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One hour lesson (how much to tip? worth for 3yo?)

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I'll be going up to Maine for a few days of family vacation next week.
All of us are planned for one-hour private lesson each the first day (hard to take the lesson together since all are at different levels), so there will be a different instructor for each person.

I'd like to know whether we're expected to give tip after lessons, and if so, how much.

Also, my daughter (almost 3) will be on real skis for the first time. Would it be a waste of time for her to take a one hour private lesson? Should I just have her play on the bunny hills at least for the first day instead? (The place has half/full day daycare style program, but I don't have the heart to put her in daycare after all that drive away from home.)


Thank you...
post #2 of 18
Brick,

I don't really think it's 100% expected, but almost anything will be appreciated (my buddy that once got a candy bar for a tip was kind miffed). There's no set amount. For a 2 hr private $10 is about average and $20 is a good tip. Anything more is awesome. Again it's a service thing. Think about if your instructor went above and beyond or just kinda was average.

Alternatives to a standard tip might be meeting for dinner, buying you instructor lunch or a few drinks at the bar. During this extra face time they'll generally give you additional feed back about your lesson at a much reduced cost to you. ;-) But given the situation, I don' t know if that would really work in this case. I've know families that have taken lesson from multiple instructors to bake cookies etc for the ski school with a card....

Most instructors work really hard for not very much money. We do it because we love the sport. If we were in it for the money, we'd do something else. It's nice to get a little extra cash, but if you take the time to do something special it will be remembered and appreciated.

As for your three year old, I'd say, 1/2 day with daycare. She'll most likely be pretty tired after the 2 hours. If you like you could take off early from skiing work with her yourself late in the PM (after she rests). The hardest part will be leaving her in the AM....

Good luck and let us know how it goes!
L
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
Candy bar for a tip??? *L* That's too much... too funny, I mean. I'd be miffed, too.

Thanks for the suggestion. How much we enjoy this vacation is totally up to the 3 yo as you can imagine...
post #4 of 18
a candy bar as a tip from a parent would irk me a little, but if it was from the kid, it would mean a lot. That being said, no one should "expect" a tip, but they really are greatly appreciated, people think skis insdtructors make good money, and typically, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Now in terms of tipping when signing up a little one for a private, basically, the younger they are the more work it can be, personally, 3-5, I'd probably tip at least $10, a little older, more independant kid, maybe $5 (per hour).

What strikes me as odd though, is that comparably, ski intructors, when we get tipped, get much below a "standard tip" of 15%. People generally tip wait staff in restraunts at least 15% because they know they don't get paid much, but neither do instructors, and I think its odd that people wouldn't generally tip 15%.

Ok, yes, I'd love to get more tips and more often, but that's not why I teach I just find it ironic that many people do not associate ski instruction as a generally tippable occupation, and they don't know what a standard tip is.

Am I just over analyzing it? I dunno, I need to ski.
post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by lshull
my buddy that once got a candy bar for a tip was kind miffed
No golden ticket?
post #6 of 18
10%. Put the little one in a 1/2 day program.
post #7 of 18
I've taken a few lessons and always gave $10.00. I just felt that seemed fair. When I asked, people told me five bucks, 10%, write a letter on their behalf to the ski school, etc.... The lessons are between $55-$70 per hour depending on where you go. I think it would be insulting to give $5.50 or $7. Besides, two extra dollars will not change your lifestyle, or theirs for that matter, but the gratitude is worth it and to makes someones day by showing your appreciation is worth two bucks more to me.

-Scott
post #8 of 18
I would agree with others that receiving a tip is always nice. Especially if the instructor gives a good lesson and shows the extra effort. If you get a really good lesson/service, I would suggest 20% of the lesson cost.

As far as the 3yr old, sometimes a one-hour private may produce better results than a morning lesson with the kids program. A couple of questions you could answer: How social is the child? Do you need the time to ski yourself?

On another note: what do you and the others hope to learn in one-hour lesson. Now I don't know where you plan to ski, but based on my experience, I think a one-hour is not enough time with a student. Especially if it is the first time you will work with this instructor. It would only be fair to give the instructor some time to have a look at your skiing. Will you be warmed up before you meet the instructor? With a one hour, you could spend much of the time meeting the instructor, riding the first chair ('s), getting warmed up and maybe getting a focus or two as you ski away. How many of you are there? How far apart are your abilities? What are your abilities? (Aside from the 3 yr old.) Where I work, 4 hours is the same price as an all day lesson of 6+ hours. By that I mean you could get one instructor for 6.5 hours (a full day with some time for lunch) for the same price as 4 different instructors for one hour each in the morning. If you hired one person for the day, you could split the instructor up during the day. You could ski as a group and the instructor will work with all of you at different times. This probably wouldn't work if some want to pound bumps and others were skiing the greens. Although, the green run skiers are often tired later in the day allowing the better skiers to have the instructor all to themselves.

If you can't make it work with one instructor for the day, I would really think about doing at least a two-hour lesson for each. Maybe I’m all by myself here. And maybe the area you plan to ski doesn’t do all day lessons.

I just saw this thread; you may want to check it out. http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=21864
post #9 of 18
As usual, search will turn up a number of earlier threads on this topic. If you read them, it will become apparent that there are a variety of opinions on the topic.

That said, I have some fairly strong feelings - purely as a consumer. Anything less than 10% for a comptetent lesson strikes me as miserly. For a good to great lesson, two or even three times that amount is reasonable. For a half day or full day, I consider picking up breakfast &/or lunch part of the package. A ski trip is usually an expensive proposition. Skimping on the tip for someone who has done a good job for you is the wrong place to save a few bucks. If you are taking a private lesson, the tip you give probably represents the bulk of your instructor's income. Just think about it for a few minutes...

Also, from what I have heard, teaching kids is especially challenging. They can't communicate the way adults do. They get cold and cranky faster. They often miss mom and dad. Kids' instructors often get to wipe runny noses and mix up lots of hot chocolate. And there are other joys - one time I watched an instructor bring in one of their little private charges so they could "clean them up" - which involved, among other things, hand washing no small amount of little-kid-poop out of a rather nice little-kid-ski-outfit. How much of a tip would you expect for delivering that kind of extra-added service - with a smile?

If you read the old threads on tipping, you'll learn a bunch about how ski instructor compensation works in the U.S. I certainly did. I doubt any instructor would have designed that system. As a consumer, it isn't the system I'd have designed either. However it evolved, it is what we all have to live with.

If you step back just a little bit, and put yourself in your instructor's shoes, it does not strike me as too hard to scope out what is fair - especially in the context of private lessons.
post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift
washing no small amount of little-kid-poop out of a rather nice little-kid-ski-outfit. How much of a tip would you expect for delivering that kind of extra-added service - with a smile?
I had this happen to me and got stiffed at the end of the lesson. It's a long story that I won't go into. Needless to say I wasn't very happy at the end of the day. Now it's nothing more than a funny anticdote.
post #11 of 18
Once and for all let's chant this mantra togther:

ONE HOUR PRIVATES ARE A WASTE OF TIME.

OK repeat. Repeat again.

Nobody takes ski lessons anyway anymore unlesss they are looking for line cutting so take advantage of that and sign up for a half or full day group.

That being said if you are going to Maine and you are hitting either Sunday River or Sugarloaf you're out of luck because there is one thing that's a bigger waste of time than the one hour private and that's the 90 minute perfect turn groups they offer at these two resorts. If you can get yourself in PT group by yourself or one other than go for it but otherwise forget it.

Also keep in mind that over holiday periods Ski schools are slammed and they willl try and jam you in wherever they can, If you find yourself in a group that is not right for you make sure to complain and get switched or get another lesson or get your money back.

Also holiday periods are not the best times to introduce young kids to skiing. The schools are overrun and overcrowded, instructors abnd support people have barely been trained and there are many kinks that are getting worked out of their systems while you stand around.

Jump on a Jet Blue flight to Florida instead. If you want to ski than save the money you would spend this weekend and jump on a quick flight to SLC or Denver later in the year. Everyone will have a better time.

Most areas have similar porgrams for 3 year olds as the one at Sugarloaf described below:

Mooseketeers
A fun-filled, positive first experience on skis! Willing 3-year olds are introduced to the slopes through special games and personalized instruction in a 45 minute private coaching session (first timers and less experienced skiers), or by joining Mountain Magic for a 1 - 2 hour morning group session (toilet trained three year olds who have skied before). Lunch, snacks, lift ticket, and ski rental equipment are included. Reservations required. We are located at the Gondola Village (looking up the mountain, it is the four-story building to the left of the Base Lodge). Call 207.237.6804.


If you can get a reservation this is a better way to go than a one hour private.
post #12 of 18
Sidecut, I have to disagree. Maybe I've just been lucky but I have had some very good lessons with great instructors at the Loaf and at Sunday River-- private and groups. The kids program at Sugarloaf is very good. At the Loaf lessons for adults have been up and running since Thanksgiving and many of the instructors are not new this year so I don't think you'll be standing around too long waiting for them to get organized. Hope you enjoy your vacation.
post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by madbee
Sidecut, I have to disagree. Maybe I've just been lucky but I have had some very good lessons with great instructors at the Loaf and at Sunday River-- private and groups. The kids program at Sugarloaf is very good. At the Loaf lessons for adults have been up and running since Thanksgiving and many of the instructors are not new this year so I don't think you'll be standing around too long waiting for them to get organized. Hope you enjoy your vacation.
Roll the dice and you can get a good lesson from a great instructor. I'm sure the kids programs at The Loaf are on par with similar programs. However most of the instructors especially in kids programs will be new with relatively little experience. Many will be recent arrivals from other lands shipped in to meet the demand for unskilled labor at $6 an hour.

And just because a school ihas "been running since Thanksgiving" does not mean they are ready for Xmas week.

a 3YO first time?? I would not do it to one of my kids.
post #14 of 18
I agree that 1 hour is too short a period of time to be worthwhile. You will be much better served taking a 3 hour lesson. Obviously this will be more expensive but when you weigh the cost of the lesson against the cost of lift tickets, lodging, eating out, and travel expenses, this added cost is not that great and it will make a world of difference in your overall vacation experience.

I also agree that 3 years old is very young for a standard ski lesson of any length. I suggest looking for a young child specific program such as what we have here in Breckenridge called “Kinderhut”. There, kids get a chance to slide around on skis on a little 50 foot long slope with someone to catch them at the bottom. They also go sledding and play various games in the snow. The main point is to have the kids enjoy the environment. Most kids this age have not developed physically and mentally enough to really ski anyway. Those who have are kept in small groups with two instructors, one to lead and one to bring up the rear, and are given a chance to ski down the gentlest beginner run on the mountain.

Gratuities at the end of a private lesson are very common but not a given. Gratuity amounts also vary greatly from client to client. Today I received $100 after spending a total of 6 hours with a client over the course of two days. This worked out to 14% of the cost of the lessons and I am very grateful to receive it.

Finally, I suggest that you request P.S.I.A. / A.A.S.I. certified instructor with a minimum of level II certification. If you are an expert skier / rider, ask for level III.
post #15 of 18
I'm pretty happy with $20/hour, but often you get nothing from group lessons (which are much harder work!).

1 hour privates are very tricky, as at a big hill, you are lucky to do one run and you have to teach very crisply to get the skiing and the teaching done in time. That said, I had a chap the other day for a 1 hour, and based on a few things he mentioned, I changed his stance a bit, and then introduced him to carving (he was a VERY fast skiier, but skiied with a very flat ski). The carving flummoxed him at first, so I left him to it, and later in the day he came up and said he'd finally got it, and was stoked.
post #16 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manus
What strikes me as odd though, is that comparably, ski intructors, when we get tipped, get much below a "standard tip" of 15%. People generally tip wait staff in restraunts at least 15% because they know they don't get paid much, but neither do instructors, and I think its odd that people wouldn't generally tip 15%.
Pizza boys often take your order, frequently help prepare it, then get in their car and drive to your place to drop it off to you...paying all of the substantial costs for gas, extra insurance riders and etc.

Who tips the pizza guy 15 percent? Probably 1 out of 5 people. 3 out of 5 seem to think that a dollar is good enough, no matter what the bill. Then again, pizza boys usually make at least minimum wage. Ski instructors do as well, and generally make considerably more than the pizza boy.

So the pizza boys get paid less, have greater costs, and still don't get tipped well. I personally think both groups should get bigger tips.
post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiingman
So the pizza boys get paid less, have greater costs, and still don't get tipped well. I personally think both groups should get bigger tips.
From a personal perspective, before joining this group a few months ago, as a newbie I would NEVER have tipped an instructor. Not out of rudeness - but out of a certain perception of what type of person it is appropriate to tip.

We ALL know that it is appropriate to tip the pizza"boy", the hair stylist, and waitstaff - but would you tip the clinical-aide who changed your sheets at the hospital? The clerk at the county traffic court? The Ski Patrol guys who haul your ass off the mountain? These are very service-oriented jobs too with pretty low pay (or no pay). With certain jobs there is an expectation of professionalism, and that it is inappropriate to offer a tip.

Are ski instructors "professionals"? To some of us they are, and so it would have seemed inappropriate to give a tip under such circumstances. When I visited Iceland a few years ago I was told specifically NOT to tip even the waitstaff, as it would been seen as an insult.

So you see, the whole tipping thing may not be so much an issue of rudeness/cheapskate etc, as it is a perception of the position (and perhaps ignorance of the pay scales)

Just my 2 cents
post #18 of 18
For a 3yo, a private lesson is expensive for what they may get. Most 3yo won't be capable of actually skiing, i.e., sliding, turning, stopping, in one hour or two hours or several days of instructions. At that age, the emphasis should be having fun playing on skis. Walking around, sliding while being towed around, sliding down the gentlest of pitches for not more than 10-20', playing games in boots, etc. Either do this yourself or maybe a 1/2day care program that includes one hour of fun on skis.
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