Tips for tour guides: yes or no?
Analysts doubt the feasibility of the new decision by the Phu Quoc Tour Guide Association about collecting tips because most tourists want inexpensive tours and travel firms are competing with each other by slashing service fees.
Some people say the money collected from tourists mentioned in the PhuQuoc Tour Guide Association document is a service charge, not a tip, because a tip is understood as a bonus given by tourists on a voluntary basis.
As such, Phu Quoc Tour Guide Association wants to switch from receiving tips to collecting a service charge.
Except for a few travel firms serving foreign travelers (inbound travelers) which clearly mention in their contracts the subject of tip collection, most firms ignore this because they want to keep their tour fees competitive.
When serving outbound travelers, travel firms collect service charges for tour guides. Outbound travelers may think that paying a tip is a cultural behavior in other countries, so they accept to pay tips. However, if they take domestic tours, they want to cut all possible costs.
Some analysts warn that the service charge collection will lead to higher revenue and travel firms would have to pay higher tax. Travelers pay tips directly to guides, which have no relation with firms’ revenue.
As for tour guides, they all want to receive additional money besides the wages paid by travel firms. And they want Vietnamese and inbound travelers to pay additional fees just like outbound travelers do.
Opinions about service charge collections vary. Some people warned that if all tour guides can receive tips, they will not try their best to serve tourists because even if they work better than other tour guides, they will receive the same tips.
Meanwhile, other people said there is no need to worry. Travel firms always consider feedback from travelers when deciding to continue to work with tour guides. If tour guides violate regulations and don’t provide high-quality services, they will be punished by the law and travel firms.
Some people believe the document released by Phu Quoc Tour Guide Association is illegal and will have an adverse impact on travel firms and tour guides.
Meanwhile, other people believe this is an internal document which is valid for the members of the association. The release of the document also doesn’t violate the current laws. Kien Giang Tourism Department and Kien Giang Tourism Association both know the document and they have no comments about it.
The only purpose of the document is to allow the members of the association to collect service charges in addition to the wages they receive from travel firms, which are now at low levels. This means that if tour guides collect service charges, they won’t be accused of violating tour guide’s ethics.
Truong Cong Tam, Chair of Phu Quoc Tour Guide Association, affirmed that the release of the document doesn’t violate the laws. This is the rule set up by the association and applied to its members. If travel firms or individuals want to hire the tour guides of the association but are not willing to pay service charge, the guides have the right to refuse to serve them.
There is no legal document which forces travel firms to satisfy tour guides’ requests. This is just an agreement between tour guides and travel firms.
In fact, tip collection has been applied at many restaurants and cafes throughout the country and many customers are willing to pay tips. If they don’t want to pay tips, they can choose other restaurants and cafes.
The message conveyed by Phu Quoc Tour Guide Association is that service quality is the top priority. If service providers provide good services, they may ask to collect additional fees. If they don’t, customers will go away.
However, analysts warn that it will be not easy to collect service charges from travelers because service charges will increase travel costs, which will keep travelers away.
This is the first time a professional association of tour guides in Vietnam has released a document not only allowing its members to collect gratuities but also fixing the gratuity levels that tour guides can receive.
Over 15,500 licensed tour guides have been put out of work for more than two years due to the pandemic and many of them have decided to leave the tourism sector permanently to earn a living elsewhere.