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Private Tour Guide Etiquette

Old Aug 13th, 2003, 11:09 AM
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wj1
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Private Tour Guide Etiquette

We will be using a private guide for a full day on our upcoming trip to Prague. As far as I can tell, she operates independently and the entire fee will go to her.

What is the etiquette on tipping, lunch, and anything else I haven't thought of? (For the purpose of this discussion, let's assume that we are really happy with her services.)

Thanks in advance.
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Old Aug 13th, 2003, 11:23 AM
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I used a private guide in Prague last October. During our tour we stopped off at a coffee house for some mulled wine - I picked up the bill, it wasn't that much. As for lunch - I scheduled it so we would finish up around lunch time (1:30- 2 pm?) - I wasn't interested in having a lunching(?) companion.
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Old Aug 13th, 2003, 11:39 AM
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I have travelled all over the world using private tour guides. If your guide is independent, not working for an agency, I would not tip. If, however, they are working for a company and, therefore, your money is not going directly into their pocket, I would tip. If your guide is working for an agency, the agency pays for the guide's expenses, so you don't have to buy them lunch, etc. If you want to buy them a Coke or cup of coffee, however, I see nothing wrong with that. I never heard of a private, independent guide expecting you to pay for their meals. I always tip generously for good guides, usually between $50 and $100, depending on the length of their services.
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Old Aug 13th, 2003, 11:56 AM
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Depends on which etiquette "expert" you consult. Some would view such a guide as a professional. As such, lunch would not be expected (even offensive to some) nor would a tip. However, this is obviously a service and in that sense, lunch could be seen as part of the package. I take it her information does not reflect clearly what is expected? This is one reason I dislike the ready willingness in this day and age to label any job a "profession." Oh well.

I come from the "old school" and would view such a guide as a mix of chauffeur/staff. You are engaging her services both as driver and guide.

However, in our modern world, most folks would stress the professional aspect. (The notion of servants seems to make many people, especially Americans uncomfortable!) If viewed as a professional, you are not responsible for her lunch, unless you choose to use that meal as an opportunity to discuss your tour?

At any rate, here is my suggestion for dealing with this question: I would ask this individual for her recommendation for luncheon locales. I would then invite her to join us for lunch and use this as an opportunity to deepen my appreciation of Prague and Czech culture (as well as have a good meal!). Should you have lunch plans with others, I would not invite her as that would not, in my opinion be appropriate. If you wanted to go out of your way, you certainly could offer to pick up her lunch bill.

As for tipping, since she is an independent, again, you could argue that tipping a professional is inappropriate. However, most car services do allow tipping of drivers as they perform a service. Since she is an all-in-one package, I would tip according to your satisfaction level, with a note of appreciation for services rendered.

I do hope this helps. If you still feel uncertain, I would contact her directly and ask. The key, in my opinion, is for you to be comfortable in your decision. She is working for you and I am sure she wants you to be happy!

Vaya con dios!
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Old Aug 13th, 2003, 12:14 PM
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Having used the services of two guides for two full day tours of Prague, I suggest you consider what hourly rate you are paying and only tip if you feel that you received more than what you would have paid for through a tour company. In all honesty, the price of meals and beverages is relatively low. When I used the services of both guides, I invited both of them to be my guest for lunch, and I also paid for beverages along the way. I also felt that both guides provided much more information than I would have received on a tour and answered many inane questions, therefore, I also did tip. But, my example is solely based on my experiences. Just an FYI, you most likely will have to pay for the entrance fees for your guide, however, your guide will probably be carrying a discount card for herself and also be able to get you discounts into the different venues.

Both guides that I hired met me at my hotel, and also cut a lot of red tape along the way. Also, the restaurants that they took me to did not cater to tourists, which I found very interesting. One guide, in fact, invited me to her synagogue for Sabbath services and then to dinner at her home. I still correspond frequently with one of the guides.
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Old Aug 13th, 2003, 12:36 PM
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wj1
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Thanks everyone, this is helpful. The guide was hired directly and will be keeping her entire fee. We will be on a walking tour so she will not be providing car services also.

My guess is that we'll probably pick up the tab for her lunch and during that time maybe learn a little more about her and her life in Prague that we might not hear about while she is showing us the sights. Knowing me, I will also probably tip her, because I'll just feel rude if I don't.

Leslie, I haven't seen you around the Europe board in a while (I have your travelogue on Prague). Welcome back, I took a quick look to see if you've been posting anything else and it looks like you've been spending some time on the U.S. Board and have made some wonderful changes to your life. Congratulations!! I took a risk and it paid off wonderfully. I wish you all the best.

And finally Leslie, do you have an e-mail address for the private guide you used in Budapest?
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Old Aug 13th, 2003, 12:42 PM
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Hi wj1

You wrote:
>The guide was hired directly and will be keeping her entire fee. .....I will also probably tip her, because I'll just feel rude if I don't.<

I suggest that it is ruder if you do.
She is an independent entrepeneur. She has set her fee at what she thinks is an appropriate level.

I recommend that if you are very pleased with her services that you send her a thank you, and even a small present.

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Old Aug 13th, 2003, 01:05 PM
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wj1, thank you for your congratulations. Eva Tokody was the private guide that I hired in Budapest. She used to contribute to the European board. Her email address is: [email protected]. I liked Eva so much that she was my guest for dinner a few nights after the full day tour. She also took me to a wonderful restaurant off the beaten path, and I can freely admit that I may have been the only one in the restaurant that was not fluent in Maygar. I have not corresponded with Eva in over a year. However, I recall her hourly rate was $10/hour. If Eva is not available, I am sure that she will be able to recommend a qualified colleague.

Right now, Brad and I don't have any trips planned to Europe, however, we may meet friends of mine in Birmingham, UK sometime after Thanksgiving. Our present plans for future trips are to St. Louis (to meet his Dad and stepmom) and to Kansas City. I drove through both of those cities in the late evening when I relocated to Wichita. The summer has been a lot of fun. I've been getting to know Wichita, Brad's family, working on my tan, and interviewing. I'm looking forward to going to the Kansas State Fair in September. I'll actively participate more on the Fodors' boards when we decide where we will go on our honeymoon. I'm leaning towards resurrecting my trip to Spain that I cancelled in March, but a location is still up for discussion.

Just an FYI about tipping. There has been some mention that because guides are private contractors, that they should not be tipped. Well, I have ridden in many cabs that are owned by the drivers (very common in Boston and NYC), however, they pay a fee to a cab company to get calls. The fee is either a flat rate or a percentage of the sales on the meter. I still tip the cab driver. Same goes for hair dressers. Many rent a chair in a salon and either pay a flat fee or a percentage of the sales.

A tip is based on service. It's a polite gesture, so do what makes you feel comfortable.
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