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Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 425
GCT Trips Taken: 10
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

September 29, 2010

I'm not sure where to post this, so here goes. I just posted this same thing on the OAT Forum but since there seems to be no cross-communication between the two I'm posting it here as well.

Question: How does GCT/OAT corporation view the gratuities presented to program directors by travelers? Is it an integral part of the negotiated payment (salary) or is it a bonus?

The question can best (maybe only) be answered by an "official" representative of the company. The answer that I may or may not receive is not a deal breaker, but I am very curious. An add-on question is, "Is the GCT/OAT practice and policy consistent with other similar and competing companies?"

Author: grandcircle

Joined: 3/5/2010
Posts: 272
GCT Trips Taken: 0
OAT Trips Taken: 0

September 30, 2010

captainlarry

 

As I posted on the OAT forum, feel free to contact us off-line on this matter and I will gladly have a represetative contact you directly. gctforummoderator@gct.com

 

 

 

 

Author: hootie

Joined: 3/7/2010
Posts: 133
GCT Trips Taken: 8
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

China, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Serbia, Croatia, Romania, Transylvania, Bulgaria, Chech Republic, Slavakia, Bratislava, Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Crete, Greece, Turkey, Istanbul, Italy, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Russia, Tahiti & French Polynesia/Society Islands, Hawaiian Islands, Bermuda, Alaska, Costa Rica, Mexico, United States, Panama Canal, Caribbean (extensively), Canada/Nova Scotia, Canary Islands, Gibralter, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Vatican City, France, Holland, Belgium, Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand, Ukraine, Russia.

Traveler Since: 2001

October 02, 2010

Why can't GCT answer captainlarry's question HERE?

To captainlarry...if you find out the answer, please post!  HERE.

We have always tipped the program director the suggested amount on all our trips...some were given (alot) more than others based on many different factors.  I know on regular cruise lines, tips are a good part of the salary for cabin stewards, waiters & busboys.  On river cruises, I've been told, the entire ship shares the tips.

Now that the question has been asked,  I'm curious.

Author: elna

Joined: 3/24/2010
Posts: 56
GCT Trips Taken: 6
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Russia, Austalia, Finland, Estonia, England, Scotland, Wales, Pakistan, Singapore,

Traveler Since: 2009

October 02, 2010

And what about all those bus drivers and city tour guides?? We just returned from Russia Revealed and feel we tipped the bus drivers and city tour guides more than we tipped the crew. While we tried to be fair with our PD-- we had some personality clashes that had to be overcome for fairness of tipping.

Author: janice!

Joined: 3/18/2010
Posts: 277
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1999

October 02, 2010

Every tour company with whom I have traveled has given recommendations for tipping the tour leader.  The only exception is Elderhostel which is a non-profit organization.  I think it is obvious that the tips are considered part of their compensation when they take the job but I wouldn't expect a company to discuss how they compensate a leader on a public forun..  First time travelers may be surprised by the tipping expectation because I do not recall ever seeing this information until after booking a tour and subsequently receiving the information.  On river boat cruises, GCT discourages travelers from tipping individual members of the crew and provides an envelope for submitting a tip to be divided among the crew. Optionally, you can charge it to your credit card account.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 972
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

October 02, 2010

I agree with the last comment with one exception.  Tips have to be in cash, local currency preferred.  When the US dollar was stronger, giving our currency was acceptable.  But now, it's not easy for people in some countries to get currency changed.

What has bothered me recently is that the guidelines have not changed in the last 10 years.  It seems that in today's economy, the equivalent of a few US dollars is not very much.

 

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 425
GCT Trips Taken: 10
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

October 02, 2010

Jan is precisely correct. While gratuities to program directors MUST be in cash and local currency preferred, GCT encourages that crew gratuities on the river cruises be charged to a credit card. The difference is that the crew members on the ships are GCT employees and processing the credit payments is easy. At the end of a cruise, or a land tour for that matter, the program director is no longer affiliated with GCT until contracted to lead another tour group.

I will not be contacting the moderator "off line" since I think that the information I have requested should be common knowledge for all GCT clients. I can see no reason for it to be kept even "semi-secret". I understand that, for instance, some restaurants are allowed to keep the salaries of servers low on the assumption that the gratuities of the customers will raise the income of the server to an acceptable level. When calculating the cost of a meal I just factor in the amount of the gratuity. If that same approach is used by GCT/OAT when negotiating compensation with Program Directors, then most clients would be accepting of the practice and would then realize that the cost of the tour is actually some 5% higher than the posted rate. If, on the other hand, the Program Directors are paid a "fair" wage from the amount we clients pay to GCT for the tour, then the gratuity becomes a "bonus" for good service and much less "automatic".

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 972
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

October 02, 2010

I'm sorry, but the final document booklet I received for the Russia Revealed trip in August says "The ships' tipping guidelines recommend a flat tip of $10-$12 U.S. per person, per day, which will be pooled among all cruise staff.  Please note that tips for the cruise staff can only be in cash."  An envelope for that purpose and another one for the Program Director are left in the cabin a day or two before the end of the cruise.

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 425
GCT Trips Taken: 10
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

October 02, 2010

I'm sorry, Pauline. I stand corrected. My experience has been only with Western Europe river cruises.

Author: gobuckeyes

Joined: 7/7/2010
Posts: 158
GCT Trips Taken: 4
OAT Trips Taken: 9
Traveler Since: 2005

March 30, 2011
Pauline 10.3.2010
 

I'm sorry, but the final document booklet I received for the Russia Revealed trip in August says "The ships' tipping guidelines recommend a flat tip of $10-$12 U.S. per person, per day, which will be pooled among all cruise staff.  Please note that tips for the cruise staff can only be in cash."  An envelope for that purpose and another one for the Program Director are left in the cabin a day or two before the end of the cruise.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pauline is correct here, (I just returned fron the Grand European River Cruise) in addition the recommend tip for the Program Director is $4-$6 per day per person.

FWIW, I'm sorry GCT but (for the ship crew's tips) I really don't believe in communism, socialism, or whatever you call "everyone shares equal regardless of how much effort and/or work they contributed". I believe that my tips should go proportionally to the specific individuals that were the most outstanding and/or the one's that directly served me. The waiter/assistant waiter (where I sat almost every meal) and my room steward were exceptional and I felt that they should be rewarded accordingly. So I took my pile of "ship tip money" and divided it into 4 groups..

1) general find for the entire crew: approximately 30%
2) cabin steward: approximately 25%
3) waiter; approximately 25%
4) assistant waiter: 20%
 
...and gave it out accordingly. Maybe it wasn't fair to the other ship's employees; however, I feel that GCT should be paying everyone an adequate wage and tips shouldn't be considered "part of their salary". During the end of cruise talk the Hotel Manager did mention that "if you wanted to give someone a little extra, what she doesn't see she doesn't know about, etc." The implication was that it was over and above the recommend amount to the general fund. Well I wanted to give these people something extra; however, I felt the total amount of my tipping was more than sufficient. After giving the waiter.& assistant a tip the last night, you would be amazed what SUPER EXCEPTIONAL service I got at breakfast the next morning.  I know of at least one other couple that did the same thing.

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