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Tipping in Hotel Housekeeping

Researchers have investigated variables associated with tipping in restaurants for decades, but few have investigated the tipping of guest room attendants (GRAs)— also known as housekeepers—in hotels. Unlike in hotel housekeeping, tipping norms in the restaurant industry are well established, and restaurant servers are visible to the guests they serve and who tip them. Typically, GRAs have no direct contact with the guests and thus are “invisible.” Given the invisibility of GRAs, they must find a unique way to “touch” guests to evoke immediacy and intimacy. In addition, since a majority of GRAs belong to a minority group, especially Latinx, it is important to investigate how race/ethnicity impacts customer tipping. My experimental design captured 316 respondents through “Centiment” and tested the relationship between multiple variables associated with tipping intentions and tipping amounts for GRAs in the context of (in)visibility as well as race/ethnicity.

Generally, the results showed that there was no statistically significant difference between the tipping amounts for the white or Latina housekeeper. However, the participant’s perception of room cleanliness, feeling of empathy, and the social presence of the tent card were all associated with higher tipping amounts. When the participant felt manipulated after viewing the tent card, they tipped less, which had the highest correlation from the results. Fundamentally, my research tested the theory of social presence which has never used to bring visibility to invisible employees. Future research will hopefully expand on this theory in a similar light and add to existing findings.