Travel tip – Gratuities for tour guides

Recently one of my customers asked me about rules for tipping tour guides.  She was traveling in Europe, and had pre-booked some tours through an on line service.  It seems she paid what she believed to be “top dollar” for the tour, and felt that the tip for the tour guide, should be included in the price paid to the tour company. But, she wasn’t sure.

I am not really one to take tours, but I know a few professional guides. I asked them for some guidelines and what their expectations are. I also did some research via sites like Rick Steves and Frommers, as well as reviews and forum conversations with travelers.

Here is my interpretation of all the information I gathered. Most people do not expect tips. But they do appreciate them. If a guide is working through a booking service, you can be almost certain, they are making minimum wage and rely on tips. Private tour guides are not dependent on tips, however, they also appreciate being tipped.

How much is appropriate? I think that is subjective. Let’s say you paid $50.00 for a three hour walking tour with a small group,,,not more than eight people. Should you tip 10%? 20%  I’d say if you loved the tour 20% is appropriate. If you thought it was ok, $5.00 seems reasonable. If you thought it was really awful, well, let your conscious be your guide. It’s all subjective.

The point I really wanted to make here is, don’t assume because you paid what you believe to be a high price for a tour, that you should not tip. You could always ask the tour company. But first and foremost do what you believe to be right.

I am in a service business. Sometimes I get tips. Sometimes I don’t. I never expect anything, but it is very much appreciated. I believe I provide a quality service, and of course I have many years of experience. My goal is to provide the level of service I would expect. When someone tips, to me it means they recognize and appreciate me and my experience.

I believe service people make the world go ’round. At the very least be kind. And if you’re so inclined, I can almost promise you, a tip is not only appreciated, it may be how that person pays to get to their job that day. Never assume anything.

Please feel free to comment or share your thoughts.


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