Are hotels ready for tattoos and piercings?

Maybe it’s time to expect a little ink at the front desk. Hotel employee policies have traditionally been pretty strict when it comes to appearance. Suits are the norm, beards aren’t seen often and creases are always easy to spot. Notably absent, for the most part, are a few extra body piercings (at least the visible kind) and generous tattooing. It looks like the world might (finally) be loosening up a bit, though.

A decade ago, when I worked for a software company in the hospitality business, we generally had to mirror our clients’ wardrobe and grooming policies (at a minimum). Sporting a mustache was permissible only if you’d been with the company for a while and knew your stuff cold. And, it wasn’t allowed so much as tolerated. The reason for the company’s standards, of course, was salient as soon as you walked up to the front desk to check in: the employees needed to be able to relate to you quickly.
With attitudes toward tattoos and piercings easing up a bit, it seems as though hotels might be able to relax the standards a bit. According to USA Today’s “Hotel Check-in” column:

Piercings have become a fairly acceptable form of body decoration, at least outside the workplace, and some hotels have grown more comfortable with letting employees show a bit of personality. So I decided to reach out to my Facebook and Twitter friends to ask what they think about pierced hotel workers today, and found people on both sides of the question.

An informal poll found that guests have a wide range of attitudes on metal and ink on hotel employees, some of which include a bit of nuance. A few think it depends on the property, with those of the staid variety needing employees to dress the part, while fashion-forward properties can give their employees a bit more latitude.

The prevailing perspective, it appears, is that hotels need to adapt to the world around them. According to Michael Juell, a hotel consultant and former Four Seasons manager, employees should be presentable and clean … and not go to crazy with the adornments.

[photo by Just Jefa via Flickr]