Q – If I might put forward a question: when staying in a hotel arranged by the tour operator as part of the itinerary, are personal gratuities to hotel staff employees redundant? We realize that one can never give too much & have been generous, but remain uncertain as to proper & expected protocol. This isn’t a topic addressed by the tour operators themselves.
A – This tour tipping confusion is really quite common and we are very grateful you asked about it. Many tips are not included on upper-end tour programs as really exclusive travel firms like to discuss the fact that “tipping is a truly personal …..” Well that’s nice, but the real point is that the last thing a tour operator wishes to do is tell you about additional fees that are not included.
Tour companies vary in their policies. In terms of hotels, we would recommend that you assume that baggage handling, meaning tips to valet staff that bring bags to your room, is included. All other hotel services are generally not included in the tour price so tipping is advised. Your travel professional should give you a list of recommended tips. This information should be included in your documents. Pay little attention to what the tour operator materials say. Have your personal consultant brief you.
As we’ve mentioned on traveltruth elsewhere, the people who are most overlooked by Americans are those who need your tips the most – the hotel maids who clean the rooms including, ugghh, the TV remotes and the bathroom. An envelope with a note of thanks and a $5 to $10 per night tip in local currency is doing the right thing “traveltruth style”. You will likely be supporting a family that really needs help.