Originally Posted by HippieFlippinNM
At most resorts the vast majority of lessons are purchased by never-evers and beginners. Children also take a ton of lessons because ski school doubles as day care. The people that generally tip the best are people that have spent a lot of time in or around the ski industry. Parents of kids on ski teams know the deal. They are also the type of people that generally have a lot of money to throw around anyway (skiing is an expensive sport and if you and your family can afford to do it every weekend than you must be doing OK).
IMO, instructors should be paid more by resorts. The customer is already dishing out a ton of money for the lesson. Why should they then be expected to pay the instructor as well? If I teach a group lesson to 6 students, I am helping to generate over $1,000 revenue for the resort. But oddly I only see about $60 of it. To me that just doesn't seem right. Remember, being a ski instructor isn't cheap! Living in or around ski towns is expensive! Our job requires a ton of expensive equipment! And getting certified and maintaining those certifications costs a small fortune ($100 annual dues, $300 exams, $150 mandatory clinics, travel expenses, lost wages, etc.).
Part of the problem is that there is no shortage of college age kids that are willing to teach for the experience. They do it for a year or two and then move on. The turnover in this industry is overwhelming. I know that at my current ski school more than 30% of the instructors are new hires and most have no experience. It just bothers me that customers might be spending a ton of money to ski with some kid who has no real teaching experience (and possibly very little skiing experience).
That being said, I don't see resorts increasing wages anytime soon. So please don't forget to tip your instructors!! $10 per student in group lessons is totally fair. $10/hr is pretty fair for privates. Food and drink are also greatly appreciated. The parent of a student gave me a bag of donuts and $40 last week for a group lesson. None of the other students in the class tipped so her generosity with food and cash really went a long way.
Thanks for filling me in further. So then, the things I mention above about the general masses being honestly ignorant and unfamiliar with the process does play its large part as far as tips or lack of tipping goes.
I would have thought two ways about just what instructors make and I think a lot of the general masses would probably also think similar as well. And that is this.
The first way -That many instructors are sort of just doing a part time job and mostly on the weekend in a field they truly love and then also are able to ski for free at that resort. This would mean perhaps college kids, locals, and retirees. Basically for those types of people its some extra money, and a way to save money for their own skiing benefit. Kind of a win win in a way.
The second way - That the full time instructor with great experience works at it every day to make his living doing it and has many other responsibilities for the resort and gets paid good money by the resort for it. I bet if most people from the general public, non avid skier, weekend masses were asked, they would probably guess the instructor receives most or a good portion of the money charged and be surprised to hear its actually furthest from the truth.
Clearly the second one as for the good money part is not the case. In either scenario its quite disturbing to me for a resort to charge (just for sake of argument) about $100 per hour and if group lessons its quite a whole lot more than that when combined and yet not pay the instructor his due or not have great experienced instructors. Its clear to me that what they really want is one of the part timers who does it for the extra spending cash in his pocket and for the free skiing. Yet they charge for lessons as though they are offering the student the later. That in itself is also a crime imo. You mentioned the field has a very large turnover and its no wonder why that is. Basically many instructors who are truly worth what the resort actually charges the public is often no longer doing it for a living. Unless of course they love it so much and are already well off or willing to live a certain way for the sake of doing what they love.
But again, the general public who pays good money for a lesson/s just doesn't have nor thinks about these things because its not anything that is done or familiar but only very rarely in their entire every day lives. So they just pay the good money and take the lesson and probably even think "wow that must be a great job to have".
Part of the problem is that a resort can easily get away with much less than the best instructors. Reason being (as you indicated) is that the majority of lessons is for the never-evers and beginners. They just don't demand the expertise of extremely seasoned, experienced professional instructors as would those who are seeking advanced lessons and/or continued lessons. It doesn't mean there is not a difference for those nevr-evers and beginners but truth is they wont ever know it, and the resort knows this too. In a sense one might argue everyone (both sides) are getting ripped off by the resort for what is being charged.
I do understand there are expenses beyond what most people realize. Insurance and taxes and operational bils to pay that most (including many instuctors) probably never even new existed or gave much though to. But then there is also greed. and when dealing with the masses it becomes a normal business practice to charge whatever you can until you can no longer charge it and similarly when dealing with the workforce it also becomes pay as least as you can for whats just good enough to meet the demands of those masses. As long as there are enough of the masses around paying the good money for the lessons and enough instructors around willing to take the job. They will always be overcharging the people and underpaying the instructors or using far less than the best ones. The resort wins until they can no longer do it this way.
I think in the end its not about the tipping that is the issue for the instructor imo because it just not something most of the masses who take the lessons are going to realize. Thats just never going to happen because of the reasons mentioned. The public knows a waiter depends on tips as part of their salary and doing this custom is part of their every day lives. It does not know or think for a ski instructor it would work the same way and to be honest nor should it. It seems to me to be more about what the resorts charge the masses vs what they pay their instructor. The fight (if we can call it that) or perhaps better put "gripe" should not be with the public who is paying the money but should be with the employer who is not.
And on another note (with due respect) I don't really care for it when one says, "if people cant afford to tip then they shouldn't be doing it in the first place." I am a good tipper by nature but this statement is just wrong imo.
Here again the gripe is being directed to the wrong place.
Firstly you never tell anyone what to do with their money.
Honestly, if one who doesn't have the money decides to do something they really cant afford to do then those who end up earning any living at all from those people should actually be very grateful they spent it. skiing is a very expensive recreation for an average family to do. Most of whom do it on a very tight budget and plenty of them will often do it (just like they do many things) when they really shouldn't be for their own financial well being. If these people are told to just stay home with the ridiculous logic of (" if you cant afford to tip the instructor, you shouldn't be here") then there would be a lot less lessons being taken. And those very same lessons are what you earn your income from. You should be grateful that a family who cant really afford to come, has come anyway to spend their money. And what about the family who cant afford much at all that saved for months to be able to come on up, get a lesson and ski? Either way (as discussed above) may not even know to tip an instructor and might even guess a lot of that money went to him and also perhaps really just cant afford that extra 10 or 20 or whatever it is. You want to tell these people to stay home? They are all part of why you do have the job you have. The gripe for not being paid enough cant be about the people who pay for the lesson with thier hard earned money and then fail to tip. It can only be with the employer who is over charging them and then under paying you.
Edited by rollin - 1/23/15 at 6:47am