Monday, April 15, 2013

Tips Of The Trade, Or Reaping What We Sow

30 to 40 Baht a day works wonders with housekeeping.

Never having personally done a poll on it I admit I don't have a definitive answer for you on how much to tip the folks who maintain your "home away from home" while you're on the road (your hotel, serviced condo or other type of room that you don't strictly maintain yourself) but I'd hope you leave them something on a daily basis.  It's one of those grey areas that rarely pops up even in the ever-changing "up to yooouuu" areas of travel interactions.

From personal experience and from conversations with other travelers, though, I can attest to the fact that if you're nice to housekeeping, they - as a rule - tend to go out of their way to be nice to you.  I've had extra pillows and towels appear without a request, flowers put in my room, soaps and shampoos from deluxe rooms in my regular room, etc. I know they were out of the ordinary because I've had others ask how I'd rated special treatment when they hadn't. "I didn't get that stuff in my room!" one friend groused. "Maybe because you're a cheap bastard?" I asked. He laughed, but he followed my suggestions and the next morning at breakfast he sheepishly said "I have a robe and some of that nicer stuff now".  Call it a bribe if you want, but I don't see it that way.

As we've mentioned in a couple of other posts (links below), tipping among Thai isn't a common thing, but those in the service trade and in regular contact with tourists have been exposed to the practice often enough that they recognize it for what it is, and they appreciate it.  From what I've been able to glean via Thai friends gratuities aren't built into their regular wage package as they can be in other countries, and as cheap as some people can be that's probably a good idea.

The bell staff provide a variety of services, and are good folks to have on your side.

I'd hope most of you would agree that tipping the bell boy who lugs your bags out of the taxi, into the hotel and up to your room has earned a gratuity, wouldn't you?  I tend to travel heavier than some , so I always make sure to tip fairly in that case. Sometimes Bt20 per bag, sometimes simply Bt100+, depending on the difficulty of the task. Some 45Kg guy who struggles up three flights of stairs with my 150Kg of crap and risks a compressed vertibrae or two naturally earns more, and why shouldn't he? It's not their fault the place doesn't have an elevator. A guy using both a cart and a lift shouldn't even break a sweat, so gets a lesser tip, like the example above.

Bear in mind that in a five-star hotel the bar may have been set a bit higher (although the better-off actually tend to be less generous, I've been told by folks who work in such places) but I'd suggest simply being as fair as you can be.

Do you think housekeeping cares if you leave your small change for them?  They don't.

Dining room staff in hotels featuring buffets are more often the recipients of "pooled" tips, receiving a share of what's left in a tip box near the register or front entrance. If there's no house rule against accepting it, though, you can directly hand cash to a person who went above and beyond their regular call, if you choose to.

Earlier I mentioned a couple of other posts regarding tipping here in the past. There was a post about tip pooling back in January of 2011 that you might find amusing HERE, and another with some examples of tipping hotel staff from April of 2011 HERE.

By the way, you need to leave the tip for housekeeping someplace where it's obviously a tip so they don't think they're taking your money and risk losing their job. A note identifying a tip as such neatly does the trick, and I've yet to run into the housekeeping staff member who didn't know the word "housekeeping" in English. I tend to leave it on a corner at the foot of the bed, completely separate from anywhere I may leave other minor amounts of cash out, like on the desk.

What made me think of this today was a note I'd tucked into my brochures, receipts and junk from this last trip; a reminder of something unusual that happened while staying in a three star hotel where few spoke much English and things were a little more - let's just say basic, shall we?  I'd left a tip with a note in Thai saying "Housekeeping... thank you!", and when I returned later that day I found the note below.  Kind of nice, I thought, and despite their spelling it was a good example of reaping what we sow.

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