Melanie Lieberman
October 03, 2014

What do Maria Shriver and Marriott Hotelshave in common? As of this month, it’s a shared interest in helping housekeepers earn their expected tips. 

Across North America, more than 160,000 Marriott-branded hotel rooms will start adding The Envelope Please, a card encouraging guests to tip their room attendants.

Marriott is the inaugeral partner for this new initiative from Maria Shriver's woman’s empowerment organization, A Woman's Nation. She began the program after discovering many visitors don’t tip hotel housekeepers—as many as 30 percent, according to Columbia University’s School of Hospitality.

Critics of the program, including author Barbara Ehrenreich, cite The Envelope Please as an excuse for Marriott to underpay their employees. 

Marriott representative Angela Wiggins said the tips are still entirely voluntary: “room attendants,” she added, “are paid salaries that are above minimum wage and receive benefits and training.”

While Ehrenreich has painted the program as a front for stiffing employees, we think we could all use a gentle reminder to show our gratitude before turning in our room keys. Even the most conscientious, well-traveled tippers are apt to forget now and then.

Of course, the envelope doesn’t solve the problem created by a plastic currency and mobile payments—few people travel with small bills on them—especially in a local currency.

We’d love to see Marriott integrate a tip feature into their mobile app, or allow guests to tip on the room invoice. “There has been some conversation [about that],” said Wiggins, “but nothing definitive.”

Other hotel brands might soon be flaunting The Envelope Please as early as 2015, said a representative from Woman's Nation. 

Melanie Lieberman is the Editorial Projects Assistant and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow her on twitter at @LittleWordBites.

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