Always Accepted, Never Exected

noc raftingThere are so many great things to do in Bryson City! You can go for a hike, go rafting, tubing, kayaking, fishing, horseback riding, zip lining or mountain biking; or you can take it easy while riding the train, indulging in a spa treatment, enjoying a meal or simply relaxing on the deck of your Watershed Cabin.

When we go out to eat, get a spa service or have our hair cut, we know it is customary to tip and we know about how much is expected. When it comes to outdoor activities such as rafting or zip lining however, it can be unclear whether or not a tip is appropriate and what the protocols may be. This can lead to some confusion and discomfort. Today, we will address this and hopefully clear the murky waters!

No matter what you choose to do during your visit to Bryson City, you are sure to get a warm welcome and friendly, professional service.  Guests often have questions about the protocol for showing appreciation for service for outdoor activities. “If you like the ride, tip your guide!” is a famous slogan in the rafting community. This doesn’t only apply to rafting, however.  You may have a guide trout fishing, horseback riding, hiking, zip lining or kayaking.

Every outdoor activity has inherent risks and challenges. To make activities safer and more enjoyable, you will likely work with an outdoor professional who is has lots of training and experience. The guides you will work with are there because they love what they do and want to share their passion with you. They certainly aren’t in it for the money! In order to provide service at an affordable cost, most of our local outdoor companies must pay low wages and are unable to provide benefits to their employees.  As a result, guides rely heavily on tips from their guests.

If you are engaging in any activity that involves an outdoor professional assuring your safety and making an effort for your experience to be more fun, comfortable and enjoyable, it is definitely appropriate to tip.  If you are pleased with the service, you may wish to tip your guide approximately 10-15% of the cost of the activity. For example, if the cost of an activity is $50 per person and you have 4 people in your party, a $20-$30 tip is appropriate. Feel free to provide additional gratuity if you feel the guide has gone above and beyond what you expected and has provided exemplary service. If they have provided first aid, loaned you their personal gear to assure your comfort, managed to transform your cranky teenager’s scowl into a smile or made your nervous child smile and feel confident – you may want to show some extra “love”!

However, if you feel the guide did not provide the level of service you were expecting (as in, you spent more time stuck on rocks than rafting) or if you feel they were rude or unprofessional in any way, then you may choose to withhold a tip. You can be assured that the message will be received and hopefully, will result in improved service for the next guest.  Fortunately, negative experiences with a guide are relatively uncommon.  Because tips are important, most guides strive to provide the best service possible and will do just about anything to make sure you have a great time.

If you are unable to locate your guide after your trip, feel free to ask around for them or you can usually leave a gratuity at the check-in area.  If you have been working with a group of people on a zip line, ropes course or other outdoor program, you can leave one tip for the team and it will be divided fairly.

Remember, gratuity is not obligatory! If you don’t feel it’s appropriate or if money is tight and you have other obligations, it’s OK not to tip. Your guide understands this. The most important thing to remember is that nobody wants you to feel uncomfortable or pressured. Tipping for guide service, just like any other service, is your prerogative.


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