Whine Wednesdays: Tipping Envelopes At Marriott Hotels


We haven’t covered these tipping envelopes for a while and a LoyaltyLobby reader just emailed me a photo. This was found at Courtyard hotel.

Whine Wednesdays Tip Envelopes

Marriott and other hotels had a campaign in 2014 with these envelopes strategically placed around the guest rooms.

Who you should tip at the hotel per these “guidelines”:

– Whoever opens your car door

– Bellman that takes your bag(s) and places them on a trolley

– Front desk to get better upgrades and other extras

– Bellman that brings your bag(s)

– Maids that clear your room

– Club lounge attendants

– Maintenance if there are issues with your room or suite

– Room service even when there is a tray and delivery charge (usually very high)

– Breakfast attendant in the restaurant

– Bartender at the hotel bar

– Concierge if they provide any help

– Bellboy that collects your bag(s)

– Bellboy that places them to trunk

– Valet that brings your car

Did I forget any?


Employers should pay their staff fair living wage so that we could get rid of this unnecessary tipping nonsense. Some say that tipping results in better service but I would argue that this is not the case.

If you follow these tipping guides (usually released by hotels etc. that benefit the more customers tip their employees), you can easily dole out $40 to $50 in tips per day when staying at US hotels and utilizing services that they provide and you pay for.

And I really don’t understand that you now “must” tip 15% at US restaurants when you get bad service and this level of tip should send a message to waiter/waitress that the service was so so. The tip for regular/good service apparently is 20% to 25%.

When I was in Lhasa during the Chinese New Year and had a guide for the duration of the trip (required to get the Travel Permit), I tipped roughly 700 RMB. This was neither required nor requested.

I rather pay a fair price for the good and services rendered without having to take my wallet out in every time I interact with the staff for tipping purposes.

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  • Kflik

    I never know if I should tip or not, and to be honest I’m not wealthy enough to tip all the time.
    (especially true for people who are staying in country were salaries are higher then in their own country…)

    • denise lasher

      just leaving a dollar or loose change is better than nothing in my opinion. i am not wealthy either but I bet alot of people saying that dont mind spending $$ for those specialty coffee drinks and leave a little tip for the person handing them the drink. It takes alot of time to clean a room- more time than it did to fix that hi-priced latte.

  • McCaron

    in North America tipping seems “mandatory”, but in many places, service is so bad that I don’t leave anything at all
    last time in NY, I found very arrogant that a waitress asked me if i made a mistake when paying as i “forgot” the tip
    I told her how bad the service was and she answered that it was not very motivating to serve bad customers…

    2 weeks ago, spent a weekend in Sweden, i was told everywhere that tip is a supplement

    service was also quite bad in some places, in one of them, i was told that taxation is very high in Sweden so that customers are asked to “help” waiters get the right salary

  • Gaijinsan

    I saw one of these at a Renaissance near New York last month as well. It’s tacky. Especially when I was in the room a whole 8 hours, so the housekeeping wasn’t doing anything other than their standard clean and refresh before a new guest arrives.

    I’ll tip porters/bellboys for carrying luggage when I legitimately need the help, for example when I have my diving gear with me. I strongly dislike however when I’m traveling with a small rollaboard and they try to “help” with that, hoping for a tip. Aside from that, I don’t just dole out tips willy nilly, I agree that hotels/restaurants should be paying their staff a living wage and include that in the price we pay.

  • Tip off

    Tips imply discretionary payment in recognition of service received.

    Otherwise they are levies, not tips.

    US is the home of drip pricing – one reason I don’t like travelling there.

    I don’t care what expectations are – I refuse to tip for terrible customer service, but I’ll happily tip if it is more than just the mimumum to be expected (the only exception is if the cost is so minimal, it’s clear some justification exists, but I find the US often charges more in base costs, not less, than here in Australia, more often than not.

    Tipping is just so often panhandling.

    • cscasi

      “Tips imply discretionary payment in recognition of service received.

      Otherwise they are levies, not tips.”
      I agree with your comments above.
      As for your not liking to travel to the United States of America, that is your choice and in the scheme of things, I doubt you would be missed.

    • datachick

      But in Australia, is there a separate minimum wage for people in service industries? There is in most states in the US.

      I’m with you on most of what you’ve said. Except for “regular service.” Many service industry people are taxed based on tips they are supposed to get for providing “regular service”. So you aren’t just not rewarding them for doing their job, you may be costing them money by not tipping.

      I don’t like the whole tipping thing for regular service. But I don’t need to screw over someone who cleans toilets and sheets with bodily fluids all day, ever day. I leave a tip, even when I don’t use housekeeping during my visit. Yes, I know this lets employers continue to pay low wages. But I won’t fix that problem at the tip point. It will have to come via legislation and changes to tax law.

      And yes, I will likely tip anyone in the service industry who does something extraordinary for me if we do get things changed.

      • denise lasher

        great points!
        i wonder if these folks own companies pay everyone at least $15/hr? Doubt it! I found some the strongest advocates for $15 min wage stiffed their own workers. Good for everyone else but me kind of mentality. IF people dont want to tip then just dont. But i bet they tip at Starbucks! And not McDonald’s. Why the difference i ask? And when McDonalds is forced to pay min $15/hr to the 16 y.o. they will only automate most of the operations and end up employing less people so then where does the 16 y.o. go to get a job?

  • Joseph Merrick

    A card like that is absolutely unacceptable imho. Especially when they shove it in your face like that.

    This is a very bad move from Marriott, because they are basically saying “Dear Guest, we are not paying our staff the salary they deserve, so we kindly ask you to step in”.

    I usually leave something for the Housekeeping, because I know they are mostly getting low pay for very hard work, but a card like this is likely to stop me from doing so, because it will only justify for the employer to pay even less. Eventually this practice leaves only one winner and since it’s neither me nor the room attendant you can guess it might be the person who had the idea of spending money on printing that card…

    • denise lasher

      the only one you hurt when you change your “kindness habit/ tip” to show the management you dont like the envelopes is the one person you state you like to help. if you dont like them take it to the front desk and ask to see the manageer on duty and tell them- dont punish the people you say you like to help!

      • Андрей Борисыч

        In fact you don’t help them if you follow these “guidelines”. On the contrary, your tipping encourages hotels (as well as any other businesses) to pay their low-rank employees even less. Why bother when the guest would tip anyway? The only way you can change it – DO NOT tip. It’s like giving money to homeless – you don’t actually help them by doing it.

        • denise lasher

          So you think by not tipping you are sending a message to management? the only way you send a msg to management if you dont like the envelopes is to address it with them directly! Have you ever left a tip for housekeeping? Where do you leave it? By providing an envelope it is simply a more convenient way to do so. I personally hand the tip to the housekeeper or hid it under something as the supervisors usually inspect the rooms first and some take the tips and the housekeeper never gets the money. And giving a few dollars to a homeless person isnt a bad thing- many of them are sleeping in their cars at night along with their kids. I will gladly give that Mom and/ or Dad a few dollars so they can buy a meal for the family. Again grouping all into a single stereotype is not cool- they aren’t all bumps using the money for beer! Dont like the envelopes- dont use them and tell management. What do you do when there is a tip jar at the cash register of your fav diner or coffee bistro? Are you offended then too?? Do you not leave tips at the restaurants because they should pay all employees a living wage and just charge more for the meal? Do you tip on the cruise? How is the housekeeper less worthy than the folks at Starbucks ringing up that $8 latte?

          • Андрей Борисыч

            It’s one thing to tip a person who does his job well and doesn’t ask for it in the first place and it’s completely another thing to tip because you’re expected to. Especially if the property encourages you to do it. It’s just another way of saying “hey, since you spend a hundred bucks on bed and breakfast, why not spend some more and save us money on decent salaries for junior staff?”

          • Андрей Борисыч

            And I don’t tip at Starbucks because their coffee tastes like garbage, so I’m not sure why you brought it up.

          • AB3

            She probably brought it up because she had no way of knowing you don’t like Starbucks. Plenty of folks do, however, as evidenced by their following.

  • Aaron

    I look at this as an issue that is not caused by hotels as employers themselves, but as a culture in the US. Raising the minimum wage to e.g. $15 an hour will enable hotel, restaurant (etc) staff to live on only their base wage.
    However, as of now, when you travel to the US, you should comply with social convention and tip as an average American would. Normally, I find this is about 20% less than the ‘guidelines’ found on the internet. Not tipping is just plain rude and offensive.

    • cscasi

      Well, I tip accordingly. If the service is terrible, I normally leave a 10% tip, but I will also talk to management (if available) to explain what my issues were; consider it constructive criticism in hopes of getting service to be what it should be. I also can vote with my feet and never go back to that place.

      • Mike

        You tip for terrible service?! What? Why?

        What irks is when arriving at the hotel and they want to take your bags to your room…wheel it into an elevator and then wheel it to the room. No thank you. I’ve brought it myself thousands of miles and can surely bring it a few hundred feet more without your help.

        Restaurants: poor service…no tip. Wanna make a scene…go ahead. Scream, shout, throw things….still not getting a tip.

        Be great and then yes, 15-20%.

        • AB3

          Not sure about @cscasi:disqus, but at restaurants I generally tip a base amount and then add to it if I encounter excellent service. In my eyes, not leaving a tip reflects more poorly on me than on the service I received (or didn’t receive as the case may be). Similarly, even if I didn’t love the service, I’d still stay “thank you.”

          All that said, if I truly received poor service, I would bring it to the attention of management as that is likely the only measure that would have any corrective effect.

    • rdrago43

      @Aaron – raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour enabling people to live on their base wage depends on where geographically you’re referencing and each person’s own situation. $15 an hour in NYC or LA or Chicago is not the same as Des Moines.

    • OBang

      Why is it that a tip shall be a % of what $ amount you spend ?

      I buy a cheap bottle of wine and I’m supposed to pay a % of the price tag for the waiter to uncork it. Now after we finish that bottle, my mate buy another but more expensive bottle of wine. . . . and he’s supposed to pay the waiter a larger tip to uncork it ?

      The scenario continues. . . . one guy have a plain omelet while the other have a steak . . . the waiter carry two plates from kitchen to table, and supposedly the one eating the steak shall pay a larger tip, ( for the movement of a plate), than the one having plain omelet ?

      Only in America !!! Tip what you feel the service is worth.

      • David Crane

        I’m a pretty generous tipper. I’m not wealthy but I have done well – perhaps better than I deserve. So I like to share. If I actually see the person who is doing the housekeeping, I will drop them a twenty. They are so grateful. I have been thanked in a number of ways. Once I got on the elevator with a general cleaning person – not rooms but hallways and such. I said, “Everyone but you gets tipped – take this” I gave her a $20. Then the elevator doors opened and two more workers got on the elevator. She said something in Spanish and they smiled and shook my hand. Instant gratification.

        Having said this, it still irks me when I am leaving with luggage – helped by the bellman who gives the luggage to the doorman. Then the car valet is standing there with my keys. Three tips to get out of the place.

        The tip envelopes are a downer. I just hate it when I see them. Today, mine said, “It is my pleasure to prepare your room.”

        One thankful note: I’m so glad flight attendants are not allowed to accept tips.

        • David Crane

          Sorry OBang that was meant to be general comments and not a reply to you.

  • Pete

    My philosophy is that the Maids/Room Attendants have by far the most laborious and gross job in the entire hotel (I know how some people treat hotel rooms – you know who you are). This card seems oriented towards the room attendants specifically, so I think it’s a good reminder to those who are completely unaware of the custom.

    For a two to three night stay I’ll leave 5 bucks on the day I check out (if they did a thorough job tidying up each day) Two bucks for a one night stay.

    Not surprised that a site devoted to points accumulation harbors such feeling towards tipping.

    • RespectfulFreeSpeech

      That last line was a dick comment if ever I read one. It was an opinion piece, and yes, you have your right to your opinion, but not by making stupid ignorant prejudicial comments.

      • as

        Just found the world tallest 3 year old. Sorry you were offended snowflake.

      • Pete

        Lol so angry! Congrats on the ‘savage takedown’ 🙂

  • Bill___A

    I absolutely hate and despise these “begging” envelopes. I expect that the origin of “tips” was to give an extra reward when someone went out of their way to help you. However, it seems to have been changed into an income supplement. When I was younger, my parents taught me that 10% was a tip. Now, as mentioned in this article, people like to put forth the thought that 20-25% should be done for reasonable service. This is downright obnoxious. I don’t like to tip and the only reason I do it is that’s how the pay system is set up. I recognize that cleaning the room is a tough job, and I go out of my way to make it easy for them to clean my room. If the room is clean and tidy, they haven’t forgotten anything, and the housekeeping staff refrain from talking loudly in the hallways disturbing all of the guests, I leave a nice gratuity for them. Restaurants, the tip is generally 15%. Buffet is 10%. What I really *hate* is this relatively recent trend in the UK for companies to add an “optional” 12.5% surcharge. It is my understanding that the hotel or restaurant keeps a significant portion of this and that the waitstaff gets very little of it. I was in a particular club in London a couple of months ago where they had tacked on this “optional” 12.5% gratuity and the waiter was not wanting to give me change because he said he didn’t get that gratuity or much of it. Apparently he felt I should pay him a tip and this “optional” charge. If he would have taken the “optional” charge off, I would have left him a tip, but since he didn’t , I didn’t. We would be a lot better off if tipping were abolished, and I expect a trendsetter like Marriott to lead the charge away from tipping, not encourage more of it.

  • Razz

    Agree with the sense of being strong-armed in many of these situations. I normally do not do daily housekeeping, and will leave a tip for the housekeeper on departure. Will also do the same for an exceptionally well done breakfast or similar service that is really “above and beyond” for customer service.

  • Neal

    Being this is Marriott, shouldn’t we call this tithing?

  • Barbarella

    I always tip unless the service is horrible which happens very, very rarely. As for someone living and working in the US tipping is something very natural to me. I stay at Marriott not more than probably once a year and never saw these envelopes but I need to admit I would find them rather pushy.

    • AB3

      Agreed. I don’t really resent tipping and as a child of a parent who depended on tips, it comes second nature to me. I generally tip following “Emily Post guidelines” as they haven’t changed too much over the years.

      To me, far more egregious than tipping are mandatory “resort fees”. If they’re mandatory, they should just be included in the room rate. That really bugs me.

      • Barbarella

        Couldn’t agree more on all those mandatory resort fees.

        @John we need one of Whine Wednesdays dedicated to all those wundertute slash surprise fees, like December 2013 something city council tax, Marshmallow county fee, ABC district charge etc. Never mentioned in the rate (one expects VAT or sales tax) and then all those above semitaxes inflate your hotel bill with extra 25 or even 30% above your room rate.

        • AB3

          Oddly, I don’t really mind the taxes that much as I consider them a given when staying at any hotel.

          But now that you mention it, not only lodging, but also (and maybe especially?) airlines tend to lump in quite a few extra fees and assessments. One of the few travel providers that doesn’t do this is Amtrak. In my experience, unless one is bringing along extra or bulky baggage, they have a WYSIWYG pricing scheme.

  • Bill

    I have not carried cash for over 20 years, only use credit cards. So if the price of my stay is not upfront for all hotel services, what am I paying for, room reservation only, and then pay further for incidentals that should be inclusive. Before you even get to your room they may charge you at the front desk a parking fee, attendant fee, in and out fee, a county, municipal, state tax and too many fees to factor in that all add to the final bill. People that give tips for so many services just allows a company and their management to pay lower wages and take away the need for working employees to stand up for there fare pay.

  • Bradley

    Why would you tip Maintenance if there are issues with your room or suite? how about the hotel tips you for putting you into a room with issues?

    • Joseph Merrick

      Yes, that is especially absurd. But I also like

      “– Front desk to get better upgrades and other extras”

      can we at least call this one by it’s real name: bribing?

  • Pietro77

    Tipping in US is dishonest and plain bribery. It is not fair, that some professions get tips and some do not get any. Do you tip in supermarkets, McDonalds or bus drivers, street cleaners, judges, police officers? Why don’t they receive any tips? Is it fair? The tipped professions are not paid properly by their employers deliberately and all the saved money stays in their pockets. People in such professions are scared to go for holidays or stay sick at home, as the income drops sharply in these periods.
    Every single person who is tipping directly supports this bribe based sick low wage nonsense. If nobody would tip the wages would need to go up. Why make Americans the customer responsible for the wage of the employee? And why should the employee directly take over the enterprise risk of the employer? In order to appreciate the quality of service, the non financial appreciation should prevail.

  • denise lasher

    This has generated alot of Whines I see.
    I personally do not see the envelopes offensive and i have seen these at non-Marriott properties. I ALWAYS tip housekeeping and concierge lounge attendants (seems most MR guest never tip lounge attendants). In the service industry in USA tipping is a way to show appreciation of their service. Housekeepers are usually the last one to be rewarded and work very hard.
    To all of you folks that say Marriott and other hotels should just pay a “living wage” i have 2 questions:
    Will you be willing to pay a lot more for your room and pay extra to use the lounge so that the service employees can be paid a higher salary and eliminate all tips?

    • Joseph Merrick

      Yes, because raising the price would mean everybody would pay the same.

      With the current system of “expected gratuity” (I am talking about the US) the “tippers” pay more than the “nontippers” for the exact same level of service. So if you are a generous person you are not only paying for your own service, but also for the cheapskate next door…

      I am not saying “eliminate all tips” but pull them back to a status where they are a token to thank someone for doing a little more than just their job.

  • denise lasher

    (continued) And question #2 – does your company pay EVERY employee over $15/hr. including summer interns and your cleaning service does it pay their employees at least $15/hr and do you pay everyone that does work at your home at least $15/hr? i doubt it!! You look for the best price for the product and service you want- you dont ask what they pay their employees. GET OVER IT !! if you dont want to tip then just dont TIP!! i personally enjoy tipping the housekeepers- they reward me many times over with their smiles and little extras they do for me!

  • BenniHK

    Usually we call those full of money-hunger places in the 3rd world as “tip country”. The most imfamous ones are Egypt and India, now we can add the almighty USA! Horray!