There are precious few social customs in America that rate as more confusing to foreigners than tipping. In the States, gratuities are much, much more normal than they are in other countries, and we end up calculating them in for every customer-service-involving interaction in much the same way as sales tax (except you’re expected to calculate it yourself). We’re pretty darn used to it–tip jars at the coffee shop, 20% added to every restaurant tab, an extra dollar thrown on the bar for every drink, 20% to the stylist, whether or not you’re particularly stoked at the new bangs you just discovered you’re sporting. Tipping in America, indeed, is a knee-jerk reaction to a service.
That’s not to say that there aren’t lots of situations that bring on tip-related anxiety. What about the bellhop who wouldn’t let go of your bag when you asked him to? Or the sneering, unpleasant valet? Or the tip for the housekeeping in a hotel where you arrived at 11 pm and left at 6 am with hardly a dent in the sheets to show for it?
And how about a tandem skydive?
Yeah, we understand that many people are unsure on how we roll in the sport as far as tipping is concerned. We’ve read many reviews over the years–of our own dropzone, our friends’ dropzones and of the other dropzones we visit–that describe awkward experiences in which customers weren’t aware of the etiquette and didn’t feel prepared. Here it is, then, without further ado: Skydiving Tipping: The Basics.
If you had a splendid skydive:
Skydiving sits firmly in the “service industry” camp, and instructors are paid fairly for their services. Officially, it’s like this: Tipping is always appreciated, but it’s never expected. To be specific: If you loved your skydive, a 20% cash tip for your hardworking tandem instructor and hawk-eyed videographer would send them doing gleeful cartwheels across the packing area and probably earn you a friend for life.
In skydiving, other gestures of appreciation are often just as appreciated as cash tips. We’ve had happy customers invite us over to their post-jump bar-b-ques for burgers and beer; we’ve had customers bring in trays of home-baked cookies; we’ve seen lots of heartfelt call-outs on social media. This ain’t just a cash transaction, folks. We get that it’s about showing the love and expanding the skydiving community.
If you didn’t have a splendid skydive:
Dude! If you didn’t have a splendid skydive, don’t just withhold a tip and figure we’ll get the picture. March right over and tell us. We pride ourselves on the top-shelf quality of the tandem experience at Skydive California, and there’s nothing we want more than to send you off with a beaming smile.
At the end of the day, here’s what it boils down to Please don’t hesitate to come to us with feedback. If that’s a 20% gratuity, AWESOME. If it’s cupcakes, AWESOME. If it’s a hug and a thank-you, AWESOME. If it’s constructive criticism, AWESOME. Feedback is what drives the sport forward, and we need your input to make that happen!