Tipping Guide

Discussion in 'Safari Planning Guide' started by AfricaHunting.com, Nov 30, 2008.

  1. Lapaiki39

    Lapaiki39 AH Member

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    Tipping

    Is the tip for the camp staff normally given to the PH and will he be the person who decides who gets what or do you hand out what you feel is appropriate to each employee? Any info I can get in this would be much appreciated.
  2. Mike70560

    Mike70560 AH Fanatic

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    On both trips I tipped each staff member individually. The PH and I listed everybody from the tracker on down. After deciding on tips I met each one and gave them a monetary tip and some trinket (shirt, knife, etc). Both PH's preferred this method.
  3. robert tolliver

    robert tolliver AH Member

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    i will offend some on this, not meaning to. tip or tax, i have noteiced in some countries an import tax on guns, ammo, vat on what you shot, bed tax and tax tax .this nickle and dime BS leaves me a bit cold. everybody under stands an outfit needs to make a profit.not all americans have millions to just throw away. the tip should be set the price of the hunt, with a break down,not extra charge for this and that at the end of the hunt. set a price and let it go at that. to demand a tip on an over priced hunt is an insult IMO.
  4. Cleathorn

    Cleathorn AH Senior Member

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    I am glad this topic has again come up, especially on this forum. I am going on 2 safaris this year, to hopefully accomplish the goal of huting the Big 5. Because of time constraints, I have to hunt in very late May and September to hopefully accomplish the goal - using 2 different safari operators. Both are cases were the PH is also the owner/operator.

    Tipping was a big and open question for me. I saw above that its been suggested 10% should be the standard. I am no means ruich, but I am not poor either. But since the owner/operators set the fees and combined, these hunts will costs about $100,000, $10,000 in tips seems ridiculous. I cannot figure out what the extra $10,000 could possibly be for?

    I am already paying for the services of a licensed DG PH and a backup PH, baiters, skinners, trackers and camp staff. I expect that they will work very hard to meet the goals of the hunt - since I am paying $100,000 - what else should I expect - sub-par service unless the PH and crew know I have an extra $10K in my pocket?

    If the service, accumodations, effort of the camp or hunting staff is poor, I expect them to be replaced by the owner/operator/PH. So exceptional service canot be the measure of the tip - that is what I am paying for in the first instance. Isn't it?

    I am gogin to try a different approch, sugested by an expiereinced DG hunter and friend. I am contacting the PH's and ask who will be in camp and what the job is. I will then bring along small gifts of appreciation and give them to the staff, assuming the staff does its job. New knives for the skinners, soaps, linens and baby clothes for the women in camp and hats, a new shirt or similar item for the trackers. Money - no!

    The PH's will know this ahead of time. I just cannot see how to reconcile the amount of the tip with the extraordinary cost and already high expectations of a DG hunt.

    Puting me onto the trophies I am looking for and keepng me alive are the jobs for which I am paying. Should a tip be necessary just because the did not get me killed? Or becuase they actually found the trophies I paid them $100K to find?

    The origial author is correct - tiping was a noble custom for extraordinary service that now seems to be a proxy for a higher wage. At the cost of these hunts, I expect to know the cost, make the decision to pay it (or not)be billed for the cost of the hunt and will pay what I have agreed too pay. I cannot see adding thousands more just because someone did the job I hired them to do. That seems like the entitlement attitude of young Americans and it must stop.
  5. safari hunter

    safari hunter AH Veteran

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    Cleathorn, I pretty much agree with you. I think a tip is a gesture, not an entitlement. Hunters should offer the gesture that they are comfortable with. I too am not comfortable with a $10,000 gesture and I think that 10% on a $100,000 safari is exorbitant. I think that the pressure to tip has gotten out of hand with some outfitters and has become a sort of entitlement that is outrageous. I like to give some money along with gifts, especially for the hunting team. I wish that more hunters here would share what they leave so that this issue does not just stay in the dark. IMO if you ask an outfitter what the average tip amount is they will tell you an exaggerated sum. i am glad that you put your opinion out there.
  6. Cleathorn

    Cleathorn AH Senior Member

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    Thanks for the vote of support. I am sometimes on the fringe in my thoughts but I really like this forum because it encourges discussion and debate without allowing anything to denigrate into personal attacks on the free exchange of ideas. (I did not intend this to be a political statement but that is a pretty good synopsis of what free speach is suppossed to mean).

    Anyway, I really like and encourge your call for other members to express their views, experiencies and practices on tipping. Tipping is a major cause of stress on almost every trip I am on, for almost every man and women in camp, no matter the locale or whether its a hunting or fishing trip. So some more guidence and open discussion would really be helpful, at least for me. Thanks Safari Hunter and to all of you who rise to the call for input.
  7. Wildcat

    Wildcat AH Member

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    Cleathorn good read !
    I havent gone to africa yet but am going in Aug for plains game so this tip thing concerns me.
    I hate what tipping has become in North America. Resturants that add 15% to your bill automaticaly. They might get me once but I never go back again.
    Its a tip---not a fee.
    While fishing in mexico a few years ago the fishing hands and capt. wanted tipped every day at night after you return. First day was a great day, but they didnt think that a $50 per day tip was enough because $100 was the expectied tip. Soooooo the next few days turned into a boat ride, and here we were paying $500 a day to be there to begin with. We never put another line in the water. I threw such a fit that I did get half my day fees back. Here again what was the $500 per day for ?
    When I guided elk and deer hunters back in the 80S I did everything I could to make a guys trip as great as it could be. Why, because I was being paid by the outfitter to do so !
    Out of all the tips I have recieved only one sticks out and shines more in my mind than all others. A guy that had saved 3 years to go on the hunt gave me a new buck Knife that I have never used to this day, but stands in my trophy room on a special made plaque.
    He had to save his dimes to buy this $50 dollar knife and it was harder for him to give than the guys that left me lots cash.
    I saw a cook take a knife from the same guy as a tip in camp and just give it to another hunter that came in and bitched because the guy didnt leave him cash.
    These type people totaly miss life !
  8. Mike70560

    Mike70560 AH Fanatic

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    I would prefer if service industries paid a living wage to its employees and tipping was not needed. But unfortunately that is not the way it is. I spend about $10,000 per year eating out. Normally I tip 15 to 20%. Servers in our area are paid a couple of dollars per hour. They depend on those tips.

    Take your average dangerous game PH. In Zim there is a 3 year apprenticeship where they make next to nothing. After that they have to buy a hunting vehicle and other gear. A new Land Cruiser outfitted is around $65,000 USD. No benefits, no guarantees, no retirement. If they are good they probably hunt about 200 to 220 days per year. All of this for about $300 to $400 per day (that is a guess). On top of that they can end up in intensive care like Alan Shearing (hunts for Buzz Charlton) after being hooked by a cape buffalo. Pretty sure there is no workers compensation insurance for PH's. So for $70,000 to $80,000 a year before expenses they work their butts off and risk their lives. To me a tip is no big deal. $100 per day is on the light side in my opinion.

    Camp staff are paid a pittance as well as game scouts and trackers. I have no problem leaving these guys a tip if they perform well.

    I sold my business this year, so I am very use to looking at what it takes to make money. For a $1000.00 day rate I can not understand how an outfitter in a remote area can make money. So I do not think these hunts are overpriced nor anybody overpaid.

    But one thing I can say is have never heard a PH I have hunted with or shared a camp with ever complain about a tip or even talk about what they are paid. Tips are something they do not even like to talk about, but are very appreciative when they do receive something.
  9. Lapaiki39

    Lapaiki39 AH Member

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    Thanks for all the great info!
  10. Shallom

    Shallom AH Enthusiast

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    Mike,
    i like your take on the matter and your view is highly appreciated on behalf of the general staff and personnel involved in making a hunting safari a success. It is hard work and at the end of the day, it boils down to $10/day/person with camps usually having ten staff. The staff work in the field for months away from their families and do the work despite numerous challenges such as bouts of malaria, odd working hours and total dedication to usually 1-4 clients at a time (exclusive operations). I reccomend as you have expressed and feel it is a fair ask, but nevertheless, a tip is accepted for what it is and the staff are educated on this and accept that it is entirely at the discretion of the client. For a job well done, it is always good to reward the effort and encourage even better service and ethic. Ahsante,
  11. Skyline

    Skyline AH Fanatic

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    Part of the problem with this whole issue is that the clients, on average, have no concept of what it costs to run a hunting operation, be it in the wilderness or a fenced farm operation. Their main concern is what they have to pay and most think the rates everywhere are to high at the best of time.

    They also do not factor in the very long hours staff work, including the PH, and what it actually works out to.............and I do not care if you are speaking of employees in Tanzania making ten dollars a day or a guide/ cook/wrangler in North America making $80 - $200 a day. The hourly rate stinks. We will not even get into the fact that for most it is employment for only part of the year and they have to somehow maintain some sort of employment the rest of the year.

    That is difficult as most 'real jobs' are not going to let employees galavant off to the bush for 3 months every year and keep their normal job for them..............and even in Africa where a PH can rove around and work in different countries with different seasons, it is only a small percentage of the PH's that manage to do that. In North America it simply is not an option, nor is it for the rest of the staff.

    Many exceptional employees who are first rate guides only last a few years because eventually real life, bills and family demands force them out of the business and into a more regular paycheck.

    This subject would make a good and rather lengthy article..............and perhaps give people who hate tipping a thing or two to think about. Bottom line is though, individuals who do not want to tip can always easily justify it to themselves in their own minds.

    The level of service on African hunts is far and away superior to North American hunts. If a North American outfit tried to offer the same day to day luxuries that are taken for granted on an African hunt, the daily rates would be through the roof..........and most already think North American hunts are too highly priced for what they get as it sits.
  12. Red Leg

    Red Leg GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Jeez but I sort of hate to wade in on this one. However, as a young college student in South Louisiana, I guided duck hunters every day of four seasons to earn tuition money. I worked very, very hard at it and I like to believe I was pretty good at what I did (and I can still tempt a reluctant greenhead). I can't tell you how important a tip was to me in those days (and a $20 bill was a very big deal in 1972). It was important both as a fiscal asset but also as a professional recognition of what I believed was a professional effort.

    So, I tend to be as generous as I can afford to be. I won't presume to advise anyone else what the correct percentage is, but I truly believe it is something well north of zero. I think most of the participants on this forum, who can afford Africa, would be surprised by the narrow margins earned by their hosts. Needless to say, a PH working for your host is really surviving on the edge. And, of course, the staff has very little opportunity to have cash in hand.
  13. Bobpuckett

    Bobpuckett GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Tipping

    THANKS Jerome
    I am planning my first trip to south africa on a plains game hunt and the info you give in your tipping articles was VERY HELPFUL like I said this is my first trip and I don't want to screw it up, keep up the good work.
    Bob Puckett :clapping:
  14. TexasLebenskunstler

    TexasLebenskunstler AH Member

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    Anyone who has made a living from gratuities knows the value and importance. By the way, tips are done up front and gratuities are done on the back side. The word “tip” is an acronym that comes from the phrase “To insure promptness.”

    This is a great thread and post. THANKS Jerome!
  15. Big5

    Big5 AH Enthusiast

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    Point of interest only- Snopes.com does not agree that "Tip" is an acronym for "To insure prompness". snopes.com: Etymology of Tip

    Excerpts of the 'snopes' article are as follows;

    'Tip' is an old word, and it has nothing to do with either acronyms or the act of attempting to influence quality of service. . . the use of the term as it applies to monetary rewards to servants dates to the 1700’s. . . However, the use of 'tip' to describe the act of giving something to another (where that list of possible 'somethings' could include small sums of money, intelligence on horse races, or the latest silly joke) goes back to 1610. . . . 'Tip' slipped into the language as underworld slang, with the verb 'to tip' (meaning 'to give to or share with') being used by shady characters as part of the then-current argot of petty criminals.

    Again, I have no argument with the purpose of a 'tip', I simply found the snopes article intersting!
    .
  16. dustyvarmint

    dustyvarmint AH Senior Member

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    Excellent words. I haven't been to Africa, but I've done a few hunts here in the U.S. where this is exactly the case.

    -Took a pronghorn hunt last fall. Outfitter wouldn't adapt to spot and stalk necessitated by wet conditions (14-16 hour days in blinds over waterholes in torrential downpours :confused:), guide encouraged me to jump out of vehicle and shoot pronghorn :mad:, guide didn't believe wind direction to be important :(, guide insisted all windows on blinds had to be closed at all times :confused:. Booking agent hunted with us and I followed his example, under peer pressure, to give a $50 tip. The outfitter and guide deserved no tip what-so-ever, nothing.

    -Took a feral hog trip to TX last year. Food and service were beyond my wildest expectations. Outfitter was like concierge, host, guide, logistician and more. I made a poor, wounding shot on a boar that ended up attacking the outfitter. He willingly got 20% with more to add'l guide and cook.

    Thanks Jerome, for the article, and all the other discussion.

    happy hunting, dv
  17. TexasLebenskunstler

    TexasLebenskunstler AH Member

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    In Texas, we like to take care of our hunters, both local and out of state. I'm glad my fellow Texans took good care of you and I'm sure they appreciated you taking care of them.

    If it is made clear that "gratuities are not included" in the promotion of the hunt, then each hunter should know (just like in restaurants) that the tip is part of the wage/salary/payment that the guide/PH/outfitter/tracker/etc. should get for their service. It is up to you, as the customer, to decide how much or little they provided for you as a customer and then treat them accordingly.

    When I go to an expensive restaurant, I know in advance that the tip will be part of the experience. If I cannot afford the tip, I eat somewhere else (home.) ...I actually have a much longer discourse on this topic, but I'm trying to get out of the office and go on a whitetail hunt.
  18. muscrat

    muscrat New Member

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    Tipping

    What I don't like about the whole deal is that it is expected and they even seem to have an amount that they are looking for. I am leaving for Namibia with my son in April and am dreading this decision more than you can imagine! I agree with the one post that said the cost of the trip should include what the safari company needs for the hunt they are providing. That is the contract or deal that I signed up for. The rub comes into place with the total cost including trophy fees. So if I get this right they make money on every animal I shoot and the more animals I shoot the happier they are, but then I also have to tip/give you more money? I have no problem tipping waitresses in restaurants because they get paid very little aside from thier tips. But I feel that A tip should be for something above and beyond the norm. Did I screw up and we have to track this animal for hours and I appreciate the extra effort involved in the recovery. But to tip for getting me on good animals...I thought that is what the day rate is for!!! This whole thing is making me feel CHEAP and that is what bugs me as I feel that I am anything but.
  19. Cleathorn

    Cleathorn AH Senior Member

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    I have commented on this same subject about a year ago on AH and I am not surprised that it has come up again. Tiping is just one of those issues that confounds hunters at nearly every camp I have ben too, sometimes to the point of creating anxiety for several days near the end of the hunt. Personally, I think that American hunters (I am an American by the way) are responsible for taking tiping out of the general realm of a gracious gesture and introduced it as an expectation of entitlement that can cause jubilation or sour a whole camp based on the tip left by the previous hunting party.

    I have booked 2 Safari's this year with the hope of scoring on the classic Big 5 plus several plains game species this year. I was fortunate enough to have my PH visit and stay with me in the States for several days and we were able to address the tipping issue in detail well before the hunt.

    I was given similar guidelines as Jerome original article when it can to the maids, cook, camp staff, skinners and trackers. Not percentages but actual dollar amounts. For example, about $5/day for the camp staff, $15/animal for each animal the skinner has to work with, $5-10/day for the head tracker and if there is a clear head tracker and a subordinate who also does the driving, about 1/2 of the amount to the subordinate tracker than is given to the head tracker.

    My PH was not demanding but concerned about "over-tipping." His feeling was that those guys who are very generous create an expectation for the next group of hunters coming into camp. The group that comes in after a great tipper will get very good service in hopes of an equally large tip. If they do not get such a generous tip, the camp can sour and the next group can pay for the disappointed staff with less than stellar service. I think it is a very good idea to talk this over with the outfitter and PH before you even book the hunt. If there seems to be an expectation of a particular tip, or the suggested range seems high to you as the hunter, you intuition may be well worth following and you should look elsewhere.

    I staunchly, but respectfully, disagree with the suggestion of a tip based on a percentage of the cost of the hunt. As I said, I will be on 2 safari's for dangerous game. the hunts, when you include daily rates and trophy fees will easily cost $100,000 or more. Based on the 10% of cost average, the tip would be at least $10,000. I cannot see any justification for that kind of a tip. The camp staff works no harder for a DG hunt than a PG hunt so that hardly forms a reasonable justification for the tip. Why should it matter to the cook or maid what animals I am hunting or how much I spend on trophy fees?

    If the justification is the dangerous element of the hunt and the bulk of such a tip goes to the PH, I have to query what I am paying the PH for in the first place. Is the tip so that he or she will work harder to find the trophies I am there to hunt? That is just crazy - I am already paying over a $100,000 for the outfitter and PH to work and locate game on my hunt, why do I need to promise 10% more just to get what I paid for in the first instance.

    Taking it to the next level, since it is dangerous game, is the tip meant to cover the danger involved. Should my PH be less willing to back me up or shoot to stop an elephant, Buffalo or Lion charge if he or she knows I do not plan to tip $10K? Again, that is a ridiculous proposition.

    Hunting is very expensive. I realize that running a hunting camp is also an expensive proposition as I have been to a few places and have a pretty good idea of what it costs. I have come to believe that in too many cases, the outfitters have come to rely upon the hunter and tips the hunter leaves to substitute for the appropriate wages that the outfitter should pay the staff. I for one pay particular attention to that issue when evaluating trips as I think it can be a very good but subtle insight into he type of operation that the outfitter runs.

    I am by no means cheap and I enjoy the reaction that tip derives for a camp staff member. But I loath the expectation of a certain percentage tip based on the cost of the hunt - I personally, and again with due respect to those of you who do tip based on the cost of the hunt, just do not see why the cost of the trophy fee should have anything to do with the service I get in camp, by the trackers, skinners and most certainly the PH.

    As I said in the beginning, this is an important topic and it is one that I highly recommend everyone addressing with the outfitter/PH before the hunt. I know and agree that it is, or should I more appropriately say it should be, the personal discretion of the individual hunter but he reality of the modern safari camp is that it is not just between the hunter and the person receiving the tip. Too often it is the next hunter or group of hunters effected by what tip is given at the end of the hunt and the expectations should be very clear from the start. If the service then turns out to be better than expected or someone went over and above expectations, I usually make sure I have an appropriate personal gift to give in recognition of the extra personal effort.

    Cash is what many of the staff need and that should be the basic tip. For exceptional service above what is contacted and paid for, I find a personal gesture much more rewarding to me, welcome by the recipient and it does not usually alter the mood of the camp.

    A difficult topic and as usual, the forum members of AH have shared varying opinions with dignity and respect for each other and continue to make this one of the best and most informative hunting forums on the net.
  20. threadfin

    threadfin AH Member

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    I am off to Namibia on my first hunt in a couple of months and have read this discussion with great interest. I too would have thought that the price of the hunt should cover everything. Whether you pay 10% extra on the initial package or 10% in tips at the end, it still costs you 10%. It is far easier for all concerned to know in advance what the cost is for the hunt and for the hunter saves the inevitable anxiety at the end of the hunt, trying to be fair about who gets what. For service "above and beyond" what is expected, then yes a little something extra would be a nice gesture. Just my $0.02 worth.
    Great site, by the way!

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