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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 online service. She believed she had paid “top dollar” for the tour, and felt that a tip for the tour guide should be included in the total price, but she was uncertain.

Most tour guides 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 of eight or less. I’d say if you loved the tour 20% is appropriate. If you thought it was just ok, maybe five dollars seems reasonable (that would be per person in your group.) If you thought it was really awful – let your conscious be your guide. It’s all subjective.

The point I really want 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 and sometimes I don’t. I never expect anything, but it is very much appreciated. I believe I provide a quality service and I bring a lot to the experience. My goal is to provide the level of service I would expect. When someone tips me, I feel 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. Never assume anything.

Please feel free to comment or share your thoughts.