or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › Converting non-skiers into life-time skiers
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Converting non-skiers into life-time skiers

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

Converting non-skier adults of child-bearing age into committed skiers is the most important thing a ski school can do for the long term benefit of the industry.  Most young adults who become enthusiastic skiers will very likely see to it that their spouse and all their progeny are skiers as well.  Win over one 20-something adult, and you have a good chance of getting a whole family you'd never have gotten otherwise.

 

Sometimes ski schools seem to think teaching young kids to ski is their most important task.  That's an important maintenance task, but not a growth plan.  The parents of those kids are already committed to skiing, and the kids are already on the mountain.  The deal is already done.  You don't want to lose them, but simply keeping them on the mountain is not going to make the numbers increase. 

 

Converting the non-skiing young people who will one day soon have kids is the fastest way to build a growing clientele.

 

If PSIA could market a reliable branded product of this sort to ski area management and prove it works, then PSIA would become essential to ski area management.  


Can that happen?  

post #2 of 22

Well, you're swimming against the tide a bit with this idea. The research that SAM is looking at is showing that getting kids into the sport is more profitable than going after parents. My own personal research is that I have a number of skier friends who are finding it difficult to get their kids as into skiing as they are. I also run into a ton of people who quit skiing when they start having kids. Targeting those folks before they have kids is a losing proposition. There's a "dead zone" where they are out of the picture until their kids become old enough to ski.

 

Personally, I don't think this is an either/or decision. We have to do both.

 

PSIA has been traditionally focused on developing professional skills vs selling services to SAM. Go with a Pro is the closest thing to a branded product that we've ever done and even that is designed to sell what resorts offer vs selling a concept to resorts. PSIA is not in a position to prove this concept. It has to be done through a resort. If the resort chooses to share successful results (but they could also be giving away a competitive advantage), then we'd get the end result you are looking for.

post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by TheRusty View Post

Well, you're swimming against the tide a bit with this idea. The research that SAM is looking at is showing that getting kids into the sport is more profitable than going after parents. My own personal research is that I have a number of skier friends who are finding it difficult to get their kids as into skiing as they are. I also run into a ton of people who quit skiing when they start having kids. Targeting those folks before they have kids is a losing proposition. There's a "dead zone" where they are out of the picture until their kids become old enough to ski.

 


Well, maybe I'm way off base, but just trying to think out of the box here.  

 

The adult skiers I know are really committed.  Their close friends and family ski, or they don't see much of each other.  Divorces have occurred because the spouses didn't ski.  The unmarried skiers I know look for partners among committed skiers - skiing is a major priority for them.  The skiers that I know who have families got their kids on skis as soon as they could walk.

 

So if people who have their first skiing experience in their 20s just stop skiing when they have kids, clearly their commitment isn't that strong.  Might that be because their first experiences were somewhat weak and they just never experienced joy and exhilaration on snow?  

 

Could that be improved if ski schools did something differently?  Could PSIA spearhead that?  

 

Or, maybe people just can't become committed skiers if they don't start as kids.  I've heard that said.  Perhaps it's developmental biology instead of curriculum and instruction that keeps most late starters from becoming hooked?  

post #4 of 22

 

Quote:LiquidFeet
Or, maybe people just can't become committed skiers if they don't start as kids.  I've heard that said.  Perhaps it's developmental biology instead of curriculum and instruction that keeps most late starters from becoming hooked?

I started skiing at age 40 and have been committed to it ever since starting. There are many other older members here who also started later in life also committed to the sport. I've coached  many  late blooming boomers. Not sure it's accurate to say that starting late prevents someone from becoming hooked.

 

Best to get them hooked while they are still young.

 

One way ski areas could get families with little little kids back out on the slopes is to offer day care services at the mountain. I hear that complaint quite often.

post #5 of 22

Getting these people good instruction from the beginning is a great start. But I'm with you on the issue of how to inspire the passion that we take for granted. I'd love to find a way that we, as instructors, combined with the mountain and PSIA and help improve the 'conversion rate' from casually interested to devotee.

 

I'd love to see us offer some sort of starter packs of lessons, or groupon type multi-pack or at least a repeat customer discount. My mountain has tried that a little in the past - had instructors give out cards that entitle the person to a discount on the next lesson. But the incentive to both the instructor to give out the cards, and the customer to use them, wasn't sufficient to really drive / influence behavior. Maybe some sort of '10th lesson free' card - a la coffee shops and sandwich shops?

 

Maybe we should put trans-dermal patches in rental boots that have a highly addictive drug in them?

 

Oh, and you can count me among the people who only date fellow skiers. Seriously, I won't even contact someone on match.com unless it says they ski. And my profile says as much.

post #6 of 22

A smarter marketing move in general would be for more resorts to offer family season passes and not separate the adults from kids.  They could package them by family size numbers.

post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post

 


Well, maybe I'm way off base, but just trying to think out of the box here.  

 

The adult skiers I know are really committed.  Their close friends and family ski, or they don't see much of each other.  Divorces have occurred because the spouses didn't ski.  The unmarried skiers I know look for partners among committed skiers - skiing is a major priority for them.  The skiers that I know who have families got their kids on skis as soon as they could walk.

 

So if people who have their first skiing experience in their 20s just stop skiing when they have kids, clearly their commitment isn't that strong.  Might that be because their first experiences were somewhat weak and they just never experienced joy and exhilaration on snow?  

 

Could that be improved if ski schools did something differently?  Could PSIA spearhead that?  

 

Or, maybe people just can't become committed skiers if they don't start as kids.  I've heard that said.  Perhaps it's developmental biology instead of curriculum and instruction that keeps most late starters from becoming hooked?  

Mostly it's a time management and cash management issue. Sure there are fanatics that will find ways to solve the problem. My resort has day care and I often see adults take turns watching too little ones in the lodge while the other skis.

 

The vast majority of my resort's skiers visit <4 times per season.  Dropping the expense, the long drive and the hassle of dealing with little ones who aren't ready to ski yet is an easy out. There are things that can be done, (and you find a lot of resorts doing some things) but we're swimming against the tide on this. Otherwise they come back when the kids are ready and the weather gets them in the mood.
 

 

post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sinecure View Post

Getting these people good instruction from the beginning is a great start. But I'm with you on the issue of how to inspire the passion that we take for granted. I'd love to find a way that we, as instructors, combined with the mountain and PSIA and help improve the 'conversion rate' from casually interested to devotee.

 

I'd love to see us offer some sort of starter packs of lessons, or groupon type multi-pack or at least a repeat customer discount. My mountain has tried that a little in the past - had instructors give out cards that entitle the person to a discount on the next lesson. But the incentive to both the instructor to give out the cards, and the customer to use them, wasn't sufficient to really drive / influence behavior. Maybe some sort of '10th lesson free' card - a la coffee shops and sandwich shops?

 

Maybe we should put trans-dermal patches in rental boots that have a highly addictive drug in them?

 

Oh, and you can count me among the people who only date fellow skiers. Seriously, I won't even contact someone on match.com unless it says they ski. And my profile says as much.



Our beginner program gives first timers free lessons for their entire first season. We used to have 6 pack lessons for a night program. That seemed to be busy, but it morphed. We now have a "club" night pass product that includes free lessons. For the last few years we've been offering $10 class lessons before Xmas. That draws an amazingly small number of takers, but it's growing as the word gets out. Our group rates essentially throw in lessons for free to the lift and rental ticket. I agree that lessons are a great way to get skiers more addicted to the sport. It's just that sometimes it's also tough to get that horse to drink the water.

 

My goal for every intermediate and above lesson is to get a "lightbulb moment" - when the student realizes that they've reached the next level in their skiing. I know of no surer way to get them to want to come back. It works a little differently for beginners.

post #9 of 22

Hi,

 

I think a lot of marketing types have tried to determine when kids or adults will get hooked on skiing.  Surely with more knowledge and data than I possess or can analyze. 

 

On another thread, and in your comments, I think industry and PSIA are struggling with some uniform delivery of content and experience.  Industry by its own announcements and printed by PSIA has all these ideas about conversion rate improvement.  My question, duly noted in other threads, is whether industry and ski schools will execute on those ideas and use credentialed ski instructors to the mountain's and industry long term benefit.  Sometimes I'm not so hopeful...

post #10 of 22

To quote Jack Rafferty: Boot School before Ski School. 

 

Why does the industry insist on putting first timers in the most ill fitting lowest quality gear and expect them to even consider continuing the sport? 

post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post

To quote Jack Rafferty: Boot School before Ski School. 

 

Why does the industry insist on putting first timers in the most ill fitting lowest quality gear and expect them to even consider continuing the sport? 



I like the idea. How feasible is it from a rental point of view? I don't have enough experience in that area to make an assessment. 

post #12 of 22

No lesson or ski resort area program is going to make a non-skiing adult in to a lifetime skier.  One way or another, the process is mostly the same, we are brought into the sport by someone who is already a passionate fan of the sport.  We're the kids of lifetime skiers, the friend's, spouses, or significant others of life time skiers.  It has to be someone you trust and enjoy spending time with--because suffering through the initial phases of being a novice and sticking with the sport takes a genuine leap of faith that there is some skiing experience out there worth having even though you can't fathom it.  

 

My good buddy luke, skilled and passionate skier and instructor pushed me through the early struggles with learning to ski, and honestly, it was on his assurance that it was worth it alone that I stuck with it.  I am now eternally grateful to him.   The beginning stages, for adults, are just too unrewarding to keep with it without social encouragement. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 

Originally Posted by Liam View Post
No lesson or ski resort area program is going to make a non-skiing adult in to a lifetime skier.  One way or another, the process is mostly the same, we are brought into the sport by someone who is already a passionate fan of the sport.  We're the kids of lifetime skiers, the friend's, spouses, or significant others of life time skiers.  It has to be someone you trust and enjoy spending time with--because suffering through the initial phases of being a novice and sticking with the sport takes a genuine leap of faith that there is some skiing experience out there worth having even though you can't fathom it.  

 

My good buddy luke, skilled and passionate skier and instructor pushed me through the early struggles with learning to ski, and honestly, it was on his assurance that it was worth it alone that I stuck with it.  I am now eternally grateful to him.   The beginning stages, for adults, are just too unrewarding to keep with it without social encouragement. 


I became a lifetime skier without the support and encouragement of someone close to me.  Going skiing once did it.  There was no ski lesson involved, just snow and gravity.  Understandably this doesn't happen for most first timers.

 

It's a shame that the beginning stages for adults are often unrewarding.  Does this have to be the case?  Is it set in cement by something having to do with skiing itself, rather than with economics, instruction, terrain available, rental gear offered?

 

 

 

post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by JayT View Post

A smarter marketing move in general would be for more resorts to offer family season passes and not separate the adults from kids.  They could package them by family size numbers.



Sometime the goal is to get separated from the kids!

 

I'd like to see some improvements in the season-pass department.  For instance, how about a transferable season pass that the parents could tag-team with?  How about some volume discounts when buying a whole family's worth of season passes?  Maybe discounted bulk-buys of ski school days?

post #15 of 22

/\/\ Alpine Meadows already does this. They sell a family pack of passes that is two adults and two kids. You save $$ if you have a four person family. Doesn't make sense to have season passes interchangeable, but Alpine has always (and still does) offer adult-interchangeable parent tickets. They've done this since before the RFID days. They used to give you a day ticket on a string you could put around your neck. It worked great for parents of little ones who hung out inside all day in the Kids Zone.

post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post


I became a lifetime skier without the support and encouragement of someone close to me.  Going skiing once did it.  There was no ski lesson involved, just snow and gravity.  Understandably this doesn't happen for most first timers.

 

It's a shame that the beginning stages for adults are often unrewarding.  Does this have to be the case?  Is it set in cement by something having to do with skiing itself, rather than with economics, instruction, terrain available, rental gear offered?

 

 

 

85% of first time skiers never return. We, as instructors, should be doing a better job infecting our first time skiers with the passion  we all have for the sport. Show them how much fun it is.

 

Have you ever asked your first time skiers what their expectations are? What, where and how they think they can ski after one lesson. I'll bet the answer would surprise you.

 

Think about it this way, as a first timer you're entering a completely alien world. One where the inhabitants speak a foreign language, move around with strange appliances attached to their appendages, wearing strange clothes. It must be overwhelming for anyone who has never been to a ski area. Think about the image first timers must have of skiing in general. World cup, extreme, olympics, Warren Miller. How realistic is that for a first timer and how discouraged they might be to find out that they won't be hitting the 40' kickers after one lesson.
 

 

post #17 of 22
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by BillA View Post

85% of first time skiers never return. We, as instructors, should be doing a better job infecting our first time skiers with the passion  we all have for the sport. Show them how much fun it is.

 

Have you ever asked your first time skiers what their expectations are? What, where and how they think they can ski after one lesson. I'll bet the answer would surprise you.

 

Think about it this way, as a first timer you're entering a completely alien world. One where the inhabitants speak a foreign language, move around with strange appliances attached to their appendages, wearing strange clothes. It must be overwhelming for anyone who has never been to a ski area. Think about the image first timers must have of skiing in general. World cup, extreme, olympics, Warren Miller. How realistic is that for a first timer and how discouraged they might be to find out that they won't be hitting the 40' kickers after one lesson.

 

 

 

Yes, I do discuss what their expectations are.  I've found bringing up the topic to be a delicate matter when teaching first day lessons here in New England where that first group lesson is only 3 hours long.  It's tough letting a group know that some of them may not be able to get up the lift during that first lesson....eek.gif... which I have to say sometimes.  But I keep them laughing as much as I can.

 

They want and NEED to get away from the tiny crowded carpet area overflowing with groups of 5 year olds.  Often two hours is not enough to get their skills developed enough to handle the significantly steeper hill that's the next step (you wouldn't believe it if you saw it).  Plus some of them get so worn out that their muscles aren't working well and their brains are mush.  Two and a half hours into the lesson is sometimes not the best time to take them up that scary hill.    

 

I guess success for beginners is dependent on so many factors.  Beginner-friendly learning terrain is one of those essentials. 

 

post #18 of 22

I am one of those late to the party skiers, I began skiing in my late 30's and Liqiudfeet is dead on with the beginner friendly terrain as an important part of the puzzle for getting newbies more confident.  I took lessons at two different resorts and the one with the beginner friendly terrain gave me the confidence  to come back and not feel overwhelmed by hitting steeper hills to early.  By the way, the first three times I went included lessons and I plan on going to take a skills improvement lessons this season.

post #19 of 22

The whole premise of this post is just wrong. Passion for skiing cannot be drilled into a person. If skiing is going to become a lifetime passion it will happen regardless of how it starts. This should also be clear to parents who force their kids into some activity. Regardless of how well they are introduced to the activity you have no guarantee of the child becoming a lifetime practitioner. 

post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRusty View Post

Well, you're swimming against the tide a bit with this idea. The research that SAM is looking at is showing that getting kids into the sport is more profitable than going after parents.

 

Under-age kids can't /initiate/ interest without a pre-existing ski environment (friends or a school group).     Parents /can initiate interest with no predisposing factors or pre-existing snowsport environment.

 

The current predisposing or pre-existing snowsports environment is way too small to sustain  spontaneous-interest growth.     Therefore industry needs to market to initiators.   

 

 I totally see LiquidFeet's point.

 

Not only do first-timers need to be converted to practitioners, but the industry needs to get off its collective adz and create first-timers.     On a massive scale.

post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav View Post

On another thread, and in your comments, I think industry and PSIA are struggling with some uniform delivery of content and experience.  Industry by its own announcements and printed by PSIA has all these ideas about conversion rate improvement.  My question, duly noted in other threads, is whether industry and ski schools will execute on those ideas and use credentialed ski instructors to the mountain's and industry long term benefit.  Sometimes I'm not so hopeful...


PSIA is not struggling with uniform delivery of content. PSIA has fully embraced the concept of "student centered teaching" which means that lessons are tailored to the needs of the student versus lessons containing uniform content.  The industry has somewhat embraced the concept of delivering a uniformly positive experience to our guests, but the realists among us understand that skiing will never be a 100% hassle free experience. As with any large group (300+ resorts, 30K PSIA members and [guessing] 100K+ total instructors), execution is a moot point. Some will, some won't. This is a "lead a horse to water" thing. We can't make all the horses drink, but if enough do, the job gets done. Improving the instructor talent pool (through credentials, better compensation, etc) is only one of many components that can contribute to increased first timer conversion rates. Some would argue (I'm one of them) that this is not even in the top 5 for SAM to work on. Since my resort has essentially already achieved the model for growth conversion rate goals without a significant change in instructor credentials, this proves that there is more than one way to skin this ... horse.

 

post #22 of 22

Toronto, a relative dead zone for skiing, has Canada's two largest travelling ski clubs. Most new members come back year after year. Ski resorts could learn from the travelling club model: 

 

Cultivate a social environment where people can develop relationships with each other. 

Provide sociable, group skiing opportunities every single time someone arrives at the hill.

Give lessons freely (or super cheap) so that people see themselves improving and the mountain progressively unlocks itself to them.

Have the same instructors work with the same groups to build relationships with learners.

Run party buses. This tends to only work for older folks who "belong" to a group and feel accountable.

 

From what I've observed, people in ski clubs come back time and time again because of the relationships they build with others. Yeah, it's great to just show up with a couple of friends for the day and ski around. But the experience is amazing when you really start to develop relationships with new people while learning a new sport. (Seems to be effective for ESA gatherings too.)

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › Converting non-skiers into life-time skiers