with luggage or valets who arrange transportation, housekeepers work hard to satisfy guests’ needs. The housekeeper is typically the first employee to whom a guest will reach out when in need of assistance. However, unlike porters and valets, travelers are often unsure whether it is appropriate to tip housekeepers and in what amount. Experts recommend the amount be determined by the experience, including: the length of stay, the degree to which the room is used, and overall satisfaction. Tripsavvy.com recommends, “For the housekeeping staff, tipping $1-5 per night is appropriate, but you should leave more if you leave the room particularly messy.” Guests might consider beginning with a couple of dollars left daily as room assignments vary and different people may clean the room each day. Guests should be sure to leave a note with the tip so the housekeepers know the money is meant for them. Housekeepers work hard and often alone so tipping is appreciated.

Most hotel housekeepers are women and many are the breadwinners for their families. In 2014, A Woman’s Nation and its founder Maria Shriver launched an initiative called, “The Envelope Please,” an “economic empowerment initiative that encourages travelers to show their gratitude to an often overlooked section of the hospitality industry when it comes to tipping: room attendants.” Marriott International was the inaugural partner; however, the program was ended as being unpopular with guests. It did start a heated and ongoing conversation about tipping hotel housekeepers and tipping in general.

In a recent article, Travel & Leisure noted hotels have made efforts to improve communication between guests and housekeepers, including, “incorporating room attendant postcards with personalized notes into hotel rooms, which both encourages tips and provides a place to leave a tip.” According to Tom Voss, the dean of hospitality management at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City: “This has helped make tipping a norm.”

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Let the Hotel Know You Appreciate Your Housekeeper

Hotels realize their success depends upon the work of its housekeeping staff. For that reason, Down Etc recommends hotels celebrate the housekeeping team’s success with prizes like the monthly drawing to win luxury bedding items or programs to support housekeepers’ health and wellness.  Celebration in grand style may occur during International Housekeepers’ Week, including contests and competitions; however, as with most of your housekeepers’ duties, these activities go on behind the scenes. If you feel your housekeeper has gone above and beyond, take a moment to let the hotel management know.