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Ski School Staffing logistics

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Let me start by saying that I am not in the least upset, just curious.  Didn't think any of the family would be able to make it up to the local hill this weekend, then on Thursday night find out that we can all go up (myself, wife and daughter) on Sunday.  Call on Friday morning to see if can get a 3 hour private lesson to split between my wife and daughter, request the instructor that has worked with my daughter before but no real surprise that he is booked.  Ask for any available and am told there is none...still not that surprised given the late notice...but then I started wondering...

 

-the kids mulitweek lessons are off this weekend (were supposed to have ended last weekend but extended to next weekend due to a road closure, not exactly sure why they skipped this weekend)....where are all those instructors?  There had to be at least 30 of them.  Are the "lower level" instructors not allowed to be called in for privates when all the regular, more experienced private crew is booked and there are more requests?   I would assume that a significant portion are still around or available (esp on the weekend) as they will be back next weekend for the final multiweek lesson.  I guess that all of them that are around could have been assigned to walk up or prebooked groups or even privates...but it seems unlikely (I could easily be wrong).

 

/EDIT: Sure some will want to know how big an operation I'm talking about...dont know the numbers but it is at Crystal, WA, what I assume would be at least a moderately sized operation.  I have been very happy with the instruction received there, just wondering about the logistics of managing a seasonal, largely part time work force

 

post #2 of 11
President's Day weekend is usually skipped for multi-week programs so that most of the instructors who normally teach weekends are free to enjoy this particular weekend on their own. If no weekend were ever skipped officially then anyone teaching multiweek programs wouldn't be able to go skiing at other resorts on a weekend unless they 'skipped class' on their own. (most instructors work their real jobs during the week)

This weekend is also (typically) a traveling weekend where students take off with their parents to visit destination resorts - again without having to skip a regularly scheduled class.

Still, some instructors remain available and all you need to do is let the resort know a couple days ahead of time to reserve someone. The resort can then call people on their backup list to see who can meet your schedule. Of course, those available may already be booked. If Crystal has no one available for Sunday you might try Gavin's people reached via SnowPerformance.com. Short notice for him also but he might have a contact for you.

.ma
post #3 of 11

Presidents day weekend is one of the busiest of the year, so not surprised privates were booked out.

post #4 of 11

Sunday at Crystal is probably going to be insanely crowded, with 7-11 inches on Saturday and another 7 to 11 inches Saturday night, who wouldn't want to go skiing?

post #5 of 11

On the East Coast, President's weekend preceeds a school holiday week for the key areas we draw from (Mass, Conn, NY). It becomes, typically, our second biggest week of the year, but this year, due in part to early season conditions, may be our biggest week of the year. I run the private lessons in one of the biggest ski schools on the East coast. We'll have close to 250 instructors in this weekend and probably around 200 for the week. We are practically sold out (not bragging, sort of). Very few spots for privates lessons and most are 1hr spots in the morning or 2hr spots after lunch.

This is how we staff. First to get staffed are our children's programs. They make up around 50% of our revenue. We pick a number, based on history, to start with and staff based on our ratios of coach-to-children. As reservations come in we may add more coaches or, as was the case yesterday, start a waiting list. We set aside a few coaches to cover our adult group lessons, also based on history, and the rest become available for privates. That is the simplized version because then you have to factor in rank, certification, and specialties. Day of, as we see how business is developing, we can make some shifts in either direction, but it is all done last minute.

I'm not surprised you were told they were sold out. You may be able to ask that if a spot become open they call you or you could check after they're lessons have started for the day to see if anyone has become available, but you would have to be at the resort. Which why wouldn't you. It looks like the weather will be nice with some fresh snow. Go enjoy yourself with your family and if an opportunity to go with a pro pops up take it. I wish I had that kind of snow moving in.

post #6 of 11
President's Day weekend at Breckenridge historically is our biggest visitor crowd of the season. All full-time and nearly all part-time ski & ride staff (somewhere around 700) are expected to work at least part of the weekend. If someone didn't book a private a month ago, they couldn't get one now.
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by nateteachski View Post
. You may be able to ask that if a spot become open they call you or you could check after they're lessons have started for the day to see if anyone has become available, but you would have to be at the resort. Which why wouldn't you. It looks like the weather will be nice with some fresh snow. Go enjoy yourself with your family and if an opportunity to go with a pro pops up take it. I wish I had that kind of snow moving in.

Did just that, got a two hour private smile.gif.  Crystal was crowded, but not packed...I've seen it worse.

post #8 of 11

Just so you know how it was for us. We broke records, for President's Weekend, in every program and still have school vacation week in front of us.

post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by nateteachski View Post

Just so you know how it was for us. We broke records, for President's Weekend, in every program and still have school vacation week in front of us.



Maybe there is a pent up demand for some skiing this year. You guys do have some good snow up there.

post #10 of 11

One possible reason could be to ensure that group lesson class sizes remain reasonable. As noted, Prez day is usually "peak demand" where staffing levels are stressed. Consider that the long lift lines typical of prez day typically generates increased demand for privates (aka lift line cutting privilege). If a resort has 20 group lesson students to teach and 2 instructors available to teach them, it is easy to imagine making a decision not to assign one of those instructors to a private lesson instead. Whatever the ratio of group students to available instructors is expected to be, it's easy for a policy of unlimited private lessons to "break" the group lesson product. This quickly becomes a game of disappointing the least number of people. 

 

When a resort limits advance bookings for privates, you might get lucky asking to get put on a wait list or checking in during your visit to see if a slot has opened up.

post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRusty View Post

One possible reason could be to ensure that group lesson class sizes remain reasonable. As noted, Prez day is usually "peak demand" where staffing levels are stressed. Consider that the long lift lines typical of prez day typically generates increased demand for privates (aka lift line cutting privilege). If a resort has 20 group lesson students to teach and 2 instructors available to teach them, it is easy to imagine making a decision not to assign one of those instructors to a private lesson instead. Whatever the ratio of group students to available instructors is expected to be, it's easy for a policy of unlimited private lessons to "break" the group lesson product. This quickly becomes a game of disappointing the least number of people. 

 

When a resort limits advance bookings for privates, you might get lucky asking to get put on a wait list or checking in during your visit to see if a slot has opened up.


We have people that book private lessons 2 seasons in advance for the peak times.

 

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