tipping -still confused

Old Feb 20th, 2011, 03:46 PM
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tipping -still confused

I spent hours reading all past posts and got tons of info for my upcoming trip to CR. Learned more about shoes than I ever thought I would One thing I'm still not sure about is tipping, particularly guides. Most of you recommend $10-20. Is this per person? We're a group of five (but not a family): 2 adults, 2 teens and one 12yo. Would you still recommend that amount? It seems that if the tour costs $20-30/person, another $50+ sounds like a lot. We're traveling on a budget and this extra cost will certainly impact how many tours we'll take. On the other hand, I don't want to be cheap and want to reward guides for a job well done. Do guides usually work for themselves or do they work for a company? (therefore, don't get the money from the cost of the tour)
What if the owner of the place we're staying at gives us the tour. Should we still tip?
cardinalflower is offline  
Old Feb 21st, 2011, 11:18 AM
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Some guides work for themselves, some work for a company and some work for a hotel. The typically get more business if they work for some organization that has better contacts and can make arrangements, but they make less on each tour than if they work for themselves.

If you are going on a tour where it is just the five of you, the tip would depend on the type of tour, the length of the tour and how well you liked the guide, how knowledgeable he was and what he was able to point out to you or tell you about. It also depends on what the tour includes and how long it is. Obviously, a two-hour tour without transportation or zipline or rafting will be less than a five-hour tour with lots of stuff included.

I would say that, in general, a tip of $10-$20 total for your group would be fine.

Why wouldn't you tip a guide who was also owner of a company? Does he not deserve a tip if does well and you have a good time?

Basically, let your conscience be your guide. If you cannot afford to tip the guide, don't take the tour. Go on your own or take a cheaper tour.
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Old Feb 21st, 2011, 12:11 PM
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You'll probably know if the guide works for themselves or for a company based on the way you book it. If you book through Desafio or Sunset Tours, then they work for a company. If you book directly with a person then it's an individual. If you like the service, I would tip regardless of if they work for a company or on their own or if they're the owner. We follow the $10-20 range based on how good of an experience it is and how much individualized attention is given, etc. To me, it would be okay to do the same for a family. A $50 tip would be too high in my book. A lot of the guides that work for companies do not make a lot of money. We had one guide that was so good, and we asked him why he didn't go out on his own, and he said that the telescope his company supplies him costs $1,000 - almost a year's rent for him. We were asking him which hot springs he liked the best, and he said the he could never afford to go to the hot springs. I think any tip is much appreciated. Just give what you think is appropriate.
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Old Feb 21st, 2011, 08:10 PM
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hsmithcr -- i think the idea is that anyone working for the company will only be getting a fraction of what you paid for the tour. An owner giving your a tour pockets all the money which goes back into business expenses and the rest is profit, but the individual is paid an hourly wage or paid a fixed amount far below what you're paying.


In the states, it's customary to not tip the owner of a salon but you do tip a stylist since the salon takes 30-50% of the money you just paid for your cut/color.

In CR, however, I still tip private operators who are working for themselves (they seem greatly appreciative for the dollars) but I feel more compelled to up the amount for those working for companies.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2011, 05:00 AM
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We aim to tip 1 to 2 dollars per person per hour of "tour". Additional drivers get about 2 dollars.
Kinkazote is offline  
Old Feb 22nd, 2011, 05:25 AM
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I appreciate the thoughtful comments on this thread. From experience, guides (regardless of if they work independently or with company/hotel) have very difficult jobs, *keep you happy *insure your safety *answer all your questions *make you comfortable *treat your wounds *etc.

I often lead people into a jungle environment for 72 hours at a time or more. It's my responsibility to make sure you are happy/comfortable/safe/etc during the duration of our time together. If you get sick at 3am, I'm there to help you.

I think you might be surprised at how many people take this for granted, and bring expectations that are above and beyond what I can do for them as a human being (carry their backpack which is stuffed with everything they don't really need, in addition to carrying my own). And then at the end of the tour - bye bye, no thank you, no tip, just see you later. Sometimes, I admit, I am a little disappointed in the way people treat their guides.

I'm sharing too much information here, but I think hearing from people who do this type of work is helpful. Our job is to give you a quality, memorable experience. If we have fulfilled this obligation, a tip at the end is always appreciated.

Thanks for understanding,
Ballardo Diaz
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Old Feb 22nd, 2011, 10:30 AM
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You guys are great! This is why I keep posting questions on this forum because I know I'll get very helpful answers. I like the $10-20 for the group and maybe some extra for a really good job. I've heard of stories where people don't tip if they haven't seen enough wildlife! As if that's the guide's fault! I'm sure that even without wildlife, you still learn and see much more than you would on your own.
Jaguar - I think this is exactly what people want: hear from those who know what it's like. I know I appreciate it.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2011, 11:12 AM
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Yes, thanks, Ballardo, for the first-hand response. It's nice to hear straight from the source.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2011, 04:09 PM
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The only guide I didn't tip owned the resort.
mlgb is offline  
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