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Unread post by acekam » Sat Oct 01, 2005 11:35 pm

This is a slightly awkward topic, but I am interested in forum members' attitudes and practices towards tipping of staff in Kruger and national parks in general.

At one end of the spectrum, people may feel those working in service & tourism industries, particularly in South Africa, are dependent on tips to make a living, so always tip.
At the other end, people may have the view that staff know their salary and nature of work before they get started, therefore they should not expect anything more.

My own view falls somewhere in between, namely that tips have to be earned, which can be done in different ways - with Kruger staff, that generally means I end up tipping a lot, however I'm more than comfortable not leaving a tip if I don't think its been earned.
However, I have to admit that I apply even my own rule of thumb inconsistently to different services provided.

For example, I will always leave something for ladies who clean the rooms (not relevant to the campers). I will always also give something to the staff who help with the skottels and washing up at picnic sites and give a little bit more if they do it with a smile on their faces.

For night drives, though, I will not tip if the person merely performs the task of driving the vehicle, regardless of what game is seen on the drive.
The drives are not cheap and I believe I am paying for more than just vehicle hire and the privilege of being out in the bush at night, so expect some interaction from the guide beyond the safety rules.
For those who show enthusiasm and explain details about the bush and animals, are knowledgeable in answering questions and provide a good experience, irrespective of the amount of game seen on the drive, I'm more than happy to give up to 50% of the cost of the activity itself.

This isn't a topic created to result in judgements, but hopefully the feedback may even result in a tipping guideline for first-time visitors.

What are other people's thoughts?
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Unread post by Krokodile » Sat Oct 01, 2005 11:54 pm

I'm 100% in agreement with you, Acekam. We tipped the lovely lady in the Mopani restaurant and the guide on the Letaba night drive totally disproportionately to the cost of the meal/drive, but they went so far out of their way to make us feel like valued guests rather than just something they had to do to earn a living.

We have also not given tips when service was poor or grudging, although - like you - we have rarely found this to be the case in the KNP.

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Unread post by richardharris » Sun Oct 02, 2005 5:23 am

I also agree completely. I usually tip but won't if the service is bad. I am currently on holiday in the USA (wish it was the Kruger but I sometimes have to do as I am told!) - and I really don't like it when they add on a service charge as a matter of routine.

The one difficulty is how much to tip. With meals etc 5 - 10% depending on service seems reasonable but how much do you leave the cleaning ladies? Can one leave too much?

Fortunately the service in the Park is usually excellent - and I think has got better over the last few years.


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Unread post by gwendolen » Sun Oct 02, 2005 9:18 am

We tipped about 10% - 15% after a meal. Or we rounded up the bill after having a few drinks. We didn't tip on night drives or morning walks, mostly because we didn't know it was practice. We didn't see anyone tipping either. Is tipping at petrol stations practice? In all the six weeks we were in SA I couldn't find out. I tried tipping someone and he just returned the change. :?

I'm always very insecure about tipping. I think it's because we hardly do it at home. People are not dependant on tips here.

Thanks for this thread acekam. :thumbs_up:

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Unread post by DebM » Sun Oct 02, 2005 11:13 am

We normally tip around 10% after a meal, dependant on the service received, excellent service more poor less or nil.

At petrol stations we usually give a tip, especially if the windscreen and back window have been cleaned, though I think the practice of tipping the attendant is not as common now, due to the introduction of the petrol card which many Saffies now use to pay for their petrol.

richardharris wrote:The one difficulty is how much to tip. With meals etc 5 - 10% depending on service seems reasonable but how much do you leave the cleaning ladies? Can one leave too much?

Also, never quite sure how much to leave for the cleaning lady, tip the guys with the skottle and I try to remember to take a few coins with me to leave in the ablution blocks at picnic spots.

Have never tipped on a game drive, probably due to the fact that on the first one we did we were unsure as to the etiquette of tipping the guide and as no-one else did, we followed suit, don't remember seeing anyone tip after any of the drives we've done.
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Unread post by bert » Sun Oct 02, 2005 11:38 am

I nearly always tip. Except when service is lousy.
The attendant in charge of the accomodation always gets a tip. Depends on the lenghness of the stay.
The serviceguy at the Punda Maria petrolstation got, i think, a huge tip and i was ordered to stay put. He came back with water, soap and started to wash the car. When i though he was finished (got hotter and hotter in the car with closed windows :redface: ) i started the car. He got mad and refused to let me go :twisted: He wasnt finished. The car had to be dried with a cloth :D

Will always remember this tipping with a fond smile :D

And i know that we pay a big sum for the walks, put please think of the guides. They also earn a basic salary and also enjoy(need) the tip :!:

Question: Are the tips collection and does everybody get his/her share or do they go into a personal pocket :?:

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Unread post by Guinea Pig » Sun Oct 02, 2005 11:40 am

Freda wrote:We don't tend to tip at the picnic sites, we used to when the attendants took your dishes away and washed them but they don't seem to do that anymore :cry: Washing the skottel is part of their job as it has to be clean for their next customer.
Was great not to have to take dirty dishes back to the camp, thank goodness for those brown bags.

May I put in a good word for Frank at Pafuri again? :lol: He does this with a huge smile. You just have to love this guy. Also the lady at Babalala was really quick on this.
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Unread post by Loams » Sun Oct 02, 2005 3:31 pm

Great topic!!! I always wondered about tipping guides etc, and no one could give me an answer. I was waiting to go on one, so I could ask a manager.

Regardless of the job people perform, if I get bad service I don't tip. A tip is not a right, it's just that, a gratuity. I was also on the other end of the coin, and it's how the cookie crumbles. You are bad at something, you don't get tips. In real life it works the same. If you achieve, you earn a big salary, if you don't, you earn less.

I tip petrol attendants, even though I pay with a garage card, so if people don't it's a poor excuse, waiters get anything from 10 - 20% depending how good they were, and I come from a managing background in restaurants, and I know the difference. I usually leave R10 - R15 for the guys who clean my hut/bungalow. Give the guys washing the scottels about R5, sometimes, when I don't have a R5 they only get R2.
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Unread post by acekam » Mon Oct 03, 2005 12:03 am

Thanks all for the feedback in getting this out in the open.

In terms of guides for walks or drives, I don't think they expect a tip, but they certainly appreciate the acknowledgement with much humility and graciousness. To avoid embarrassing the guide (or other passengers), I shake their hand and include the cash in the palm of my hand. Sounds very clandestine, but they wouldn't want you to make a big show of it. I think it is good practice to tip the guides, but they need to have made the effort to have earned it.

I'll go from to zero up to R50 for a guide, with R20 as standard. I'll normally leave R10 a night for the cleaners, 10-15% for waiters. Haven't quite figured out the right level for petrol attendants - I either get the evil eye or the look of someone who's just won the lottery.
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Unread post by Barbara » Thu Oct 06, 2005 10:28 pm

We have always given a tip when we have stayed in the Kruger. I feel that the staff top up their salaries with the tips they get but I also feel that they should earn them. The guide books say that tipping is welcome but not expected and only tip if you get good service. We did have one bad experience at Olifants when the waiter did not return with our change, we were waiting to give him a tip out of the change. My husband asked him for our change and he reluctantly brought it back and my husband then said to him "I will decide how much the tip is, no you", I was embarressed and felt very awkward, we did give him tip but I don't think he deserved it. Next morning at breakfast the same waiter served us and I must admit he treated us a bit differently, he was very polite and attentive and yes, we did tip him!

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Unread post by bucky » Wed Nov 30, 2005 7:06 pm

I have often wondered if I should tip a guide , because of the idea that they are a profesional , not a regular labourer , even though they probably earn the same .
Going to start tipping for exelent drives and walks from now on !

As for the petrol/maids/resturant staff , I tip on service , if the service is prompt at resturants , if the room has been cleaned
nicely , or the abloutions while camping , I will tip .

What I normaly do for tips at the picnic sites (the way out ones) , is to take a fresh loaf of bread and some fresh milk to the staff there , it is much appreciated by them , as they really are out in the bush .

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Unread post by Meandering Mouse » Sat Dec 03, 2005 7:53 pm

We seldom use the restuarants in the park, most of our cooking is round the braai. I often try to leave a portion of meat for the cleaner for lunch or a snack. They usually appreciate it.
When we leave I will tip according to the number of nights we have stayed. I always wish I could afford to tip more as we have only ever had excellent service from the domestic staff.
All the carwatchers know me at our local shopping centre and we have developed good relationships. This paid dividends recently when my tyre had a blow out on the way to the shops. Despite the fact that it was Saturday morning, prime tipping time, they were falling over each other in their eagerness to assist.
I have on occasion witnessed the most appalling treatment of our workers, so even if I don't have change on me at the time, I try to thank them for their service.
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Unread post by Jay » Sat Dec 03, 2005 8:26 pm

I always leave a tip in the Cottages when I leave at Kruger, tip waiters, petrol attendents, everyone basically, as I know none of these people earn salaries worth mentioning and if we all tip, even if it's just a samll amount, it can make quite a difference :)
But have to admit, hav'n't known quite what to do about the guides, which is odd because it's a given to tip guides in the private reserves.

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Tipping in KNP

Unread post by KNP Spokesman » Wed Dec 07, 2005 12:23 pm

Hi Forumites

This is something that I have never really thought about so I really thank you all for your efforts and for raising this subject.

I can't really find any official policy on tipping, other than to say (and to echo) that it should be done responsibly and it should be based on the idea of whether you got good service or not. A pretty standard South African tip seems to be 10% of the cost of the product and I would think this should be everyone's guideline.

As an organisation, we are certainly not against the idea of tipping people who guests feel are doing sterling work (and I like the idea that they should do it with a sterling smile too!).

There is a caution about tipping (and here I write in my personal capacity!), that I would like to bring to everyone's attention. My wife and I went on a tour to Egypt last year and were totally horrified at the attitude to tipping in that country. We felt that they demanded a tip for the simple act of taking your bag out of the vehicle and putting it onto a trolley right next to the vehicle. This I thought (again my own opinion) was a bit ridiculous. And they become pretty hostile if you don't give them what they call Bakeesh.

I would sincerely hope that South Africa, and specifically the Kruger, never goes that way as I feel that alienates people.

So what I am trying to say (officially) is that you are welcome to tip for good service but please do so responsibly. Only give really good tips to those who REALLY deserve it. What I can ask here is that if you do give a good tip to someone, tell them exactly why you giving them a good tip so that they can go and tell their colleagues and perhaps motivate others to also give excellent service.

Regarding the guides, they are presently employed on contract basis but accommodation and other benefits are written into this contract. Waiters are employed directly by the restaurant and are mostly casual labour (as are most waiters in South Africa) although there are some that are employed permanently. Cleaners, petrol attendents and other staff are employed permanently by SANParks and, depending on their post, get paid according to a Patterson Grading System (mostly A and B bands) which is worked out in consultation with the unions.

Hope this helps

Kind regards
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Unread post by arks » Wed Dec 07, 2005 4:15 pm

Thanks for this very useful and illuminating post, KNPSM.

While not so bad as in Egypt, tips in the US have also become expected â€â€
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