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Private Ski Instruction - Tips - Private Contracting ??

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Let me ask you some questions and they are from my own ignorance or lack of experience. No hidden agenda or ulterior motives.

1- How do you base a tip for an instructor? If the private lesson in the PA slopes near Wash DC is $60, how do you calculate the tip? Some say it is based on your satisfaction and happiness with the instructor but how much is 'good' a tip and how much is offensive or way too little. I am looking for some sort of guidance.

2- Are tips expected?

3- If you found a good instructor, is it ok to ask him for a private lesson during his 'off time'. Sort of like bypassing the middle man (ski resort). Is this unethical? If the wages of the instructor are pretty low, wouldn't this be a better alternative for the instructor?

I have never taken a private lesson and I would like to but I am just a little lost at what to do afterwards.

Thanks
post #2 of 23
Yuyax,

I teach at Whitetail, PA. Common tips for private lessons run from $10-20. Less than 1/2 the private lesson students tip. If you request me for a private I get $10 extra pay (that's a nice built in tip). Although it is common in the industry to receive extra pay for requests, the compensation varies widely from nothing to 50% of the lesson price. Some pros consider getting no tip offensive (equivalent to stiffing a waitperson in a restaurant). I don't. Full time instructors ski for food. Tips are VERY important to them. Some instructors think that offering tips is offensive (because it's unprofessional - do you tip your doctor?) and will refuse to accept them. Most part time instructors don't teach for the money. For some, tips have little meaning and won't accept them for that reason. I coach these guys to graciously accept the tip so that students at least get in the habit and the ski for food guys get to eat. If you regularly tip a pro, you will get extra attention. If you choose to tip based on percentage of the lesson price, 10-20% based on lesson quality and impact (similar to tipping food servers) is appropriate.

It is possible to hire instructors privately. This has been covered many times in previous threads. Most resorts consider this a fireable offense if done at the resort. There are several success stories where this has been done at a different resort from where the pro normally teaches either over the table or under the table. The reason for under the table is that it is less expensive. The reasons against under the table are that it is unethical and liability concerns are not addressed. As a student you should ask yourself are you willing to trust your safety to someone who is unethical and do you understand that should something go wrong, there are no deep pockets to pay for the wrongdoing?
post #3 of 23
yuyax,

Great answer from therusty, and he sums it up, but not all areas pay the instructor more for being requested, even if they are the reason the quest is skiing at the resort. My cusomers that tip me well get extordinary service from me, meaning that I go out of my way to meet their needs.

Quote:
If you found a good instructor, is it ok to ask him for a private lesson during his 'off time'. Sort of like bypassing the middle man (ski resort). Is this unethical? If the wages of the instructor are pretty low, wouldn't this be a better alternative for the instructor?
I can't ask for any pay for instruction on my 'off time', which on weekends and holidays is none. If I can do a few more runs with a customer after the lesson when I am free, I can accept a gratuity for exceptional service.

If I meet someone at another mountain who wants some pointers, compensation might be in the form of currency for a dinner out, but not for pay for services rendered.

I do work for food and gas, and my services at my resort pay many administrators, snow use, heat, lights, and the list goes on. BTW, I don't gat paid anything if I don't get dispatched for a lesson, so much of the work I perform is work I bring to the mountain (lucky for them).

RW
post #4 of 23
At the two hills I worked at in Pennsyltucky, there was no extra compensation for a private lesson.

The "pay" at one hill was $5.25 per hour.

The other was $7.00 per.

Many instructors, especially the ones who maintain PSIA certs run in the red at the end of the season.

Keep in mind that instructors are not paid from the time they "punch the clock" (some full timers are), but only for "on snow" hours.

My average take home for a weekend of work was $35 to $40, after filling the tank to get there ..... I was in the red.

I used to tip the cost of "lunch" .....
post #5 of 23
I just started taking some privates, I requested a specific Instructor. The lessons are a book of five for $275.

After the first lesson I gave the guy a $5 tip, lower than what is suggested above, but felt right to me and I'm sure he appreciated it. I don't know if they get 1/2 of the fee for requested, but I do know they get extra at this mountain if it's requested.

Perhaps I should give him $10 next time, but it's pretty expensive for a 1 hour lesson as it is (for me.) Maybe if he spends a few more minutes and doesn't scoot off right on the hour I will tip more. It's give and take.

For the record in restaurants I always tip at least 15%, usually 20%, so I'm not a cheap tipper, and my $5 tip was actually less than 10% so it is low on a percentage basis.
post #6 of 23
Skimango .... lots of times the instructor has to make a mad dash to get back for a line up.

I had my *** chawed one time too many and there was never an acceptable answer.

Many times it's a mad dash for the can or to grab a quick sip of cold coffee befor the next batch rolls through.

Henry Ford would be proud.
post #7 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yuki
Skimango .... lots of times the instructor has to make a mad dash to get back for a line up.

I had my *** chawed one time too many and there was never an acceptable answer.

Many times it's a mad dash for the can or to grab a quick sip of cold coffee befor the next batch rolls through.

Henry Ford would be proud.
I totally understand.
post #8 of 23
I have a slightly different take on tipping than The Rusty.

Where I teach, a tip is expected, rarely forgotten, and always appreciated. Most instructors work full time and the tip can be the difference between teaching the following year, and finding a new job!

For 1/2 day privates most instructors get 20%, and full day privates slightly more + lunch. 1 hour privates; 15 - 20% is normal, but most instructors usually get more.

If you find a good instructor, he/ she should be so busy with returning guests that he/she can't afford to leave the resort, or take a chance that he/she would lose their job.
post #9 of 23
Yes. Most East coast instructors are part time while most Western pros are full time.
post #10 of 23
All my experience is Rockies & West. If I take a private, I plan to tip 15-20% for a good job. If I were disappointed, it would go down. For truly outstanding instruction & service, it goes up. A truly outstanding job while juggling various family members over the course of a day or two is extra bonus points. If I've purchased a half or full day lesson, I'll usually spring for breakfast &/or lunch depending on the circumstances.

Whenever I contrast what even top notch instructors get paid vs the time and commitment they have to put into the job, I am biased toward more rather than less gratuity - even if the resort fee schedule seems high to me.

My understanding is that working "on the side" is a good way for an instructor to get fired.
post #11 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty
Yes. Most East coast instructors are part time while most Western pros are full time.
I don't know about this.

There are quite a few part timers at all the resorts I know of at Tahoe. Maybe the percentage is of part timers is higher in the east but I don't think most western pros are full time.

Of course there's the destination resorts in UT and CO that have huge schools. Maybe some of our destination resort members can fill us in.

DC
post #12 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yuki
Skimango .... lots of times the instructor has to make a mad dash to get back for a line up.

I had my *** chawed one time too many and there was never an acceptable answer.

Many times it's a mad dash for the can or to grab a quick sip of cold coffee befor the next batch rolls through.

Henry Ford would be proud.
Yeah - I find it easier to send instructor off from top of hill.... that way I get to stay in my preferred terrain...
ALL of my instructors can make the trip down& across to ski school far faster than I can ... They know their travel time off pat... so we ski until they need to depart rather than try to time a finish at the ski school (far side of hill usually) with time for line up....

Similarly we adjust meeting area depending on where they need to be before lesson... if they are race coaching it makes sense for me to travel to that end of the hill before the lesson rather than them need to do a crazy dash to return to me (race kids parents are meeting kids other side of hill to ski school).... this way I get a focused instructor & it is usually faster... rather than one that needs a toilet break & water & is flustered from the stupidvisor glaring at them
post #13 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by dchan
I don't know about this.

There are quite a few part timers at all the resorts I know of at Tahoe. Maybe the percentage is of part timers is higher in the east but I don't think most western pros are full time.

Of course there's the destination resorts in UT and CO that have huge schools. Maybe some of our destination resort members can fill us in.

DC
I got that from somewhere in my PSIA dealings that was explaining the lower rates of certification/membership per person from the Western resorts. I could of gotten it wrong.

The thing about part timers is it takes more of them to equal a single full timer. When I found out Vail/Beaver Creek had more than 1000 pros on staff - well you know those all can't be full timers. One of our pros works at Vail on a "20 day" contract. He says they have a lot of pros on contracts. We hear from a lot of resorts looking for part time help during March (when our season is about over). I wonder if those positions "count"? Any resort near a major metropolitan area is going to need part time staff to deal with weekend crowds. But my perception is that destination resorts tend to have more full time staff. My experiences visiting rinky dink resorts out West is that they do have a lot of full timers on staff. Let's see if anyone can find some official stats?
post #14 of 23
My father takes a goodly number of private lessons (and sometimes I get to tag along or take part of his private *for him* when he needs a rest ) and he always tips. There are several guys that he uses on a regular basis, though the ski school, on the clock. Although the cost is very high (OK, appalling) for a half- or full-day private lesson at Vail, he has very little time to ski given his packed travel schedule, and he finds the money more than worth it in his case to get tuned up and get the most out of a day.

I am not sure what he tips, but my guess is 15% - 20%. I know when he was nice enough to buy me my own half-day private for Christmas to work on my pathetic bumps-n-jumps I tipped 15%. With these guys who make time for him regularly he has also been known to do things like buy them a gift certificate for dinner someplace nice at the end of the season or something.

All that said, while he does go through the ski school (meaning using them on the clock), he does have direct cell phone numbers for these guys and usually books by calling them, discussing everyone's very full schedule, and having them tell the ski school when he's been booked.

I have heard from several sources that Vail is trying to get all their instructors on the hill, but especially the more inexperienced guys and gals whom they are paying less. If you call the ski school and request someone specific, they will sometimes tell you that person is unavailable so they can try to get you to go with someone else who costs them less. Or tell you your request is unavailable because ??? Just seems like bad business to me, but maybe it's untrue as well. Just what I have heard from a few sources local to Vail. IMHO they should make every effort to put you with the person you request if they're available, or at least someone of similar ability. Especially when a half-day private (for up to 6 people of your choosing) costs $405! Who knows if they're really doing this, but it's the scuttlebutt. Never a bad idea to have a private contact number for your ski instructor, I guess, just to confirm scheduling with them in case you have trouble booking that person through the ski school!

Mollie
post #15 of 23
Mollie's advice is good. All of it.
post #16 of 23
What is a fare daily wage?
post #17 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty
Some instructors think that offering tips is offensive (because it's unprofessional - do you tip your doctor?) and will refuse to accept them. Most part time instructors don't teach for the money. For some, tips have little meaning and won't accept them for that reason.
I heard this too. Mostly from a couple of folks here on epic. I think this does a disservice to the vast majority of instructors, because that student will now feel like they don't ever need to tip, and that tip could mean a decent meal to some instructors. And let's face it, you tip a wait person at arestaraunt, and they don't have hundreds of hours of training, usually paid for out of their own pockets. No, I don't tip my doctor, but my Dr makes more than $40/day. And even though it's true that *most* (not all) part timers don't do it for the money, it costs us more to be a ski instructor than not. And part-timer ski instructors in metroplitan areas are not all doctors or lawers. Quite a few of them are students. These days, with the price of gas, it could easily cost a part timer $40 just to get to the hill. So a little something is always appreciated.

When I take a lesson I usually don't tip on a % basis. I usually just give $20. But then, I usually sign up for group lessons, figuring it's going to be a small group (usually just me and I'll get a top notch instructor, because they won't have a lower ranking instructor teach a 20 year level 3 cert), and if the lesson costs $50, I would feel bad giving a $5-$10 tip, when lunch will cost more than $10. When I take PSIA eduational events, I also tip my clinicians. At Silverton last year, where a guide is required, we all pitched in and tipped our guides pretty well.
post #18 of 23
Point of intrest. At a vail owned area in west a certain gentelman was handed a cease and desist order to stop coaching on mountian. Thought you guys would like to hear about!!

tHEY ARE WISE TO THE PIRATES
post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by lwren
Point of intrest. At a vail owned area in west a certain gentelman was handed a cease and desist order to stop coaching on mountian. Thought you guys would like to hear about!!
We would like to hear about it. Details???
post #20 of 23
Does any of the above information change if it's a private snowboarding lesson?

Or the guidelines would be pretty much the same for tipping a ski instructor?
post #21 of 23
Please tip your ski instructors. None of them make much money, especially compared to the level of expertise required for the job. How often are you going to take a lesson? Tipping won't kill you and it definitely will not offend the instructor who is most likely scraping by financially for the sake of working in the industry. I think $20 tip for a private lesson is fine. I have received much MUCH larger tips from people that had more money and appreciated the experience. I don't think its appropriate for an instructor to limit his teaching to those that don't tip or to feel angry in any way if someone doesn't tip. But trust me, they will appreciate it as a token of appreciation if nothing else...and an awful lot of them could really use the cash.

Also, if you want to get them repeat...doing it outside of the ski school can get them in trouble so don't be offended if they say no. However if you formerly request them they can make a bit more per hour the next time. But still don't forget to tip again.

I've had friends look at my like I'm crazy when I tell them to make sure to tip their ski instructor. I guess they feel that ski instructors have the funnest job in the world so why should they get tips. But people really dont' realize how much time and energy goes into preparation for good ski instruction. Instructors also pay out of pocket for many expenses that comes with the trade. Its expensive to live in or near ski communities.

Just tip them please if you learned anything useful and had a good time.

One friend of mine got a private lesson that lasted for 3 days with this 80-something year old rich lady that wanted to try skiing. Well I don't know if 80, but old. Anyway, the instructor literally spent all three days on her hands and knees on flat ground in front of the lady, pulling her ski tips across the flats. The instructor remained friendly the whole time. Just imagine the patience required. Anyway, the rich old lady tipped her $1000 so i guess it was worth it.
post #22 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by RSLFan
Does any of the above information change if it's a private snowboarding lesson?

Or the guidelines would be pretty much the same for tipping a ski instructor?
Yup. Give'em a razor, a bar of soap and a coupon to great clips.... Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Seriously, it's exactly the same!
post #23 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonnie
Quote:
Originally Posted by RSLFan
Does any of the above information change if it's a private snowboarding lesson?

Or the guidelines would be pretty much the same for tipping a ski instructor?
Yup. Give'em a razor, a bar of soap and a coupon to great clips.... Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Seriously, it's exactly the same!
You forgot directions to a store with pants that fit.
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