Tipping a guide...

Chris Bellows

Your Preferred WFF Poster
I think $500.00 for a day on the water was way over the top, but there were no other guides that I knew of that charged less....The cost of a boat is big.

As a client we don't see all the cost involved in taking someone out in a boat for a day.
we also need to differentiate what type of boat when talking about "boats" being a big expense. boats that have engines cost more to maintain, run, insure than non-motorized boats. also, in the states running a boat with an engine requires more licensing (another added cost) and for certain species/areas different licenses (again, more costs).

what i always thought was funny was how shore luches became an important part of guiding (thank god that tradition never took in the salt). i always wondered what the hell a lunch had to do with guiding and the reviews/advertising of guides mentioning their "gourmet" food always make me laugh.

this post should push this to 7 pages :)
 

SpeySpaz

still an authority on nothing
As I understand it, equipment such as a boat, truck etc can be amortized over time as a tax writeoff, but I'm not an expert on such things.
Many professions require tools, equipment and supplies, licensing, permits and maintenance.

A businessman or woman carefully assesses these costs and includes them when calculating their overhead, and adjusts their prices accordingly.
 

Ray

Active Member
From my experience working for an outfitter in Idaho:
Rafting trip guides make about $100/day, fishing guides make about $150/day if they supply their own gear. Bookings vary, but most guides work about 2-4 days a week during the season, depending on bookings and how high up the totem pole they are.

As for "gourmet" cooking on a river trip, see below:

Dutch oven prime rib:



Served with Buckaroo Spuds, fresh spinach leaf salad, and fresh green beans sauteed in a butter garlic sauce:



Seasoned hand cut flat iron steak, steamed fresh broccoli with a cheese sauce, sauteed shrimp in a homemade pesto angelhair pasta:

 
Ray I am fishing with you! That looks delicious! I'm in. And yes tip your guides. Go with your gut feeling if it feels like you should then do it if not then don't.
 
iagreeiagreeOne of the best things about expedition rafting trips (private, 1-5 boats) was each boat took a night to cook and to try to outdo all the other boats; some fantastic meals on the river! Usually involved a dutch oven or two as well as multiple stoves.
 
For a $350 day expect to pay $50 ($200 each for a party of 2) Add a bit more if the guy gives great service (for me that means shares local knowledge and gives useful pointers)
My guess is that the guides that increased to $375/day have seen a reduction in tips. Some guests probably use the $200 each rule of thumb.
 
As a point of interest, I'd like to point a few things out. In Idaho, all guides must work for an outfitter. That outfitter owns a permit for fishing or rafting a certain section of river. Those permits have limited number of user days, restrictions regarding type of watercraft (power or float), and some even prohibit the use of watercraft. The permits are limited in number (new ones are rarely issued) and can cost upwards of $100k. Like any other business, outfitters have overhead such as advertising, lodge/office/shop costs, boat and gear replacement, shuttles, lunches, etc.

Now, as a guide working for an outfitter, I guide both whitewater and fishing trips.

First, I’ll address rafting trips. I’m up early fixing lunch and preparing the gear for the trip. During the day, I’ll negotiate class IV rapids, trying to keep the boat in the fun shit and out of the scary dangerous shit. In between rapids, I do everything from answer questions like “how fast are we going?” to giving short history lessons about the area. I know each rapid, at each different water level, and I have to adjust for skill levels ranging from “there’s no reason in hell that I should be out here” to “ I guide on the Class V Zambezi croc infested canyon and am here on vacation.” Through it all, I do everything in my power to keep my guests safe and entertained. At the end of the day, when you are sipping cold beers and watching the video, I am doing the lunch dishes and washing skunky wetsuits. Throughout the day, I’ve cooked your lunch and kept you safe in situations where you were oblivious to the danger. On a multi day trip, I do gourmet Dutch oven cooking, set up and break down camp, and entertain guests from sunup to well past sundown. During the day, we’ll fish our asses off, run some kickass (sometimes kick-your-ass) whitewater, and have a blast. At the end of the trip, as a client, you have to ask yourself, is 20% too much?

As for fishing trips, I bring my own gear for you to use. It’s high quality and well cared for. I purchased it with mostly with tip money. I pay for the shuttle and for the fuel to get you to my favorite water. I pay for or tie my own flies, which I freely hand out for your use. I’ll be happy to teach you a skill or two, as long as you want to learn. I’m also the world’s best cheerleader and am excited to be there watching you catch fish. I bust my ass to make sure you have FUN.

The bottom line is simple. We guides work in the service industry. Our job is to provide you with a pleasurable fishing/rafting experience. If you don’t get that experience because your guide is lazy, don’t tip. If your guide busts their ass, tip and tip well.


While I haven't taken more than a couple guided trips in my life, both when I was young enough not to be the one worrying about the tip, I will offer up my 2 cents on this subject.

This has been a fascinating read, mainly because the general outlook of typing is something that has always irked me.

If, as many people have posted, a tip is because the guide did wonderful things like teach me how to fish, put me over fishy spots, rowed well, conversated well, treated me with respect, was professional in all aspects of the day, then what exactly is it that I'm paying the 300-400 dollars for? Use of the boat?

This is not to say that I don't tip, or I wouldn't tip a guide, but that sort of thought process just baffles me. If all of those things are worthy of a tip, then I really have no idea what I'm paying a fee for exactly.

And since cooking lunch, washing the dishes, dealing with the gear, keeping me safe etc. etc. etc. is going above and beyond, as Ray claims in his post, then I think guides should give me one of two options:

Option A: Fully service trip, complete with lunch, clean dishes, boating safety, fishing lessons, solid conversation etc. with an approptiate tip factored into the cost

Or....

Option B: A guide who will do nothing more than row a boat down the river, leaving the rest up to me, for a much lesser price since all those "extras" were not factored in.

Again, I am not claiming that I don't, or wouldn't tip, but this mentality that I "should" tip because the guide is doing what I sort of consider his job is ridiculous. If I finish the day feeling that it was an overall enjoyable experience, then I am sure to tip as that is just the sort of person I am. However, I would feel no obligation to throw more money his direction simply because he cooked lunch. (Which, as far as I've been able to tell, is advertised as part of the overall guide experience on most guide ads I have run across)


Nick
 

Ray

Active Member
Generally speaking....

If you take enough guided trips to learn the difference between a really good guide and a mediocre guide, you will know why tipping the good guide is appropriate. It's a level of service thing in an industry where trips generally cost the same, but the real difference in quality of trip is the quality of the service that the guide provides.
 
Generally speaking....

If you take enough guided trips to learn the difference between a really good guide and a mediocre guide, you will know why tipping the good guide is appropriate. It's a level of service thing in an industry where trips generally cost the same, but the real difference in quality of trip is the quality of the service that the guide provides.
I don't think the different opinions on this issue is a matter of logic or any kind of lack of experience of different levels of service between a really good or mediocre guide. I honestly think its a "cheapness" thing. I know people will say this isn't true because they tip guides but don't get it. I don't believe this. I bet they "have" tipped guides and generally do tip waiters a few bucks sometimes. But in the end this is just a matter of being cheap and trying to defend this with poor logic on this matter. I bet you guys return things to Costco after you don't need them anymore and also like to complain about your food at restaurants hoping for a reduction in tab. No way you just don't get this but are normal in all your other spending habits.
 

Hem

Active Member
Heres a point of view from a "working guy".First off as a contractor(carpenter) I still am annoyed at the plumber/electrician analogy.You ought to maybe appreciate the guy that has to smell your shit when he fixes your pipes,and then makes sure your shit goes away.Granted they make the best money in the trades but most times they do the nasty jobs nobody wants to deal with.The electrician provides you with ample priveledges we all have come to rely upon.Both tradesmen give you a quality of life you shouldn't take for granted, alittle different than a recreational day on the river.NOT a good comparison.Secondly,am I supposed to feel sorry for the guy that is determined to live the dream but doesn't make sufficient money by doing so? Not much sympathy here ,either.I came close to guiding here in Montana twenty years ago,had the job lined up etc. but then decided I love fishing too much to sour it by guiding every day.I didn't want to do all the daily hassles that make up the job(and cost $).I don't bristle at the idea of tipping,but don't feel I am obligated to spend even more money just 'cuz the poor guide is just breaking even.That was his or her own choice.If there is just cause to reward a proficient service,why not?That should be the decision of the client.This is the best part,...if tipping should be customary for a proficient service than maybe your plumber,electrician, ought to get a little token of appreciation.haha In any case,I'm headed to Puerto Rico to fish for tarpon with a guide at christmas,I plan on tipping,it remains to be seen how charitable I'll be...10% sounds about right.
 
[
Option A: Fully service trip, complete with lunch, clean dishes, boating safety, fishing lessons, solid conversation etc. with an approptiate tip factored into the cost


I really like Option A, I think we all should give ourself a raise the coming year. I am gonna raise my price and factor the tip right in to my pricing for 2009 . Thank you to all the cheap ass people on this thread that think guides do not deserve a tip:eek:. My your 2009 guiding season be a profitable one. :thumb:

Long live the $100.00 guide tip !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:rofl:
 

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