Tipping Tour Guides

Is it expected to tip the group tour guides and how much?
I think Angel Tours collects payment for the tour at the beginning. Is it customary for good service to give extra?

Posted by Helen
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
705 posts

My experience with Angel tours is that payment was collected at the end. Some our our group tipped and some didn't. I don't think it is expected but it is appreciated. If you do enjoy the tour and think it is worthy of a tip then do. Angel tours use art history students and the like so they really do appreciate a little extra.

Posted by Ron
Ron-in-Rome... now RPT in Atlanta!
1743 posts

I've been working with a few guides who are trying to set up Tour businesses. Many of these folks will do "promotional tours" (for free) to solicit business at another location. For example, most work the Pantheon & Colosseum to bounce customers to their more structured tours at the Vatican. In this setting, these folks are working ONLY for tips. The thought from them is about 3-5 Euros per head. They then have to "split" this money with the "gatherers," those folks that are ALWAYS asking, "Do you speak English..."

In a standard, pre-booked tour, guides work for a flat rate. Most are paid 20 - 35 Euros an hour. In reality, most make about 20/hour. Many are college students without a work visa and must work a "cash" job. The exceptions would be the larger companies like Context, My Vatican, etc.

So yes, these guides "expect" to be tipped and will make more money on tips than they do wages. Again 3-5 Euro a head is the expectaion talking to them. BUT ONLY IF THEY GIVE A GOOD TOUR!

Posted by Ron
Ron-in-Rome... now RPT in Atlanta!
1743 posts

OOPS - after reading my post I want to emphasize that all tour guides ARE NOT illegals! It is just very difficult for NON-EU citizens (Americans!) to get work visas in this country. Many of your tour guides will be EU (English Speaking) citizens for this reason - this is how the company's are able to fill their guide ranks legally.

Certification of a guide in Italy is very difficult. There are two tests given to "certify you." A friend has passed Test 1 and had been waiting 16 months to take Test 2. Unfortunately it has been cancelled - he's not sure when it will happen as now they are "investigating" the results of Test 1!

Suffice to say, the GOOD guides work very hard for their money and the studying they have to do to stay current is tremendous. So if you are on a tour, remember they have to deal with YOU, OTHER guides, the local police, museum offcials, and "illicit joiners." And they have to try and 20-30 people focused through all this. If they do a good job, tip them!

Posted by Ellen
Centennial, CO, USA
1396 posts

Yes, tip. Angel Tours takes the money for entry to sights and the fee at the very start of their tour, but the guides get a tip at the end.

You can decide, based on the quality of the tip, and the connection you make with the guide. Angel Tours people are great. We used them last trip. Very knowledgeable. I tipped 10E for myself and my daughter.
With the dollar/Euro...10E is a good tip! It was about 15% of the cost of the tour.

Posted by Michael
Seattle, WA, USA
5765 posts

IMHO, it's not fair to factor in the exchange rate when deciding how much to tip in Euros. It's not as if Italian prices went down as the dollar got weaker.

Let's not punish the Europeans for failed American monetary policies.

Posted by Claudia
Elk Grove, California, USA
7 posts

Question: If you have hired a private tour guide do you still tip?
Claudia

Posted by Frank II
USA
4377 posts

As a former tour director, I can answer this quesiton.

If you were satisfied with the quality of the tour, then it is customary to give the guide a small gratuity at the end of the tour. How much depends on how long the tour lasted.

Guides are not paid very well and the gratuity truly helps them.

When I was a tour director, as much as 40% of my income came from gratutities.

(And to my Aussie friends out there who aren't used to tipping, please inquire about how much to tip when traveling through North America or Europe where tipping is common.)

Posted by Jen
Orlando, FL, USA
1 posts

One year later, and yes, PLEASE tip! Tour Guides esentially work for the tip as the wages are poor. In Italy as well as the U.S.A.You would be amazed how many people think the tip is built into the price of a VIP Tour at Universal Studios but it is not. The Tour Guides are making about $8.79 per hour and count on a tip to have a living wage. In Italy they study hard for little pay as well. Leaving your business card with your tip is nice, they will send thank you notes.

Posted by Bob
Gettysburg, PA
1364 posts

$1 if they were at least trying, up to $5 if it was well presented.

Posted by Lisa
Bay Area, CA
43 posts

If we've hired a private tour guide we always give a tip. If they're good to great, we gave a generous tip. If we're getting on well, or we have them for more than a few hours, we'll treat them to a meal or a coffee/wine break.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4764 posts

Yes, a tip is always nice, even if it is just a couple of euro. When you think of the difference between tipping a server 10 % just cause they took your order and brought you your food in a decent manner and then look at what a tour guide has to do. Their vast amounts of knowledge they have to keep in their head and it isn't just the stuff they are telling you, they also have to be prepared for any and all questions any one on the tour will ask, and all of this while taking you around for 3-4 hours. Yeah, a couple of euro are very well deserved.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4764 posts

Any time you think someone would like a small gift from where ever you are from in the states instead of cold hard cash, always ask yourself first, what would you yourself prefer for doing a good job at whatever it is you do. Would you like a magnet or a dollar? Now multiply that times 10 or 20 or however many people are in a tour group.

Posted by Chris
Puyallup, WA, USA
881 posts

I always tip, and chat up the guides if they are good. It's a great way to build a relationship, and maybe use the same person again in the future.

For our private tour guides (we are hiring two for full days in Vienna, and Rome). We are actually bringing small presents from home as well as their fees.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10884 posts

It is like any service, if it is good then show your appreciation. We are big fans of Angel Tours and I hope that they do collect at the beginning. We were on a Vatican tour with them two years ago and our guide collected at the end. Unfortunately one Am couple conveniently got lost at the end of the tour. We even tried to help the guide find them. It is probably a good thing we didn't find them because I would have created an ugly scene.

Posted by Frank II
USA
4377 posts

Guides do not make a lot of money. It's seasonal work and quite often, especially during off season, some guides will have to get other jobs just to survive.

So, yes, if a guide does a good job and has given you more than you might normally get, show your appreciation by giving a small gratuity. (If you're not satisfied with their tour, then don't feel obligated to do so.)

And while buying them meals or bringing them gifts is a nice gesture, it doesn't help them pay their electric bill.

Posted by Lisa
Bay Area, CA
43 posts

Janie,

In your post you questioned whether it was "expected" to tip "group tour guides". Most likely group tour guides receive only a portion of what you pay them for the entire tour. Private tour guides, if they run their own business, usually collect the entire fee. However, some "private" tour guides also work through an agency or such and will not collect the entire fee you pay.

Here in the U.S. there is an expectation that we'll tip wait-staff, taxi-drivers...and so on and so on. In European countries the expectation is not exactly the same; although most Europeans who work in the tourist industry have come to expect and appreciate tips for their hard work.

We always tip our group and private tour guides.

We treat them for meals in addition to the tip because it allows us to show our appreciation, spend more informal time with a local and ask questions unrelated to architecture and Perspective.

Everyone takes a different approach to the tip issue and a different approach to showing appreciation to their tour guides while trying to stay on a travel budget. While some tour guides may prefer cold, hard cash, others will also welcome the kind gesture of gifts brought from home or the effort of a tourist to show them hospitality in their own country.

Posted by Jerry
Col. Grove, Oh, USA
1 posts

IM signed up for an EF Tour to Rome, etc. We have been asked to pay $100 tip money in advance for the tour guide. If all 45 of us on the tour chip in that amount, that's $4,500. I think that is WAY excessive. Am I wrong to refuse to chip in $100?

Posted by Charlie
Honolulu/Seattle, HI/WA, USA
1841 posts

Another thing I like about RS tours - no tipping (and I have taken 11 of them).

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

Jerry from what I have read about EF tours no way in hell would I tip in advance, I would decide to tip AFTER the tour,, what the heck is tipping BEFORE a service but just another fee since its not performance based then is it! Someone posted tourguides make 20-25 euros an hour. That's not bad.. I know many people would not consider that a low wage.. I know I don't. I would not tip if I took a private tour where there was no other agency involved,, just straight hire of a guide who was self employed .. as he/she is collecting entire fee, but if guide is working for an agency then yes, it makes it different.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8757 posts

Janie asked this question in April 2008 - over FIVE years ago. She may have her answer by now. Jerry, if you want direct answers you should start your own thread.