Complete Guide: How to earn more tips as a housekeeper

There’s nothing more frustrating than not being properly recognized for your hard work. As a housekeeper, you’ve probably noticed the inconsistencies in the amount and regularity of guests’ tips. For the average housekeeper, receiving a nice tip only happens about 40% of the time. And when that happens, is it because you paid extra attention to details in the customer’s room? Or was it because of something more random—like having a quick conversation with the guest as they were heading out of their room for the day? Regardless, your hard work deserves to be noticed and there are many things you can do as a housekeeper to ensure more tips, satisfied guests, and a happier work atmosphere.

Tips only make up about 6% of a housekeeper’s median income of $9.00 per hour vs other industries where tips can account for 47% such as a bartender, who has a median income of $15.80.

The increase of people tipping less for the same service they used to has stemmed from the increase in tipping in other industries, with businesses such as Uber and Lyft becoming increasingly popular.  As people are spending more tips elsewhere, the veins of the hotel that keep guests feeling satisfied are losing important supplemental income.  

How much can you expect to earn as a housekeeper?

As a housekeeper, tips can vary as between $1-$5 per night, this is due to the fact that only about 27% people tip all the time, 31% never do, and 42% sometimes tip, according to our research.  The tips help make up the average hotel housekeeper’s hourly salary to around $9.28/hour. 

According to Tsheets, Connecticut has the best average tip rate factored in with minimum wage at a 18.59% tip rate and a minimum wage of $10.10.  The lowest earning state for service workers is Tennessee with an average tip rate of 16.38% and minimum wage of $2.13 an hour.  The highest pure tip percentage is Maine at 19.36%, however, only with a minimum wage of $5.00.  General trends show that the West and Northeast tip the best while the Southeast and lower Midwest tip the worst.

The Department of Labor chart below shows states where employers are required to pay tipped employees full minimum wage before tips (purple), a minimum cash wage above the Fair Labor Standards Act of $2.13/hour (green), and states that are the same as the Fair Labor Standard Act (blue).

The trends above show that a housekeeper would most likely make the most base income on the West Coast or in the North East, versus the South East and lower Midwest.

According to PayScale, the two skills that result in earning higher tips (and thus a higher salary) are customer service and cleaning.  Customer service adds about 54% more to tips and increases the median salary to $16.00/hour.  Having expert cleaning abilities boosts tips by 43% which results in a median salary of $14.82/hour.  We will discuss how to improve/gain these abilities in the later sections below.

Some of the best paying employers to work for as a housekeeper are Hampton International and Courtyard averaging around $10 per hour vs. Comfort Inn averaging only $8.00 per hour for housekeepers (PayScale).

Who tips housekeepers the highest?

Now we know how much you can expect to earn as a housekeeper, and where you can earn the most, the question that remains is who tips the best?  According to our research, 48% of women tip almost all the time versus. 33% of men.  However, men typically pay a higher percentage, 15 – 20% (20% is more likely), versus women paying out 5 – 15% (with 10% being the average).  A further breakdown shows couples on a date, middle aged adults and people with families are most likely to tip above average.  On the other end, foreign visitors, teenagers, and the elderly are more likely to tip below average. 

Do women housekeepers earn more tips than men?

The industry is very female orientated, with the breakdown showing 89% female and 11% male.  Typically in the tipping industry, males are tipped $3 more than females.  However, in the housekeeping industry this changes due to them not being actively seen as much.  As a result, this has caused females and males to share around the same amount of tips.

Why might you be earning a small amount of tips?

As a housekeeper, you must walk a fine line when it comes to getting tipped.  As your chances of getting tipped are already considerably lower compared to other jobs, if a guest finds something out of place or not to their satisfaction, odds are you will not get a tip.

The top reasons that fuel this are leaving beds poorly tucked, bathrooms not being properly cleaned, leaving the doors unlocked after housekeeping has been done, and people not having you on their radar.

How to earn more tips as a housekeeper 

Whether coming back from a long meeting-fueled work day or on a getaway vacation, guests want everything to be to their satisfaction.  These guidelines can help increase the amount of tips you will receive.

  1. Making yourself visible 
    1. Greeting guests with a warm smile and asking how you can improve their stay will likely make guests more inclined to remember you.  If a guest has not met or seen you, they will not be likely to tip according to the numbers.
  2. Look professional 
    1. Having neatly ironed uniformed, well-kept hair, and fingernails cut show guests that you take your job seriously, and make the guest feel like they’re staying at an establishment with high standards. 
  3. Get to know the guests, especially the regulars 
    1. Guests will love if you remember their names and their preferences when cleaning and will be likely to leave big tips.
  4. Leave kind notes that are uplifting if you see a guest having a bad day 
    1. A heartfelt note can go a long way if a guest is experiencing a bad time.  Simply leaving a “have a lovely day” or some other heartfelt message can improve a guest’s mood, and your tips.  
  5. Never forget to lock a guests door
    1. Leaving a guest’s door unlocked can lead to their items being stolen and have negative ramifications towards yourself. This is a huge mistake to make.

Top tips to when cleaning your guest’s room 

  1. Open the windows (if applicable)
    1. Allows for good ventilation (if you use chemicals) to let the room breathe and channel a natural aroma.  The natural light that comes from windows can also allow you to see areas that are very dusty.
  2. Clear out the clutter
    1. By having a clean slate to work with, your job becomes easier and more efficient.  Have a to do list that includes removing empty trash, towels, linens, bathmats, bottles of shampoo, and other products.  This will help eliminate the temptation to wipe around objects.
  3. Clean the bed area first
    1. This will allow for a minimal transfer of bacteria from the bathroom to the bedroom and improves the overall cleanliness and sanitation of the room.
  4. Always sweep or vacuum before mopping
    1. Sweeping on a wet floor is difficult and you will be bound to leave particles behind that might not be noticeable when wet, but will be visible when the guest returns later in the day. 
  5. Dust everything 
    1. Many people are allergic to dust and having a dust-free environment will leave a great impression on a guest, making them more likely to tip.  Do not forget to dust light bulbs, as they are often neglected.  Additionally, shake out curtains every couple of days before vacuuming to ensure a thorough dust clean can be completed.  
  6.  Clean the bathroom everyday 
    1. The bathroom contains the most bacteria in a hotel room. Making sure the bathroom is properly stocked and sanitized can help improve a guest’s mood during their stay.

Conclusion

It might seem that as a housekeeper, you just won’t get tipped very often.  However, there are steps you can take to change that!  By ensuring a guest’s happiness, your housekeeping tips will increase significantly.  The three biggest takeaways are to make yourself visible, get to know your guests, and remember to always have a positive attitude.

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