A tip for Hilton's Chris Nassetta

George Sell By George Sell
Uploaded 16 June 2019

• As the hospitality industry continues to face serious issues recruiting and retaining staff, it was something of a shock to hear Hilton boss Christopher Nassetta tell the NYU hotel investment conference that he doesn't tip housekeeping staff when staying at Hilton properties.
 
Tipping etiquette varies from one country to the next but in the US it is customary, and industry professionals say housekeeping is the one aspect of every hotel stay where travellers should consider tipping a mandatory gesture of appreciation.
 
Nassetta - whose 2018 salary was more than $19 million - told interviewer CNBC co-anchor Andrew Ross Sorkin "I typically do not leave a tip". Honest, candid, but not "on message" I'm guessing.
 
Hilton's PR machine quickly got to work, with a statement reading: "It's Chris's view that every Hilton Team Member works hard. Rather than selectively reward some Team Members, he is focused on providing meaningful economic opportunities for all 400,000 Team Members. That's why Hilton is the No. 1 place to work in the US and No. 2 in the world, as voted by our own employees."
 
And Nassetta himself clarified his position at the weekend, saying: "When it comes to tipping in hotels, I have always had a different approach to work and personal travel. I also never meant for my approach to work stays at Hilton properties to discourage others from tipping when they are traveling. Going forward, I will tip when traveling for both work and personal travel. Nothing is more important to me than Hilton's culture and team members, especially our housekeepers, who are central to delivering Hilton hospitality around the world. I have always been generous with my time and engagement with team members when on property, and I will remain focused on keeping Hilton the #1 best place to work in the United States."
 
This could be viewed as something of a storm in a tea cup, but it was a surprise coming from Nassetta who has worked his way up the career ladder from a plumbing job at a Holiday Inn to the top role at Hilton. Housekeeping and other hotel staff are often working for minimum wage or slightly above - it's not easy work and a small show of appreciation goes a long way.
 
Perhaps hotel CEOs should start leaving crisp $100 bills and their business cards when they are impressed with the service they receive? It would make for much better PR and could help them unearth some hospitality stars of the future.

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