tipping

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Apr 30th, 2004, 12:22 PM
  #1
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tipping

Just got a tipping guideline from the Tour company we are using and I think it is outrageous. Anyone have any recent experience with tipping for guides, drivers etc in S. Africa. This person is suggesting $4 per person to guide for 1/2 day tour and $8 per person for full day tour!!!!! Are we paying the guide ourselves through the tips?

Does anyone else think this is WAY out of line - like two to 4 times as high as it should be?

Also the tour company is suggesting tipping for "included meals" which I have never seen before on a tour.

This is NOT a cheap tour and it is not A & K either. Is S. Africa different than the rest of the world about tipping or are we being steered wrong?

Appreciate any help others have experienced in this area.
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Apr 30th, 2004, 12:29 PM
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I think guidelines I have seen from other operators suggest $5 per person per day for a guide/ mokoro paddler, $3 per person per day for a tracker and an additional $5 per person per day for the general staff box at the camp which covers kitchen and dining staff, cleaners, maintenance people and all the other myriad roles that work behind the scenes.

We often increase on that when we feel it's been merited but we use that as our starting point.
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Apr 30th, 2004, 02:28 PM
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Kavey's spot on!
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Apr 30th, 2004, 02:30 PM
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Trvlingal,

I apologize for my lack of diplomacy but I think you ARE way out of line. How could you spend perhaps $250 per person per day but then complain about tipping? Do you realize how much work it must be to run a game reserve and the staffing that must be required?

Open up your walletbook (and your heart) and please tip at least as much as the suggested amount. Thanks.
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Apr 30th, 2004, 02:42 PM
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Rocco
Considering the lengths you will go to I think it's a little rich to question anyone else's spending habits.

Travelling Gal isn't suggesting not tipping or even tipping less than the going rate but is only asking about advice she has been given and asking about what the going rate IS.

From that knowledge she can then make her own decisions on what to tip and understand whether she is over or under tipping or getting it just right.

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Apr 30th, 2004, 02:42 PM
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That should read:

the lengths you will go to to save a buck
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Apr 30th, 2004, 02:59 PM
  #7
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Kavey,

Thanks for the guidelines. Of course I have no intension of stiffing anyone but want to be realistic about what is reasonable and what is not. I always OVER tip because of the hard work that most people in these countries do for the tourists.

Thank you ladies for your response. I will consider the source of the other one.
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Apr 30th, 2004, 03:01 PM
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Kavey,

Her words were:

"Does anyone else think this is WAY out of line - like two to 4 times as high as it should be?"

Those sound like the famous last words of someone that is about to tip less than the guidelines.

I have personally seen guidelines elsewhere slightly higher.

Kavey, regardless of trying to get the best rates from a tour operator of lodge operator, one thing I do not do is shortchange the guides and staff. I find your comment regarding "the lengths I will go to" a tad insulting, but I will get over it.

I fully intend to tip very generously on my upcoming trip, just because I believe in generous tips AND also to show my appreciation to Star Of Africa and Kaingo for giving me such great rates. Nothing better than happy employees.
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Apr 30th, 2004, 03:51 PM
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Absolutely Rocco.
But there are many countries where it is NOT customary to tip so highly because the cost of living IS different and $5 US is considered a very very good tip indeed.
There are also companies that tend to include tips in their costs.
So Travelling Gal's comments may reflect her prior experiences elsewhere.
Throwing big tips around is not the only way to show consideration - it's also important to have the right attitude when interacting with the staff and treating them well.

I just think it might be nice to show a LITTLE more friendliness/ courtesy when responding to a post from someone who hasn't been posting here very long.
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Apr 30th, 2004, 04:43 PM
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very interesting question. My husband and I are going in June for a 14 day safari. Out tour operator told us $20.00 per day, per person. They didnt mention hotel staff. I thought $40.00 a day was high but I have never been there and didn't know. We are on a private safari, just the 2 of us. Maybe that makes a difference. Also, where does the guide go after the drives. My husband is very out going and fun to be around and thinks the guide will eat and hang out with us at the pool or lodge bar in between drives. I told him I thought the guide would have better things to do. But, I don't know
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Apr 30th, 2004, 04:58 PM
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katj,

It all depends on the lodge's policies and the personality of the guide.

I have had a very outgoing guide in the past, that would eat dinner with us, engage in witty conversation, and even have a drink with us after dinner (Singita).

I have also had a guide that was on the shy side, although very nice, and would eat and run, excusing himself at the earliest opportunity (Kafunta).

Then there were other guides that were spread too thin with the other guests (Vuyatela) and I don't even remember my dining experience with my guide at Matetsi (a CCAfrica property). I want to say that the guides at Matetsi did not even dine with the guests, but I cannot recall for sure.

My best experience with staff probably came at Kafunta Island Bush Camp with the managing couple (no longer there). Although we weren't all best friends by any means, even having a few disagreements, I did appreciate spending the two nights by the campfire probably for a good hour after dinner each night, with our after dinner drinks and just talking about life. It probably helped that the guy was also 32 years old (my age at the time last year), and that I am so passionate about Africa and well-versed enough to engage him in meaningful conversation. However, it went way beyond that, and I was fascinated to learn about his role in the South African military in the final days of apartheid and how he was able to make the transition from fighting against integration to now working solely with (black) Africans.

It really all depends on the luck of the draw and whether or not a set of guests hits it off with the guide. A good guide or ranger will try to be as engaging as possible, while still remaining professional, for the most part.
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May 1st, 2004, 12:16 AM
  #12
 
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Tip as much as you can.The guides and staff are the backbone of any camp and a good tip is a good incentive for them to work harder and better. Besides, when the staff benefits, their whole community benefits which in turn is very good for wildlife conservation. The minimum tip should be $10 per guide and $15 for the staff per day but I usually go beyond that. Anything less than 5$ (Kavey ONLY £2.5 for you per day) is too little.
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May 1st, 2004, 02:45 AM
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King
My post says very clearly that it's $5 per PERSON per day. That's $5 from me and $5 from my husband.
And as I said, that's our starting point, when we have good service (as we did from pretty much all our WS staff) we increase that accordingly.
I agree that tipping more is preferable when you get good service as it really supports a number of people.
However, it's good for Travelling Gal to know what the realistic starting point is, since her operator is giving her somewhat higher minimums.
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May 1st, 2004, 02:49 AM
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Katj that $20 per day may have been when you added it up.
We found that we would usually leave about $10 each per day for a good guide or mokoro paddler (we felt they deserved the same though guidelines suggest less for the paddlers), a little less for the trackers, then we left about $10-15 each in the general tip box. Sometimes if one or other individual camp staff did something for us (such as cook doing something special for us on request) we'd also have a tip in an envelope for that person which was separate from the general tip box. In practice we usually left about $25 each total per day when we added up what we were giving to different people.
BUT the key point is we did that when we felt the service was deserving.
Don't feel pressured into leaving high tips for average or mediocre service.
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May 1st, 2004, 03:22 AM
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Oh, senile, just woke up.
There was an occasion where we did leave only what was recommended in the WS guidelines as we felt staff were OK but didn't make the same efforts as elsewhere. In that case we left exactly what had been recommended by the operator, namely the $5 per person for a guide etc.
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May 1st, 2004, 05:12 AM
  #16
sandi
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First let me say that I'm surprised this subject could bring out a conflict between two of our favorite posters. That said Tipping is still at the discretion of the traveler for service provided. What your tour operator listed is only a guideline. And be thankful you're not on an A&K tour as you'd be paying minimum $1500 or more over other operators, and I can't recall ever laying out $1500 in tips. And A&K doesn't include the guide/driver tip - this one is still your responsibility.

We've used the same guidelines regardless where we've traveled and the numbers are in line with what Kavey suggests:

Guide - USD$5/day per person
Guide/Driver - one who does both - $5-$7/day per person
Driver (who handles your transfer from airport/hotel which price is appox $20/person) - $2/person

Ranger - (Called this in Southern Africa - tip as for Guide) $5/day per person
Ranger/Driver (as Driver/Guide above)$6-$7/day per person
Tracker - (usually in Southern Africa) - $3/day per person
Mokoro Paddler - if for a full day (as a guide) - $5/day per person

Camp Staff - waiters, porters, housekeeping, kitchen staff (this is shared and usually placed in a Tips Box at Reception) $5/day per person

Urban Centers - hotels - bellmen $1/bag, maid $2-$3/nite/room
Restaurants - if service charge is included in bill, then you can leave loose change for btter than usual service. If no service charge, than 10% of the bill.
Taxi drivers - round up to the closest dollar (or local currency)

If you've had a guide/driver who has gone out of his/her way to negotiate prices for you at a souvenir shop or helped with other services, add to their daily amount.

While at Singita, we tipped over and above our usual as the Ranger and Tracker and entire staff were outstanding.
Rangers - $10-$12/day/person
Trackers - $7-$9/day/person
Staff - $10/day

While many of these people do live on site with room, board and 3-meals, and do get a small salary, about $50/mo. they do depend on tips. Also realize that many of these people work 24/7 for months at a time, often great distances from where their families live; have brief vacations for a few days maybe twice a year. Having any of these positions is valued greatly in these countries and I've found that these individuals go out of their way to provide visitors a satisfactory experience in their countries.

So "tips" have to be included in the price of your trip. And those amounts above over a 2-week vacation don't amount to but a fraction of the cost of your package. They are not out of line, and certainly not as high as what A&K (and the likes) builds into their tour prices.

We have always paid the guides/drivers, rangers, trackers, bellmen, ourselves; while staff tips are placed in the Tip Box. Hope this helps.
 
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May 1st, 2004, 05:48 AM
  #17
 
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Sandi
It's not so much personal tipping practices as rudeness and lack of courtesy to others that gets my back up.
Everyone is entitled to ask for advice and make their own decisions without being told they are "out of line" by some internet stranger who thinks he's got everything right and that everyone should do everything his way.
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May 1st, 2004, 07:24 AM
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I think it any talk about guidelines that attempts to deal with different countries, types of camp, types of "guides" and level of service is bound to get too complicated, too quickly. For example, I imagine that "appropriate" would be very different for SA, Zambia and Botswana...not to mention Kenya, Tanzania or things in between!!

Also, I DO think it could differ by type of camp (which may have a big influence on how many people are in a guides party, for example.) At camps which offer a choice of activities, you may choose something that makes a guide spend time with you instead of with a group. In that case, for great service, I will "overtip" because I am getting such personalized attention, while another guide gets tips from a much larger group...

But I see tipping as in my self-interest too...I don't know anything else that costs me so little, and can bring so much joy to a person. Personally, I like to "overtip" the women who take care of my chalet (especially in Zambia, Roccco!) They are often forgotten (as opposed to the guides), but really go out of there way to make my stay safe and comfortable. Gosh, once when they found my tip, they thought it was a mistake and tried to return the forgotten cash and misc. stuff I left with them...and then acted like it was Christmas when I re-iterated that it was for them. But they had been so wonderful the whole time they deserved it. (PS-- lots of development research shows that when women get money, they invest it in their children (school, medical care, etc. When men get money, it is disproportionately consumed on "selfish" things which don't support the family...Sorry guys, that's the research...)
However-- in support of the men-- I occasionally learned (after the fact, from someone else) that these lucky people who do have jobs in the tourism industry are taking care of many children (AIDS orphans) of relatives who have died or are ill. I think in subsaharan Africa these folks end up supporting a whole village...

Finally, Kavey is also correct that genuine appreciation, expressed at the time of service in a respectful way is as important as what you leave. Good tourism should build bridges between our cultures...
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May 1st, 2004, 07:41 AM
  #19
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After rereading my post, I can see how confusion and misunderstanding occurred. We are not taking a SAFARI in S. Africa. We are doing Cape Town for 4 nights, 3-4 nights in Kruger, Johannesburg and then 3 nights in Vic Falls area.

We were given guidelines for the camps of $10/day for the game ranger, $6/day for the tracker and $10/day for lodge staff. I have no problem with those numbers although they may be a tad high.

I am questioning the rates for the Cape Town, Joburg and Vic Falls tour guides of $4/day for half day tour and $8/day for full day tours per person.

Having traveled all over the world on many tours with many different groups, the tipping guideline has NEVER been this high for CITY GUIDES.

My question was, has anyone else out there had similar guidelines for CITY tour guides in S. Africa? If this is the standard tip, then I will abide by it. But since the average worker in this country doesn't make that much, it seems high to me especially when there are 16 of us in the group! If I were having my own PERSONAL guide, that would be one thing. But 16 people paying $8 each is more than some people in that country make each week or perhaps each month!

Hope this clarifies the question.
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May 1st, 2004, 08:03 AM
  #20
 
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For me it would depend whether or not the guide doing the tour was self-employed (ie receiving the majority of the money for the tour itself) or an employee and how good he was.

For city tours I do find what we tip varies more widely dependent on the kind of experience we had.

I'd probably stick with around $5 from each of us for a full day tour if I thought it was well done, less if it was not particularly good and more if it was exceptional.
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