Originally Posted by Prosper
How do ski resorts get away with this? Because the consumer is willing to pay for the product and the ski instructor is willing to work for the offered wages.
Even if the general public was fully aware of ski instructor wages I'd venture to guess that ski instructor compensation wouldn't change that much.
The ski resorts get away with it because they form an oligopoly. In a free market, the instructor could set their wage, and the client could accept or walk away. This isn't how it works.
Presently, some buyers see a lesson as worth $100+/hr. I would be fully willing to sell - but the resort actively prohibits me from selling. Were I an instructor, I would either have to take the wage structure offered by the resort or they would clip my pass. Moreover, I can't teach what the customer wants; I must teach within the resort's framework. The resort positions freelance work as "theft", as if somehow one has "stolen" a customer from the resort. As far as I understand, customer choice is at the core of free markets.
The companies pay the instructor 1/10 of the value created by the instructor. And at the same time, the companies block competition from freelance instructors. It's shameful that such practices are allowed. There is no competition when the ski school is the only game in town.
The ski resorts are essentially a legally sanctioned cartel stepping in to take their pound of flesh. Let's call it what it is: corporatocracy.
No one is forcing someone to become a ski instructor and it is not a job or career that is typically done out of necessity. Ski instructors choose their profession and stay in their profession knowing what comes with it. However, they choose to be ski instructors for various reasons. As long as there are instuctors willing to work for the current pay scale, ski resorts will keep paying current wages. If you're an instructor and don't think this is fair, organize or leave the industry.
Actually, I did "leave the industry". I now only teach skiing for volunteer ski clubs and non-profits. And I can now get up on my high horse and continue to talk about the issue when it comes up, because the more instructors get riled up about it, the more likely instructors are to unionize.
It also strikes me that this trend of paying crap is bad for the ski resorts. Skier visits are down year over year. Fewer and fewer entrants join the sport, in part due to the exorbitant cost and barrier to entry. Lift ticket prices have doubled or tripled, and instruction has gone from reasonable to a luxury. Because the pay is atrocious, the resorts are stuck with throngs of level 0s-2s, with some senior 3s and at the best of the best, some 4s. It's a vicious circle that's exacerbated by the ski resorts' race to the bottom.
We can be cavalier about it and say "you chose this life." Or we can say "let's promote pay equity and expect a living wage for ski instructors."
I'd venture to guess most highly accomplished ski instructors woud have no problem being extremely successful in non-ski industry careers.
Speculation is speculation. For myself (though I couldn't be called a "highly accomplished" ski instructor), I make a reasonable income now, but my ski instruction background did nothing other than grease some relationships.
Q: How does a ski instructor become a millionaire?
A: They start out as a billionaire...