Originally Posted by boredtoo
The problem with using the waitress/waiter analogy seems to be that a person in a restaurant believes that he or she is paying for a meal and tipping for the service, while with ski instructors a person is paying for the very instruction that he or she is also expected to tip for. Somewhat akin to tipping the person that dry cleans your clothes. It is hard to convince the customer to also tip for the same service.
While I understand the apparent confusion in analogy, people need to understand that clients pay the Ski School as they pay the restraunt. The instructor or wait staff gets paid a small portion of that overall bill (via hourly wage). While wait staff gets an hourly rate (be it VERY small) wether they are busy or not, instructors are typically only paid when they teach.
Now the difference with your thought about picking up your laundry is that busy or not, dealing with a lot of money or not, the laundry employee knows what they are earning by way of a regular hourly wage (usually more than minimum wage too).
Personally, I believe in tipping anyone who provides a service (taxi driver, bar tender/wait staff, valet attendant, etc - the list goes on) because from my own experience, a proper tip (not so small they feel put down, like you were obligated, but not too big that they feel you're being snotty about your money) definately leads to better service and happier employees (they often smile not because they are supposed to but because they feel their job/service is being appreciated).
Also, having been on both sides of the debate in the ski industry, I understand that skiing is expensive for everyone, employees and clients, and sometimes a tip is not really plausible. In cases like that, I have often found the most rewarding tips have been customers giving a sincere thank you, or stopping by the ski school to tell them their thoughts on the lesson, or even just bumping into the instructor later, or days later to say that they had fun, etc.
Afterall, people don't teach skiing for the money, they teach it because they love the sport and truly want other people to love the sport too.