Yacht charters routinely provide an exceptional service experience for guests. The custom of tipping crew can create confusion for both charterers and crew.
By Rupert Connor
It is customary to tip crew on charter yachts at the conclusion of the trip. The process of how that is done and at what amount is often awkward for the charter guest. In 2008 the Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association (MYBA) addressed the lack of guidelines for crew gratuities on yacht charters.
An internationally accepted guideline neutralizes the variation of regional traditions in tipping. It also presents an opportunity for all participants in the charter process - captains and crew, owners, charter managers, brokers and the booking clients - to operate in consensus.
The guideline document sets some standards for the industry.
- A 5% to 15% range of a gratuity
- Use of the base rate of the charter to calculate the tip
- Distribution of the gratuity by the Captain
- No verbal or written solicitation of tips should occur
- Gratuity is at the discretion of the guest
- Cash gratuities may be paid by the charter guest
- Gratuities may be distributed by the charter company
In anticipation of long hours and high demands charter crew are generally paid at the high end of the wage scale. A high level of service is assumed from all members of the team. Personalized efforts with dive or jet-ski instruction, food and beverage service in the wee hours, shore excursion assistance might all add to the customer satisfaction of a charter guest.
Crew do not realize that hints about gratuity can in fact tip the perception of satisfaction away from reward. Occasionally Captains will include a target (as high as 20%) gratuity suggestion in a ‘Welcome Aboard’ letter. Providing the charter was booked through a broker, it is better for the broker to educate the guest on the fact that the charter fee does not include the customary tip.
There are a number of acceptable ways for the guest to pay a crew gratuity. As international accounting is complex and the reconciliation of the charter account could take as much as six weeks there is no pressure to pay the gratuity on the last day of the charter as the complete accounting process contributes to the client's overall hapiness of the charter experience and may influence the level of gratuity.
- The guest might give the gratuity in cash to the captain at the conclusion of the trip.
- The charterer may choose to examine the account statement provided by the captain as the charter ends (including any outstanding expenses). A portion of the balance of the advance provisioning allowance could be applied to gratuities.
- The charter guest may also choose to wait until the final reconciliation of the charter account and determine at that time the full level of customer satisfaction with the charter. The charter manager can then be given direction on the percentage of the base rate to disburse to the crew as gratuity.
The tip should reflect the level of service the guest perceived. Excellent service contributes to the charter experience and generally results in a generous gratuity. Use of the MYBA standards for gratuity will minimize confusion on the part of the charterer. It can also eliminate unrealistic expectations on the part of crew. The MYBA document, Information For Charter Yacht Captains, is available.