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Steve Douglas

Tipping is in the culture

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You must stay at some really great resorts!

 

This past spring we went and stayed in Cayman Brac at the Brac Reef Beach Resort. The resort is basically brand new. The cost for the week for the rooms, all three meals (and the food was truly outstanding), 17 dives, three alcoholic beverages per day, taxes and service charges (tips) was right at $1450 or so. The only thing not included in that price is tips for the dive crew. The diving there is valet service diving. You sit at the back of the boat and they bring your BC, cameras, etc. and you just slip everything on and fall in the water. At the end of the dive they take your tank/bc and switch to a new tank. They rinse your gear at the end of the day. So these guys work hard. They have a sheet in the dive office that "recommends" a tip for the week of $100 per diver for a weeks package. Now Kim and I did tip more than that because they do work really hard and are a great group. And like I said, tips for the restaurant and cleaning staff at the resort were included in the $1450 price and they even tell you tips are not expected. Again, we did leave extra for those folks but when you total it up it didn't come close to $400 per person.

 

I guess it really boils down to a personal thing. I usually end up tipping on the high side but still it needs to be within reason.

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This doesn't even take into account if someone goes far beyond your expectations and you want to thank them with a little extra. I remember writing to Peter Hughes years ago and asking why he split the tips on his boats evenly. I thought the dive masters/guides should get more than the lady who cleans the rooms. He was adamant that everyone on board had an equally important role in making the quests happy. He knows what he's doing so I couldn't argue. My answer was to send my favorite guide a birthday card when I got home with a little present inside.

 

Cheers,

Steve

I have to disagree with that assessment. It's easy for the customer relations people to build rapport. I think the engineer who keeps the boat running, the cleaners who make sure my room is in great shape, the cook who feeds me well etc all deserve to have a fair share of the tip. I'm with Hughes on this one. I think the front line person represents the whole crew.

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I'm with you Drew. Peter convinced me back in the early 90's when this came up. Every member of the crew is critical to a successful trip. In this one case the photo pro on the boat was trying to make a video for us. It was the second trip of the ill fated Wave Dancer in Belize. The poor guy was trying to sync the music to the video and every time the gen sets would switch over (Hourly) he would lose lock and have to start over. New boat, new systems, new video gear. It took him all night and then some to make our little video and since it was his first he went a little overboard. I thought his extra effort was worth an extra tip.

 

Cheers,

Steve

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Heh Drew, except for dive operations, who seem to all have adopted the american tipping culture no matter what country they're in :huh:

 

In the US tipping is no longer a 'culture' thing. It once was, but not anymore. In many other places in the world it still is (but slowly changing as well). In the US it's about companies having been allowed to lower wages significantly below minimum wage, arguing that tipping should be seen as part of their wages. This switched the dynamics of tipping. Instead of being appreciated, it's now the norm, and not tipping is seen as highly offensive. People have actually grown to find this normal. That shows the power of the company in the US. They force you to pay their employees wages twice (product and tipping) and have successfully psychotrained you to defend this practice vigorously. Hats off :)

Remember this is only in certain restricted service professions like restaurants, others have to pay at least minimum wage. This is the case not only for large franchise type restaurant companies but also your little mom and pop restaurants. One of the first things that struck me when I moved to America, was how much better the service was in American restaurants than in European or South African restaurants where I am from. I have to believe that is largely due to the incentive of tips, and not due to innate superiority of American waiters over Europeans.

Wow, what a concept! How surprising people are motivated to work harder if they know there's more money in it for them, and not to work so hard if they are going to earn the same no matter what. Yeah I'm sure it's only ugly Americans who think like that, everybody else gives 100% just for a fair wage. :B):

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Hey Steve

Leaving tomorrow and will be at the airport at 8:40. There is a huge difference between diving off a resort and doing a liveaboad yet tipping is part and parcel of the US culture regardless whether other societies tip or not. That said, tip what you think is best; some can afford more than others plain and simple. Peter was correct, the cleaning people and the cooks all contribute to your good times. I completely understand his point. Never the less, if some one is extra special, slipping them a little something extra doesn't hurt.

Only once, on the Galapagos Aggressor with only 6 guests on board did I not tip. The crew were just plain lazy as all get up. The one crewman who was helpful and went out of his way I had come to my cabin on the last day and I tipped him privately.

That said, what you tip is your business and should be kept private. The only thing I don't like about the Aggressor in C.R. is that each person comes up individually to settle accounts including the tip, so as soon as you run your card through the machine, the captain sees right away what you've tipped. This can make the person who can't afford as much feel badly. Another reason why I prefer my guests just to give me their tips to put in a collective envelope so it stays private as to what you did or didn't tip.

Didn't know your son was a trip leader and got tips. In all these years, rarely has a tip been thrown my way, never even think of it any more. When I owned a dive shop, tourist divers who hired me to take them out would sometimes tip me but, more often than not, didn't.

 

Steve

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It is clear that most restaurants and most service operators like taxi drivers expect tips in the U.S. but isn't a service charge often added to restaurant bills in most of Europe? At a recent meeting in Berlin there was a service charge added (not just VAT) to most of my restaurant bills, is that normal?

Bill

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In restaurants in amsterdam ive not seen this yet. Maybe in some really touristy areas, i generally dont go to those restaurants. But like I said, it's finding its way to other places as well. It's a business model that can't be beat.

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So, let me ask this. Where in the world is tipping not expected, even from Americans? Are there places where tipping would be an insult?

Steve

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Australia doesn't have a tipping culture. At least not that i am aware of. I do sometimes leave my change behind or i might tip $10 or so for an exceptionally good meal but it is no way expected here in aus.

Cheers Pete.

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Where in the world is tipping not expected, even from Americans? Are there places where tipping would be an insult?

Steve

Vanuatu,

New Caledonia,

South Korea,

Japan,

etc. :D

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Wow, what a concept! How surprising people are motivated to work harder if they know there's more money in it for them, and not to work so hard if they are going to earn the same no matter what. Yeah I'm sure it's only ugly Americans who think like that, everybody else gives 100% just for a fair wage. :D

 

Well certain cultural attitudes actually supercede $ incentive based motivations. I went diving in Okinawa and my fin strap broke. My dive guide, without me even asking, went the next day by bus to get me that replacement strap and fixed it. Did not charge me transport fee or labor, just the cost of the fin strap. My US instincts said tip...the local custom said no. A very sincere thank you was all Aya needed.

I agree that by and large, the world is becoming more incentive based, but $$$ isn't the only incentive. Pride, cultural practices etc all come into play. And that's why respecting the local culture is important.

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So, let me ask this. Where in the world is tipping not expected, even from Americans? Are there places where tipping would be an insult?

Steve

 

 

Tipping in NZ is very weird too. In NZ, if you want to thank someone for a job well done - you usually give someone a box of beer or a bottle of wine but perhaps that speaks more to our drinking culture. I remember my Mum really scraping the bottom of her purse for a five dollar note as a tip at our next-door neighbour's restaurant when I was younger and she was REAL sour about it. You can be fired for accepting a tip in NZ in some places, although, lately, in the big hotels this is becoming a more regular thing. Why Americans can't just stop at affecting their world with foreign policy and embargos is beyond me. I personally can't stand tipping. My girlfriend and I are on a "budget" trip. Ie, we are spending around $40 US (500MXN, 25EUR, GBP etc) for a year or more around the world and we're still expected to tip?

Tipping is a disease from the USA :D

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MitHere

It's only a disease when there's no immunity... otherwise it's just another bacteria. And tipping purportedly started in the UK, but evolved in the US. :D

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When I go to more remote locations, particularly on liveaboards, I try to take along an extra tool or something. I've found that most of the guides really love a "leatherman" sort of tool. They are cheap enough at Costco, and I think something like that can really show your appreciation.

 

Jack

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But Jack, do you give everyone on the liveaboard a leatherman? How about the cooks, mechanics, the person who cleans your cabin? All these crewmen contribute towards a good liveaboard experience, not just the divemasters or skiff operators.

Steve

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I still haven't really heard a good argument for the insane disparity between national average income in some countries, and the tipping that is often even requested in pre-trip documentation. And I wish boats would be more open about how tips get divided.

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But Jack, do you give everyone on the liveaboard a leatherman? How about the cooks, mechanics, the person who cleans your cabin? All these crewmen contribute towards a good liveaboard experience, not just the divemasters or skiff operators.

Steve

I think tipping should be personal though and that's why I think the giving something is cool... Not to everyone but maybe to the person that made your trip. I spent a month doing my undergrad research and I gave my non-boot fins to my mate and a box of cigarettes. My other mate got a dive knife. Stuff they couldn't hope to get in the Solomons (Bar cigarettes) and they were stoked. Except once they got that they said next time they want a cellphone and a new mask. Plus I gotta take them oil for the outboard...

SEE HOW IT STARTS? :D

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I have read this thread over and wanted to get a little input. My wife and I are thinking about a live aboard for 11 days in Raja Ampat and the "suggested tip" is 10-15%. The trip is about $10K for both of us and it would seem that to me that 1K to 1.5K is a lot of money on top of the cost of this trip. What would be the advice of proper tipping for those that have done a live aboard in that area?

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Which boat suggested 10-15%?

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I look upon tipping as something I am blessed to be able to do. I am earning more than 95% of the worlds population, mostly because of the happy accident of being born in a rich country (Canada). I am able , and willing, to give back to the less well paid people who work their butts off, often for very little reward, to make my life even better. This is the absolute minimum that we should be doing, if we are able. The greed and stingyness of some well to do people is a curse uon them. Money is just a medium of exchange, it comes and goes, I'll have more tomorrow. Maybe I\m just worried about my Karmic debt load, but I want to make sure that I spread my blessings around. It is the absolute minimum I should be doing. Plus who can be unmoved at the expression on the recipient's face when they are given an unexpected bonus. That being said, I think that only good or extrordinary service deserves a bonus. Tipping well is our duty and pleasure. Be happy that you are able to have the money to tip.

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Which boat suggested 10-15%?

I hope everyone understands, I just want to make sure this is the standard.

The Arenui. Here is the policy:

Q: What about crew gratuities?

A: Gratuities for the crew are not included in your trip price. If you appreciate the service provided by the crew, we suggest a gratuity of approximately 10%-15% of the published package price per person, what is considered the standard amount aboard a dive liveaboard. All tips are split equally among the boat’s crew (around 21 employees). We do not encourage personal tipping. The giving of gratuities can be done in cash or by credit card.

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Which boat suggested 10-15%?

 

 

Drew,

Almost every liveaboard I have been on, and that is plenty, has suggested that amount. For a couple paying close to 5k each for the trip, that amounts to a great deal more.

Steve

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I look upon tipping as something I am blessed to be able to do. I am earning more than 95% of the worlds population, mostly because of the happy accident of being born in a rich country (Canada). I am able , and willing, to give back to the less well paid people who work their butts off, often for very little reward, to make my life even better. This is the absolute minimum that we should be doing, if we are able. The greed and stingyness of some well to do people is a curse uon them. Money is just a medium of exchange, it comes and goes, I'll have more tomorrow. Maybe I\m just worried about my Karmic debt load, but I want to make sure that I spread my blessings around. It is the absolute minimum I should be doing. Plus who can be unmoved at the expression on the recipient's face when they are given an unexpected bonus. That being said, I think that only good or extrordinary service deserves a bonus. Tipping well is our duty and pleasure. Be happy that you are able to have the money to tip.

 

Well said Dave!

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I hope everyone understands, I just want to make sure this is the standard.

The Arenui. Here is the policy:

Q: What about crew gratuities?

A: Gratuities for the crew are not included in your trip price. If you appreciate the service provided by the crew, we suggest a gratuity of approximately 10%-15% of the published package price per person, what is considered the standard amount aboard a dive liveaboard. All tips are split equally among the boat’s crew (around 21 employees). We do not encourage personal tipping. The giving of gratuities can be done in cash or by credit card.

 

That seems crazy to me. Firstly if everybody else paid the same a you - that would mean a $570 tip per crew member per week. $25k a year in tips alone for somebody working a 44 week year.

 

Secondly - basing the tip on the package cost is a little odd. People who travel a long way should tip the staff more? Do they get a better quality of service too.

 

But then I'm English and think that a $150 tip for a week's diving is more than generous.

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I hope everyone understands, I just want to make sure this is the standard.

 

I understand. I'm just a little surprised Luigi would put that in writing. That said, the guides on the Arenui are excellent, and the crew are paid crappy wages compared to what is charged. Nowadays Indonesia liveaboards (or at least 7-8 boats) are now breaking the $450-550 a night mark, whereas this was a level that's usually reserved for 2-3 boats in Indo. And they are booked solid for about 2 years in advance. I have to wonder with 10-14 crew onboard, are they taking advantage of gratuities as wage compensation, like waiters in the US?

 

I have been on many trips on quite a few liveaboards in Indo and only ones I've heard of having a "recommended" gratuity percentage were the Peter Hughes ones. Then again I think it's who you book through as well. I tend to book direct so I don't get these packets from US agents which do all these sort of things.

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