Let's put this to the test of logic:
If ski instructors are " loss leader" as you suspect, can you please explain which business wouldn' t correct ( terminate) this problem, get rid of the ski school. Overnight resorts can outsource this service to customers by allowing outside ski schools to operate on resort lands. Resort could sell more tickets ( to ski instructors). Save money by reducing their liabilty premiums for ski school, charge for parking that otherwise is free for ski instructors, no uniforms to buy or subsidize for ski instructors. No giving discounted food to ski instructors. No ski school sales staff. Plenty of savings everywhere. All this could be achieved by outsourcing ski schools - allowing outside schools on the mountain.
I do not see this happening anytime soon, can you please explain to me why?
A loss leader is not a problem. It is a good thing.
Gas pumps at convience stores are a loss leader. They might make enough on gas to pay for the pumps. Used to be .09/gal on a good day total profit/gal of gas, that isnt the case anymore which is why you dont see just gas stations because it costs as much to run the pumps (or more) as you see in return. A bottle of water, 12oz, is .83 profit at 1.00/unit, coffee is about 95%.
So if you buy a tank of gas because you need fuel, you grab 2 cups of coffee and 4 bottles of water on your way to the hill, the store made a net profit. They made nothing/paid .01per gal to get you to stop. Then made 6 bucks on what you bought in the store for a +5.85 overall.
Same would transfer to a ski school. If the school can zero out its cost vs expense or even be a small cost, then the reason to have it is to get people skiing. People skiing have to buy lift tickets. A good idea that was posted before was a package deal. Free beginner school with 4 lift tickets, or 15% off your next lift ticket this season. Get the butts in the seats.
Now, to separating the MT from the school. This is where it could get sticky. IF the ski school is operating at zero or a slight loss and it unionizes with wage scales, health bennies, PTO ect, the MT might very well separate the school from the bottom line if it gets to far from zero. If the school is operating at a profit and the profit is used to shore up infrastructure and the profit is forced down, to where it isnt bringing in enough income it could go away. A separate school where you would buy your tickets, and pay building rent, mountain rent, insurance, and utilities ect ect ect would be charging the customer more to survive. Rent wont be cheap, you have to have a MT to teach so you are kind of at their mercy. Using their stuff will not be free anymore.
Why doesnt it happen?
1. the MT owns the commodity for sale and they get to decide who sells what on it. Dont like it, there are a bunch of old resorts in VT that are unused, buy one and run it how you like.
2. after costs are factored in, it probably isnt worth doing. It might be during the good years, but a small private outfit cant absorb 2-5 years in the red in a limited seasonal industry
3. as a loss leader, it is worth it to the MT to have the school, because it brings in traffic.
4. it may be that the ski schools at some MTs are profitable.