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Tipping etiquette

post #1 of 55
Thread Starter 
OH man...I feel like a heel. IT never occured to me in the past four years ive been taking lessons (and Im the type who takes four or five lessons a season, at least) to tip the instructor at the end of the lesson, but I just read an article on it...BIG oops...

its certainly not that I wouldn't, I think the instructors ARE underpaid for what they do, I think it is commendable for them to share their passion, and i CERTAINLY appreciate all those that I have taken lessons with, more than I could express monetarily. but I just DIDNT KNOW and BOY do I feel stupid for that faux pas...

PLEASE tell me the ettiquette on tipping the ski pro, what is the norm here in the northeast, (and other areas, i intend to travel next season) any suggestions for making it up to the instuctors I've unintentionally stiffed??? What about week long or three day clinics or race clinics? thanks.

**Note to TODO...I take most of my lessons at your home mountain...what, specifically is the norm there?**
post #2 of 55
Well, hey, thanks for asking, LindaA

Always apreciated, never demanded... Tips! Some things to consider:

Privates.... tips are more common, $20 and up

Group....... more rare (why), but here's a neat idea:

Simply tip $5-10 in front of the class Everyone else pitches in! Love this dynamic in big beginner groups!

Never tip if you didn't get a decent lesson.
If it was a BAD lesson, let the ski school know (nicely), most will take care of it... you came to learn, after all!

Hey what's down this run? SnoKarver
<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by SnoKarver (edited July 14, 2001).]</FONT>
post #3 of 55
Bless you Linda- I second what Snokarver says. Tipping the Instructor is the ski industry's best kept secret! Please tell me where you found the article so I can make copies and leave them all over my ski area next winter!
post #4 of 55
Hi LindaA
This has been brought up before.


I think we also mention that in many cultures tipping is not a way of life so it's not truly a "faux pax" if tipping is not normal in your country.

SnoKarver mentioned something I try not to do. If I think the lesson was worth a tip (most time it is) I usually try to tip privately. I don't think it's polite to "embarass" others into tipping but that's just me. I suspect as several other instructors have mentioned in the previous threads, Tips are not expected and always appreciated. The heart felt tips (such as a crumpled 1 dollar bill from a child) I suspect make all the teaching worth it for most instructors. So my advice, What was it worth to you. Tip from the heart.
post #5 of 55
Thread Starter 

(groan!) I'm sitting here looking at a MOUNTAIN of ski rags and I know that article is in there somewhere...I was going through them and then moved them to toss them out. then I thought better of it and moved them back, (just dont have the heart) mixing them up in the process...I will fnd it, though, I wish Id seen something like this at my first lesson, hanging it up is a good idea!

post #6 of 55
It has always been a conundrum...subtly educating the public that tipping is an appropriate way to thank your instructor...but certainly not a formality, it must be earned!
All good advice above, and you are not alone in your naive embarrassment. Tipping an instructor is not a cultural norm in this country...but few people take professional lessons of any kind here.
Although, when I was younger, and dumber I did it, I don't believe in seeding the tip envelope...(using a shill). This happens frequently in ski weeks...I think it is tacky! Private, heartfelt gratitude, even a modest buck to a dedicated pro is more than appropriate for a group lesson.
In AF, I had printed discreetly on the private slips "gratuities gratefully accepted".
post #7 of 55
Thread Starter 
Hi Bob

(by the way, thanks so much for recommending this site...you were the one who mentioned this site to me in another forum id stumbled across. (jef winships, i think)..this one is much more liveley!)

apparently I have hit upon a hot topic!! but that's ok, I dont blame you for getting all worked up! I've always felt that if the areas and resorts put more money where it belongs, the instructors pockets, it would lend itself to solving the hotly debated "skiier retention" problem. After all, its the instructors who are the interface with the skiing public, its THEIR passion and devotion to their jobs that gets transferred to the students, and brings them back, much more so than new concession stands or credit card operated lockers. (which never work anyway...) ski areas need to get the priorities straight.

It is my belief that if public school teachers in the US were as devoted to passing on their love of what they teach as ski instructors are, we'd be turning out geniuses by the classroomfull.

I did send a letter to my local ski mountain, and sent it up and down the chain of command of the very large ski company that runs it (no names but it recently underwent a major management change) lauding the ski pros and the ski program that I had been a part of. I recieved several replies that mentioned that the named ski pros would definetly get the 'pat-on-the-back' that I had strongly recommended. Wether they actually did, or if my comments got lost in the corporate jumble, I guess Ill never know. but It makes me feel better for not tipping all this time.

Maybe, if I run into my favorite ski pro from last year, I'll slip him a belated tip when i sign up for another lesson....
post #8 of 55
Actually you have a good point, Bob. On those ski weekends that I could not afford take, but did anyway, I sometimes would not take class because I would not have anything left to tip. The prices of everything would not be so offensive if ski instructors were making more than 8-10$ an hour.

There is also a question of attitude and expectation. Fitness instructors never get tips, because people assume that as educators, we are paid in accordance to our skills. I think that many people think of tipping as something that is extended to waiters, etc., not teachers.

But then again, our society places so little value on teachers of ANY sort, that its no wonder that most are not well paid.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #9 of 55
I've gotten some great tips from people over the years:
1)Plant your corn early. It's gonna be a dry June.
2)Never fry bacon when you're naked.
3)Don't eat raw pork, you'll get tapeworms.
4)Jim Croce once told me to not pull on Superman's cape...and
5)Making love is like Chinese dinner. It's not over till you both get your cookies.

All silliness aside, I appreciate that Linda brought this up. Tips must be earned by the instructor and shouldn't ever be expected, but it sure is nice to know that you are doing your job well enough to have earned a gratuity. $1 or $100 or a beer. (actually, most of my tips have eventually turned into beer) Doesn't matter. Any token works for me.

Thanks Linda!!!!!

post #10 of 55
Mea culpa! I learned something today. I'll have to go back to Les Deux Alpes and make amends...is dinner an acceptable tip ???

post #11 of 55
Thread Starter 
Notorious Spag:

I hear you about the bacon. Ouch.

Funny thing about Chinese food, Half an hour after you have it, your hungry again....

lisakaz, only if hes hot and single. or at least hot. Oh what the hell, if he's a ski pro, he doesn't have to be hot OR sngle! (hows that for a tip?)
post #12 of 55
Now, now, Lisa and Linda. These guys are serious professionals, and we should not be disrespectful by thinking of them as sex objects.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #13 of 55
Thread Starter 
THEY'RE NOT? oh, I mean, they're not. of course not...I have nothing but the utmost respect for them! (see posts above!)

AWWwww, Ma! Lisakaz started it!
post #14 of 55
Not hot, Not single, and really not all that professional.(elbow, elbow, nudge,nudge) Last time I had Chinese food, I fell asleep a half hour later. (Ba-dum-bum-tishhh!) Boy, it's a tough crowd. I tell ya. (staighten tie)
post #15 of 55
But Spag has already told us in another thread that he likes to be a bit, uh well, modest.

Linda, all in good fun! Great to have you around!

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #16 of 55
Thread Starter 

not hot, not single, not proffesional, and you fall asleep after Chinese food? What makes you so "notorious", then?

Lisamarie - thank you! Its great to be around...this is a great forum and its alot of fun. and, on a more serious note, it really is a chance for me to learn all the little nuances and ins and outs of ski life...like bootfitting and instructor tipping....and that im not alone in my 'ski' insanity....
post #17 of 55
BobB and everyone else.

I like the idea of complaining to the managment that the lesson was great and it's almost criminal to be paying such good pros so little. I will have to remember that.
By the way everyone, If you do some research ahead of time and get the names of a few instructors, I believe almost all the resorts do give the instructor a little more money when they are requested by name. This may also be a good way to put a little more money into the instructor's pocket.

I have offered in the past Lunch, or a glass of wine after a lesson also. I also like Robin's idea of having it printed discretly on the slips or vouchers something like "gratuities gratefully accepted"
post #18 of 55
Good point d-chan about researching teachers first. BTW, LindaA, do you have any recommendations for instructors at Attitash? It has become an EpicSki tradition to "name names", if we've taken an excellent lesson. That way, at least we give them in public recogniton what they do not get in salary.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #19 of 55
Dchan, most schools give a % of the cost of the private if requested by name. If strictly a %, it ranges from 40-60% at "enlightened" schools, less to alot less at others. I pay a base wage (based on experience, cert. and other factors)plus a % on requests and generics. That way a level III is not paid at the same scale as "one week wonder" talking sh*t at the bar. At our school, depending on the matrix (a dynamic, pay for performance scale) a full cert will make between 45-70% total on a request. From the matrix, an instructor who is requested alot, makes an additional % on generic privates. This is because if you are constantly creating business, you don't necessarily get your fair share of gimmes.
This is not the norm, however. We will jump through hoops to make sure requests happen...there are a lot of instructors out there who think there is an industry wide conspiracy to keep them from their clients...and in some cases, I think they are right!
Thanks for asking...you know, it isn't even about the money or tips, most highly requested instructors take pride in just being requested...validating their success in the learning partnership and knowing they are making connections.
post #20 of 55
Thread Starter 
Lisamarie: As far as instructors at Attitash, to "name names": had several there, and they have all been great, but my mst favorites are:

Doug Avery - A fantastic teacher who seems to have the knack for knowing where your skill level is and how to subtly and gently urge you up to the next step. He is extremely professional and an extremely talented skier, who can inspire you just watching him come down the hill. One of those that I still feel terrible for unitentionally stiffing...

"Merve" - (not sure of his last name but he has an unmistakable accent, from NZ originaly, I think.) I didn't get the chance to ski with him this last year but I had taken a couple of group lessons with him early on in my "career", and he left a great impression, I improved much after his tutelage. He is a "tougher" type teacher, (if I didn't think you could do this, I wouldn't have taken you up here, now get going!) but im much more successful with that kind of teaching method. Since I am going to give recreational racing a try this season, Ill probably sign up for a couple of lessons with him, as I think that would be most productive..

by the way, if you have kids, attitash has FANTASTIC childrens programs that my kids have been in, they just ADORE all involved and they are doing great!<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by LindaA (edited July 15, 2001).]</FONT>
post #21 of 55
Thanks for the info Robin,
It sounds like you have a winner. Too bad other resorts don't follow suit. Did you post this info over on Hyperchange too. I bet they other instructors would love to know that someone is trying to make a change to the "pay scale model". It would probably go a long way to making instructors really think about how and why they teach and a lot of "bad" lessons might be history.
post #22 of 55
Best tip I ever got: $2 of wet dollar bills, scrounged out of the pockets of a 7 year old who had a huge smile on his face. I just wanted to hug the kid!
post #23 of 55
Don't feel bad about it. Instructors know tipping is not compulsory like food/beverage service and some other established tipped jobs. I appreciate tips. I look at them as a genuine expression of satisfaction, all the more so since tips sre not a 'given.' None of the great teachers you have skied with holds it against you, or thinks less of you.
post #24 of 55
The only individuals that I resent are those that introduce themselves as Dr. So & So...

or ......... Joe X, real estate law on Long Island.....

These egomaniacs think nothing of keeping you for an extra half hour after a group lesson in order to squeeze that last bit out of you. But as a "Mountain Ambassador" you have to grin and bear it.

BTW I used to tip the average price of a cafeteria lunch or a six pack of good beer.
post #25 of 55
One of the things that the PSIA could do, though this is a bit tacky, would be to buy billboard space on the mountain road....

Something like..... "the instructor you will meet today ......makes far less than the kid who just tossed you that bag-o-burgers at Mickie D's............ after costs for equipment, dues and taxes your instructor will take home an average of $1.50 an hour!"
post #26 of 55
Thread Starter 
Wow, that would Certainly be a wakeup call!!! that is quite the stark figure. ESPECIALLY when you consider how much you've paid for a two hour private. Disgusting.

You poor ski gods may be severly underpaid, but you are certainly appreciated. Ive never gotten such sheer joy from any activity, (ok, almost any activity)and I owe alot of that to the teachers, who pass on not only thier technical knowlege but also the love of the sport.

*sob* sniff..ok thats really corney but its how i feel!!!
post #27 of 55
Jeez yuki! You made the poor girl cry! What a bully.(haha) Don't worry Linda. We've got our wits, and that's all we really need. Right guys?
post #28 of 55
Thread Starter 
great...first day of the season im going to run into my ski pro, ill probably throw my arms around him and sob uncontrollably. "im soooo sorry...ppleeeass forgive me...ill do anything to make it up to you....sniff...." (

he'd probably be like, 'who the HELL are you?

ok, its getting late, im getting weird. time for bed.
post #29 of 55
I once took a private lesson with this Level 3 PSIA examiner. Not only was he a great instructor, he was totally gorgeous. The next week, I was at a Women's Ski workshop. I told the instructors who I had taken a lesson with, and they started giggling.
Aparently, some woman had given the guy, (who was happily married with 2 kids} an envelope containing a $50 and her condo key. The poor guy was too embarassed to do anything about it. So one of the female instructors went to the condo and said, "So and So {no names here} thinks you left this by accident!"

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #30 of 55
Thread Starter 
DAMN. You know, Im really grateful to them and all, but im not sure Id be THAT grateful!!! (Especially not the married ones, anyway)that is rather, um, aggressive, ddont you think? I wonder if stuff like that hapens to them alot?

How can you tell if they are georgeus or not, under all that goggles and helmets and stuff??? Hell, if they can ski like that they are a ten in my book!

Condo key, huh? wow, that would have to be one DAMNED GOOD lesson....
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