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The name has been changed

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
Just heard that we at the ski school will be refered to as instructors again rather than Ski Pros. Personally, I am all in favor of this. It is a much more accurate discription of what I do and get paid for. Any comments or opinions on this.

post #2 of 39
But you will still be referring to the customers as "those rich a-holes", right?

[ August 31, 2002, 08:01 PM: Message edited by: milesb ]
post #3 of 39
Instructors teach, coaches guide, pros....

What's in a name if they still don't come?
post #4 of 39
Where's this change coming from, Ydnar? Is this an official "policy" of your resort, or your ski school director, or your marketing department--or something else?

Personally, I think "instructor" does better describe the activity, but "professional" is certainly applicable, and has a lot of tradition behind it too--think "golf pro," or "tennis pro." And those sports where instructors are called "pros" seem to also treat their instructors as professionals--something we could definitely use in skiing. Furthermore, "instruction" is only a small part of the role of an instructor.

I favor "professional."

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #5 of 39
I demand to be called Her Highness, the Snow Queen. Off with their heads if they don't comply!
post #6 of 39
Why not go the way of my job?
Four years ago I was called a "Specialist"
Then an "Analyst"
Now, a "Consultant"

My job hasn't changed much, neither has my salary. Perhaps you could be called a "Ski Consultant"?

post #7 of 39
Nolo, I have a friend who started calling herself "The Ski Goddess" after she earned her Level III years ago. That's now what everyone calls her. Do you really want more than just SCSA calling you "Your Highness"?
post #8 of 39
Snow Qween, SNOW QWEEN? Really Nolo!
post #9 of 39
Actually, I prefer a return to the "ski instructor" title over the "ski pro" title. The word "Pro" is overused to the point of becoming meaningless. I've seen ski stores that call their salesmen ski pros, and they have every right to. These people are getting paid to sell skis. They may not be overly educated in ski design or technique, but they can sell you skis. The guy down at the local auto parts store may hold the title of Pro too, but that doesn't necessarily s much more than what his computer tells him.

Now, "professional ski instructor" to me is a much more descriptive title- especially when applied to a level II or III instructor. If you've put in the time to hone skills and keep current on related knowledge, you should by all means be known as a professional. No title is going to describe everything you do, but it should at least highlight your primary focus. Whatever else you may be required to do, you still are required to provide ski instruction.

Besides, the word "pro" makes me think of slimy guys named Stu who hang around country clubs trying to hit on the rich women.
post #10 of 39
You laugh, but I have a silvery plastic crown encrusted with jewels and a wand to match. The wand has a cool star on the end of it.

When coral reef is all Mother Nature provides, a few waves of the wand usually brings cold smoke to the mountains and peace in the valley.

Someday when I'm feeling comfortable, I'll post a picture of Eskew, the most regal of my multiple personalities.
post #11 of 39
Well, I won't be teaching there Ydnar, but it's a step in the right direction. My old resort in Vermont called us Pros, and after attaining 2 qualifications in the first season, I was elevated to the pay rate of $8.55 an hour. Didn't make me feel real "pro" I can tell you. I tend to prefer "instructor".
post #12 of 39
Thread Starter 

The name change is an official policy change made (I am pretty sure) by the Ski School. I don't know the reason behind the change but I do like it. As Mike pointed out, in recent years it seems that many companies in a broad range of businesses have decided that calling their employees Pros would be a good marketing/PR move. This has lessened the stature of the word to almost joke status.

I have expressed some of my feelings about the term elsewhere so will refrain from doing that here. I will say that I have never heard one of my guests refer to me or any of my fellow ski school emploiees as a Ski Pro, to them we are instructors. Some of us certainly act more like professionals than others and in those cases Mike's phrase "professional ski instructor" is appropriate but there are so many in the business who aren't professional about it that I wouldn't want to apply that term across the board.

Finally, for most of us our major duty is to teach and educate so the term instructor works best for me.


PS. If you have truly earned a title like Nolo has then you should use it and I think that we should refer to Her as Highness in all posts and when addressing Her at the Bear Camp. In fact She should change her handle here to Highness.
post #13 of 39

It's a joke, son. A more apt identity theft would be Napoleon...short and bossy, understands that armies move on their stomachs.

Ski Pro, ski instructor, or ski teacher--I've heard the arguments pro and con. It's all semantics to feed consumer perception and increase sales. Seems a flimsy pretext to me.

As I have said before, spend every cent of the marketing budget on training all ski area employees so that customers never have to receive an "I don't know," "I can't help you," or "They don't tell us anything around here; they make it hard for me to do a good job; etc." Build the whole resort TEAM into a well-oiled service delivery system.

That will increase sales.

[ September 02, 2002, 09:49 AM: Message edited by: nolo ]
post #14 of 39
Intrawest does a great job of employee empowerment. It's a big part of orientation for all new hires. I think they call it Service Power.
post #15 of 39
Originally posted by nolo:
As I have said before, spend every cent of the marketing budget on training all ski area employees so that customers never have to receive an "I don't know," "I can't help you," or "They don't tell us anything around here; they make it hard for me to do a good job; etc." Build the whole resort TEAM into a well-oiled service delivery system.

That will increase sales.
This is so true, and it's not rocket science, but so many customer-service businesses don't do this! Empower the employees to give good service, be it info, or some special thing that might mean so much to the customers. Tell the employees what they can do, the lengths they can go to. Make it utterly clear.
I am constantly amazed at how customer service industries create unneccessary bureacracies out of all their staff, rather than having everything focussed on customer service. The customers expect service, not rules and regulations.

The Aussie hill I'm at now is a pleasant change, mainly because it's small and quite insular. One day a few weeks ago, we had most of senior mg't on the rope tow area! It just happened; the ski school director was teaching, as we're short staffed, the resort mgt (the big boss) was there talking to the mtn ops mgr, and all we were missing was the manager of the only commercial hotel here.

These guys are always out and about, the customers can always find them and they solicit feedback and opinions. It's really refreshing.
post #16 of 39
Thanks, ant, for affirming my suspicion that if you're nice to them, they are more likely to come back.

Here's another idea: Find ways to get the customers to tell you what they think about your services: were they satisfied with it; how did they benenfit; would they recommend it to others; etc.

Here's another idea: benchmarking. Every ski area adopt a uniform (third party) customer survey and reporting system and compare how different areas stack up against each other on critical service indices.
post #17 of 39
I may be wrong, but aren't terrain, snow, price, and accesibility the most important factors in people determining where they want to ski?
Sure, customer service is great, but with many ski resorts it's like a 300 lb. woman spending time and $$ buying fancy shoes. Nothing wrong with it (if it makes her feel good), but it isn't going to do much to attract men.
post #18 of 39
Why do you want to go to Deer Valley on your trip to Utah?

There's better terrain, snow, and prices with the same great accessibility among its competition in the SLC area.

People will buy on price, but good service brings them back.

There's a McDonald's in Missoula I will NEVER, EVER visit again because the customer care was horrible. Customers like me love to punish offenders of the service ethic.
post #19 of 39
I liked the terrain there. I liked the freshies that I didn't have to fight 1000 others for. I likes not having snowboarders there. I liked the bumps. I liked the tree skiing. That's why I'm going to go to Deer Valley.
post #20 of 39
Whoops, I forgot. My wife also loved it!
The McD's comparison is horribly flawed. You can get essentially the same thing at any fast food place. There is nothing to prevent one from offering what the others do. Not so for ski areas. The ones that are lacking is essential criteria have to make up for it in others if they want to stay in business. Why do you think Sol Vista hosts Harb instead of Vail? Because they need some attraction that makes them unique. Vail doesn't need to bother with anything special (although they do), as they have instrinsic attractions that make Vail more desirable. Same thing with Squaw and Killington.
Now if you want to talk about the tiny segment of skiers that spend ungodly amounts of $$$ on thier vacations, by all means it's crucial to give them the Royal Brown Nose Special customer service that they are used to paying for. But they also have far different criteria for vacation selection as most skiers.
post #21 of 39
You are saying that good service is a concern of the rich priveleged classes and not people like me who wander in to eat at McDonald's once in a while?

You think I'm there because the food is so tasty?

No: it's supposed to be fast, mediocre but edible, HOT, ambiable (smile, right?), and reasonably clean. When the product is none of those things that I expect and have been led to believe through advertising, it makes a large and lasting negative impression.

If you think Deer Valley's success is driven by how much guests love the terrain, you have a unique point of view. I found the grooming to be impeccable, the runs wide and nicely flowing, the scenery lovely, but what really set it apart was the dessert cart at Stein's. After which I really appreciated the easy skiing.
post #22 of 39
nolo, c'mon. You asked me why I was going to DV. But on the subject of terrain, some mountains just "ski better" than others, regardless of the difficulty. Most skiers won't think "wow, it's cool that 75% of DV's trails are cut down the fall line", or "PCMR is nothing but a bunch of short drops off of ridges". But they will feel the difference, and not knowing why, prefer DV skiing.
As far as class differences affecting customer service, well that's just a fact of life. Although no one should have to endure
BAD service. (Except folks paying with food stamps : ). Many wealthy people really appreciate having their asses kissed and will gladly pay extra for it.
post #23 of 39
I think when people have been skiing for awhile, customer service is not the main motivating factor for choosing a mountain.

But as one who never wanted to ski in the first place, one of the ways that I got hooked to it was based on the fact that the customer service at Sunday River was better than the customer service I give at the gyms where I work. And in modesty, thats pretty darn good.

But since this thread is also about who buys lessons, a BIG mistake that ski schools often make is having rude, disorganized people work the ski school desk.

[ September 07, 2002, 04:52 PM: Message edited by: Lisamarie ]
post #24 of 39
If you think Deer Valley's success is driven by how much guests love the terrain, you have a unique point of view.
If that was true, then you could have a no snowboarders policy, groom twice a day, and have great food at any resort and get a #1 rating. Why not try it at your hill?
post #25 of 39
Lisamarie got that right. But that's where I have most often found those employees, behind the ski school desk. Go to the ski chool desk most anywhere and ask for a level 3 certified instructor. We could have a contest to see which place has the best blank stares. Then half the time the supervisor comes out and tells you "all our instructors are certified..". At least the cafeteria guys can tell you what they put on the burgers.
post #26 of 39
What we're talking about is quality. Frankly, I think ski areas underestimate the discernment of their customers. We hear about anticipatory marketing, well, how about anticipatory service. How would you like to be greeted on entering the ski school sales area with someone who answers your request for an advanced lesson with, "Yes, we have an excellent roster of fully certified pros. Would you like to have a look at their credentials and make a choice?"

DV is fanatic about quality. Having runs that flow with gravity that are groomed twice daily is just an expression of their fanaticism.
post #27 of 39
Originally posted by milesb:
I may be wrong, but aren't terrain, snow, price, and accesibility the most important factors in people determining where they want to ski?
Sure, customer service is great, but with many ski resorts it's like a 300 lb. woman spending time and $$ buying fancy shoes. Nothing wrong with it (if it makes her feel good), but it isn't going to do much to attract men.
No - I moved jobs to be near where I want to ski.

I ski at the resorts I do because I like the staff - ski school & other.

I chose them on the basis of those who ski the areas liking THAT about the resort. I didn't consider that I had much in common with those who were looking for 'gnarly' terrain etc.

I remain there because the customer service is good.
In one case I remain simply because the Ski School provides excellent service - until this year I held no hope for the lift company or resort management.
post #28 of 39
I think service is vital. And yeah, MilesB, one of my pet hates is how they expect us outside to perform cartwheels giving service, but the people behind the various counters and desks let us down. these people are usually right under the noses of the managers, and they keep on being rude, or ignorant!

The main resort here in Oz operates in an-almost monopoly situation, and it shows in how they operate. I was skiing there today (my day off) and chatting to a bloke on the t bar, who was quite disgusted, he reckoned they knew nothing about PR. He then went on to compare the hill poorly with Whistler and Keystone, two resorts he felt gave him good service.

Maybe committed skiiers will make decisions on committed skiier things, and the ignorant will go for silly promotions or gimicks, but I think a lot of people will get quietly offended at bad service, and go elsewhere if they can. Here in Oz, people tend not to complain. If one person complains, you can bet that 20 felt the same way but didn't say anything. Australian businesses tend to handle negative feedback exceptionally badly, too. We are still learning on that one.

I am quite enraged by bad service. Others will be annoyed, or philosophical about it, but I think that with most people, the memory of bad service will be factored into their future buying decisions.
post #29 of 39
You want to know the ironic thing about customer service? The main way that bad service manifests itself is understaffing. Which is something COMPLETELY within management's control. But what do they try to do to improve service? Anything but what would actually make a difference! They would often rather throw money at consultants and training programs than increase the staff/customer ratio. What would you rather have? Shorter lines, or someone who greets you with canned phrases?
My employer spends lots of $$ on our "signature customer service" program, which is basically: greet every customer within 7 feet of you, ask them if they need help finding an item if they look lost, and taking them to the item. All of which we have always done, just not consistently. So a "mystery shopping" firm is paid to make sure this is ALWAYS happening, and prizes are given to employees who are found to be following this.
They even gave away a couple of cars! Meanwhile, 97% of the "we'd
like to know" cards that our customers fill out complain about 2 things: long lines, and out of stock items. I've never, in 15 years, seen one that said "every employee didn't greet me! I wasn't taken to the item I asked about!" But hey, I'm just a peon, what do I know!
post #30 of 39
Right you are, Miles, about spending 80% (or more) of the resources on 20% (or less) of the issues. I suppose the company you work for doesn't listen to your advice from the floor any more than it listens to requests from its customers.

As a pro, I often gnash my teeth when I hear salespeople misinforming customers in sporting goods departments and shops, selling them too long a ski or too large a boot, that's my main peeve. What would happen if a sporting goods chain adopted the attitude of Home Depot and staffed their shops with salespeople who know what they're talking about and act as shopping consultants?

The repurposing of their sales force from brute force selling to service leading to a sale is one reason Nordstrom's has the brand strength it does.

Tell me, which ski resorts have that kind of brand strength? I'm talking about having a name that a person raised on a hog farm in Arkansas would recognize...
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