Recently we had a guest make a comment to the fact that they didn’t know what to do concerning tipping their guide. So, I thought I would try to address it in a blog and see what kind of response I get.The quick answer is yes. It is a common practice that guides are given tips. But what is the tipping etiquette? How much should you tip your guide? Do you really have to tip a guide?
There are a lot of nuances on this subject, and after I did a little research on the web (this link will get you started — be sure to read the forums), I realized that this is a controversial subject and that there really isn’t a quick and simple answer.
First off, the practice of tipping is discretionary. It’s totally up to you; there is no law stating that you have to tip someone. It’s not like there are tip police hiding behind every tree waiting to nab you.
If you don’t feel it’s appropriate to tip people or money’s tight and you have other obligations, it’s OK not to tip. A true, “professional” guide understands this. Gratuities are accepted — but not expected.
Believe me, even if there was a no tip policy, there would still be plenty of whitewater guides. For college kids, teachers, and the weekend warriors, it doesn’t get much better than this. It’s a great lifestyle.
But I would be remiss if I didn’t expound on one of those little nuances:
There are those who choose guiding as a full time profession. They live and breathe this job. It may not be apparent to the casual first-time rafter, but the hard-core rafter understands this.
Some of these guides work full time at ACE, others travel around the world guiding in places like Costa Rica or New Zealand and many take a break by working ski patrol during the winter months. Many have families.
These are the guides you want watching your back, the ones that all the other guides look up to for answers and guidance. A guide’s guide, so to speak. They are the ones that will have 5, 10, or more requests everyday during Gauley Season. These are the guides that exceed your expectations, every time!
If you want to guarantee that they will take you down the Gauley in the fall, you want to develop a relationship with them and show your appreciation.
So how much should you tip a guide (if you so choose)? Tip what you are comfortable with. In general, 10% of the cost of your trip is a great tip; 15% is awesome; 20% is wow! Remember, guides are expected to do a great job; if they exceed your expectations, you can show your appreciation.
Usually, tips are given after watching the video. Be discrete. Some guests prefer to go to the store and put money in an envelope and write a quick note of thanks.
You can show your appreciation in other ways also. Offer to buy your guide dinner or drinks at the bar. You can be creative and have fun. A cool T-shirt signed by your boat proclaiming to all that your guide is the world’s greatest guide ever is unique. I still have a picture on my wall, drawn in crayon, that was mailed to me from an 8-year-old more than 10 years ago!
The most important thing to remember is that we don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable or pressured into thinking you have to give a tip. We have signs up only to remind you that it’s OK if you want to give one.
I would be happy to try and address any comments, suggestions or questions you have regarding this subject in this blog.