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Weird & Wonderful Exchange - Tipping
Posted by Brian Richardson on May 30 2005
Tipping is a weird and wonderful exchange.  Guiding over the years… one finds there are no real guidelines for tips.  Tipping to me is never projected into my pricing so I can say it is a gratuity gesture in place to reward both reasonable successful and not so successful efforts as well as demonstrated hard work on your behalf.

I’ve received everything from more customary cash or checks to exclusive gifts.  Almost certainly one of the best is a deposit for next year’s venture and a returning pleased customer.

I have also not established any % rate and recognize that some folks will never tip regardless of contentment on a job well done by any case or trade.  This is both on the work end of things and the receiving end of services.  It just doesn’t compute in their way of thoughts.

Here is what I do when I am on the receiving end of services afforded:
I strive to first see the big picture (at my level of understanding) of the experience then re-examine the finer points… what was projected, the above and beyond, and then if the ball was dropped somewhere – why – specifically & somehow.  (VERY KEY SEQUENCE!)

Then go with your gut feeling… you can also ask others in the group how they plan to tip.  

For example:  You’re on a Halibut Charter - you go out with a Captain (he brings the owner of the company along, first mate, a deck hand or two, and a trainee… a bunch of paying folks aboard for the day, & once you get back fillet/weigh/photo team.

The Big picture is - did you “catch” the experience you were hoping for that was promoted by the Charter service?  Let’s say yes – you got your Halibut… nothing giant, nevertheless acceptable (‘cause that’s fishing) and a full day was put in on the water.
TIP for this?  Yes, a nice gesture for your good fortune.

Finer points – nice weather, calm seas, reasonably decent/clean boat & equipment, again got fish, nice/helpful/knowledgeable/courteous/responsive crew…

Oh! Yes on nice weather, seas, reasonably decent/clean boat & equipment, again got fish,,, BUT only a yes so far!

The owner of the service hogs/stands constantly in the middle/back part of the boat with the better gear (including jigs) never even considering letting someone man his post or allow them to real up a fish.  Tip?  Heck no -1

The captain shows very little attention to the paying customers or demonstrates good leadership of the crew and not a great example to the trainee (nice outgoing person with very limited practice)…  He BSs, jokes, and is a nice enough guy - but he’s out to make an impression for the ownership. Tip? Nope -1 again  
He is supposed to be the central figure.  A leader often receives the tips in entirety and appropriately spreads it out to hard working crew.  If not a leader would he actually pass tips on to crew???  Questionable indeed!

Overall the Crew on the water does an ok job…  First mate giving pretty good instruction and excellent direction of the fishing sequence… all crew are generally responsive on baiting hooks and bringing in fish...  Tip? Yes +1  

Fish however are not killed on the spot when kept and no ice in the hold! Tip? No -1

Getting Back - the crew quickly disperses… the captain says it’s Miller time and leaves… fish are hung but not weighed… Fillet guy goes at it like a slimer on a line but does a passable job.  I climb up in the back of the bloody pickup truck to hand out smaller keeper fish.  Tip?  Who???  Major Ball drop!!!  

I do not Tip ‘till the whole experience is complete…
(One is foolish & unwise to do so too soon)

Too many minuses here - I decide they do not care enough for one.  I would have tipped the first mate for hard work on the boat, but he was quite visibly irritated by the end of the day back on shore.  I would have tipped the friendly trainee w/ some gas $$$.  She was studying outdoor education at the University, so I think she may have been receptive to both tip and evaluation.  

End result for trip… no tip from me - someone w/ a very good understanding of this business and routinely a very good tipper even when service could be better.

So there you have it - it comes down to the big picture & the finer points.  There is no set percentage, and there are numerous ways/means to show appreciation or just approval for services and safety.  I can say from an outdoor industry perspective… If there is a high class way to go about it (doesn’t matter how much or what it may be) - make sure to try to exchange a few words w/ who you are tipping, and how you might expect to see it shared amongst those who worked hard for you.

Best wishes on your Charter -

Brian Richardson
http://www.northernrim.com


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