Tipping managers

Old Jan 9th, 2008, 08:31 AM
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Tipping managers

I didn't want to hijack the other tipping thread so I wanted to get others feedback. On my last trip to Botswana I noticed for the first time at Chitabe Ledibe that the tip box at the front specifically said it excluded the managers. I thought this was a bit odd as I really didn't notice this at other Wilderness Camps although I am sure it is possible I just overlooked it. The obvious message was that the managers ought to be or expected to get tipped separately. I suspect that managers get paid a more decent wage than the guides and wonder if it is everyone's norm to tip them as well and if so how much. Do you budget tips in general for the camp and split it in some arbitrary way or is there a formula. I have never felt comfortable tipping managers unless they really go out of their way for you and provide something above and beyond what is expected. The guides on the other hand are tipped commensurate with their effort in providing a superb experience.
Any input would be appreciated.
Regards,
Eric
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Old Jan 9th, 2008, 09:20 AM
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Eric,
I too have been confused over this but I've come to the conclusion that the managers are excluded from the tipping process. We have in the past done safaris with other couples, in Bots and Tanz, who felt the same. If we are wrong I'd like to know it but my understanding was that the managers were compensated in an appropriate fashion. I am more concerned in Tanzania where I have been told that the proceeds of the tip box are kept by some owners and managers and are not distributed. I would rather not mention the property(s) in case I have been given incorrect information. I wouldn't want anyone to withold contribution to the tip box on the offhand comment of a single guide. In Tanzania I have even gone into the kitchen and tipped the chef and dishwahser becuase I was uncertain they would get anything from the tipbox. Perhaps I'm a sucker but I find it impossible not to be generous with these fine people.
Regards-Chuck
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Old Jan 9th, 2008, 09:35 AM
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I wouldn't tip managers and would've simply interpreted that to mean that 100% of my tip is going to the staff which is what I'd want, not that I was expected to tip management separately.
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Old Jan 9th, 2008, 09:58 AM
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Like Patty, I don't interpet that sign as the manager should be tipped. I've certainly never tipped a camp/lodge manager.

Guess it's the wording that would cause someone (as you) to surmise.
Maybe the comment re managers shouldn't even been mentioned... as it apparently isn't anywhere else you've been, nor have I.

... strange.
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Old Jan 9th, 2008, 10:09 AM
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I already have seen several tip boxes with signs such as "junior staff only" or "not for senior management".
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Old Jan 9th, 2008, 01:07 PM
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I have simply assumed that the tip box doesn't include managers, without seeing it expressly written. I'm curious as to whether it's been added to the Ledibe box in order to reassure guests that it's going to the other staff or to try and encourage separate tips for managers.

Rightly or wrongly, I assume that managers are on a much better salary than the rest of the camp staff. I have never left tips for managers. And I would expect them to go out of their way to look after each and every guest, I think that's part of what they are paid for.

In terms of whether or not the tip box goes to the staff, I like to think it does. In the rare situation that I'm not sure whether it will, hopefully I've developed a relationship with a member of staff that would allow me to discreetly ask them whether or not staff do get tips left for them in the box.
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Old Jan 9th, 2008, 01:28 PM
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During my last safari in Zim I learned something new. When asking management for the tip box I was told to put the tip into an envelope and give it to the headman of the staff when leaving camp. When I finally left I experienced a lovely ceremony wheras all staff members came to the car to say good-bye and I handed out my gift to the headman. This happened in two camps. A wonderful way to make sure that the staff is getting their tip.
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Old Jan 9th, 2008, 01:44 PM
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I've seen a manager have a glass of wine maybe, but never too much to drink.

Oh, wait, I thought this was about tippling managers.

Never mind.
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Old Jan 9th, 2008, 01:53 PM
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I've also experienced what nyama described at some camps in Kenya. Upon departure, I gave my tip to one designated staff member with all other staff present. I believe this is to ensure that it's fairly distributed.
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Old Jan 9th, 2008, 01:59 PM
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Meeting the Team -

...often happens at small camps or lodges, where you have the opportunity to actually meet all members of the staff, especially those working "back of the house" On a daily basis you'll, no doubt, come in contact with the guides, trackers, porters, waiters... maybe the housekeeper or chef. But there's a whole team back there.

This is a nice practice.
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Old Jan 9th, 2008, 05:16 PM
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This is quite an interesting topic.

Guides in general earn far more than managers because of the tips they receive. It is the lack of tipping for management that means they receive a higher basic salary, though not that much. If you are a guide and a manager, then the money is higher.

I think it is unfortunate that many of the managers are not rewarded for their efforts. Guides have the easy job. They have to drive you to the animals, press the play button and talk. As a guide myself, not quite as simplistic, but you get my point.

When most people have a wonderful safari, they often give all the praises to the guide. For he was the one who showed you the animals you wanted to see. It is the managers though that make it all fit in to place, making your trip seamless. From the logistics of transfers to your food.

If you go to a camp and think, wow, that was amazing, it was down to the management. Look at the problems Mombo had a few years back. They still have the same staff, but the managers are different. Guides need to kept in line, organized, standards need to be maintained.

People are want to tip the waitress who served them their food well, so why not reward a well run camp? Talking of waitresses, how many times have you seen a manager play host? Pouring drinks, getting you food etc. Yet our mind-set just says this is part of their role. Despite the fact you tip someone else to do the same thing because they aer not management.

Thought for 2008,
Reward Managers

Regards

Now thankfully out of the tourist safari industry. Problem animal control no longer means that I am 'tipped commensurate with their effort in providing a superb experience'
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Old Jan 9th, 2008, 05:29 PM
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Insightful take, Shumba. The better job the managers do, the less it looks like they are really working because everything goes smoothly.

I don't think the guides have an especially easy job, especially with folks like me who want to stay out all day.

What do you think is an appropriate per day manager tip?
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Old Jan 9th, 2008, 06:01 PM
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I would rank him as senior guide.

:-? hmm, from tourist industry to 'problem animal control'...
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Old Jan 9th, 2008, 06:05 PM
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I have never tipped management, and I was afraid when I opened this thread everyone was going to respond they'd done so and I'd feel just awful. The reason I have not tipped management, honestly, is because it was not specifally recommended in the tipping guidelines I received. While those guidelines did not of course recommend against tipping managers, they were specific enough to other parties (i.e. guides, staff, mekoro polers, etc.) that by omission it seemed as if managers were supposed to be left out.

I agree that a wonderful experience(or a bad one) at a camp is due in very large part to management. In fact in my recent trip report I specifically mention management's role in how smoothly things ran and more particularly overall camp atmosphere at certain camps in Botswana and the less than stellar performance of the managers at one particular camp.

I would certainly not be against tipping managers, but I'd need some guidance. Not only on how much, but on whether you tip them individually or provide a communal tip like we do for staff.

I love the idea of meeting all the staff and being able to hand a tip envelope to one person in front of the others. We never know if the entire tip is given to the staff or if it is distributed among the staff fairly, do we?

At Phinda Forest Lodge several years ago my guide was not there when I left. He was supposed to be there, but I could not find him. The then-manager basically said "no problem, give it to me" and I did. The following day the guide called me and asked if I'd left a tip. (I was at Londolozi and yes, they have phones in the rooms). I can't imagine the guide calling me if the manager didn't have some sort of reputation for taking tips. He probably would have just thought he'd been stiffed. I'd never been there before and he didn't know me from Adam. When I told him yes, he then asked how much the tip was. He was a fantastic guide and I felt awful for him that he not only had to call and ask me about it, but specifically ask me how much I'd left. So, this does happen. Managers taking tips that belong to others. Hopefully it does not happen often.
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Old Jan 9th, 2008, 06:08 PM
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I noticed that problem animal control thing. Is there such a job description for problem guests?
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Old Jan 9th, 2008, 08:02 PM
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I really don't understand why so many people get hung up about tipping. Perhaps it's because tipping is part of their culture and they worry about 'getting it right'. I happily tip guides and staff in Africa even though tipping is not part of my country's culture. I haven't tipped camp managers, though, just as I wouldn't tip a restaurant manager back home (but might tip the waiter if it was customary- our wages system is different, so it's not as clear-cut a matter as it might be in countries where tipping is de rigueur.

I have absolutely no problem deciding how I tip and how much I tip. It's a personal choice, one which should not be dictated by 'rules' but influenced by one's own circumstances and culture. For instance, I did not tip my first safari guide. He was an Australian. I assume the Americans with me tipped him but I did not. He and I remain friends after 12 years.

John
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Old Jan 9th, 2008, 09:02 PM
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I'll give a tip to managers. Which is - do your job and hope your management rewards you with a raise or bonus.

regards - tom
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Old Jan 10th, 2008, 01:42 AM
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I am a camp/lodge manager.

Here are my experiences to date:

Managers are never included in the tip box. There does not need to be a sign indicating this. I expect the Chitabe message is a hint for guests to tip the manager separately but I could be wrong.

In our camp we have a box (unfortunately in this day and age it is kept padlocked which is not aethetically pleasing and does not send a good message but has to be done)The box gets put out next to the visitor's book in the morning. The box is not marked at all. Most guests will work out what the box is for and those who do not see it will always ask where it is or how it works if they intend leaving anything. After the guests have departed I open the box alongside a nominated member of staff, we count the money together and record it after which it gets locked in the safe until month end at which point I hand it over and the staff go about sharing it amongst themselves.

I often get asked for advise about how much is acceptable and my answer is always the same - "whatever you feel comfortable with, all gratuities are appreciated irrespective of the amount"

A gratuity is a bonus, not a right but not all camps and their staff buy into that idea.

I probably get tipped about 5 times per year. Naturally it is very much appreciated but I certainly don't say farewell to guests each morning hoping for some sort of reward. Naturally it is flattering when someone thanks you personally for a job well done. I won't lie, it feels good and is a bonus.

Shumba has some very valid points too, the better guides often earn more than the managers do.

atrevellyn makes good points as well. The smoother the camp runs, the better the management. The less you see the manager do indicates that they have better trained staff. If you see a manager running around frantically serving drinks and food then in my opinion it indicates a lack of control or training.

I obviously don't hesitate to "jump in" when things get too busy or assistance is required however I do try avoid this as I do not want the guest perception to be that the staff are incapable of doing their jobs, the staff often feel this way too if managers try do too much.

I used to get quite annoyed when guests came up to me and said "you're on a permanent holiday!" In truth it is a compliment to a job well done.

Sorry to hear about the Phinda incident Dana_M, I'm sure there are those who delve into the box who shouldn't however I also find it in poor taste that the guide went to the effort of disturbing your holiday at Londolozi. We were always trained never to burden guests with your tales of woe when they are on vacation.

tom - You sound like the type of guest who managers and staff dread having in camp. Your comment is uncalled for. Are you the type of guest who demands the impossible and treats the staff like slaves? Believe me we appreciate every visitor we have as we all know you are the ones who pay our salaries BUT we are also a bunch of humans who work hard (often long hours) and appreciate nature. In a perfect world we would be handsomely rewarded by our managers for a job well done but as is the case in any industry this does not always happen.

At the end of the day one thing remains constant, tips (to whom, how much and all the other questions) are still entirely at your own discretion.

Happy travels

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Old Jan 10th, 2008, 09:03 AM
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MPS - read my lips, I said MANAGER. Not staff, no I do not treat ANYONE like a a slave. I treat every EVERY person I meet with the respect and dignity that we ALL deserve. We are all Gods children.

The problem here is one of what a MANAGER is. In the USA a manager is a person who supervises/manages other people/staff. They are considered professionals like teachers, attorneys, engineers, dentists, bankers. Managers being usually those who do not have constant contact with the customers. Even if it is a service oriented business. Example, a restaurant manager overseas and supervisors all of the other staff, the cooks, the waiters, the cleaning. The manger is responsible for the overall business health and condition and profitability of the business. Again, the manager is responsible for seeing that the staff provides the service to their customers.

A manager's reward is a business well run, profitable and staff well taken care of. They should not require tips inorder to accomplish this. If in addition to service staff we started tipping managers then who do we NOT tip? We would be tipping everyone, everyone. Does that make any sense? Not to me.

Finally you say "In a perfect world we would be handsomely rewarded by our managers for a job well done" ("We" being other managers, yes?) No, this is not a perfect world, never has been and never will be. Most professionals/managers have not been treated totally fairly in their careers. That is life, grow up, deal with it.

regards - tom

Enough
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Old Jan 10th, 2008, 09:45 AM
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"A manager's reward is a business well run, profitable and staff well taken care of."

Sounds also like from a perfect world.

Tom, have you ever seen job offers for camp managers in Africa, and the salaries most of these people get?
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