I have a friend in San Francisco who's renting out her one bedroom condo in The Panhandle (a perfectly nice but not spectacular neighborhood not far from Haight-Ashbury) for $3,000/month. Another friend who's hitting the road for a year and planning to rent his two bedroom condo in Cole Valley (same general part of the city) for $4,000/month (and I have no doubt he'll get it). I'm just glad I have a place to live here in this great city, as at this point in time there's no way I could afford to pay that kind of rent, much less buy a place. San Francisco, like a lot of other things in our modern world, has become a gated community - the gates being big dollar signs. The whole thing blows my little mind, but that's supply and demand. (Arguably there's a case to be made for affordable housing, but not going to get into that here - plenty to chew on keeping it skiing-related.)
There's been a lot of heated discussion in the "Private Lesson Price?" thread recently. I personally would love to take a full or even half day private with a seasoned instructor, but there's no way I'm going to pay $500-$1000 (tip included) to do that at one of the big resorts. But I do acknowledge that the business behind selling that service at that price point is doing it, as has been noted here on this board previously, because they can, price it, and sell it, that way. And that business, as has also been noted here previously, also has the burden of maintaining the infrastructure and assuming certain liability for operations. Although I like moving through/up snowy terrain under my own power, I also like being able to go up and down a hill many times a day - I can work on my downhill skiing a lot better that way. So as long as the ski resort operators offer good season pass deals like the ones currently available for me personally it sums up as a huge positive. Now, down the road if consolidation continues and competition lessens and those pass prices shoot way up, well... I'll cross that bridge if/when I come to it.
I've taken group lessons and mileage can vary considerably, depending on who's teaching, and the spread with respect to ability and interest of the skiers in the group. It can be great. It can suck. Beginners may need a lot of hand holding just to get comfortable being on skis and sliding down a gentle hill, and a group lesson can be very helpful towards those ends, but I believe that once a skier is at an intermediate level (or above) if s/he is motivated to learn and willing to work on improving, i.e., ski with focus and intent, that a single, simple tip can go a long way. And that type of knowledge transfer can take place in a relatively short amount of time.
So here's an idea...
Why not take the instructors who are called in but end up not being engaged in privates or groups on a particular day and have them chill in a lounge area adjacent to the bar. Maybe a room with soft lighting, and big, plush red velvet couches. Prospective clients could come to the lounge and eyeball the available instructors, choose one and negotiate a rate - per run, per hour - and off they go together.
Ok, sorry. Couldn't resist. I'll blame it on that big Bunny Ranch sign on the way into South Lake Tahoe. But back to reality...
How about having some instructors make themselves available for "marketing runs" with prospective ski school students? Instructors always suss out a student in a turn or two anyway, so they could peg the student's level and see what they need to work on to improve, and then have a discussion to acquaint the student with the different lesson options available through the ski school and guide them into signing up for one or another. At the big resorts there are typically many different "products", and it can be easy to miss out on what could be a relatively good deal, particularly mid-week, when some of the group offerings can become semi-privates.
Also suggested here on the board before, I personally would love to have the option of a one or two run mini lesson. That would give some time on the chair for a chat, time to watch an instructor demo something, and time for the instructor to give me some ideas about how to get that something working for me. Me getting better is ultimately about me skiing more *and* the "right" way. I will put the time in - I just need a little guidance here and there along the way.
Keep it simple, call (brand) it "Tips". Let the instructors evangelize the resort and ski school, build some goodwill and pass along a little knowledge in the process, all on the hill. Let the instructor keep 100% of whatever the "student" wants to lay on them in the form of a tip.
Any other ideas?