This is a discussion on Tipping Guide within the Hunting Africa forums, part of the Hunting Forums - Hunting in Africa category; Here is an article that I wrote about tipping, feel free to comment and discuss this subject further, give your ...
11-30-2008, 10:31 PM #1
Here is an article that I wrote about tipping, feel free to comment and discuss this subject further, give your opinion or share examples of what you have given as a tip.
Tipping is something that I get asked about quite regularly, I believe this is because there is a lot of conflicting advice and confusion surrounding this topic. I have heard complaints, usually from hunters who are very satisfied with their hunt, but then have felt pressured to leave more of a tip than they were comfortable with or even told what they should leave. I will let you know what I think the beneficial or normal practices are and expose some of the less ethical ones. I will try to clarify a rather ambiguous subject so that you can make an educated choice as to how much of a tip you wish to leave, because after all it is a choice.
What is tipping for?
Tipping is a good thing, it is a straight forward way to encourage great service. However tipping looses it's most important purpose when others start deciding or dictating who should get tips, how much you should give or pooling tips and redistributing them however they see fit. These practices do not allow workers to make that connection between their effort and their compensation, after all what is a tip for?
Tipping is customary but it's also discretionary
In the hunting industry a tip is customary and should always be figured into your budget during the planning stages of your hunt. That being said, a tip is also always a reflection of the level and quality of service that you have received during the entirety of your hunt and should not be considered mandatory. It should however be a VERY rare occasion and a completely bungled hunt, due to human error, not nature or weather, when skimping on a tip should be considered acceptable. You should absolutely inform the owner or person in charge if you are dissatisfied to the extent that you do not feel that a tip is deserved by anyone involved in your hunting safari.
Why is tipping so important?
The reason is simple, P.H.'s, trackers and camp staff derive much of their income from the tips they receive which creates the incentive for them to perform at their highest level for each and every client. After all we must remember that hunting is a service industry. The custom of tipping has evolved over a long period of time and is responsible for creating an environment of ever evolving higher standards and better quality of service, leaving behind those who are less than hard working. I would like to point out however than if your P.H. is also the owner of the hunting outfit, you still need to give him a tip as you would with any other P.H., based upon your overall satisfaction no more, no less.
When to tip
Most people give their tip at the end of the hunt, which makes sense because it should be based upon overall satisfaction. There are some hunters who swear they get better service by offering a portion of the tip at the beginning of the hunt to the trackers and skinner, as an incentive. They explain to the hunting team that they will be well compensated at the end of the hunt in addition to what they have already received if they work hard and do their very best. Even if they spend no more than they had planned to originally, they believe this method to be an effective stimulus that makes the team want to work harder. This may be of particular importance with the skinner who often gets little attention, even though the fate of your trophies rests in their hands. My thought is that this theory is hard to prove as you will never know how hard the hunting team would have worked for you otherwise but perhaps that is not a concern if you spent no more on your tip by doing it this way. But there are definitely risks, such as a member of your hunting team, with cash in hand, may decide to take an impromptu vacation which has been known to happen.
This tip has nothing to do with tipping
Here is my tip to you which has nothing to do with tipping! Your behavior has more to do with the outcome of your hunt than your tip. You should know that the outcome of your hunt is highly dependent upon the performance of your entire hunting team and that the effort they put forth from one hunt to another can be drastically different depending on how they "feel" about the hunter as a person. It's not always about money, just being nice goes a long way too. How important it is that the P.H. and hunting team perceive you positively, for whatever reason, is not something that you will ever hear discussed, but it is really a factor that can play a huge role in how hard the hunting team works for you and how successful your hunt is.
From the moment you arrive it is important to go out of your way to have warm and friendly interactions with the staff... and I mean all of them. Remember they work together, live together and are often related to each other, if you are disrespectful to one person they will all know about it in short order. Not to say that you shouldn't complain if there is something that you're unhappy about, but I suggest you take it to the P.H. or lodge manager and let them deal with it.
Preferred form of payment for tipping
A tip should be given in cash or can be given with traveler's cheques. If a voucher system is used by the hunting outfitter, you may wish to ask the outfitter if it matters if that cash is in local currency or US$. You may be surprised to hear that many prefer US$, which should make it easier for you in terms of knowing what you are giving and not needing to exchange currency, however some still prefer local currency as it is hassle for some workers to exchange money depending on the country.
When it is okay to give an item as your tip instead of cash?
It is always very generous for hunters to bring "extras" (such as clothes, knives, cigarettes, candy, even perfume or chocolates for the lady of the house), however these items should not be considered a tip. If you wish to offer an item in lieu of a cash tip the choice should be that of the recipient, for example you might propose leaving behind a pair of binoculars or a nice hunting knife instead of a cash tip, if the person agrees great, but if they prefer cash, you should be prepared to leave the tip in that form. I do believe that those types of "extras", given before or shared throughout the hunt, can buy you a lot of good graces; these small gestures are very well received and just a nice thing to do.
How to make sure your tip gets where you intend it to?
You should make an effort to hand your tip or voucher directly to the person it is for. In this way you can help to insure that your wishes are being respected. It is fine if you wish to put your tip into an envelope or give a group tip to be divided evenly, or as you see fit, for the lodge/camp staff to the house manager if you are more comfortable or if it is too time consuming.
Factors to consider when tipping
- Satisfaction with hunting safari
- Success of hunting safari
- Country where hunt takes place
- Price of hunt
- Number of days of hunt
- Type of hunting safari (plains game, dangerous game or combination of both)
- Number of hunters with PH (1x1, 2x1, etc.)
- Number of non-hunting observers
You may not have as much contact with the lodge/camp personnel as you do with your hunting team but they are still an important component of your whole hunting safari experience. These people should also be taken into consideration when tipping as they care for your day to day needs behind the scenes. The hunting and camp staff are a complete team, each doing their part to make you hunt great and stay enjoyable, however some hunters may be inclined only to tip those who they have had the most contact with (ie. PH, trackers, driver) but it is really a team effort in every way.
Typical personnel to tip
- Professional Hunter
Additional personnel you may need to tip
(all of these personnel may not be a part of your hunting safari)
- Meet and greet
- Lodge/camp manager
- Game scout/game guards (they expect to be tipped even though they are government employees)
- Tour guide
Who is it normal to tip and why?
A general guideline for me as to who should receive a tip goes back to something I mentioned earlier: the purpose of a tip is to reward and encourage good service. That being said, I believe anyone directly providing service to you should be tipped, as outlined in the list above. This general rule will help you to clarify when or if an outfitter is asking you to tip personnel that should be salaried workers. If someone is driving, cooking cleaning for me or otherwise involved directly in the hunting they should be tipped, however if they maintain the vehicles, garden, pool or other property they should be considered non service employees that the hunting outfitter should pay.
Asking your hunting outfitter for guidelines
You may wish to ask your hunting outfitter for some guidelines regarding who and how much to tip, however be prepared for a less than clear response as many PHs and hunting outfitters are uncomfortable providing advice regarding this subject. Always remember that any suggestion is merely a point of reference and not what you should tip, ultimately the decision is yours.
Tipping guidelines to be wary of
Something that I would be very wary of is an outfitter who supplies a detailed and excessively lengthy list of employees who should be tipped and how much. This list may include non service empolyees and in some cases add up to an unreasonable sum of money, not within the guidelines that we discuss below. It may be hard to know if all of those employees actually exist or it may be a sign that some or all of these employees may not be receiving any salary from the outfitter and their only income is being given to them by you and other hunters. It is hard to know where these unethical practices are occurring so it is important to use your best instincts, if an outfitter seems too pushy or they mandate tipping in any fashion, I would avoid hunting with them.
There are some outfitters who, in an effort to avoid inequality or jealousy among camp staff, believe that all tips, including those of the hunting team and camp staff, should be pooled and divided evenly or as they decide, and I am not a proponent of that. I believe there is a hierarchy among workers and I would never hunt with an outfitter who would dictate how my tip should be allocated.
The only way to prevent getting caught up in these types of situations is to ask the right questions BEFORE you book; ask if they have any type of tipping requirements or pool tips. If they say we ASK that you tip a certain way, you're probably still okay as many outfitters do have some guidelines in place and for good reasons, (which I will outline below) but if they have strict or inflexible rules or requirements ask to see them before booking and use your best judgment.
What tipping guidelines are normal and why
Most guidelines concerning tipping have arisen out of necessity and are in place to help the hunting outfitter avoid known problems. These problems can range from workers accumulating too much cash through a long hunting season in the bush and the risks associated with having that cash lost or stolen from them. Some workers, with cash in hand, have been known to disappear half way through the hunting season on an unplanned "vacation" for a few weeks, not so good for the next guy who comes to hunt. Another issue is that alcohol problems are rampant in Africa and it is not uncommon for a worker to binge drink given a pocket full of cash.
Why some hunting outfitters use vouchers
The above mentioned scenarios are a few reasons why hunting outfitters may use a voucher system and ask that you comply during the active part of the hunting season. A voucher may not seem as satisfying to give to a great tracker for a job well done, but in the long run it may be what is in his best interests as well as the hunting outfitters. I personally really like to give someone their tip in cash, but I understand and am willing to give them a voucher as long as I am able to write the amount that I am leaving them and give it to them directly so they know how much I appreciated their hard work, skill and effort. And also for the simple fact that I know that they can keep tabs on what they are owed at the end of the hunting season.
How much to tip on a plains game hunt
There is a lot of advice and theories out there regarding how much to tip, which often creates more confusion than actually helping you get a better grasp on a fuzzy subject. I will share with you my method for how I decide how much of a tip to leave and knowing from the other side of the equation how much people really do leave. This method really works for all hunting safaris from a bargain plains game hunting package all the way up to a big five hunting safari.
I base my tip for the Professional Hunter on the total cost of the hunt, daily rate and trophy fees combined, excluding tax. Using that figure, I multiplying it by:
For professional hunter:
5% for an average tip
6% for a better than average tip
7% for a very good tip
8% plus for a very generous tip
I believe that this method works well because it figures in the cost level of the hunt, the number of species you take and allows for you to express your appreciation by giving you the ability to choose the percentage based upon your overall satisfaction.
As for the rest of the hunting team and lodge/camp staff I break it down as follows:
For a typical hunting safari:
Tracker: from $5 to $10 per person/day
Driver: from $5 to $10 per day
Skinner: from $5 to $10 per person/day
Lodge/camp staff: $3 to $5 per person/day
Typical personnel for a basic hunting safari:
Hunting team will usually consist of one to two trackers, one driver who may also double as a tracker, one skinner.
Lodge staff will usually consist of one cook, one server, one to two maids, one laundress. The more high end the lodge the more personnel you can expect.
For a big five or concession camp hunting safari:
Tracker: from $8 to $13 per person/day
Driver: from $5 (average) to $10 (generous) per day
Skinner: from $5 (average) to $10 (generous) per person/day
Porter: from $5 (average) to $10 (generous) per person/day
Lodge/camp staff: $3 (average) to $7 (generous) per person/day
Typical personnel for a big five or concession camp hunting safari:
Hunting team will usually consist of two trackers, one driver who may also work as a third tracker, one porter who may also work as a third tracker, one skinner.
Camp staff will usually consist of one to two cooks, two servers, two maids, two laundress. The more high end the lodge the more personnel you can expect.
Additional personnel you may need to tip
(all of these personnel may not be a part of your hunting safari)
- Meet and greet: a tip should be considered for a service outside of your hunting outfitter
- Lodge/camp manager
- Game scout/game guard: $10 per person/day, some hunters give incentives
- Tour guide
Jerome Philippe, Founder of AfricaHunting.com
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Thanks for this super article! I'd love to hear more from other members about what they have actually left as a tip. How much, how many days, trophies taken, etc. I'm planning a safari for 2010 and this is a big question mark in my budget.
02-06-2009, 10:33 PM #3
- Member of SCI Internatiol chapter; NAPHA.
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Thanks Jerome.I think that this artical on tipping answer all the questions that a client can have. As a PH in Africa that spent most of my time in the bush with the trackers, drivers and skinners I know how much everybody rely on the tip at the end of the hunt. It feel as if you wrote down my thoughts, just much more complete.
02-09-2009, 10:28 PM #4
Very well presented Jerome. Also speaking as an Outfitter/PH, it is a subject of high importance but fragile balance. Your guidelines apply very well to Tanzania and the kind of hunting safaris that we offer. The figures fall right into what i generally advise my guests.
To simplify (only applies to my structure), it boils down to a tip-budget of 15% of the entire safari cost for a safari 16-days or longer and 20% for a safari 15-days or shorter. The safari cost would be all costs excluding air-fare. The tip budget would include all staff serving the client (office staff/field staff/PH).
Ultimately though, tips are at the discretion of the guest and all staff are well informed of this fact and should accept anything given, as a bonus to their salaries.
Your tipping guidelines will do us all a great service bwana. Cheers.Ryan Shallom (CEO)
02-10-2009, 12:41 PM #5
The 2 times I went to Africa both safari's were 10 days and I shot 7 plains game animals each time. I tipped 10% to the PH, 5 dollars per day for both trackers, They took turns driving also. The maids 3 dollars per da each & cook 4 dollars per day. I also left most of my hunting clothes & boots which werre pretty well worn. along with cigarettes & several knives.
Super tipping advice
It's good to hear from the PH side that they agree with Jerome's article cuz it gives me confidence that his advice is right on target. And it's good to hear from the hunters perspective too Calhoun, thanks for sharing what you left as a tip since your safari sounds like exactly what I'll be doing. 10 days, 7 to 10 plains game (I'm being optimistic). I think after reading your post that it is a good idea to budget the tip on the generous side that way I'm prepared for a great hunting trip, maybe it will be a good omen... after all it's always good to have the great and mighty hunting gods on your side!
03-16-2009, 07:19 PM #7
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Thanks to all for this great information. Wonderful to hear from PHs / outfitters & hunters.
When I calculate the total for a $5000 plains game hunt, that is a reasonable tip (about $750 total) which I would be happy to pay for reasonable service.
I saw a post on another site where a rich hunter claimed that he tipped 25% to the PH & 10% to most staff. His total tip value was 50% of the value of the 21 day Tanzania hunt! That would probably be $15,000 in tips alone and possibly twice as much if he was hunting the big 4.
If I was so wealthy I would rather donate to the local village development programs rather than impose western economic burdens on the staff and create discontent among the locals.
Thanks once again. Now I'll have to save for my first safari!!!
03-19-2009, 12:57 PM #8
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you know what? tip is something very special for US folks.
I mean, it probably spread out in the world from there, but seeing my home, Germany and France, it is more or less usual to pay no tip except round up your invoice. That is common in all regards and so we are not aware from the beginning, that the rest of the world relies on tips.
Whenn I did some guiding in my youth in our area, I would have been upset with anyone thinking about tipping me, I would just have been to proud to take this extra money, because I already got paied for my job and of course would I do my best, no matter what tip would be possible to earn from my guest.
So, I am not absolutely sure, whether that is a commonly good advice in all cases.
But I admit, that I had to learn the hard way, that it seems to be common in most places and I would have mercied such an article 20 years earlier!
It is a great help and well explained!
03-19-2009, 02:40 PM #9
- Hunted South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia
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The fact about tips :
NO hunter is forced to tip anyone.
But 99.9% hunters do tip the PH and the PH's helpers eg: trackers and skinners.
I believe going far back in history, hunting is a gentlemans sport and all hunters should tip the people he feels played some part during his hunt.
A hunter can tip with anything he feels comfy with from large amounts of cash money to food and clothes or whatever....
04-23-2009, 06:08 AM #10
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I am probably a bit different on this subject. I don't like tipping, I am paying the operator enough so that he should be able to pay his staff a proper wage for the services rendered. If at the end of the hunt I feel someone did a job above and beyond what they should do then at my choice I can give the individual a "tip". Just giving a tip to "staff" for doing their job in my opinion is wrong, but know this is not how the world views things. I do disagree with your statement "tip the people he feels played some part during the hunt." First question - What is the hunt? Direct pursuit of the game or also the house boy or maid that does your washing and making the bed? The cook that prepares your dinner or packs the cool box. I could go on and on but I think you get the picture as I see it.
04-29-2009, 12:50 PM #11
Tipping is a very difficult subject and as far as the base rule goes we handle it this way.
We do not except to be tipped and work as hard as we should tipping is a bonus and that is what it should be seen as, not expected.
I'm not against tipping but the tip should be something special a reward for hard work or something unusual.
I will be more than happy if the client uses that tip money to bag another animal after all if you did your job well you will have return business. This is my take on the subject and I went into this business not too become a millionaire but too have a rich enjoyable life. If your in the business for $$$ your in the wrong place. That is my few cents of tipping money worth
Jerome great article and guidelines.Frederik Cocquyt, Outfitter and Professional Hunter
Cell: +27 83 709 8927
04-29-2009, 08:16 PM #12
- Member of Northeast Wisconsin SCI chapter, Lifetime member of NRA,RMEF
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I like your comments Frederik. I think outfitters have to take care of there staff from top to bottom and adjust their daily rates and trophy fees to the cost of the hunt. There are way to many situations were staff are not threated as well as they should...and I'm referring to North America to Africa. I agree with Frederik if the outfitter real works hard and gets very good trophies and caters to your every need...they definitely earned it. But tipping is still optional no matter what business your in. I know at my job...I expect nothing from my employer....no good job comments, Christmas card or anything but be happy you have a job. Aren't employers great.
Last edited by enysse; 04-29-2009 at 08:18 PM. Reason: spelling
05-01-2009, 09:34 AM #13
I have an understanding with all my safari companies that I book for and that is, a tip is a gift and that some folks are less wealthy than others and whatever they tip is to be appreciated and all my companies that I rep for agree to this 100 percent...
The one thing I suggest is that you give all the tip money to the PH and let him sort out who gets what..There is a pecking order among the camp staff and the tips are paid based on the staff members position, otherwise you will cause havoc among the staff.. I have seen this get completely out of hand when some client gave the laundry lady more tip than the tracker!! If your PH is an honorable man he will sort it out properly and keep a proper happy camp, they will each come and shake your hand and thank you, this is Safari tradition.
It takes about 15 minutes upon arrival, if that, to see if your in a happy camp or a sour camp, I have been in both many times and believe me that is the FIRST thing I look for when checking our a potential Safari company to book for..I want happy. laughing, smiling people that want to be a part of the whole safari with the sole intent of making that safari the hunt of a lifetime for the client..
Last edited by Ray Atkinson; 05-01-2009 at 09:38 AM. Reason: corrections on spelling etc.RAY ATKINSON
05-02-2009, 03:57 AM #14
Ray in a perfect world maybe!! I do agree there is a pecking order but, I would rather take care of the tipping myself.. after comments in camp from the ph & the mrs. I felt as though I was in the deep south of the usa in the good old days of my youth in the 1960's. It appeared to me at times as though they thought of the staff as slaves!! I also was told that after I tipped the staff the first time I gave them way to much money!! I told him that back in the states you wouldn't have gotten 1 of them to work 1 day for you with that amount of money!! I have been happy with the hunts both times at the same outfit & I thought the staff was great the only bad thing I couldn't speak the language!!
05-02-2009, 08:12 AM #15
it also means a lot more to the staff when they get the tip directly from you. It is a pity, but there are still some people who mistreat their staff and go to the extent of controlling their tips! If a staff has served well and the guest wants to give an incentive, it should be entirely up to the guest as to how much and preferably given directly to the staff - of course with the help and advice of the PH. The PH should be happy about this and assist to the best of his ability as it puts him in good standing with his staff too.Ryan Shallom (CEO)
06-11-2009, 08:24 PM #16
I went a little overboard tipping on my first safari. But...it has paid off. I have established a very good relationship with the PH and now it is coming back to me in some ways. But honestly, i didn't intend on tipping that much but had such a great experience that i felt that i wanted to tip well.Tom
07-06-2009, 07:02 PM #17
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Jerome, thanks for the very informative post on a topic nearly everyone ponders each and every time he goes hunting. I greatly appreciate the effort and information you put forth.There is only one degree of dead . . . there are many degrees of wounded
10-27-2009, 09:43 PM #18
- Member of CIC, Rowland Ward, B&C, DSC, German Hunting Association, KZN Hunting Association, Wild Sheep Foundation
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The Eternal Discussion: Tipping on Safari
The Eternal Discussion: Tipping on Safari
by Gerhard R Damm
Walt Prothero’s article “The Tipping Dilemma” in the Summer 2005 issue of Wild Sheep (Quarterly publication of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep – FNAWS) prompted me to write this article. I am aware that I am treading on dangerous ground – but many hunting trips around the globe during the past thirty years give me some perspective, albeit a personal one influenced by my own experience. However, the fact that the tipping question comes up at many hunting forums on the internet with regularity, and the fact that The Hunting Report felt it was important enough to conduct two surveys (1997 and 2004) prove that the “Tipping Question” moves many a hunters’ heart and mind – I am certainly not the exception.
Is a tip justified? What amount? A percentage of the hunt cost? How to distribute amongst those who helped on the scene or behind the scene on the hunt? These are difficult questions and depending on the answers, the outcome can be everything from a congenial, friendly farewell to a downright display of sour faces after a hunt is concluded.
I have always more than only an uneasy feeling when the final day of a hunt approaches – because the very last day will invariably be the day of reckoning, and instead of enjoying my hunting days to the fullest and to the very last moment, thoughts often wander away pondering the eternal and difficult question of how much money to spent in addition to a usually very expensive hunt. And then there is the other dilemma – guides and professional hunters tend to become friends in the course of a hunt. This is quite normal when one shares most of the waking moments during a fortnight or more, and especially when the going got though irrespective of the outcome. To tip a friend – well I don’t know! It just doesn’t seem appropriate and it devalues the common personal experience to a commercial transaction.
This commercial transaction is usually done before going hunting – I pay the agreed deposit months, or years ahead and the balance before going into the field. What remains to be paid are trophy fees after the conclusion of the hunt (… not always – since some hunts – especially the costly sheep hunts require full payment in advance of everything including trophy fee).
One should assume that businessmen – and I suggest that today all hunting outfitters/operators are astute ones – calculate the cost of a hunt and build in reasonable and justified profit margins. Therefore my first conclusion is: tipping an outfitter/operator who owns the hunting business is akin to tipping your doctor, lawyer, garage owner, auditor, building contractor, etc!
The outfitter’s costing should also include reasonable wages and salaries for the staff of the outfit. The entire staff contributes to the success of a hunt or safari – those in the offices who do all the paperwork behind the scenes, the meet and greet service at the airport, the drivers, skinners, trackers, cooks, tent attendants, camp helpers, and last not least the professional hunter and the nowadays common camp manager. I suggest that their just, adequate and commensurate compensation is the responsibility of the hunting outfitter and safari operator. They know (or should know) the individual capabilities and personal dedication/professionalism. Their wages should reflect their professionalism, experience and their dedication to the job. This is especially important for the local staff - their wages should be well above the respective national average, considering that hunting safaris are usually priced at the very high end of the tourist market and that their contribution largely determines the success or failure of a hunt. I suggest that the daily rates of a hunting safari – which are in most cases well above those charged by the most luxurious photographic safari lodges – give the outfitter/operator ample opportunity to pay such wages/salaries. I consider that statements such as “the staff (or individuals of the staff) depends on tips to make ends meet” or “the staff needs to earn during the hunting season enough to last out the year” are no reasons for a hunter to tip. The responsibility for a living wage/salary lies squarely with the outfitter/operator. And the visiting hunter can and should expect that the staff including the PH will perform at their level best during the safari – that’s what he contracted and paid for!
The outfitter/operator should definitely avoid to raise expectations by telling staff that they will “earn” a certain percentage over an above their wages with tips from hunters. African old-timers like Glen Cottar and Tony Dyer made this abundantly clear to their staff – including the professional hunters – do not expect tips! Just like the old timers, outfitters/operators should select and train the staff well, pay fair and square wages/salaries and expect truly professional service of everybody in the camp. The outfitters/operators are no different in this respect to any other entrepreneur who employs people to run a business.
I have the impression that many outfitters of the 21st century Africa unduly raise staff expectations with regards to tips (especially when discussing salaries – “you will earn soandsomuch in tips!” – and thus are part of the problem. And the problem is basically that of a backhanded bribe at worst or moral blackmailing the visiting hunter at best!
A typical African safari camp consists of between 20 and 30 people – a few less in South African and Namibian ranch hunts – and if camps are changed during the hunt, we quickly approach or exceed 50 people who might expect tips! It has clearly gone out of hand! Finally there is the question of who is responsible for the success of the hunt (measured in this context in the trophies obtained): The driver, who maintains the hunting vehicle in good shape so that you are able to leave early in the morning for a days hunt? The sharp eyesight of the assistant tracker, who spots the game? The phenomenal skills of the trackers who follow and interpret spoor, with few professional hunters being able to compete? The dexterity and professionalism of the skinners who preserve the trophy for years to come? The professional hunter who skillfully brings the hunter into shooting position and judging potential trophy animals? The anonymous office worker who arranges the dipping, packing and shipping of the trophies? Or is it the outfitter/operator, who obtained prime concessions and assembled an excellent staff complement through business acumen and hunting savvy? Then there are those whose responsibilities concern the hunter’s personal comfort: the kitchen staff whipping out delicious meals; the camp attendants having a hot shower ready after a dusty day in the field; the camp manager who has to oversea a million things every day and who has to entertain the hunter and company together with the professional hunter every evening around the camp fire.
Looking at the previous paragraph one quickly realizes that there cannot be a just solution to the tipping question. I also suspect certain racial inequalities having crept into the common tipping procedure, at least the Hunting Report study (2004) points towards that direction. The tips for the professional hunters ranged from $100 to $8500 with a median of $1325 for a full bag traditional safari to $50 to $2000 with a median of $550 for a plains game safari, whereas the tips for other camp staff ranged from $20 to $3000 and a median of $400, respectively from $20 to $2000 with a median of $187. These figures are based on approx 260 (full bag safari) and 300 (plains game safari) respondents in 2004 (see table below).
The results must not be interpreted as being representative; however they certainly shed some light on hunter tipping behavior and give food for thought for a discussion.
Evaluating the written comments of respondents and the contributions on internet forums one fact quickly becomes obvious: most hunters confirm that they tip; they also state that they do so under pressure (from peers, agents, outfitters and/or staff) or simply because a “tip is expected”. A common thread in their comments is that they clearly would rather not be part of the tipping scheme as it exists today.
Very few hunters tip extraordinarily high. I consider tipping percentage (from the total hunt price) of between 30 and 44% an extravagant folly or a hidden bribe of some sort. Those who tip extraordinarily low with a tipping percentage between 0.3 and 0.8% are also few and I suspect that these tips are sometimes regarded more as an insult.
There have been a number of different suggestions: from no tipping at all towards adding a percentage (range between 5% and 15%) on either the daily rate or on the total hunt cost. The later obviously would alleviate the operator/outfitter from some of his responsibilities, since it would place the onus of paying a substantial part of the staff salaries on top of the hunting bill. This solution must therefore discarded entirely, since I believe – as stated earlier in this article – that salaries and wages should form part of the cost calculation of the entrepreneur.
Tips – if any – after a safari should be spontaneous and for a service and performance well above average and beyond the call of duty. It is a personal gesture of the hunter towards a particular person or an identifiable group of persons who performed at levels well beyond the expected and usual!
A tip is NOT a routine procedure and neither professional hunters nor camp staff should openly or subtly solicit the client pay for perceived or real shortfalls in a just salary or wage (they should rather negotiate with their employer). Tips are NOT part of remuneration packages.
Tips are also definitively NOT to be measured as a percentage of the hunt cost as some agents and outfitter/operators suggest either directly when asked about tipping by visiting hunters or indirectly when saying “tips and gratuities not included”. A tip or the promise of a tip at the end of the safari are NOT “bribes” to make sure that the trophies arrive at the final destination, that a hunter is taken to a particular trophy or gets away with illegal or unethical actions.
It’s about time that lessons from old-timers like Tony Dyer and Glen Cottar are internalized – especially by their successors as outfitters and safari operators!
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10-28-2009, 02:39 AM #19
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Tipping should be at the clients / hunters own discretion, and if its happens i think a 10% of the total hunt amount should be fair...Bushwack Safaris - South Africa
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10-28-2009, 04:33 AM #20
..Excellent Post!! I generally gave about 10% between the Ph & Camp staff. Your artical definitely covered alot of the gray areas! After seeing how a lot of the camp staffs in Africa are treated not much better than slaves It makes a person feel more generous to them because The ones I have dealt with really did go the extra mile & deserved much more than I could afford to give!
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