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Improving Women’s Lives: TipZyp supports women in low-income jobs

The cashless economy is hurting hotel housekeepers, a majority of whom are women. TipZyp is working hard to improve women’s lives.

Do you tip hotel housekeeping?
Tip housekeeping? The cashless economy has made it less convenient, harming housekeepers.

What’s happening to cash?

Credit-cards make paying for things easy. Awesome, right? Not always.

The cashless economy unfairly affects low income hotel housekeepers because unlike a client at a restaurant, a hotel guest cannot tip using a credit-card.. Many of the affected are low-earning hard-working women.

We’re focusing on housekeepers, the staff responsible for cleaning hotel rooms. Why? We know that only ⅓ of Americans claim to tip housekeepers when they stay at a hotel. Yet these crucial workers, who bring tremendous value to the experiences of hotel guests across the country, are among the most vulnerable to the decline of cash tipping.

What affects women affects everyone

The majority of hotel housekeepers are women. Evidence shows that when women are doing well, they provide a disproportionate boost to their family, the whole economy and society.

We also know that women are most likely to be underpaid, underappreciated, and passed over for promotion. Women also make up a high proportion of frontline service sector workers, like housekeepers and waiting staff, so they’re particularly vulnerable to a drop in tipping.

We don’t like that. So we’re fighting to change it. And we want your help.

In the past tips have helped housekeepers other tipped workers support themselves and their families while giving them an opportunity to boost their income with hard work.

This has a huge positive impact on housekeepers’ wellbeing, as well as their finances. Beyond the simple thank you, more disposable income makes a big difference to families.

Serious damage

In many cases, savings and discretionary spending are wholly dependent on tips. It’s ironic that something so profoundly meaningful to the person getting the tip rests on the ability of a stranger to leave a small discretionary payment at a convenient moment.

But as the trend towards a cashless economy gathers steam, workers – many of them women, such as housekeepers – depending on tips are suffering. People who can’t tip conveniently generally won’t. If you don’t have cash on hand, there’s a high chance you won’t tip.

With fewer people carrying cash, all those college funds, family days out, and trips to the doctor are under threat. Yes, tips can literally be a life saver.

You can help keep the American dream alive

Tipping is certainly not an obligation. But, the next time you stay at a hotel or enjoy a cruise, and you do want to tip, consider using TipZyp. Tipping matters because service workers don’t earn much, and a tip is a much-appreciated vital source of extra income for many.

We believe that with our service being used across America, we can make tipping easier than ever before and help workers earn more tips than ever before.

We know we can’t turn the clock back to the heyday of cash tipping. People find card payments far more than convenient than carrying cash. We feel consumers are unlikely to switch back to cash anytime soon.

So we have a plan.

Our shared mission

At TipZyp, we’re working to ensure that those who want to tip can, and those who rely on tips don’t miss out.

We’re doing this by bringing tipping into the 21st century, making it digital and available via a guest’s phone.

It’s even an improvement on cash tipping. Why? Back in the age of cash, you didn’t always have enough on you. Or you had the wrong cash. Today, it’s a rare person who doesn’t have their phone on them.

We believe that by improving on the old system of cash tipping in this way, we can help workers across the US boost their incomes and go from struggling to thriving.

One way you can help us is by using TipZyp to leave a tip whenever you stay at a hotel. Another is to join us. We’re hiring Local Agents to carry the TipZyp message across America, boosting the impact of our service and helping hundreds of thousands of women live better lives.

Tip housekeeping

 

Hotels and Innovation: A Match Made in Heaven?

 

Innovation with TipZyp logo

Some say hotels and innovation don’t go together. Nonsense. Here’s why any hotel manager or professional can innovate just as much as any Silicon Valley tech guru.

Some industries have an innovative image. And some don’t, even if they are extremely innovative. Too many people outside the hospitality industry have the wrong idea about it. Specifically, they think it’s not a hotbed of innovation like Silicon Valley. We know this is wrong.

This blog post challenges the myths and shows how hospitality and hotel professionals can and do innovate.

First up, why do people associate tech so closely with innovation compared to other industries? It’s not as though every new phone that comes out is more than incrementally better than the previous version. So what’s going on? Why this image?

The tech industry is purely about generating value by trying new things. Physically. The tech industry pushes the envelope of human progress in a hyper-visible way. You can see new technology. It sits on your desk; a portable monument to human achievement.

And that’s awesome. But what about technology in other industries? There’s a myth that some industries are un-sexy or unsuited to innovation. They have a ‘steady-as-she-goes’ image.

The Source of the Issue

The hospitality industry is burdened with this (inaccurate) image. Perhaps It’s understandable. When the conversations you have reflect one view, it’s incredibly easy to slip into the same mindset.

And then there’s the long history of hotels. Hotels have existed for literally hundreds of years. Most believe – somewhat wrongly – that they haven’t changed much in that time. This gives rise to the belief that they can’t change. If you’re like us, you want to challenge this assumption.

Another reason for the glacial image of hospitality is the size of many hotel organizations. Large organizations are said to be slow to change as pushing new projects can constitute a project in itself. And there’s some truth to this. But there’s no fundamental physical law that stops big organizations innovating, and the NYSE is replete with large companies founded on breakthroughs.  

But this isn’t just a problem. It’s an opportunity.

Hotels Can Innovate

So why are the naysayers wrong? Why doesn’t the image of hotels and hospitality reflect the more innovative reality?

Tech isn’t limited to the technology industry. And what about innovation that goes beyond technology? You don’t need to be a technologist to innovate.

In simplest terms, innovation is trying something new. Usually, that means progress. There’s nothing in there about needing microchips or sleek chrome casing. You don’t even need a physical product. All you need is a new way of providing value to meet a need or want, that’s meaningfully better than the old way.

Come up with a new way to make hotel guests happy and you’re an innovator. Solve the problem of retaining and motivating housekeepers in a new way? Innovator.

The change doesn’t even have to be all that radical. The best solutions are often the simplest ones. Make something people already do even slightly easier and that can have a huge impact, especially if it’s a common activity.

But that’s not to say changes can’t be groundbreaking. If you have a disruptive idea, go for it. As long as it provides more value than the status quo.

Take TipZyp. We’re a prime example of innovation in hospitality. We saw a problem and we decided to fix it.

Creating Value for Hotels

What was the problem? Fewer people carry cash, which means fewer tips for housekeepers. That makes their lives harder. It’s also a challenge for hotels, who must work even harder to keep their staff equally motivated. Hotel managers are running faster just to stay still, and often they don’t know why.

Our solution for hotels? Cashless tipping. We’ve built a system that allows guests to tip housekeepers virtually instantly, even without cash. Hotel guests can fire off an SMS to us, and we’ll ping them a TipCode. The guest writes it down for the housekeeper who picks it up later and can redeem their tip online.

By making tipping easier for hotel guests, we make them happier because it’s easier to achieve their desired result (leaving a tip). But it’s also great for housekeepers, for whom tips are increasingly like gold dust.

But the biggest winners are arguably hotel managers and owners, who get multiple issues resolved. First, guests are happier. Why? Of course, they like to be able to leave a tip if they want to. But they also benefit from the effects of motivated housekeepers; the number one thing guests look for in accommodation is cleanliness.

And then there’s data. If you’re a hotel manager, you’ll know the enormous value of insights into customer satisfaction. Digital tipping – aggregated for anonymity – means insights into guest satisfaction over time. Why are tips a good metric? Because while leaving a five star review or a nice comment costs nothing except one or two moments, a tip literally costs money.

It follows that if someone leaves a tip, they were at least satisfied. The greater the tip, the greater the probability that they were very satisfied. Of course, everyone’s different. Some people are more generous than others. But when you look at the overall trend, individual differences based on the tippers character and income iron out and you can observe the overall trends.

Are tips up or down this month compared to last month? Being able to answer that question easily with objective data is a powerful tool for hotels.

Introducing a service like TipZyp into your hotel constitutes real progress. Any way you can find to improve your service, do it. That’s innovation. Don’t leave Silicon Valley all the fun. You’re an innovator, too.

 

Attending the Hotel Experience in New York this weekend? We’ll be there! Why not drop by our booth? We’ll also be presenting along with other hospitality innovators at the TECHpitch on Sunday! Head to the HX: TECH Stage for 1pm to catch all five presentations from innovators looking to make waves in hospitality!

Inspired to try TipZyp in your hotel? Head to www.tipzyp.com/hotels  

How Much to Tip Hotel Housekeeping: Tipping Etiquette

Hotel housekeeper tipping

Tipping etiquette can be confusing. How much should I tip my hotel housekeeper? How much should I tip housekeeping? We’ve put together this handy guide to help you decide next time you want to tip.

Tipping hotel housekeeping is common practice across America. Housekeepers work hard for little money, and people generally agree that they deserve a tip if they’ve done a good job. However, by its nature tipping in hotels can be confusing.

People are usually alone when they decide to tip their housekeeper, and there’s nobody around to ask how much to tip! Tipping is also an informal social custom, meaning there’s no rule book you can check to get the right answer.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some simple rules you can follow to make sure you tip your housekeeper fairly and stay on the right side of your conscience without breaking the bank! We’ve put together this summary to help you decide how you want to tip your hotel housekeeper.

As you might imagine, when it comes to tipping housekeepers there are some specialist organizations that are very happy to offer their views on the right way to go about tipping.

The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) are understandably familiar with tipping etiquette. The AHLA says that $1-5 per night is conventional, depending upon the quality of the hotel.

However, in an article by CNN Money, Jacqueline Whitemore, founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach puts the numbers at $2-10 per night, with the upper range also reserved for the more expensive hotels you might grace with your tips.

It may seem counter-intuitive to tip more at more expensive hotels. After all, aren’t those hotels more likely to be paying their housekeepers a higher salary to begin with? While there is some variation from hotel to hotel, housekeepers aren’t earning the big bucks. It’s common practice, even in relatively exclusive venues, for operating companies to run a lean operation. An expensive hotel doesn’t mean a highly paid housekeeper.

Of course, this doesn’t justify tipping housekeepers in expensive hotels more than their peers in relatively affordable establishments. Housekeeping is hard work, wherever you do it. While it may be conventional to scale your tips up in proportion to the exclusivity of your hotel of choice, don’t let that force your hand. After all, a generous tip is an even bigger thank you when it’s unexpected.

Another consideration is the condition you leave the room in. Are you a messy guest? If so, probably up your tips a few dollars. If they’ve done a good job cleaning despite a messier room, it’s easy to argue that they’ve earned a tip befitting that!

But what if you leave your ‘do not disturb sign’ on the door throughout your stay? You may feel that you’ve saved the housekeeper some work, since they had entire days they didn’t enter your room and clean. Paradoxically, the reverse is true. According to Jacob Tomsky, a veteran hotel worker and author of Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles and So-Called Hospitality in USA Today, the gaps between cleaning actually increase the overall amount of work for housekeepers.

Why?

Because cleaning a hotel room and cleaning your house are not the same thing. Hotel managers have exacting standards, because there’s a very good chance the next guest in your room will, too. This means housekeepers must leave rooms spotless. Leaving your room uncleaned for a few days allows dirt, grime, dust, and all manner of unspeakables to build up that might escape your notice but must absolutely be dealt with before the next hotel guest shows up.

The skipped days mean that the housekeeper will have to use more cleaning supplies and will be exposed to more chemicals than usual. It’s also harder physical work to clean a room that’s gone a few days without a visit from your housekeeper. What does this mean for tipping? If you skip housekeeping visits during your stay no matter how tidy you are, you may want to increase the amount you tip.

So far we’ve covered how much to tip, and challenged some myths around tipping housekeepers. But when should you tip? And how?

Tipping etiquette in hotels is about more than how much to tip housekeeping. Timing and method is vital. There are certain flawed assumptions that hotel guests make about tipping housekeepers that can cause your tips to misfire.

The first is the mistaken belief that a different housekeeper cleans your room each day. This isn’t true most of the time. This means that if you just tip at the end of your stay, you probably haven’t tipped each person who has helped make your stay a clean and comfortable one. This means that if you want to tip housekeeping fairly, you want to spread your tipping out across your stay. For best tipping etiquette, tip your housekeeper each day.

To tip your housekeeper you also need to leave a note or some kind of indication that the money you’ve left is a tip and is meant for housekeeping. If you don’t explicitly indicate that your money was left deliberately as a tip and that you want it to go to your housekeeper, there’s a good chance it will end up being collected as lost and found and ultimately be pocketed by the hotel if left unclaimed.

Some hotels will make this easy for you by providing envelopes and stationary you can use to indicate that your money has been left intentionally as a tip. Even better, some hotels will provide TipSlips from TipZyp. With these you need only write the code you had automatically generated for you on TipZyp.com and leave it in the room. Simple.

If you’d like to make sure you’re part of the community of responsible tippers making sure work pays, head over to www.tipzyp.com to join the fair tipping movement making tipping easier for tippers and supporting hard working housekeepers.

 

Why declaring tips is smart: a guide for hotels and housekeepers

Tip housekeeping?

In the third of our series looking into tips, pay, and taxes, we examine how tips are taxed and why you should stay on the right side of the IRS.

Are tips taxed? How do you report tips? Should you? The answers are ‘yes’, ‘how you might expect’, and ‘definitely, if you like having money to hand’. But maybe you need more information? In this blog post, we dive into the ins-and-outs of tip declaration; how tips are taxed and why you absolutely will be glad that you declared them (or that your employees did)!

There are lots of questions about how the IRS handles tips. Whether you’re a housekeeper, a guest, or an employer, tipping in hotels is a big deal. Guests want to know the facts about tipping hotel housekeepers. Housekeepers want to know their obligations, and employers need to know these too. In this blog, we get to the facts of tipping in hotels and taxes.

Are you a housekeeper in a hotel? No doubt you love it when a tip shows up, as you should. You work hard and deserve to be appreciated. It’s easy to forget to record tips as they come in and treat them as just a little disposable cash.

The first thing to know is that you must record the tips you get on a daily basis. If you employ housekeepers as a hotel employer you should double check this is being done accurately, and how the tips are being recorded.

Okay, but why bother (other than the fact that you’re legally obligated to)? Did you know that the IRS audits service staff more than the ordinary taxpayer? They know that a lot of tips go undeclared. When they see service staff – like housekeepers or waiting staff – declaring incomes with no or suspiciously low tips they know something’s up. Don’t take the risk – don’t get in trouble.

If you receive tips and they regularly reach $20 per month or more, you need to start reporting the numbers to your employer. Since tips above this level are of interest to the IRS, it’s important you get this right. If you’re a housekeeper, keep track of your tips as you go instead of trying to remember it all later. It will save you a tremendous amount of work and frustration.

But besides avoiding trouble with the IRS, there are plenty of reasons why you should declare your tips on your tax forms. Declaring your tips as a housekeeper or other service worker can help your financial planning dramatically. Just being aware of the money that’s coming in and going out can be a huge step forward. But what if you saved your tips? That could be a major asset for you. Housekeepers who keep their tips and casual cash separate may have better financial health.

What’s more, having a higher ‘official’ income can help with your credit score and give you access to options you may not have realized you have. Banks and loan companies look at your income when deciding whether to grant you a mortgage, for example. And they can only use the income that they see. Money that’s under the table stays off the banks’ radar. Money you aren’t hiding can be an asset.

If you’re an employer, like a hotel general manager, you may want to hold workshops or otherwise advise on tip tracking to help staff wellbeing, boost efficiency, and keep operations ticking over smoothly. A standardized system as part of formal training can help with this from the offset.

What does this mean for people who get tips in practical terms? Tips must be reported on the employees W-2 form. The employee must also include tips on their personal tax return. Tips must also be reported for Social Security and Medicare tax calculation on IRS Form 4137.

It’s the employee’s obligation to report tips to you and the IRS for taxes. As the employer, you’re not liable to pay your share of FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions) taxes until the IRS gives you notice that they’re expecting payment from you.

We hope you’ve found this information useful. Please remember that this information is provided as an overview only and in no way constitutes formal financial advice. If you feel you require any further information about your responsibilities, consult the IRS website directly or a qualified accounting professional.

If you’re interested in introducing TipZyp to your hotel, drop us a line at hello@tipzyp.com. If you want to tip the easy, fast, and secure way, head over to www.tipzyp.com to get started.

 

The Easy Guide to Pay and Tips: Wages Made Simple

Tipping housekeepers: it makes a difference. But tipping varies between states. Should tipping etiquette?

Housekeeper or hotel owner, you both depend on the success of your hotel. Get each other’s backs; make sure you don’t accidentally break the rules on pay and tips with our quick guide

Tips and pay. It’s complicated. At least, the way it’s usually explained. The internet is full of tip guides for customers, but what about tipping guides for those on the receiving end? Or their employers? Here’s your short and snappy guide to the rules on tips and take-home pay.

How do tips affect wages?

What’s the context of a hotel tip? Across the US, everyone must get paid at least the Federal Minimum Wage. That’s $7.25.

Is that the minimum in every state? No. That’s the smallest amount of money central government will allow states to set as their minimum wage. Some go further. Some don’t.

Tip housekeeping? If they’re on minimum wage, how much your maid earns as a basic wage will vary. How much you tip housekeeping should reflect that.

This is because the state minimum wage varies. A hotel housekeeper in Texas might only get the basic minimum the US government allows – $7.25 per hour.

Meanwhile, their lucky colleague in California could be earning $11 an hour for identical work. This isn’t something guests often think about when deciding how much to tip hotel housekeeping. But they should.

So far we’ve seen that every US employee must earn the minimum wage in the state where they work. This applies whether you earn tips or not.

But can employers count tips towards the minimum age, or is it separate?

Again, it depends where you live. California? No. Tips you earn are all added to your take-home pay on top of your wage, which must equal the minimum on its own. Tip housekeeping? It’s their bonus.

Texas? Your employer can count your tips towards your pay meeting minimum wage. This means they can pay you a wage that is below the standard Federal Minimum Wage but top it up with your tips so you meet the legally acceptable threshold.

So, whether tips can be counted towards achieving the minimum wage varies by state. Whether you are a housekeeper, a hotel employer, or a hotel guest trying to decide how much to tip housekeeping, this is vital information.

The lowest direct wage not counting tips is called the ‘required cash wage’ set out in the Fair Labor Standards Act. It’s currently set at $2.13. This is the federally mandated minimum. You could think of it as a kind of backstop minimum wage for tipped employees.

This required cash wage is much lower than the minimum wage, but it’s still an absolute minimum. And it’s only allowed on the assumption that the difference will be made up with tips.

If you don’t tip the maid in one of the states that allows employers to only pay the minimum cash wage, you could be hurting your housekeeper’s bank balance. Tipping etiquette suggests that to tip housekeeping in these states is particularly valuable.

We’ve already seen two different approaches to the required cash wage and tipping. Texas lets you pay your employees the required cash wage of $2.13 and top up the rest with tips. In California, the state minimum wage applies to everyone. Even if you get tips.

In a state like California where tips are an added bonus on top of a wage, tipping housekeeping is seen a great sign that a guest is happy with the service they’ve received.

There’s also a third approach to tips and pay, which falls somewhere in the middle. Some states don’t insist that you pay the full state minimum wage before tips, but still require you to pay more than the required cash wage of $2.13. New York, Michigan, and Florida are all examples of states following this model.

To see how your state fits in, check the Department of Labor’s website.

Please note that this blog post is just an overview and isn’t meant as financial advice. If you’re in any doubt as to your responsibilities, please consult a qualified professional.

If you’re a hotel manager or owner, we’re interested in hearing from you. We’ve created an online service that makes it easy for staff to receive and record tips. If you’d like to help your housekeepers boost their income and motivation, you can visit tipzyp.com/hotels for more useful information.