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Have you ever used an instructor?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Hi,

 

I work for a small start up company that matches instructors across Europe, with clients. The company is really focused on the ski community and what their needs are.

 

So my question for you guys is, what do you look for in a good instructor? What are the top attributes you are looking for when you book?

 

I really look forward to hearing your opinions and thanks for the insight.

post #2 of 21

Welcome to Epic. This site is mostly frequented by Americans. In America, instructors get "booked" via private lessons. Private lessons represent less than 10% of all lessons taught. Private lessons where a specific instructor is requested (i.e. booked) was less than 25% of all private lessons where I taught last season. The two biggest reasons someone requests a specific instructor are that they've had that instructor previously or the instructor has been recommended by a friend. 

 

Last season I believe I was the only instructor on our 350 instructor staff to get private requests lessons from my presence on the Internet. I only get 2-4 of those per season. I got many more private lesson assignments where the guest asked for a specific lesson type (e.g. terrain park, moguls) or specific instructor characteristics (e.g. ability to teach a skier and a snowboarder in the same lesson). I also spent most of last season working with the private lesson desk building them an application for taking reservations. Between working with the desk personnel and reviewing every lesson reservation for the last 1/2 of the season I got a great feel for what our guests were asking for. Almost every day there was one "special" request (e.g. teaching a skier and a rider in the same lesson, non-English language, special needs student). But most of the lessons booked were booked for any instructor available on the desired day. Maybe 10% of those lessons also included some additional discussion of a need for an instructor with a specific attribute (e.g. older/younger, male/female, minimum certification level) where the desk personnel used that information to assign a specific instructor vs just assigning the next person on the list.

post #3 of 21

Well I do still use instructors occasionally and if heading to Europe I would probably enjoy finding one at a reasonable price who could show the mountain, the hidden stashes, help me explore it safely and was a top level (I'm a level 3 CSIA).  I tend to look for an all inclusive ski week for a group where I would meet like minded and ability skiers of the same language, where lessons would be 4 hours a day for maybe 3 days of my week and more of a guide to the mountain with some technical tidbits tossed in.  The guide would also be knowledgeable about the restaurants and area hot spots for night life and maybe join in a group evening out.  Video is always fun, so maybe one afternoon with some video and a beer or wine after skiing to watch it.  My two cents of what I look for as an adult on a ski holiday.

post #4 of 21
Primary requirement: actually looks at me and what is interfering with me being better and doesn't use some "formula of the day" because that's what the ski school went over with the instructors that morning. (I kid you not, have seen instructors practicing things in the early AM which... surprise... were used an hour later in class.... Multiple times. And this is not AN instructor, this is a dozen of them.)
post #5 of 21

Yes I have had both group lessons with an instructor and private lessons.

 

At the time I was learning to ski then improving my technique. I even held a BASI 1 for a while.

 

I think you have the bones of a good idea there but find it difficult to see how you would 'rate' instructors.

 

What categories / parameters would you use.

post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by TeamOngosa View Post
 

So my question for you guys is, what do you look for in a good instructor? What are the top attributes you are looking for when you book?

 

I look for an instructor who can break things down in an orderly fashion, provide explanations that are internally consistent, tell me what I'm doing wrong without sugar-coating it, and who skis the way I aspire to ski (or has in the past, if (s)he's old/injured).  For those reasons, I've always first tripped over people I wanted to take lessons from, and then driven/flown to wherever they are.

 

 

I don't tend to mix instruction with destination skiing, so I may not be your target market.  If you could book me a lesson with Hirscher's or Fenninger's coaches though, I might turn into your target market. ;)

post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by TeamOngosa View Post
 

Hi,

 

I work for a small start up company that matches instructors across Europe, with clients. The company is really focused on the ski community and what their needs are.

 

So my question for you guys is, what do you look for in a good instructor? What are the top attributes you are looking for when you book?

 

I really look forward to hearing your opinions and thanks for the insight.


Having been the beneficiary of great instruction throughout our skiing life - and as a Dad here are some key attributes, based on what we have experienced:

  1. For Kids:​
    • ​Someone who instructs, actually taking kids to a higher level, the fun translates into skills
    • Fosters their love for skiing, the numero uno attribute
    • Keeps them very safe (i.e. does not lose them on the mountain ! Has happened to a few people I know personally, stories on the web aside)- goes without saying as without this, nothing else matters. 
    • Overcomes language barriers to communicate with the kid, not expect the kid to simply listen, or do as they are told, they won't unless interested, and that burden is on the instructor. Have seen the good and bad on this.
    • Ability to recognize those kids who are better, and those who are not, and differentiate in their instruction, not preach to the 'median' or 'mean' , but provide differential instruction. This is tricky, as managing expectations of the kids, not disappointing them nor impeding the abilities of the better ones, tricky balance. Managing parents, easier though has to be done, but it's easier. Keeping the kids interested, that is the hallmark. They should want to go out and ski more, not retire to their video-games!
    • That magic which leaves the kid feeling they really achieved something, and want to come back for more, as opposed to the kind words which most instructors do say, kids like it naturally, and it does go a long way, sure.  Here is a sample of an excellent instructor at Alta with a 6 year old - she taught, challenged, laughed and was unbelievable fun for the kid, and to this day, this kid's friends, their parents request this instructor for group or privates - just a sample of the intangibles which add to great instruction:
    •  
    • We have been most fortunate, kid learnt at an amazing ski school on a small hill in upstate NY/Mass., the instructors were superb, and the director of the Kids Program was a maestro at managing parents of lthe ittle tykes and getting the kids out and better. And she had the gamut, from the daredevils, to the crying-crew. Since then, have only been relatively lucky.
    • On ski vacations, it becomes critical. We have been generally lucky everywhere we have been. Just at one place, I can recall, at the highest kid level, instructor had some communication issues with the protagonist, well, the head of the instructors had a private word with the instructor, seemed best, they figure it out, and it got better, but that was the one time I can recall, so have to say, we have been lucky. The instructors have been fantastic. And at the same place, an adult instructor who dealt with kids, was not too hot. But then we lucked out, as the instructor of the instructors connected with us, and was he a joy, he made our trips a rock'n'roller adventure, and he understood the differential needs of a kid and the adults, this dude should be a model on that mountain of instruction, well, he kind of is, instructor of the instructors.
    • And we have seen the gamut, those who instruct more, those who guide more, probably for a vacationer, the combination is the best of all worlds - tautological. And it depends on where you go of course. 
    • A word on Race Coaching Instructors - some think they are teaching NFL Rookies, but that is a mistake, these are mostly kids who will not listen and shut out the instructor, if pushed the wrong way, and that is on the instructor. Mr. Miller I think could testify to that. I have seen it, some Race Coaches get the kids to buy-in, especially once they hit the ripe old age of 11 and older, others lose them, 'cause the kid stops listening. In the latter case, sure both lose, but I would place much of the responsibility on the instructor, but that is my opinion. Point is, if they stopped listening ,what is the point of it all - and  therein lies the magic. 
    • Bottom line : Those who foster and strengthen the philosophy of 'For love of the game' are the best instructors, and there are many on many mountains. We have been very fortunate almost everywhere we went, and remain in touch with many of our ski instructors, they are quite an eclectic bunch and we remain grateful, very grateful, especially for making the kid in the kid and the kid in the parent come alive, every time we click into our bindings!
  2. For adults - will leave to another day. 
post #8 of 21

I think the most important thing is to focus on one or two important drills that the instructor can impart to the student relatively quickly that the student can then use on their own to learn.  I don't think it's practical to learn how to be a mogul champ after one lesson.  But I'm sure a good instructor can give you one or two or three important "tools" to work on to make you able to handle moguls.  Then practice on your own. 

post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by TeamOngosa View Post
 

Hi,

 

I work for a small start up company that matches instructors across Europe, with clients. The company is really focused on the ski community and what their needs are.

 

So my question for you guys is, what do you look for in a good instructor? What are the top attributes you are looking for when you book?

 

I really look forward to hearing your opinions and thanks for the insight.

I guessed you were some sort of SaaS startup, found this online, pretty cool idea : https://www.seedrs.com/post_investment/15631 

Not bad, not sure how dated that was but the implied valuation is a start, and you raised some operating cash flow.

 

Just curious, if you get a moment, do engage:

  1. You are trying to organically network providers of outdoor sporting instruction, guiding and gear, with consumers , that part seems obvious, and quite clever. 
  2. In Europe, you have private companies on ski mountains offering ski instruction, guiding and there are many independent small often single-person outfits who are guides, for that matter. I can see them really taking up such a platform with enthusiasm in skiing. 
  3. Now Uber, AirBnB, Lyft, and so on depend on individual and households, with a vehicle or a room or an apartment or a house available.
    1. AirBnb definitely is a run-away success with many of those offering their homes or their rentals as hotels, breaking most civil codes, but it is their home in many cases so tough one to fight for regulators, and it's successful.
    2. And Uber with skill, and heft has circumvented many regulatory regimes, often to benefit the consumer perhaps, the market speaks for itself, and they have adapted from private drivers to licensed taxi operators in many metropolitan areas.
  4. In Europe, one does see private operators in France, in Switzerland, not sure about Austria but you would know; and Italy, yes, since ski areas so big, hard to keep everything under one umbrella, the demand is very high, same goes for South America. Big market is the USA-Canada, and it gets tricky right, in the USA, and Canada, many ski areas explicitly prohibit private instruction for many reasons, unless they are sanctioned by the mountain operations management. How do private operators get in here, unless they are sanctioned by the operator of the ski area? Where do you find the qualified individuals? Some major ski areas do allow private outfits to run camps, guided instruction etc  - that is true, like Whistler does and so do some in the USA, but not many, I think.
  5. I would think surfing and mountaineering and hiking have a plethora of private operators and looking for clients, how will you vet them their backgrounds, qualifications and so on. Not asking for any trade secrets but the liability is high in many areas. 
  6. On Epic, if you check the Trip Reports section, there is a long thread on Skiing in Kashmir, Gulmarg in particular, and the gent who runs it is a private operator, doing a terrific job in a most unusual place. He would be one who I can see benefiting plus that area needs skiers to justify investment in infrastructure, and they are open to private operators.

 

Great idea, still not clear on how this SaaS is going to click in but seeds of it in Europe, Kashmir, India, Nepal, Hawaii, Costa Rica, California and places like that, in surfing and mountaineering, I can see the appeal and potentially quick adoption, but the vetting process has got to be hard. It's not like folks are offering their own home, or own car for the service, and they are taking people places where the environmental risk is real, remote and hence protection paramount.

 

Very interesting. Your web page is not live yet with info, but the Seedrs page was good. Will follow your development. At the risk of riling up some particularly ornery folks, you may post what your are doing in the Ski Instruction Thread - and see the public and private feedback you get from Ski Instructors. This website was created by and is basically run by mostly experienced Ski Instructors and veteran skiers, and they know the industry in North America cold. 

post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 

Hey guys,

 

I've really enjoyed reading through some of your feedback, it's been really informing. Yes we do often get the Uber/Air BnB comparison, which we don't mind. Most commonly is Uber for sherpas.

 

I've taken note of the comments you guys have made that hadn't crossed our minds and hopefully it will go towards making a service that really works for you guys.

 

To say thank you we are offering a 'First Lifts' discount to early engagers. If you are interested in the discount we will need you guys to click here and input your e-mail so we can send you the discount when the website goes live.

 

Once again thank you for your input and please do feel free to add more comments, your input is really valuable!

post #11 of 21
"Used" is a pretty loaded word. I mean, sure, we've all probably manipulated our instructor from time to time, but using them?
post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post

"Used" is a pretty loaded word. I mean, sure, we've all probably manipulated our instructor from time to time, but using them?

:D That's funny and don't start that train of laughs ! Loaded indeed ! :cool Am sure you mean the skis!

 

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TeamOngosa View Post
 

Hey guys,

 

I've really enjoyed reading through some of your feedback, it's been really informing. Yes we do often get the Uber/Air BnB comparison, which we don't mind. Most commonly is Uber for sherpas.

 

I've taken note of the comments you guys have made that hadn't crossed our minds and hopefully it will go towards making a service that really works for you guys.

 

To say thank you we are offering a 'First Lifts' discount to early engagers. If you are interested in the discount we will need you guys to click here and input your e-mail so we can send you the discount when the website goes live.

 

Once again thank you for your input and please do feel free to add more comments, your input is really valuable!

It really is a good idea. But background checks, experience check, safety checks are pretty tricky. And liability issues too. Very good idea though, I think you could get a lot of adoption. I can think of a bunch of outfits who'd get on board in skiing, for sure, and you already have a slew of Brit BASI types on as per the Seedr video/testimonials; but where this could be invaluable is in surfing, it's done in remote spots often, the surf camps and instructors are spread out, and locals could really use something like this to gain exposure to the inbound wave-rider. Mountaineering of course, it's a very developed market there, and for them it should be a no-brainer to hoist their flags on such a market place. 

 

The questions I would have are : 

  • ​Execution : Uber works since the car comes quickly, and there is no tipping, the pricing is transparent (now, they did f--k it up with ridiculous surge pricing, have capped that scam now). Uber compensates drivers upfront to get them on-board , fronts many of their expenses , provides them with unbelievable urban mapping and guiding - tall order in the zones you are looking at, not impossible, but tricky, since Google Maps are dated satellite images, and GPS - based location and pinpointing is a hard-core programming matter, look at FatMaps, they claim to use the latest Satellite imaging for a different purpose, but their costs are clearly high and they want folks to pay something like EUR 10/month - Uber's app and usage is seamless and free, as are Get, Lyft, Alfred(home maintenance and all that) , AirBnB. This is a fascinating project. 
  • You need lots of capital - in my opinion to get this going, but one thing, you do have a product many wealthy smart folks will be into, they like adventure travel, not just sitting in an air-conditioned boat off Ibiza, but surfing big waves, learning to do it, kite-boarding, sailing, heli-skiing. 
  • You should approach Wes Edens, he is the founder of Fortress Capital in the US, big skier, some of the funds under their umbrella overpaid for IntraWest pre-2008, in 2006 or 2007, and then it went tapioca (i.e. belly-up) but from bankruptcy, he kept the crown jewel of IntraWests' portfolio., Whistler-Blackcomb. Man could finance you pretty quick.
  • Lots of techies are very into outdoor sports, ripe for an app like this.
  • There are so many Big-Data issues, and applications here, you are onto something.

 

Post some more meat, the original question actually could get more feedback from instructors and users alike here if posed correctly, and those can be parameters to create an entire big-data estimation and analytic framework.

 

I do hope it takes off, cool to read about it. Good luck.

post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by dustyfog View Post
 

:D That's funny and don't start that train of laughs ! Loaded indeed ! :cool Am sure you mean the skis!

 

 

We have a place for those types of answers... for passholders that is..

 

HERE

post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post
 

 

We have a place for those types of answers... for passholders that is..

 

HERE


You read minds dude! Perhaps in the interests of equality, i.e. gender, a member of the male species might be added, after all ski instructors have reputations to uphold, and this site is all instructors! ;)

post #15 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dustyfog View Post
 

:D That's funny and don't start that train of laughs ! Loaded indeed ! :cool Am sure you mean the skis!

 

 

 

 

It really is a good idea. But background checks, experience check, safety checks are pretty tricky. And liability issues too. Very good idea though, I think you could get a lot of adoption. I can think of a bunch of outfits who'd get on board in skiing, for sure, and you already have a slew of Brit BASI types on as per the Seedr video/testimonials; but where this could be invaluable is in surfing, it's done in remote spots often, the surf camps and instructors are spread out, and locals could really use something like this to gain exposure to the inbound wave-rider. Mountaineering of course, it's a very developed market there, and for them it should be a no-brainer to hoist their flags on such a market place. 

 

The questions I would have are : 

  • ​Execution : Uber works since the car comes quickly, and there is no tipping, the pricing is transparent (now, they did f--k it up with ridiculous surge pricing, have capped that scam now). Uber compensates drivers upfront to get them on-board , fronts many of their expenses , provides them with unbelievable urban mapping and guiding - tall order in the zones you are looking at, not impossible, but tricky, since Google Maps are dated satellite images, and GPS - based location and pinpointing is a hard-core programming matter, look at FatMaps, they claim to use the latest Satellite imaging for a different purpose, but their costs are clearly high and they want folks to pay something like EUR 10/month - Uber's app and usage is seamless and free, as are Get, Lyft, Alfred(home maintenance and all that) , AirBnB. This is a fascinating project. 
  • You need lots of capital - in my opinion to get this going, but one thing, you do have a product many wealthy smart folks will be into, they like adventure travel, not just sitting in an air-conditioned boat off Ibiza, but surfing big waves, learning to do it, kite-boarding, sailing, heli-skiing. 
  • You should approach Wes Edens, he is the founder of Fortress Capital in the US, big skier, some of the funds under their umbrella overpaid for IntraWest pre-2008, in 2006 or 2007, and then it went tapioca (i.e. belly-up) but from bankruptcy, he kept the crown jewel of IntraWests' portfolio., Whistler-Blackcomb. Man could finance you pretty quick.
  • Lots of techies are very into outdoor sports, ripe for an app like this.
  • There are so many Big-Data issues, and applications here, you are onto something.

 

Post some more meat, the original question actually could get more feedback from instructors and users alike here if posed correctly, and those can be parameters to create an entire big-data estimation and analytic framework.

 

I do hope it takes off, cool to read about it. Good luck.

 

Interesting points you bring up here. It's interesting you mention FATMAP, we really value their product and have recently teamed up with them to offer a lifetime subscription or various 1 year subscriptions as prizes to our photo competition here (You can enter by just tagging #CanITakeYouHere on social media too). I am reading up on Wed Edens as we speak! Keep the discussion going guys it's all fairly constructive and appreciated.

post #16 of 21

I'm not sure whether I get what you are offering that is unique beyond an advertising platform for industry pros.  Are you looking at shaking up the market like Uber and AirbnB by breaking traditional channels and vendors or are you simply a booking engine?  That might be of value to those who don't know a particular area e.g. US skiers looking to find a Euro Mtn guide for a big trip but it's not the huge volume generator.  For that you want peer to peer and then you're running into insurance, liability and legality issues which is why I suspect you're not going there. 

 

I can see that there's a nice little market in I'm going to Resort X, I'll look up the Ongosa reviews of instructors there and book one. But what happens when you've only got 5 instructors listed and the 4 top rated are already booked and the 5th hasn't fully linked in his diary ( and will ski schools willingly go open book on schedule with you?).  Experience no 1 a fail then at best I never bother looking at you again, at worst I badmouth you to all my skiing friends as a colossal waste of time.

post #17 of 21


Actually, the whole point of a P2P centralized hub based SaaS gig like OnGosa is to connect the end-user with the provider, increasing revenue for the provider and fast connections for the end-user. The liability issues and all can be worked out, as noted so many such gigs have cropped up, from shopping, groceries, home repair & maintenance, dog-walking, and of course the car services. Capital is necessary to get buy-in, and take-up will be high in some sports versus another initially, but skiing is not immune, instructors are employees but there is so much many can do when sitting idle, and on busy days others can pick up the slack. Of course, it is all about execution, but I see no issues with the idea. If instructors at Vail are starting at $10/hr, right there is an incentive for ski instructors to sign on, in fact, mountains would too if it helped their sales. The proof of concept has of course to be seen, but it's a damn good idea, done right, it's a winner. It could upend the ski industry. Forget just big-name resorts, every small mountain could have free-lancers, guides - possibilities are endless, and lawyers can work our the details and fine-print, but need, yes, there is a need, in skiing, tennis, sailing, surfing, diving, hang-gliding, mountaineering, hiking, mountain-biking, and so much more. 

 

Good luck.

post #18 of 21
But if instructors in the US are sitting idle one day they can't just freelance an Ongosa session - it would have to go through ski school. At best they get the request rate.
post #19 of 21
post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dustyfog View Post
 


Actually, the whole point of a P2P centralized hub based SaaS gig like OnGosa is to connect the end-user with the provider, increasing revenue for the provider and fast connections for the end-user. The liability issues and all can be worked out, as noted so many such gigs have cropped up, from shopping, groceries, home repair & maintenance, dog-walking, and of course the car services. Capital is necessary to get buy-in, and take-up will be high in some sports versus another initially, but skiing is not immune, instructors are employees but there is so much many can do when sitting idle, and on busy days others can pick up the slack. Of course, it is all about execution, but I see no issues with the idea. If instructors at Vail are starting at $10/hr, right there is an incentive for ski instructors to sign on, in fact, mountains would too if it helped their sales. The proof of concept has of course to be seen, but it's a damn good idea, done right, it's a winner. It could upend the ski industry. Forget just big-name resorts, every small mountain could have free-lancers, guides - possibilities are endless, and lawyers can work our the details and fine-print, but need, yes, there is a need, in skiing, tennis, sailing, surfing, diving, hang-gliding, mountaineering, hiking, mountain-biking, and so much more. 

 

Good luck.

Thanks dusty you have helped do some explanation for me. 

Yes the American market is very different to the European market, we are still working on the finer details to tackle that one.

post #21 of 21

But what about European market - do you have every ski school in resort signed up or just specific ones that have chosen to list with you?

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