|What is an Appropriate Crew Gratuity?|
|Three Brokers Say|
Date posted: January 2009
I tell my clients 15 to 20 percent where I book charters, which is the Caribbean, but of course at their discretion. If they don’t feel the crew earned 15 percent, then they should leave less. I had one client leave a 30-percent gratuity. The service was that good.
What I think it’s important to mention is that the general industry standard of a 15- to 20-percent gratuity applies whether it’s an owner-operated boat or a boat with a hired crew. I had a boat get stung during a Christmas charter because they were owner-operators. The guests did not leave a gratuity at all. It’s a common question that comes up. For some reason, people think that they don’t have to leave a gratuity if it’s owner-operators. They feel the people are making enough on the charter. But in reality, the owner-operators are making less. They have more expenses than hired crew.
So in general, my answer is 15 to 20 percent. And that’s as a percentage of the charter fee, not including extras such as fuel or food provisioning.
What I advise my clients is that, anywhere other than the Mediterranean, the range is 10 to 20 percent. I have had clients who really stretch financially to do a charter, and they’re at the end of the tether on what they can afford, and I tell them to start at 10 percent and add to that number at their discretion based on the quality of service.
In the Mediterranean, the expectations are different. I have a lot of savvy clients who know that in the Med, you don’t tip as much as you do in the States. In the Med, I advise tipping between 7 1/2 to 15 percent. Anything within that range is a very acceptable gratuity, especially aboard the more expensive yachts. A 10-percent gratuity on a $200,000-per-week charter is a generous amount.
I don’t tell my clients what to tip. I remind them of what their charter fee is, tell them that the accepted range within the industry is between 15 and 20 percent, and let them make the decision.
Very often, they will escrow the tip with me because they don’t want to carry cash. Then, at the end of the charter, they might give the crew a little bit of cash and then call me to tell me to release the escrowed amount in full. They could choose to have me release only part of the gratuity at that point, but I've never had that happen. My clients have always been satisfied and asked me to wire the full amount of their escrowed gratuity to the crew.