|I cannot even begin to explain or estimate how many times people say, "oh you're a ski instructor, you must make a lot of money", but nothing could be further from the truth.
I agree completely. If people knew how little we make there would be a lot more tips.
Best tip I ever got was a 4-day, 4 person private at Vail and got $450. The guy sent it to me in a check when he got home. I had given him my business card and was pretty bummed when he didn't give me something right away but was pleasantly surprised a week later.
More typical for an all day class lesson is to get $5 or $10 each from about half the class (that would be roughly 5% - 10%). So, $25-$50/day is what I typically get. In a class lesson there does seem to be a snowball effect. When the first person pulls out their wallet the others seem embarrassed not to.
Best, overall tip was four beautiful women in a private who not only gave me $100 but took me out for drinks and dinner afterward!