Tipping the Villa Greeter

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There are a lot of outstretched hands looking for a tip between the St. Thomas airport and the Cruz Bay ferry dock, including baggage porters, taxicab drivers, and ferry luggage loaders. Is the person who greets you on St. John another one?

Greeters are part of the villa rental package. They meet you at the ferry dock, take you to a car rental pickup, and then lead you to your house. The greeter’s service is worth $50. That’s what one villa management
company charges owners when guests arrive off-hours, like late at night
or on Sundays.  If every thing’s on time (on St. John?), it’s about an hour’s work.  So, that cost has been figured into your rental rate. Greeters are paid by the rental company.

Some island visitors wonder, though, "Should I tip the greeter?" 

What do you think? Make a comment here.

34 thoughts on “Tipping the Villa Greeter”

  1. Some of the greeters are wonderful, others we have had to wait for at the docks for over an hour….then we were rushed through at breakneck speed, saying she had to go because she was backed up…but that’s not “our” problem. They should take the time to properly greet folks who come and spend so much hard earned $$$$$$$ to even get there. So, no, we should not have to tip since the tip is already figured in.

  2. It would depend on how much they are paid. You said the service costs $50.00, but the person doing the service may have only been paid minimum wage. If taxi drivers, baggage handlers, table servers, and deck hands on a charter deserve a tip, then so does the greeter. It’s all part of the service industry.

  3. I think it’s ridiculous to tip greeters. The ones that we’ve had have been at the dock on time but have done little in the way of showing us the properties. A hotel bellman does a better job in most cases.

  4. I generally do if they are pleasant and helpful. I have had ones that go to great lengths to explain things and give us good advice. We tip them.
    I’ve also had ones that didn’t want to be bothered. No tip for them.
    Some of them seemed to be waiting around sort of expecting it which I find distasteful and others seemed surprised but appreciative.
    Personally, I do it because I know it is expensive living on the island and would like to help people enjoy it a little more.
    I believe it is completely optional and should not be expected since they are simply doing their job.
    I tend to do it when I feel that someone has done something more than what is considered “their job”.
    For instance, I sent the woman at our jeep rental place $20 after she worked things around and found us 2 vehicles when everything else in town was booked. I wanted her to know that I appreciated her juggling things to accommodate us and told her to treat herself to a couple of her favorite drinks.
    A little something to brighten her day.
    A gratuity expressing gratitude.

  5. No. That should be included in the price you pay for the villa or rental….Flying there from NJ is quite an expense above and beyond the villa rental and airfare. I would say approx. another $200.00 in tips just to get there and back. And where I come from, a 20 percent tip is the norm…..

  6. Yes – amount proportionate to the service provided. We have been fortunate to have met wonderful greeters across the USVI – greeters who will let us stop for groceries (so we do not have to always have provisioning), greeters who use walkies from their car to ours to answer questions and point out things en route to the villa, greeters who have connections at the rental car companies and can smooth out a lost reservation or other issues, greeters who have met us with a cooler full of ice cold waters, and greeters who make it a bit more comfortable in our car by taking luggage. We have had greeters who once the villa orientation is completed will sit down with our group for over an hour poring over maps and available activities and answering every question -this is so helpful when we bring along “island newbies”. We are generally tired and hot when we finally get on island and a good villa greeter can really help to get us into the island mindset. We feel that tipping is a vacation expense that should be figured in no matter where we go or what level of accommodation we choose – we don’t feel that since we are spending so much to get there or on our chosen villa we don’t need to tip. Going at all and the level of accommodation is our choice, after all. Isn’t that kind of like deciding to go to a fancy restaurant and stiffing the server because the food is so expensive and you just have to have dessert? Yes, the waiter should be paid more by the restaurant and the greeter should probably be paid more by the villa company – but they aren’t and until that changes (if it indeed ever does) then tips are relied upon in the service industry.

  7. Where were all you tippers when I was picking up people on the dock?
    In 4 years of picking up people, I never got a tip. (although I did get a date after picking up a single guy once) 🙂

  8. I am going to St. John with my sister in October and have never been there. And the resort I am staying at, says that someone would pick us up at the ferry dock when we arrive in St. John. Is that the greeter that everyone is posting about?

  9. Not sure what resort you’re staying at. Caneel & Westin provide transport from CA. Are you talking about Gallows? If so I’ll tell you what we do.

  10. If your greeter is helpful to you, as some mention above, it is appropriate to tip. If they simply get you to your villa and don’t have anything else to offer, then absolutely not!
    Tipping is a personal choice and if you are happy with the service, then it is always appreciated!

  11. Just one more good reason to rent from owners handling their own properties rather than from the huge companies attempting to manage dozens of houses all at once. Why would anyone expect great service from someone getting $50 from a property management company to pick them up and take them to a house they know little or nothing about. Some companies are managing so many houses and are so unorganized that you’ll be lucky if the greeter actually takes you to the right house. Expecting personalized service from a large company shuffling guests through dozens of properties on any given Saturday defies common sense.

  12. Depends. If a greeter (other than the owner) goes out of their way to provide some unexpected service – or – you make an uncommon request of the greeter and they comply (making stops, tour of town, whatever) then certainly a tip could be in order. For the majority of situations, though, I would say no. Unlike wait staff greeters don’t get paid less in anticipation of tips.

  13. I rent annually on St John and I’ve worked in the hotel industry and I don’t think a greeter requires a tip like a bellman (who is definately making minimum wage and carries your bags).

  14. Denise, the shuttle driver does not act as a greeter and merely is a worker for Gallows who is certainly earning more than the greeters from the villa rental companies. Since we always arrive later in the evening he also ends up taking our bags to the room so we tip him accordingly. Even it he doesn’t take the bags but merely picks us up we give him something.
    We’ve been staying there for about four/five years now. You’ll certainly love it. I have some pics up at pbase.com/promoguy101 and actually have more from last June to add if I could only get my lazy a** in gear.

  15. I think a tip is appropriate if the person is offering more than just delivery to a villa. For example, many greeters bring you to your rental agency and help you get your car. Sometimes they might take you to the grocery store. They bring you to your villa and take your bags inside. They show you around the villa and while in conversation you might feel they are going an extra friendly step deserving a tip of $5-10. Further, most greeters will tell you they spend more than an hour on a pickup between checking flight arrivals, anticipating Red Hook ferries, and then actually greeting and delivering a guest.

  16. Margy, no, not tipping a greeter is NOT the same as stiffing a waiter. Waiters, unlike greeters, make LESS than minimum wage…tipping waiters is expected. Being a greeter is part of a job description. I don’t get tipped at my job everytime I do a project.

  17. Just to clarify what I said as it seems I said it badly and used bad examples: My points were 1) less about waitstaff and more about how I don’t feel that because we as visitors have made choices to perhaps pay a lot to travel someplace or stay there in a certain level of accommodation we are justified in thinking there will be some huge “trickle down” effect to the immediate compensation of the hospitality service level so we can forget about rewarding for good service – any service where a tip is earned (emphasis on the “earned”) and 2) how in a perfect world tipping should really be unnecesary but as the service world remains imperfect in the area of pay for performance we have to work within the situation as it is now. Refusing to play the game and thinking that not tipping someone is going to change their employer’s minds about their pay scale is just naive or merely a justification. I know some will take offense to that; sorry, just my opinion. Tipping is always a hot topic and a very personal thing – we are all trying to defend our own rationalizations. In some areas of service, I feel that tipping has indeed gone way extreme – some may disagree with me on some of those areas if I listed them; however, for purposes of this discussion I stand by our decision to offer villa greeters a gratuity. A greeter may be the villa owner or own the management company or work for more than one management company or, for a company and for individual owners. I don’t feel I can assume the greeter’s “deal” and what their base pay is for the meet and greet (or if it’s part of their job description because they perform other tasks as well) and I don’t choose to noodle about what might be baseline “greet” for the differing amounts a greeter may be paid (nor not paid). If the person that meets us does what we consider a good job for us then we are appreciative and choose to communicate that with a “thank you” and offer a tip – for us, it’s just that simple. Cheers!

  18. We do not think the greeter should get tipped unless………. they go out of thier way to accomodate such as stopping along the way for groceries & such. Than that would be a common courtesy.

  19. We’ve been enjoying St John for a few years now and have never been greeted by a greeter even though we were told we would be (twice from Gallows Point(never again what were we thinking going back the second time) and another time in Coral Bay, there our greeter was to meet us at the rental agent and she called to say she was busy. Fortunately we are independent travellers and can make our way around. As a traveller I feel that tipping is out of control and my new rule, is to tip someone who actually helps me. If a greeter has a built in tip then that’s enough unless they stop and help with groceries etc. I’d rather give a few bucks to the homeless or a mission.

  20. Interesting question to consider.
    Frank – how about interviewing or polling on-island greeters to get their side of the story?
    Anyone have a general idea about what a villa greeter earns, from the rental or management company, for each greeting? Is it a reasonable wage?
    Do the greeters take the job based on the hourly or per job rate with tips being an extra benefit? Or does the job come with the understanding that the hourly/job rate is low and the balance will (maybe) come from the guests?

  21. When Seaview Homes comes to get us to take us to our Villa, I do not consider Mark or whoever he sends a greeter. He is the managment company or his representative thereof. If someone did not come to get us, how would we get inside the villa and complete the rental. I know how to get to the villas, but without a key and Mark’s wonderful service the rental is not complete. I do not even see the issue as a greeter who needs a tip.

  22. I finally returned to St John after 30 years of dreaming of it…My family and I used Vivacations for our villa and were met at car barge by our greeter. He was a very pleasant and helpful with our villa. Since we already spent a decent amount of money for this vacation an extra twenty bucks for the greeter isnt going to kill me. There was a waitress in one restaurant I refused to tip.

  23. Maybe this subject is such a hot button for me because I was perhaps a villa greeter in another life and worked really hard to take care of the renters and give them a good start to their villa vacation but hardly anyone appreciated me. Whatever. Sorry, but I just gotta say…
    I really can’t understand why we as visitors need to know what a villa greeter is paid or why we feel entitled to know how their pay is structured.
    Who is to determine what is a reasonable wage, anyway? How should I fugure it – would that be less than I make per hour? How much less?? Should I factor in cost of living??? Holy moly – that greeter actually makes MORE per hour than I do – well, now for sure I am not going to tip them even if they sherpa all of our luggage on their back up the North Shore Road to a villa up in Catherineberg.
    Life and trips to the VI are just way too short – I’m lucky I can remember to pack the sunscreen – I don’t want to have to keep straight who gets paid what by whom. If someone provides us with good service we’re going to offer a gratuity – if the greeter turns out out to be the owner of the villa or the owner of the management company then they might refuse to accept it – that has happened to us, too. But if someone goes the extra mile for us we like to show our appreciation without dragging out the charts and calculator.

  24. Margy,
    I do not feel entitled, as you say, to know a person’s pay structure. I made the statement because given the amount of responses to this topic; there are more than a few people who are confused about tipping and curious to know the protocol.
    Obviously there is a business culture that exists on the island that not everyone is familiar with.
    It is general knowledge that a waitperson takes a job with the expectation of low hourly wage with the balance being made up from gratuities. I see the private chefs on the island also expect (and clearly state on their websites) a 20% gratuity. I would assume mates on fishing and excursion vessels also take the job with an expectation that some of their income will come from tips.
    If someone told me a greeter is paid $10 per greeting and the greeter was expected to run their own car, use their own gas, and have to deal with delayed flights, grocery stops, and car rental drop offs, I would consider that to be an unreasonable wage considering they likely would have 1.5 to 2 hours plus mileage and wear and tear to their vehicle invested in the job.
    If someone told me that a greeter is a real estate professional employed by the rental agency and greeting was part of their job description (and salary) then I would feel differently. As a former professional in the real estate industry, I am not familiar with professional property managers and leasing agents accepting or expecting tips.
    If a greeter is taking the job with the expectation that their income will come from tips, getting that information out to the tourist public will only help their situation. I can’t understand why educating the guests would offend or upset you.

  25. We tip the greeter around $10 per person in the group, more if we get in real late. The tip was declined once or twice. I’m with Margy. I don’t want to hurt myself figuring this out either. Sounds like she tips for good service and figures the tip on what it’s worth to her not on what the person may be getting from the company. Works for me.

  26. Ummm, no. By the time I get to St. John I’ve already given every dime I have to US Airways. If the greeter makes $50 from the real estate agency (or whoever) for 1 hour of work, that’s a pretty nice wage as far as I’m concerned.

  27. As a villa management company owner I have been reticent to comment about this poll but as most posts seem to view the greeters wage as $50.00 per hour, I thought I might post what usually happens in my experience. A greeter is assigned to a guest. We know the guest’s flight number and arrival time and put it on an arrival schedule. The actual time a guest will arrive on STJ is really anyone’s guess.
    Will the plane be on time? When will the guest collect his luggage and depart the airport? How is traffic in STT, when will he arrive at the Red Hook Ferry Dock?
    Will he catch or miss the hourly ferry?
    More than 50% of the time the greeter is on-call and ready to roll for an hour before she sees the guest.
    How long does the greeting take? In general this is an hour but – is the ferry on time? How long does the luggage take to get off loaded from the ferry? How long does it take at the car rental?
    And what if the guest’s flight is delayed en route? How about the guest who doesn’t call to let us know that? At least once a month one of our greeters meets one ferry after another until the guest appears.
    And although it is not part of their job, greeters meeting guests at later ferries do sometimes let them go grocery shopping before taking them to the villa. Carrying luggage is not a greeter’s job but many of them do assist the guest with this chore.
    A villa owner, managment company owner or General Manager should never be tipped. But otherwise I really agree with Kathy Henion – I think she and I are in total agreement as to the spirit of tipping.
    But I must say if any of my greeters taking a group of eight to a villa met Paul, they’d thing they had died and gone to heaven!
    Tipped or Not all of us want to have guests greeted cheerfully and given a wonderful intro to our gorgeous island – we’re in the tourism biz – come and visit!

  28. I really want to vacation at St. Johns next vacation, but it sounds like a lot of hassle and not the relaxation I am looking for. Any suggestion to make the trip easy.

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