This is why I love running Fly&Dine! Earlier today I posted a story about tipping at hotels and, lo and behold, one of San Francisco’s top butlers took the time to weigh in with his perspective and it’s amazing. Instead of leaving it in the comments of the other post, I wanted everyone to see it here:
As the Lead Butler in one of the most luxurious (and expensive) hotels in San Francisco, I also see some flaws in this tip-down, but not the same ones you point out. First I will start off with wages that these workers earn…
Doorman – $15/hr
Usually a friendly face you see throughout your stay, they help coordinate the mess that is valet, check-in/out and the first impression. When they hold your car up front instead of parking it, saving you time, and costing them a valuable space up front, tips are common. Otherwise, a buck or two here or there for taxis is cool, but not necessary, they are doing there job.
They work hard, and if you can’t be assed to grab your bags yourself, even when they put them on the bell art, then pay up. A few bucks is fine, but when a family of 6 dumps 6 large cases, 6 backpacks laptops and endless various items that they end up having to pack for you (food urgh) then help them out! They are the least paid people at the hotel, by a long shot. Valet is the same, they run their asses off!
Concierge – $21/hr
If they get you everything you want, a good room, deal with problems during your stay, etc. then they deserve a tip, but realize they make the most after managers. They also get kickbacks with their dinner reservations (OT concierge, sometimes $100/week or more!) car services, etc. if you are handing out $ willy nilly, they should be last in line. Not to say their job isn’t hard, because it is being the middle man between management and lower staff, as well as the smiling face and voice on the phone, but they get paid good money to do so.
Housekeeping – $19/hr
If you keep your room tidy, don’t accept turndown, and make no mess, tips are not required at all. If you are leaving them with more than a sheet change and Hoover, then expect to give them a little, after all your mother taught you to clean up after yourself, and if you can’t do that, then the maid will. Some of the party rooms I have seen look disgusting, smell, and are loaded with trash – and the housekeeper has the same amount of time to turn that room around for the next guest as the easy tidy one. Please, if you make a mess, realize that the person cleaning up has to do this to a massive number of rooms each day, and take care of them.
My work is a blend of Bellman, Valet, Room Service, Chauffeur, and concierge. I also help with troubleshooting problems with the room, dealing with unruly/drunk people, directions, etc. On a good day I can make up to $300 cash, but most days come in at $50-100, which supplements my measly $13/hr here in San Francisco, the most expensive city to live in the states (eat it NY) We work hard to ensure the stay goes above and beyond expectations, and are very appreciative of any and all tips, foreign currency and change as well! I do not avoid good service because of tight wads, but I certainly offer preference to the tippers when I have multiple things on my plate, so if you want it done now and done well, a tip almost guarantees that. After all, time is money.
Also, most places do have the employees ‘pool’ tips, but some people cannot be trusted, so it’s almost always better to ask if they do, or just break up your tip and spread the same amount to more people. (Instead of giving the doorman $20 on checkout, give $5 to the bellman, $5 to the valet, and $10 to the doorman)
Ok, end rant, and back to enjoying my day off!
Mr. Butler, sir. Thank you so much for enlightening us. It’s always fantastic to get an insiders’ perspective.
You can check out my original post here.
Stereotypical Butler Photo: