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spirobulldog May 29th, 2008 12:21 PM

Tipping on expensive excursions
I always feel unsure about tipping. For example. A fishing trip costing around $1000 per day. Hot air balloon ride $300 per person. Rafting in Grand Canyon $1200. The company we used in the Grand Canyon listed 3% as an average tip. The fishing company listed nothing. The hot air balloon listed 15%. The hot air balloon was the only tour conducted by the owner. It is custom not to tip beauty shop owners, but only beauty shop employees. I frankly find tipping on anything this expensive to be somewhat unsettling. I do tip, but I always do it grudgingly. Even at restaurants. Tipping and parking fees at Hotels always gripe me. The bill we received at the Metate Dining room in Mesa Verde had a 5% park upcharge on it. This was nowhere on the menu and nowhere did a sign indicate this. I didn't argue, I just paid it as I simply didn't want to make a scene over $5.00. But it is the principal that bothered me. I guess if I am willing to spend $300 on a hot air balloon ride, I had rather go ahead and they charge me $350 and me not have to worry about the tip.

sylvia3 May 29th, 2008 02:05 PM

I agree. What are you buying, what are you paying for? If staff is being legally paid less than the minimum (as in restaurants and bars), we are being blackmailed into subsidizing their salary. However, it seems as though everyone has their hand out now, regardless of price of the service.

TwinkleB May 29th, 2008 03:16 PM

Spirobulldog....I feel like I have to tip my Salon owner more than her employees!! Never knew of that rule before...thanks very much! I agree, it is very hard to know what is correct to tip.

nytraveler May 29th, 2008 03:55 PM

Are you saying that the wait staff at less expensive restaurants deserve a tip but those at higher priced ones don't?

In either case salaries are very low and the majority of the staff's income comes from tips. It seems that the more sophisticated and gracious service you (should) receive at an upscale restaurant justifies a tip significantly higher than that you get from someone slapping a sandwich in front of you in a diner.

Like it or not the US is a tipping economy. And not to tip staff is really not fair - since you're depriving them of income.

The same is true for cruises, taxis, car services, beauty salons and - yes - tours. However I would draw the line at tipping the owner of a balloon for the ride. He's already getting his profit. Staff should be tipped- but not owners.

spirobulldog May 29th, 2008 06:25 PM

I do tip because I do realize that is the way that most staff gets there salary. However, the high end stuff really has me confused. Some of the most thankless jobs rarely receive a tip. Postal employees, trash sanitation employees. I realize that these folks probably far more than a waiter, but I imagine that the tour company staff makes pretty good money. We ziplined in Durango over the weekend and tipping was never discussed. Yes it was expensive. There was a 1 to 5 staff ratio. Our guide told us he was paid very well. This just got me to thinking of how nice to enjoy something and not even be bothered with a tip

NeoPatrick May 29th, 2008 07:59 PM

nytraveler, I so agree with you. There have been posts here before with people insisting that it "takes no more effort for a waiter to serve a $3 sandwich than it does to serve a $40 steak so tipping by percentage is insane". WRONG in my book!

milford88 May 30th, 2008 02:20 AM

I agree, Spirobulldog. I've always thought it odd that some industries, particularly the restaurant industry, have convinced consumers that we should be handling their staff development. If a server does a good job, we provide the incentive for them to build on that performance. If they do a poor job, we are expected to provide the "punishment" that will encourage them to improve or leave. It seems to me that those responsibilities should be assumed by the employer.

I well understand that a change in this approach would require the "tip" to be added in to the price, and that would be absolutely fine with me. I would prefer to go to a restaurant that says "You will pay more on the bill, but you don't need to worry about a tip, and you don't need to worry about your server. They will do a good job and be well compensated for it."

It always amazes me that, of the millions of dining establishments out there, more haven't taken this approach. Especially for fine dining restaurants, that seems like the type of message they would want to send to their customers.

speckles May 31st, 2008 06:34 AM

Can I jump in on this thread? Are tourists expected to pay tips for tours?

I'm an Australian and live in a tip-free society. I will be visiting the US for 4 weeks in August. I have done some research about tipping standard services such as taxis, porters, wait staff, maids etc, but wasn't aware that tours would require a tip too.

Can someone please clarify? I'm referring to guided bus day trips and the like.

Do non-guided tours require a tip? ie hop-on hop-off, ferry to Provincetown etc?

gail May 31st, 2008 07:05 AM

On a guided day tour, the bus driver and/or tour guide (sometimes one person, sometimes 2) usually stand at the doorway and say good-bye - hint, hint, give me a tip. Most do, but not all. Round numbers $5-10 for a day trip. (I am sure some here will dispute amount). Sometimes these people are tacky enough to suggest something like "if you really enjoyed our trip, we are happy to accept tips" or even have a sign or cup on the bus.

The hop on/hop off tours are a little more confusing. I have been on these in several US cities and at the end of the route, the driver always makes some sort of tip suggestion and often there is a very obvious tip cup present. Since this vehicle is usually not the one that you got on at the beginning of the day and you may have only gone a few stops on it, I usually tip a small amount. On rare occasions if an interim stop driver has been especially wonderful, I tip them a few dollars.

Large group transports - ferries, stop to stop bus, trains do not require that you tip anyone.

I know this was not original question - and I am now wondering about that as we have booked some fairly expensive tours on our Alaska trip and now have something else to worry about.

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