Tipping on Superyachts - What Can You Expect?

finance Oct 13, 2020

Tips are one of the best -- and one of the trickiest -- parts of the superyacht world. While tips will most likely be a significant part of your superyacht income, it’s important to have the right expectations and remember that a gratuity is just that -- not a salary. 


Here are a few truths to keep in mind and what parts of your tip you might be able to control -- and what parts you may just have to accept.


First, Know The Facts


Many elements of the superyacht industry are decided by leadership and corporate standards. You can’t do much about these parts of tipping culture, but you should know about them!


What’s the expectation?

5-15% of a charter bill is the standard range for tipping, with some generous contracts tipping up to 20%. But -- that’s a pretty wide gap and there’s no ability to control what percentage (or any) will ultimately make its way to your pockets. 



How are tips split?

Like the tip itself, the way tips are shared among crew is not set in stone. While a majority of crew report that tips are shared out based on salary, others enjoy an equal split of tips among all crew, while still others are skewed heavily in favor of Captain or more experienced crew members.


As a newer yacht crew member, you aren’t too likely to have much power here, so you’re at the mercy of your yacht's chosen process.




Did the broker do their job?

Charter brokers often have the loudest voice in explaining the tipping process and importance to clients. Some brokers will get tips upfront and hold the funds in escrow, ensuring they’re available for end-of-charter payout.


However, other brokers - particularly newer or less experienced ones - may feel nervous about pushing for better tips. If you hear of a charter that consistently tips poorly, one possible explanation is the broker. 


Now, Choose Your Own (Tip) Adventure


Some of the major factors that play into your potential tip are under your control -- when it comes to choosing your job. These include the size and type of your boat, the crew fit, and the length and destination of the charter. Let’s dive in:


Smaller Boats, Bigger Tips?


Charters of megayachts include large crews and larger bills for the charter guests. So, the charter guest may be more likely to pay at the lower end of the tip spectrum.


It’s also harder to stand out with exceptional service when the crew is large and the guests are many.



If you’re looking to maximize your tip potential, you’ll likely want to keep your eyes out for positions on smaller boats. 


Location, location, location


Is your yacht based in the Caribbean or the Mediterranean?


Are you taking outdoor enthusiasts with expensive gear to a once-in-a-lifetime Alaskan fishing experience, or are you hosting a young family with kids on a tropical island?


Are your guests from the United States or Europe? The reality is, tipping culture makes a big difference. 



Americans, accustomed to a tipping culture where the norm for services is increasingly 20% or more, are often more likely to pay at the high end of the tipping spectrum.


American crew members are also used to working for tips and may have a different approach to service onboard. Thus, charters taking place in and around American waters might have a greater chance of a bigger tip.


In contrast, European guests may be more likely to expect a standard of service as a part of the charter fee itself. Tipping on Mediterranean charters or those for non-American guests is sometimes at a lower level.


While this is a broad generalization and each charter guest tips based on their own experience, it’s something to consider when choosing where to find your superyacht job. 



Short or Long Trip?


Yachting trends and research indicate that the longer the charter, the lower the overall tips.


Much like the relative tipping between small and large charters, the length of a journey adds to the bottom line expense.


As long as tips are considered an add-on expense, the greater likelihood that the charter guest may skew toward the lower end of the tipping spectrum on a longer charter.


Crew Culture Matters


One of the best ways to get the best tips is to work on a cohesive, tight-knit crew.


When you’re looking at yachting jobs, this is just one more reason why a good fit is a good idea!


If the crew works smoothly together, the guests will notice -- and typically, reward the crew’s ability to go above and beyond by making the journey seamless.



In contrast, a crew that is shadowed by drama or conflict will take away from the guest experience - and this will be visible in the tips!


Go Private?


If you’re out to maximize your tips, you’re better off choosing a charter yacht.


Private yachts maintain a family culture with the owner more likely to see the crew as staff, not high-end service providers.


In contrast, charter guests are more likely to look at the journey as a luxury getaway and to tip accordingly for the service provided.


While it’s not a rule set in stone, it’s something to keep in mind when you pick your yacht!


Do the Math


We’ll leave you with this important reminder -- when you’re looking at the tips you receive from your superyacht job, don’t look at one tip and fixate on how much you were paid. Consider the average.


Across each season and your career, you’re likely to get a few incredibly huge tips and a few embarrassingly low ones.


Average it out - and remember, your work and your choices will help drive your tips!

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