Great point, and
Here's an example from another part of the service economy: I'm a musician. I have two degrees, including an advanced one. I practice, minimum, an hour daily. I'll bet that my skills are more finely honed than most top level skiers, but I don't make enough money to live off of. I have to have another source of income. I don't bitch to the internet that I should make a lot more so I can take 8 months off from playing. It just is.
Sorry for sounding so negative, but seeing people complain that they don't make enough money to live all year on for four months' work just rubs me the wrong way. Get a job.
Great point, and
I received some incredulity from others in a related thread when I noted some of the noncash offers that clients might make following a good lesson experience, such as a weekend stay at a Malibu guest cottage, or joining for the day wakesurfing. But, if you first extend a great degree of service and make clients feel like friends, those kinds of offers, and cash tips, are more likely to come back your way. In my case given my cooking, if I were to invite people over for dinner it might not be an asset, but there are all sorts of similar involvement that people and appreciate and bond over. Offer to take people climbing for a half-day or to show them some spots where they might get some fishing in, or suggest the pool down in Sugar House that might be great to combine with some shopping on a rest day.
There's no identifiable "right" level of return that comes from that kind of thing, but 1) if you don't like giving to clients, then instructing, which is a sales business, is going to be a drag, and 2) if you do go the extra mile, it will tend to reward you.
One interesting implicit concept in this thread is that a "more fair" level of pay for instructors will always be higher. That doesn't follow. For instance, we've seen a number of posts in the related comp threads to the effect that someone, for instance, does the bare minimum to get the training they want from ski instruction. If their resort is ok with that, fair enough, but doing the bare minimum probably doesn't mean you need to be a 120k or 180k/yr guy or gal. Most people making that kind of money do have to work hard for it.
Now, there's the notion that somehow ski instructors should foot to the pay of a seasonal but dangerous, physical job that the majority of ski instructors couldn't do, such as commercial fishing. Shy of making ski instructing likewise a dangerous, grueling job (any takers for that one?), it's likewise unclear why ski instruction needs to be at the level of any other industry. I know for sure that the fast food industry would not be helped by making its employees 120k to 180k/yr guys and gals. Posaune's point about musicians is a great one here. Trained musicians are great, but relative to demand there are clearly a decent number of them, and relative to crab fishing the number of fatalities is unhelpfully low if the goal is to make trained musicians more scarce and therefore pricier. They, and ski instructors, may be more educated (in the case of ski instructors, not always nor is more education necessarily better), funnier, whittier...but that doesn't mean there's a right to a given level of comp, or that more comp will always be more fair than less comp.