hey Nolo, nice thread...
I want to start off by building on the bit about the free lessons at the "at-Tahoe" resorts. I worked for Waterville Valley (in NH) which is another one of the Boothcreek Resorts.http://www.boothcreek.com/
A few years ago Waterville made some pretty big changes. The returning instructors were gathered in a room and a presentation about the ski insdustry, the profits of ski resorts, the average skier return rates, etc were discussed. It was clear... we ALL need people to take up the sport of skiing, not just ski once or twice... and as was previously mentioned in this thread - the magic number seems to be 3. You have to get a person to ski 3 times and then they will likely continue to ski. What prevents people from returning? It's expensive and it's not easy to do.
Two things resulted:
1. lift ticket prices got reduced to $39 per day (only exception is the holidays)... and there are 3 Booth Creek properties in NH - so a combined season's pass was offered at VERY low rates. (Waterville did this at least 4 seasons ago and it seemed to be the begining of a trend)
2. snowsports (aka ski school) created a "Passport"... here's how it works:
a. day 1 costs $69 and you get rentals, a beginner lift ticket, and 2 group lessons (and your passport book gets stamped)
b. day 2 also costs $69 and you get rentals, a beginner lift ticket and 1 group lesson (and get your book stamped)
c. day 3 is identical to day 2
d. bring your completed Passport book to the ticket window, buy a regular lift ticket and you get A FREE SEASON'S PASS
(additionally the passport book has coupons for buying equipment and other discounts)
so, Nolo, Booth Creek embraced this concept. Although, instead of making ski school a true loss leader - they just trimmed some profits. Further, they gave free group lessons for advanced skiers each afternoon - to encourage people to take more lessons.
Ultimately, I think that a ski school should be a profit center. AND, within the ski school there should be room for using the loss leader approach with a "segment" of learners. I also agree that children's and adult's programs should be separate.
- quantity incentives
a. the more lessons you buy, the cheaper it gets (I do this with personal training at the gym!)
b. the more people you enroll, the cheaper it gets (discount for 2nd, 3rd, etc kids)
- discount/coupon incentives
a. buy a lesson and coupon to use at the cafeteria or mtn. shop
b. frequent skiers programs (buy 5 lift tickets, get a free lesson)
Repeat business generates profits. I EXPECT that if someone takes a lesson with me, they will take another. I'd like to see ski schools shift to a business model that supports and rewards this concept.
Directors also have to treat the ski school as a business and maximize profits!
- Always use full-time staff first.
- Make sure all staff is trained in customer service and up-selling.
- Connect the impact of the instructor/lesson to the other services on the mountain (I now work at a smaller mountain in MA, Wachusett, and we give all learners a card... on one side it has our name and the other side is a coupon... when the coupon is redeemed the mountains tracks the instructor's name... we are rewarded for the # of "cards" that get used bearing our names).
- Encourage instructors to ski in their jackets and act as ambassadors when not teaching - give out one of those "cards" to people you see who could use a lesson (the coupon works for lessons! and, it might get you a private request!!)
I could go on and on... I teach skiing and work as a business consultant. But, I am sure y'all are already ready to move onto the next post!!! Thanks for reading.
PS... we saw our first snow a few days ago... YIPPEEE [img]tongue.gif[/img]