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Flyer on tipping instructors in PC, Utah

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 
Mrs Johnson went to the supermarket this afternoon after work and found a flyer that was at all the bus stops etc in Park City.

It read:

Do you tip your instructor?

Yes. Although ski and snowboard lessons can be pricey, often little of that cost finds its way to the instructor.

Like wait staff and other resort workers, ski and snowboard instructors are generally paid abase hourly wage and rely on tips for a living.

That's why, as veteran ski vacationers know, your snow sport lesson is a "tipping situation".

So don't forget to show you're in the know and your appreciation for those who help you enjoy the snow!

And on the other side:

Do you tip your child's instructor?

Yes. Although ski and snowboard lessons can be pricey, often little of that cost finds its way to the instructor.

Children's and group instructors in particular have among the most demanding responsibilites in all ski instruction and are often paid the least, relying on tips to make a living.

So when you pick up your child don't forger to show your appreciation for those who spend their day looking after, dressing, feeding, lifting, encouraging, entertaining, gnashing their teeth over, and still somehow even teaching your adorable little skier or rider

A message from the Wasatch Resort Service Labor Watch.

Personally this worries me.

There are obviously some unhappy little vegemites around town, but i'm not sure its the best way to go about this. Its not very subtle at all.

Skiing is expensive enough, and i'm sure that it adds insult to injury to people who can ill afford their vacation to be told that they have to tip. Perhaps it has to do with where I work, and who I teach, but I find that I do more than well enough, and often the genuine gratitude from those who do not tip is reward enough. Often that gratitude is far more genuine than when accompanied by a fist full of benjamins.

There are also the tax implications of this flyer - if instructing becomes a known tipping occupation to the IRS, then we will be in world of pain audit wise.

Perhaps I am on a bit of an ivory tower as a predominantly private instructor in an affluent resort, and perhaps the rank and file aren't doing quite as well as they should, but there's something in this issue that makes me nervous, and I can't honestly see any good coming out of it.
post #2 of 40
One thing for sure, they are pro-active.

A little desparate maybe, but asking for what they want.

I don't think it will work though. People don't like to be guilted into things.

Cheers, Wade
post #3 of 40
I think it's appalling. I expect the WRSLW is a made up organization.

I would also suspect that the pros who would write such a piece have not achieved the level of expertise where they would actually earn a tip through excellence in their product. Most of our guys who receive great tips, don't have to ask for it.

I also think it will backfire. If I read that, there would be no chance of my tipping, unless the service was truly extraordinary.
post #4 of 40
Thread Starter 
I question your use of the word 'pros' however everything else you said is spot on.

I've never, ever asked for a tip, and when asked by a client about anything to do with tipping I find it extremely uncomfortable.
post #5 of 40
Well it is showing initiative and I too think the organization mentioned is a thin cover.

I worry that skiing is pricing itself out of existance as it is. I'm not very comfortable with this tactic either.

The ones who should sit up and take note are the resort operators. Apparently they have some staff that are borderline desparate and if they aren't professonal the pay scale may be part of the culprit there.
post #6 of 40
If a customer were to ask 10 different ski school directors around the US, whether tipping was expected, customary or frowned upon for group lessons and also private lessons, what do most of you think the majority of responses would be?
post #7 of 40
Tipping isn't widespread here. I do rather well, especially from kid privates, but apparently that is not the norm. I used to get embarassed by it, but now I do appreciate it. You can't rely on it though.
post #8 of 40
Originally posted by ant:
I used to get embarassed by it, but now I do appreciate it. You can't rely on it though.
Ant's got it right.

I've never asked for one. But I'm not embarrassed to talk about it. When a guest asks about a tip for me, I always say it's never necessary and always appreciated. When they ask me on behalf of another instructor, I say that it's not required or expected, but it happens more often than not, and it's always greatly appreciated. If I know the guest has a pro for the kids as well, I always remind them how hard the kids' pro works as well.

When they ask how much, I usually say that we expect new cars and their unmarried daughters.
post #9 of 40
I don't want their unmarried daughters!!!!!
post #10 of 40
good point
post #11 of 40
Then I'll take care of them for you, ant!
post #12 of 40
If you are the REAL Smooth Johnson you will know the answers to these two questions:

1.) How do I become an expert skier?

2.) What do you think about getting big air?

I would rather be in a position where tips were not part of the picture but since the "pay" is pathetic and the "benefits" are few, I have learned to accept them.

Those at destination resorts can't even put themselves in our shoes (metro-feeder instructors).

I have had four "break even" days this season, where the gas to get to the hill was paid for. I have to teach four hours and the "pay", after taxes will take care of the $15 dollar gas bill and buy a burger and coke after I'm done.

Now deduct PSIA dues and the like ... the costs of buying/renting the uniform.

I run in the RED every year. This will probably be my last season teaching. The cost of a season pass is about $500 and as one fella put it to me ... "first ride up the lift is $500 and the rest are free!" I'll be able to go inside when I'm cold instead of standing around (unpaid) waiting to work.
post #13 of 40
How do you get big air? pull his finger. I have all the posters and boxes of toothpicks and what not. BTW, I got the real story on "smooth johnson". The guy whose image you saw was a mechanic from Portland Oregon, who didn't ski! One of K2, sorry, I mean Olin's, advertising gimicks.
post #14 of 40
Thread Starter 
ant - do you approve of the makeover?
post #15 of 40
Thread Starter 
PS My intentions in this thread were not to condemn tipping, far from it, more to highlight that I thought this flyer would do more harm than good.
post #16 of 40
This year our SSD simply added the words "gratuities not included" under the lesson prices on the sign at the ski school desk. This did not insult or intimidate anyone, but it worked wonders.
post #17 of 40
I alway tip after a lesson with the amount dependent on the quality of the lesson. I think in the long run, it benefits me and the instructor because of the snowball effect. That is, I tip well for good service and then I get good service because I tip well. It may sound funny but it works.

I'm amazed at how many people don't realize that it's appropriate and even more amazed that most people think that the instructor receives the majority of the lesson fees.

I'd be all for some method to educate the skiing public regarding tips, but nothing I've seen above is the answer in my opinion.
post #18 of 40
Hey, there are a lot of cheap and clueless bastards out there. I see nothing wrong with a nudge or a reminder. After all, at the end of the day, it's always a choice, not an obligation.
post #19 of 40
Originally posted by Xdog1:
Hey, there are a lot of cheap and clueless bastards out there.
There's a statement that's hard to deny.

As a side note, I usually try to indicate to others beforehand, when I recommend an instructor, that a tip is appropriate. It is, however, hard to convince people who have been unhappy with previous lessons that this is the way to go.
post #20 of 40
I bought a drink at the bar, pays the bartender & is looking for the tip jar when he says "is there something wrong with my service". I was dumbfounded "huh" - he says "tip!" - I reached into my pocket to fish for my pennies. He wasn't happy - but got what he deserve IMHO.

If you had to ask - it probably wasn't good enough.

post #21 of 40
Originally posted by Smooth Johnson:
ant - do you approve of the makeover?
heh, you don't look a bit like the real guy, you fraud!
post #22 of 40
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by ant:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by Smooth Johnson:
ant - do you approve of the makeover?
heh, you don't look a bit like the real guy, you fraud! </font>[/quote]Can't help it that i've upgraded myself from "Man of the Carve" to "Master of the Carve". My humility dwindles with age
post #23 of 40
You still didn't answer my second question. I'll jog that aging memory, it has to do with the culinary arts.

That idea about the tip being exclusive of the price of the lesson is great. Sad that you have to go through all of that baloney.

One of our instructors passed along her "formula" to get tipped. Towards the end of the lesson, she would work the word .. tip ... into many of her sentences ... "Remember to tip the skis" ... "Another handy tip is to". She claimed it worked wonders.
post #24 of 40
I wish those posters were at my resort. The general public who hardly skis does not know that they should tip. I make nothing, teach lots of lessons, and almost never get tips.(I dare to say i am one the the better instructors in my dept) I dont see the problem in informing the public. The posters were not ment for people who have knowledge of the ski industry. When parents pay the high rates to bring their kids to the program i work for they assume the instructors see more of the money. Just my thoughts...
post #25 of 40

I sympathize with you, but tips should be given exclusively for good service, not to make up for the shortfall in instructor salaries.

When Xdog1 calls clients "cheap and clueless" he does not take into consideration that those clients already spent big dollars for tickets and lessons (and sometimes food and lodging) and any soliciting for a tip may just turn them off completely.
post #26 of 40
In principle, what TomB says is true. We should make a fair dollar.

In practice, we don't.

But once you are aware that the instructor is getting a scant $7 to $10 to provide the service and you realize that they only get paid for actual instructional hours ... that 45 minute line up is not paid time, don't you feel some obligation to tip.

I always gave the instructor the cost of lunch at the lodge for my kids lessons. Usually the ski areas are in "depressed" (Aspen doesn't count), areas where logging and farming are the mainstays. I had family in New Hampshire and I got a look behind the scenes at the local economy and just tipped cause I knew the locals needed it.

The least the PSIA could do is to put up billboards about a mile from the hill. I know they have a position of "non-advocacy" regarding the membership but since we pay the dues they should start catching on instead of coming up with programs to get more $ .... like that new Junior Member program for $15. Without any prompting or comment (from me), my kid read that and remarked that all they want is the money, there was nothing in it for the kid.

My son found a few of my paychecks this year and he was amazed that I "do all that for $35" ...
post #27 of 40
I'm gonna keep this short. I have clients taht I teach every weekend, and do full and half day privates for too. They are families that are new to skiing. They also are families that could easily afford tips in addition to the exorbitant cost of a private lesson. I really think that they have no idea that tipping the ski instructor is something that's done.
post #28 of 40

I agree with your assessment. I live in an up scale neighborhood full of well to do people (Doctors, lawyers, CPA's and other professionals), many of which I also ski with frequently. I am astounded by the fact that most of these people didn't know a) it's appropriate to tip and b) that instructors don't pocket most of the lesson fees. Knowing full well that all of these people can afford to tip, and now do so regularly when they take a lesson (thanks to my prodding), I have to believe that educating the public is the way to go on this subject. The question is how to do it tastefully.

I'm not a ski professional, but I think it gets back to PSIA and it's interaction or non-interaction with the Ski Schools and the instructors. If the public was more aware of what PSIA represents, what the certification process means, and how this all goes together to provide sound instruction, it would do everyone involved wonders.
post #29 of 40
PSIA is more aligned with the managent and the industry "at large" and they stress a customer/client centered model, than they are with the very instructors who support the organization with the dues paid.

The management wants you to get the Level II or Level III pin so that you can deliver a better product. They, not the instructor derive the benefits from the enhanced product. But, they expend minimal effort to nurture that cause. The instructor is not paid to go the the events and they are costly.
post #30 of 40
Hi, I'm relatively new in skiing and unfamiliar with the culture especially when it comes to tipping, so I guess I'm one of those clueless bastards. I actually got a couple of good lessons from two different instructors and probably would go back to them. I'd rather give them gifts in the future especially if they will be my regular instructors. I feel uneasy giving them tips because it might give the impression that their jobs are menial. Somehow I think these people have a more regular job and ski instruction is just their passion or a way to use the facility for free. It's really hard to know when to tip a person who have served you. Do you know which personnel to tip when you are admitted to a hospital? Do you tip a paramedic or ambulance driver? Do you tip your auto mechanic, ski technicians, boot fitters, etc.? Well, if you are not familiar, welcome to the club? :
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