'Package' vs guide/porter daily rate
Replies: 24 - Last Post: Sep 10, 2012 6:55 AM Last Post By: Petrus
Sep 9, 2012 6:22 AM
I think you are right (others will know better) that lodge choice might be limited when compared to say AC or EBC but where there is a choice, I would prefer the right to make the choice. For example, you might want to stay in the same lodge as people you have met on the trail, or because a particular lodge has a good view or...
Your choice might not coincide with the guide's because of, say,the kickbacks HE will get or because the food is genuinely more expensive.
rdc makes the point about a flexible itinerary too, you might want to stop earlier or push on further (where this is possible) but if the lodges are not to the guides choice then he might not agree.
These are issues that can apply to package and daily rate deals and that need to be negotiated and made clear (and I agree with jep, this can depend on the agency) but I think they are more likely to arise and be problematic for you on a package deal.
Sep 9, 2012 6:29 AM
16Also agree with scoodly about lodge choices sometimes also being dictated to you even when you hire trekking staff on a daily rate – If you decide to go this way then I believe that the secret of a successful trek is to set the ground rules Before you leave Kathmandu and these rules should include
1) Always interview your “Staff” Before you go trekking with them, Preferably get them to give you a walking tour around Kathmandu, Then they are away from the office, will be able to talk freely and you will be in a better position to judge their ability to communicate, character and if you are going to be able to get on well enough with them on your trek.
2)Ask if he has already trekked the route you are going on and how many times
3) Tell them that You Always retain the final say where you will stay and where and when you will eat.
Personally I am Happy to look at places recommended by my “Staff” (As I am aware that some places look after Nepali’s a lot better than others, better accommodation as well as better / cheaper food for them + if they get a little kick-back then as long as I am happy with the standard as well as the price that I am paying this doesn’t bother me)
4) I also mention to them that as long as I am happy with their services then they will get a Good Tip – I think this clears the air and gives your “Staff” that extra incentive to ensure that you are well looked after.
5) The agent that I use provides all his “Staff” with a mobile phone – I also think this is an excellent idea so that if there is a problem then (providing you have a phone Signal) these can be Quickly sorted out.
6) Before I start a trek is to have a rough schedule, then I know approximately how many days I will be trekking for, to this I usually add one buffer day, so If all goes according to plan I am usually back from my trek one day ahead, With this the agent that is use I can claim one days fees back, but in reality, as I have always been happy with my treks, I have never done this, but have ensured that my “Staff” are still paid the extra day.
Another system that the agent I use has is that if you want to extend your trek, if it takes longer than originally anticipated or if for what ever reason you are delayed then you can pay your “Staff” direct. This works well for everyone as the “Staff” in actual fact get more money as there is no agents commission deducted and as the agent has already had his cut he is (Or should be) happy as well.
7) It is also worth making 100% sure that your “Staff” are insured and that the agent is making sure that their clothing is up to the standard for the area / season you are trekking in.
It may sound like a bit of a list – But personally I think it is well worth that little extra effort at the beginning of your trek to help minimise potential unforeseen problems later :-)
Happy and Safe Trekking
Sep 9, 2012 9:51 AM
I think you know the guides get their commission, that's why they like to pay, also when you pay a daily rate. The lodge owners give a commission to attract the guides/agencies to them, who consequently have their favourites. They also know where they get better food (which they get for free as you know).
Hassle is maybe too strong a word but for example guides may want to direct you to their favourites, even if you like to go to another place, so that may cause some frictions. If you don't have a big appetite you may be cheaper off on a daily rate, but with a package from a good agency which is not restricting your choice there won't be much difference. And you can make your choice on the menu without thinking about your budget all the time...
This said, I don't pretend one option is better than the other, as it all depends on the quality of the services your agency and/or guide provide, in either case. By my experience, many agencies, guides and porters do an excellent job, but I've also seen the worst...
Sep 9, 2012 10:23 AM
Of course guides get commission but they will get it whether they, or the client, hand over the money. So in this respect I can't see the difference with a package or daily rate. Similar with favourite lodges (whether for good food or good commission), guides will try and take the clients there regardless of the basis on which they are hired. That the client retains the right to choose the lodges is a matter to be made clear in the agreement and I maintain it is easier with a daily rate to remain in control of the trek (with the guides advice) than on a package deal.
Food budget is the the commonest source for friction between trekker and a guide if what I have witnessed and discussed with trekkers over the years is anything to go by. The bottom line is the agency will not lose out so a trekker cannot gain anything financially by this method. If the trekker goes over the budget or wants something that is not covered then s/he pays extra - plenty of scope for hasle there. Most trekkers are budget conscious and to give control of the food budget to somebody else entails a risk. Finally, if the budget is not used up no refund will be given - in the vast majority of cases.
I certainly agree about the good and bad agencies and guides and it's a personal choice based on preferences (you can tell what mine are!).
Sep 9, 2012 10:56 AM
19Again, I agree with scoodly – One small correction to the post by Jep, Although it used to be common practice for trekking staff to get free food at the lodges they bring their trekkers to, this is becoming less and less frequent, especially above Namche Bazaar, hence porters now asking for $18 instead of the usual $15 when trekking EBC, the extra $3 to cover the extra costs they now have to pay for food.
I also see that Jep posted that he can get a porter though his agent for £8 – That roughly equates to $12 so I wonder what the agent actually gives the porter and whether the porter then has enough to make a living wage, or has to rely on kick-backs to make a living. – My point being if you pay a porter the going rate through a reputable agent, then the chances are that the reputable agent pays his staff fairly (Still taking his commission but at the same time leaving his porter with enough to live on without having to supplement his income with kick-backs and therefore increasing the risk of a fallout with his client)
OK – Rant Over
Sep 9, 2012 12:18 PM
20Just a short reaction Rob,
I have to admit that I made a mistake, things have changed since 2 years and now porters and guides usually have to pay for their meals, sometimes as much as the trekkers even...
The £8 I mentioned elsewhere is really for a very specific case, where 'my agent' will hardly make any profits and give a job to a student/porter who needs it, in order to make two people happy. His going rate for a porter is 12 euros and for a guide 15 euros per day, including their meals, accommodation, insurance and salary. Of course they usually deserve and get a good tip for a good job.
And by the way, on my treks in Nepal more than once I met heavily overloaded porters who were paid under the official minimum rate, even though the guests had paid their agency double price in their home country. My advice is: one person one porter, even though usually one porter is carrying for two.
I'm sorry to try to put this right, we're far from the original topic...
Sep 10, 2012 2:33 AM
21I also agree with Scoodly's post no 20.
As Jep says, agencies, hotels, lodges etc all vary, depending on the individuals you deal with. For example on at least two occasions I have used a lodge more than once, and had a rather different experience depending on who was running the lodge at a particular time. Sometimes it is the owners, other times it may be their relatives, if the owners are away. The relatives may be less experienced, and so the service may be different. One time I stopped in Jomsom, it was literally the kids who were running the hotel/lodge (and it was quite a good lodge, with very good rooms etc). The kids had little idea what they were doing, and the "meal" was almost comical. All part of the "experience".
Sep 10, 2012 3:55 AM
Hehe, that's funny. I think you have the right state of mind for travelling Nepal.
And often the same goes for guides and porters.
So do your homework and then let it happen.
By the way, there are great places to stay in Jomson and around and even better ones in Upper Mustang, which is close to heaven anyway...
Sep 10, 2012 5:40 AM
23Sorry Jep – I missed that you had amended your posting @ #22
I think that all of us are now more or less “Singing from the same Hymn Sheet) with regards to the advice we have posted with the only exception being the price of a Guide – Jep has stated the daily rate of 14 Euro (Aprox $19) where I think a more realistic figure is $25 (Unless it’s a porter/guide where around $20 is more like the going rate) –
Other than that, we call agree that the quality of Guiding varies, that the quality of lodges varies (Even experiences by the same person in the same lodge) and possibly most importantly (As far as the OP is concerned) that the quality of Agencies and their packages varies enormously. – So it’s really a case of contacting the trusted and recommended agents and getting like for like quotes, comparing services, remembering that Cheapest is always Best and taking it from there
Sep 10, 2012 6:55 AM
24The reason why trekking staff gets free food & bed in Annapurna area but not in Khumbu is that healthy Manganbhots invested too much money on trekker hotels along the AC just before the Maoist problem emerged. As prices were and are fixed by committee, the only way to "legally" attract more customers was to offer free accommodation & food & kickbacks to trekking staff. After the ball got rolling there is really no way to stop it anymore, they still offer free food & bed to guides & porters. In Khumbu there was no such over investment, rather underinvestment in upper tourist villages above Phortse/Dignpoche, so there was no need to attract guides to lodges. This is why guides and porters have to demand higher salaries in Khumbu.
While a good package deal might be about the same price as daily staff salary and separate lodge payments, it does bring adverse side effects to the deal like explained in previous posts. For that reason I never recommend a package deal for a teahouse trek. The customer should always be (or at least have a chance to be) in charge.
(0 star Hotel)
From US$16.00 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$72.00 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$150.00 per night