Here is a simple question about empirical data. A lot of speculation about who makes what and how much on this thread with little in the way of hard facts and experiential information.
Fact is ski instruction in North America is brutally expensive for the ordinary American and anyone here who says different should try to figure out what the median and mean incomes in the US are.
Therefore the question is:
The obvious one: Why are ski lessons in the US(and Canada) prohibitively expensive and out of reach of most ordinary Americans? Since skiing by itself is not an elitist sport though the initial outlay for gear is also pretty steep. Its not like one needs a country club membership to ski and innovative, enterprising youngsters find a myriad of legitimate, imaginative ways to learn to ski, acquire equipment and just have a blast on the slopes.
To the Potential Reasons: Please professionals on this site, do respond and explain. It helps.
(a) Ski resort operators have basic costs built into cost of lesson, i.e. instructor lift ticket, taxes, other operating costs, liability insurance. I do not know the answer but given the humongous number of professional 20+yr experienced ski instructors/school directors on this forum - someone should be able to formulate an economically sound, arithmetically cogent and reasonable explanation with data to back it up. This is because to the consumer they seem totally unreasonable and often ridiculous.
(b) Exercise of local monopoly power, once you are at the slope and you need to get a lesson - well, its not like you are going to turn around and find another slope that easily, i.e. sunk costs argument for the consumer; ski hill/resort operators know this and over time have figured out marginal cost demand is willing to bear, factoring in the switching cost to the consumer.
(c) What does liability insurance cost a resort, anyone? In terms of traffic, i.e. per skiier (based on some estimate of mean lift tickets sold, number of children or whatever are the important actuarial factors)?
(d) How do the economics in terms of revenue/income to the operator of a resort of a private one-on-one lesson with one instructor stack up versus a group lesson where the same instructor is handling multiple students. My general impression or rule of thumb, is (and this is serious casual empiricism) that group lessons cost an individual approximately 40% of the cost of a private lesson per hour. Again, professionals and directors and owners of resorts on this board, an education for your skiing consumer is helpful and only you know the answer since only you have the data.
(e) ski resorts are clearly for-profit organizations with the exception perhaps of places lik Belleayre in NY(I dont know that, just know that the state of NY owns it); hence what portion of their revenues come from ski instruction - direct revenue, i.e. from the instruction; and indirect revenue, brings friends, relatives, colleagues to the slopes so increases traffic and sales of lift tickets, food, drinks, and all the high margin stuff. Well, in reality, I assume that after some breakeven level, the return on capital for the additional lift ticket sold is astronomical since the marginal cost of adding the additional skiier to the slope is zero (with two subtle caps which would arise, i.e. far too crowded slopes, increase risk of injury and hence medical and legal liability and the other is that some consumers may never return if they had a bad experience because of crowds, these two reasons are correlated, just different forms of capacity constraints etc etc)
(f) seasonality of the sport also has to contribute to the supply side and demand side, i.e. can lead to higher prices depending on the activity and skiing is very popular as a family activity.
(g) one final observation. I saw a pretty silly outburst from someone called Uncle Louie earlier to another individual's attempt to compare professional service providers who charge by the hour. Well, lets not get too far afield here but ski instruction remains far more economical than what Elliot Spitz paid as per the NY Post! Thats a joke ok, so no one get bent out of shape now. Bottom line is HOW MUCH do instructors make in general, i.e. the instructor of the group lesson, the instructor of the private lesson as a percentage of the revenue they bring in to their enterprise by the hour?
Could have many more questions but these really are directed at the multitude of ski professionals on this forum. And please don't tell folks ski instruction in the US is not expensive, that's denying the obvious, its brutally expensive for the ordinary American - now imagine how expensive that is for most of the planet. Acknowledging that empirical fact has little to do with insulting anyone, its just an economic reality.
Anyway, I look forward to an education on the economics of running a ski resort. Note this is me musing aloud after reading the posts, am not an expert at running a ski resort, heck am a beginner or so on skis, just love the sport and wonder who is profitable and how? probably basic principles apply here like in any other traffic-linked quasi-commoditized enterprise. but that is for another time. I look forward to the pros providing all the non-pros on this forum an education.