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Tipping is in the culture


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#81 davephdv

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 09:36 PM

Please do a search of the forums. This topic has been posted before. Americans assume 10% of the cost of the dive part of the trip. Some boats are trying to push 15%. I think 10% is fine if the service was good. Europeans think we are crazy.

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#82 Iggy

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 05:01 PM

Somewhere between 5 and 10% of the trip price I think is customary. For a $3K trip per person, I tip between $250 and $400 depending on service and other aspects of the trip.

A comment ECheng made some time ago has stuck with me ever since I read it. To paraphrase: Why should a crew on a $ 2,500.00 per week boat get more tip than a crew on a $ 1,700.00 per week boat? Which is what percentages end up doing.

My thought these days is that I can make a determination on board as to how much money I feel is equal to the service. My starting thought is that a couple hundred dollars per week is adequate. That's tipping 30 bucks per day, which I feel is fair in most cases. Of course I tip extra to guides who make extra dives with me, stay a bit longer than usual to help look for a subject, things like that. These people are in the water too much and even little things like that can have an effect on their lives. I am always careful about asking a guide to dive extra, stay longer or deeper for my photo ops, and when they do I feel compelled to offer additional tip.

#83 Giles

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 06:36 PM

wow .. i used to make a lot more than that on average fromcustomer coming out on our 2 tank morning and afternoon trips .. if they spent 1000 in a week we would get about 200 .. it knida equated to $100 per person .. so $50 per member of crew per person per week.

do liveaboard staff split the tip between the captain chef etc ?

if they do then a couple of hundred is nothing for a week. but they also have no expenses and normally get paid pretty good and get good vacation time.

I, being english, do not have tipping in my blood .. however .. when i have money .. and when i find service to be an added extra that makes me enjoy my trip more i like to tip as much as I can .. but sometimes I don't have the money to do so.
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#84 Drew

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 07:29 PM

I am going on my first live board trip and I was wondering what is the typical tip for the crew at end of trip? Thanks.

Combined the thread to continue this very important discussion.

Bluga
In my opinion, it really depends on where you are going to. Most dive boats encourage it as to offset their costs for labor, but in some places, it is not necessary. I personally think going by % is wrong. It's easier to go for 10% vs trying to figure what the local customs are.
Continuing on what ECheng said, I was on 2 liveaboards back to back. One was a budget, no frills boat but the staff from cruise director to cook, worked doubly hard to make sure everyone was taken care of. The other boat was a luxury boat, with free flow of wine and good food. But the owner of the boat was a bit reclusive in and out of the water, and the staff were trained well but a little drone like in service. They did their job and that was that. The cheap boat was $2000 and the luxury boat $5000. By virtue of being on the more expensive boat, the staff knew they were going to get more tips without even trying.
While the management of the budget boat refused tip and deferred to the boat crew. There isn't a simple and fast rule.
I think if you tell us which region you're going to, it'll be easier to give advice.

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#85 Scuba_SI

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 07:43 PM

In some situations even the owner of a liveaboard gets a cut of the tips! Tips are usually split equally between all crew.

The thing with Liveaboards is also that the dive crew are often serving you food, driving the boat, cleaning your cabins etc.

Now that i'm on the other side of the fence and a tipping customer i try to take into account that when on liveaboards i should tip for the diving, dinner service and cleaning etc.

I would be doing that in a land based operation, so i don't think it's right to tip a cleaner who works mornings in a resort and not a crew member on a boat who is probably working 18hr days and doing jobs they really don't like doing.

It is very seldom i've met a cheerful cleaner in a resort, but most dive crew seem to keep a smile on their face when emptying the toilet paper out of the trash can etc.

Just remember though, if you hear a scream when they are cleaning your toilet, you owe them extra! ^_^

Standard pay for a dive bum on a liveaboard is between 500 and $1000US a month, with no contributions towards insurance/equipment/travel/qualifications. This is a guide and by no means reflects the liveaboard industry as a whole.

I don't think as consumers we should be responsible for topping up the salary, but for us to get a cheap liveaboard holiday it is often the crew that make this happen, just think how expensive it would be if they were paid a maritime industry standard wage....

-------------------

Going totally off topic now...... but with my captains licences and tickets i could, if i chose to, ask for around $2.5 to 4.5k basic a month plus travel, health insurance, indemnity insurance, paid leave etc working as a deckie/bosun/instructor type position on a nice small-ish yacht in the med/caribbean. Granted i might not enjoy my job so much, so that must be accounted for accordingly.

If i was to work as First Mate or Captain (for which i may need the next step up for my licence, cost would be paid by non-liveaboard yacht) then i would be getting a heck of a lot more. If liveaboards stuck to maritime industry rates of pay then the cost would be very expensive, it is just lucky for us that the crew enjoy their jobs so much that they don't have to.

There are a few liveaboards out there who do give standard industry wages to their crew, and that is reflected in their crew in terms of experience (they are able to get captains with 20yrs experience), and i dont know how they turn a profit, so i'm not trying to pick on liveaboards as a whole, i loved working on them.

Again, im not saying that tipping should be this or that, just giving my thoughts on it from being on both sides of the fence

After a recent trip to the Red Sea on a great, cheap deal, i was surprised (although i really shouldn't have been) that the crew had never done a fire drill, and had no STCW type basic safety training in firefighting/first aid/sea survival etc, let alone O2 admin and dive related stuff. Obviously the dive crew will have known the latter. I wouldn't have been directly aware of this had it not been for a drunk Egyptian out there to inspect the boat, he was shooting his mouth off after 2 beers! I also understand that the crew probably started out as fishermen, so it's good that they have changed to working within diving, but as a fisherman they are not liable for the safety of guests, and the companies should enforce strict training regimes when they switch over.

Next time you go on a liveaboard, the captain should have logged records of drills, and the valves on the fire hoses should be easy to turn. Ask teh crew on your next trip. Also, if the crew tell you to go down below and get your lifejacket from your cabin when there's a fire... Don't! There should be some at the muster station, or the crew will get one for you. Having a dirty, smelly deck lifejacket is better that the risk of going below deck on a wooden hulled boat in a fire to get your fancy SOLAS one imho

There was a pair of divers who went missing for an hour after a dive, they were floating around and because the crew didn't have radios they could not co-ordinate a search. There wasn't much swell, and the situation could have been avoided with a bit of training and a pair of polarised sunglasses. Everyone makes mistakes, but the impression i got from other guests who'd done many of these trips was that it wasn't a one-off.

I will be taking a survival pack with me if i decide to travel on the cheap again.

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#86 bluga

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Posted 22 March 2007 - 07:56 AM

Combined the thread to continue this very important discussion.

Bluga
In my opinion, it really depends on where you are going to. Most dive boats encourage it as to offset their costs for labor, but in some places, it is not necessary. I personally think going by % is wrong. It's easier to go for 10% vs trying to figure what the local customs are.
Continuing on what ECheng said, I was on 2 liveaboards back to back. One was a budget, no frills boat but the staff from cruise director to cook, worked doubly hard to make sure everyone was taken care of. The other boat was a luxury boat, with free flow of wine and good food. But the owner of the boat was a bit reclusive in and out of the water, and the staff were trained well but a little drone like in service. They did their job and that was that. The cheap boat was $2000 and the luxury boat $5000. By virtue of being on the more expensive boat, the staff knew they were going to get more tips without even trying.
While the management of the budget boat refused tip and deferred to the boat crew. There isn't a simple and fast rule.
I think if you tell us which region you're going to, it'll be easier to give advice.


I am going on Turks and Caicos Aggressor. I checked their FAQ and here's what they've stated:

http://www.aggressor.com/faqs.php?d=6

11. Is it customary to offer a crew gratuity?

As in any service oriented business, gratuities are customary and voluntary. From past experience, many guests have offered gratuities based on the total cost of the charter. Satisfied passengers who believe they have been provided with a very good service have left generous gratuities of ten percent (10%) of the charter price. Average tips are in the five percent (5%) range. The Captain will have an envelope available when settling the tabs for on-board services or purchases. Gratuities may be by cash, credit cards, traveler’s checks or personal checks. All gratuities are shared equally.

---------------

Looks like people on Wetpixel are very generous. ^_^

Edited by bluga, 22 March 2007 - 07:58 AM.


#87 Drew

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Posted 22 March 2007 - 08:24 AM

Well I guess that sorta answers your question for you. However, I don't go by that scale, but then again I don't go to T&C anymore either. ^_^
The idea isn't about being cheap or generous, it's about following the local culture, which the dive industry (like it or not) is still a subset of that culture as well as many other factors including general wage scales etc.

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#88 Iggy

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Posted 22 March 2007 - 10:54 AM

wow .. i used to make a lot more than that on average fromcustomer coming out on our 2 tank morning and afternoon trips .. if they spent 1000 in a week we would get about 200 .. it knida equated to $100 per person .. so $50 per member of crew per person per week.

I cannot tell if your comments were in response to mine, but here goes ^_^ $ 200 per week is the starting point. It is my baseline. What level I ultimately leave any crew will be dependent upon a number of different factors, none of them related to percentage anymore. But if I leave at least $ 200.00 per week and I were too dive with your outfit for a week, that would equal what you imply is the norm. Plus, a couple hundred per week is going to be roughly 10% of the average weekly liveaboard charter. So not far off the norms in either case.

But consider using your context as a criteria for certain destinations and boats:
I was on Pindito last year and crew size was, I believe, 24. Charter cost was US$ 3 grand for 10 days or US$ 2,100.00 per week. Consider giving US$ 50.00 to US$ 100.00 per head per week on a crew that size. The tip would, on the low end, be more than half the charter cost and on the high end even more than the charter cost. On the other hand 10% would have only been US$8.75 per week per crew member. There isn't really any one criteria to use as far as amount is concerned. At some point, if you get around the world enough, you are forced to make other considerations more important than percentages when thinking about the amount of gratuity one is comfortable leaving.

if they do then a couple of hundred is nothing for a week

That is dependent upon where in the world you are at. In terms of value, US$200.00 in Cayman is a significant level down from US$ 200.00 in, say, Galapagos.

I, being english, do not have tipping in my blood .. however .. when i have money .. and when i find service to be an added extra that makes me enjoy my trip more i like to tip as much as I can .. but sometimes I don't have the money to do so.

I see things your way as well. I am older than you and have worked longer so I don't have the same budgetary constraints you may endure from time to time, but I still find the need to be thoughtful about how and why I tip what I do. I think being fair to oneself is just as important as being fair to the service providers, at least that is how I think about it these days.

#89 Drew

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Posted 22 March 2007 - 11:08 AM

But consider using your context as a criteria for certain destinations and boats:
I was on Pindito last year and crew size was, I believe, 24. Charter cost was US$ 3 grand for 10 days or US$ 2,100.00 per week. Consider giving US$ 50.00 to US$ 100.00 per head per week on a crew that size. The tip would, on the low end, be more than half the charter cost and on the high end even more than the charter cost. On the other hand 10% would have only been US$8.75 per week per crew member. There isn't really any one criteria to use as far as amount is concerned. At some point, if you get around the world enough, you are forced to make other considerations more important than percentages when thinking about the amount of gratuity one is comfortable leaving.

Iggy, if you knew how much those crew were paid a month, then that $8.75 x X number of passengers comes up to their monthly wages quite quickly. Some would argue that wages shouldn't be associated with the calculation of gratuities. Wages are there to compensate the crew for their work. We are not there to supplement the crew's wages. Then particularly in Asia, foreign dive guides get paid more than their local counterparts. Yet they get a fair share of the tip? IMHO, tipping personally is a better gesture than leaving it on your credit card (where the company can take months to give to the crew and after they take out cc fees, currency transactions etc)

That is dependent upon where in the world you are at. In terms of value, US$200.00 in Cayman is a significant level down from US$ 200.00 in, say, Galapagos.

But significantly higher in places like Indonesia for the same work (but obviously better diving! ^_^)

I still find the need to be thoughtful about how and why I tip what I do. I think being fair to oneself is just as important as being fair to the service providers, at least that is how I think about it these days.

Unfortunately not enough people put thought into it.

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#90 Steve Douglas

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 10:41 AM

I never thought that when I originally brought up the question of tipping it would start such a long, almost a year, thread. I think Eric made some excellent points on the praciticalities of tipping. It is rare that I get bad service( a Galapogos trip in the 90's comes to mind) but, if I do, I do not feel bad about not tipping. Actually, this has only happened once because of an amazingly lazy crew. I took the one crew member aside who had been consistantly helpful, and personally tipped him.

A few years ago I was on a fam trip with my partner for a safari and dive look about. The diving was to be in Pemba, an island north of Zanzibar. The bartender there, a 20ish black african, told us that he made about a dollar per day, yet he always had a smile and, worked very hard behind the bar which we frequented in the evening. We found out from the owner of the Manta Lodge that this guy's child had died several months before and that the owner was approached by this bartender who asked if he could take a couple of hours off to go to his daughter's funeral. The owner told him to take a couple of weeks off it he needed it though I don't recall whether that would have been with pay. I still feel good about having tipped this bartender about 3 months wages.
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#91 diverben

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 12:27 PM

This subject is always a hot topic between my girlfriend (American) and myself (Australian). We are both well travelled in the worlds of diving, and have both travelled extensively to non-diving destinations.

Let me tell you, from the outset that [/u]ONLY AMERICANS TIP[b] (and perhaps Canadians).

Any location in the world that is used to accommodating Americans (Caribbean, Mexico, Fiji, Peru) will be accustomed to expecting tips from Americans, and this often extends to other Western travellers. In this case tipping would neither be mandatory nor will it be refused.

This isn't the case the world over. For example, in Australia a tip would almost certainly be refused by a Divemaster unless offered in the form of beer, or another gift of appreciation.

I understand that tipping is intended as an endearment of appreciation, there is one other interpretation, however, that tipping is a clear definition of servitude.

#92 loftus

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 02:28 PM

This isn't the case the world over. For example, in Australia a tip would almost certainly be refused by a Divemaster unless offered in the form of beer, or another gift of appreciation.

But as soon as those Aussie divemasters leave the motherland, they're happy to take the Yankee tips. :P
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#93 Balrog

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 02:37 PM

I find the whole business of tipping absurd, objectionable and patronising. Within the free market economy employees as well as customers are free to vote with their feet and go elsewhere.

I've never understood why certain jobs seem to attract tips and others not. Should we be tipping flight attendants 10-15 % of the cost of a long haul flight or supermarket check out operators with a percentage of our weekly shopping bill.

I run a small engineering business and far from adding 10% to my invoice, my customers are looking for a 10% discount. How does that work ?

Personally I never tip unless someone has done something for me, at some personal cost to themselves, above that which I could reasonably expect . Then I look at the value added and how that relates to a percentage of the person's hourly rate.

The more this tipping culture extends round the world, the better excuse unscrupulous employers have to pay their staff unfair wages..

Edited by Balrog, 04 January 2008 - 02:40 PM.


#94 Nunomix

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 10:11 PM

Yes, you're right, of course, and I'm not trying to generalize across the entire industry. I was only trying to say that I've seen it happen, and it would all be much easier if it didn't have to be the case that tips were so important in the lives of crew...


Unfortunately, I still did not have the opportunity to go in many liveaboards but there was one very interesting thing happening. The crew was really amazing over the whole time and I really enjoyed it (as well as everyone else in the boat). But it was interesting to notice that at the exact moment that everyone paid the tip to the crew, their attitude slightly changed (they were not as nice as they were a couple of hours before). And it wasn't that people did not give a nice tip.

Again, this is my very limited experience and still I really liked the people in the liveaboard because during the whole time they were great, but we did indeed see the difference from the moment we paid the tip.
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#95 pakman

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Posted 04 January 2008 - 11:39 PM

Actually you bring up a good point, that tipping culture has caused rifts in the local culture. If there was no tipping in other cultures, you'd be none the wiser and providing good (or bad) service as usual. :D :P


When I first moved to HK from the States, my HK Chinese friends would constantly frown on me for leaving generous tips at restaurants. I also remember years ago during my first assignment to Tokyo of being dumbfounded by a Japanese taxi driver who refused to accept my tip.

But then again, I'm the shallow type who waits until an employee is looking at me to actually stuff bills in the tip jar... j/k (anyone remember that Seinfeld episode with George who get's caught taking his tip back out of the jar so the shop employee can see him actually tipping...)

small rant: what's with providing anonymous tip envelopes on liveaboards and then being told to hand it in when you settle your bill at the end... go figure...

Edited by pakman, 04 January 2008 - 11:41 PM.

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#96 Drew

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 02:30 AM

small rant: what's with providing anonymous tip envelopes on liveaboards and then being told to hand it in when you settle your bill at the end... go figure...


That's an easy one...it's to prevent identification of the cheap bastard non-tipper so they don't get targeted next time. :P
I remember being on a liveaboard in PNG once where I had a 1/2 charter. Another family joined and the couple brought 2 young kids, 6 and 8. They expected the crew to babysit while they dived. And at the end, they didn't leave a tip because, and I quote this because the mother was adamant about it, it's their job to do it. I'm not sure babysitting is a required skill on a liveaboard but then again, I'm not a mother on holiday :D

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#97 pakman

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 03:18 AM

ah, that explains why I don't get invited back... :P

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#98 sailfish86

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Posted 06 January 2008 - 06:22 PM

Tip, tip, tip!

As a professional dive instructor in the BVI (see BVI Tiger Sharks) that caters to the well traveled, I am constantly amazed by the number of people of all persuasions/nationalities that say "Thanks" with out leaving a tip.

Yes, I'm an American and tipping is part of our culture. So maybe this post is aimed at Americans...

Do you tip the pizza delivery guy?

Do you tip the hotel redcap for carrying your luggage?

Do you tip the valet for parking your car?

Do you tip your waiter/waitress?

Then, WTF? You DON'T tip the dive guy who carried your tanks, your gear, set your sh*t up, broke it down, rinsed it, helped you into AND out of the water, guided you around for 50 minutes (twice!) while pointing out the wicked cool marine life it took 25 years to get to know and who still finds it thrilling to show people?

If this is you, please, DO NOT COME TO THE BVI!

I was fortunate enough to get to "Lammer Law" in the Galapagos a couple of times. On one trip, my partner and I were approached at the end of the trip by a self-appointed guest tip-collector. He had an envelope in his hand and said he was "taking a collection for the tip". We politely declined to pool our tip with the rest of the 16 guests. He was curious as to how much we were leaving. When I told him we were leaving 10% of the cost of the trip each, he nearly had a heart attack.

His response was, "they're Ecuadorean, that's too much". My thought was, they're people just like me, they busted their ass*s to make my trip memorable, and maybe, just maybe, my leaving a tip that's way out of proportion to their pay scale/standard of living/national average, will enable them achieve a dream they might have...one that doesn't entail working 7 days/week, 18 hours/day...

By the way, as a veteran of the live-aboard industry, the anonymous "tip-collection" envelope is a pathetic way of hiding how cheap you are by ganging the tips together. If you're man enough to leave a low tip, then be man enough (woman) to put your name to it.

#99 Balrog

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 12:33 AM

Do you feel you need bribing to give you the incentive to provide a service that the customer has already paid for. I would say that if you don't think you're getting properly remunerated for the job you are doing, take it up with your employer.

#100 zippsy

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Posted 07 January 2008 - 01:06 AM

I agree with Balrog. And I'm American! Of course, I feel the same way about anyone else that complains about not getting a tip and I used to work as a bartender. Tips are meant to be something extra for extra service, not something expected for expected service IMHO.