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Why don't they tip here?!

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
The plaintive cry of the instructor in Summit County. Back in Vermont, there were breathless tales of largess, plenty of work, good hourly rates and TIPS!
Tiipping was rare in kids ski school; i've moved to s (not in search of tips mind you) and it's not much better, although I did score 30 bucks yesterday from a level 1 group.

In lieu of tips, I would accept a couple of feet of fresh powder. It's getting darn icy here at Keystone, although they had the heavy duty ice mashers out last night.
post #2 of 28
It's a rare moment when anyone in the Poconos gets a tip and word goes around pretty quick.

Our only "tip/perk" is getting two whole free runs a day.
post #3 of 28
My dad's an instructor so I know what you mean. But one thing he says, with the amount of money lift tickets, lodging, food costs, he's just glad anyone has anything left over to take a class, let alone leave a tip. Another thing he says is that when someone takes a lesson, they think of the instructor as a professional. Its not like they are a waiter or housekeeping at the hotel. People usually think of a tip going to someone who gives you service, not someone who is giving you education. The problem is that they have no way of knowing that the instructor may be making less money than the waitress! With the cost of everything else on the mountain, they just assume the instructors are making alot of money.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 20, 2002 05:40 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Bethany ]</font>
post #4 of 28
IF.... BIG ...... IF .... PSIA had any balls they would post what the average instructor is making on a billboard outside the area.

post #5 of 28
I'd like to see the PSIA become more of an advocate for instructors wages and rights, however - billboards outside the ski area's property would be a crass and classless to ramp up the debate - and would assure instant negative combat from the ski areas rather than leaving any chance for constructive talks and progress.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 20, 2002 06:46 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Todd Murchison ]</font>
post #6 of 28
why not have a sign were people sign up for ski school it could explain how instructors are paid it would not have to be a billboard but something along with the sign that shows the rates for lessons ect, restaurants on the menu, they automaticly add 15% for large partys,charter fishing boats-for deckhands as they only get paid by tips,anywhere people are not paid a great deal to provide a service do it hear in florida. a waitress in florida makes about 2.15 per hour & lives pretty much on tips but you need to let people know.I am sure more people would tip "for good service" if they knew it was needed for lack of better pay. just my .02 but it sounds like something needs to be done
post #7 of 28
No, that wont solve the problem. It will just piss people off that they are paying all this money and the instructor is not getting much of it. Like I said earlier, if people are already paying more than they can afford to go skiing, they may not be so happy about the idea that not tipping an instructor is some a way of dissin' them. Solve the REAL problem! Pay instructors as if they were professionals.
post #8 of 28
I agree with Bethany. Since Americans {wrongly} equate salary level with qualification, posting the instructor's pathetic average hourly rate would give the false impression that the instructors are not qualified.

As we have seen from all the threads about accident and injury, resorts are being penny wise and pound fooloish by engaging in the practice of underpaying their instructors. On the one hand, you get people who can not really afford to pay for lift, lodging food and lessons PLUS tip on every ski trip. Then, the resorts have trouble keeping qualified teachers since the pay is so low. The result: Lots of people on the slope that are really awful skiers, causing all sorts of accidents. As a result, eventually, less people want to ski!

First, the APALLING practice of not paying instructors if there is no class needs to end! Perhaps, it may be a good idea to use a similar model to Park City. If there is no class, have the instructors roam the mountain and give out safety tips.
post #9 of 28
Many of us who teach are driven by the ego ... not necessarily an inflated ego, just that little gnawing voice that asks if you are good enough.

It's like the "black belt" in karate. You ask yourself .... "can I do this?" ...

Management knows this and will just haul in a bunch of folks that can barely ski if you quit. Beginners don't know the difference.

Some of us are dreamers and searchers, but the ones I feel sorry for are the locals who need a few extra dollars.
post #10 of 28
Speaking as a consumer, after I have ponied up $$$$ for 4 lift tickets, rentals for the kids, lessons and lunches, I AM DAMN NEAR BROKE!!!!! that doesn't count lodging,travel expenses and incidentals that always crop up.
I firmly believe that both the guests and the instructors are being bent over by the resorts.I can vote with my dollars and go someplace that offers a better value. You guys need to organize on a national level and set pay standards based on your teaching level. I am Far from being a union guy but I firmly believe they are needed in certain industries and it's obvious that this is one of them.Just my .02 worth
post #11 of 28

I agree. The tips are pretty lousy here. Kids, snowboard, womens groups, english and south americans are the worst in that order.

I remember when a huge meal could be had for 2 bucks. Now it is 10 bucks, lousy and the the service staff rates are still very low.

I don't know Todd. Soft approaches to managment have never worked in the past. A national & very vocal approach seems to be the only way OR open up the areas to european co-op style ski schools.

Ha I am dreaming again ....
post #12 of 28
I rarely saw tips when I was teaching in Summit County (Breck). Got a few dollars and a few beers at the end of the day. The Restort and SKi school get all the money up front. Someone pops in for a private 1 hr lesson. They pay $75-$100 for an hour of a "professionals" time. They do not know how much the instructor is actually getting of that. 15-25%? I know that 10 years ago I was getting around $15 an hour, plus a couple buck per student, additiona; money for returning students (make em happy the first day so they will come back the next), and then a few extra bucks for being Assistant Teen Supervisor. SO at the end of the day I could pull in up to $25.00 and hour. The issue with that is you do not work 8hrs a day. You get paid at max for 6hrs.
I guess where I am going with this is that tips will depend on the consumers coming to the area. Work at Deer Valley, you probably see some good tips. The average income of the guest staying and skiing is probably much higher than someone going to stay and ski at Breckenridge. Another thing is rich people like you to know they are rich. Get a big tip and your thought is "they must be loaded". Then you start puckering your lips to kiss thier sphincter so they will come back the next day.

I guess the whole point of this is that you do not instruct skiing because you want to make money. You do it because you love the sport, it allows you to be on the snow everyday, you want to share your passion with as many people you can while helping them enjoy the sport more by becomeing better skiers. The end result, more visits to the ski hills, more equipment being purchased, and a very healthy industry.
post #13 of 28
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Argus:

I guess the whole point of this is that you do not instruct skiing because you want to make money. You do it because you love the sport...

Yes, but Love don't pay the mortgage...
post #14 of 28
Argus is right. The Denny's waiter and the Spago's waiter essentially do the same job...
Except for the ass kissing part. But hey, that's what Altoids are for!
post #15 of 28
instead of working for a resort could you start your own ski school, do your own advertising develop a client base let word of mouth grow your business,offer personalized lessons people would have to do your own bookings,pay for lifts- season pass,carry insurance ect.but you could go to the resort that best fit the lesson would give up resort privileges but the increase in pay to me would be worth would take time& not every one could do this,just like any small business alot of work involved but the upside looks good if you truly offer "qaulity service", or do the resorts have some kind of control legally on a service like this I couldn't see how but you would have to find out.I bet if a bunch of services like this started growing & taking clients from the resorts it might make them rethink their position on paying, bitching about it won't get it can say this or that won't work but if you do nothing you only have yourselves to blame. just my .02 bteddy by the way I am not rich save all year to go skiing but I do tip when & only when it is earned, goodluck
post #16 of 28
For years, discreetly posted at the TO and on the private slips I have added "gratuities gratefully accepted", no one has ever become insulted.
A friend called 3 days ago...a returning client just gave her the deed to 20 acres of view property lookin at Angel Fire...nice!
post #17 of 28
I agree that instructor pay is dismal and the resort owners should be flogged.....But what you gotta do is work the system. Most areas pay commissions on request privates so when I get a private I'm making about $50. per hour. Plus most clients who can afford privates do tip. So make sure you have cards printed, keep in touch with your clients in the off season, start building a customer base. This is the only way you can make money in this business and it takes time but if you start talking to people on the lifts and when you're free skiing, give your cards to bartenders and rental shop people ( take care of them, they can refer lots of clients). If you make the effort to cultivate your own clients, it is like being in business for yourself. If you get a group lesson in the morning, sell a private to one of those people for the afternoon. Start selling yourself and you'll be suprised at how much money you can make. The resort owners are never gonna do it for you !
post #18 of 28

You are never going to see anything like $50 per at a feeder resort. What is the minimum wage in your state? The kid in the local 7/11 or Quickchek is making about two dollars more per hour than the average instructor at an eastern feeder area.

The destination resorts have a MUCH different client base than the metro-feeders.
post #19 of 28
Big destination resorts don't always pay better. Wolf Creek Ski Area in CO may have its issues, but instructor pay isn't one of them. The pay rate there is about double what most resorts pay, and in privates triple what most "mega" resorts pay (and lessons COST less, go figure!)

Great place to be an instructor, you just wouldn't want to get into management there . . . .
post #20 of 28
As a ski instructor, the best customer service I can provide is a quality product. I don't discount my services and I don't hand out business cards. And still, I make a living doing this. Financially modest, but still comfortable. Success in this business is not measured by money.

That might mean there will never be a Mercedes or a BMW parked in my driveway. It does not mean that the guy who does have one is better than me.

I knew about the wages going in. True, I do have a summer job that helps keep my boat afloat and this has certainly made it easier to commit to the sacrifices necessary to continue my ski instructor training. But anyone can do this! If you think it's "hard" or thankless work, then try something else that MAKES YOU HAPPY. Live simply and within your means... easier said than done, but attainable... by anyone. Just don't expect it to be handed to you. Go get it.

My life is one big ski lesson. Sometimes I'm teacher, sometimes I'm taught. But I'm always learning something about skiing or about life. It's worth so much more than money.

Someone on this board recently illustrated this point to me, and I think if that person is reading this, he/she will know what I mean when "eye" say that I am appreciative of your kind words. Thank you.
post #21 of 28
You are extremely welcome, and its easy to see how someone with such talent and insight as yourself can make a reasonable living in ski instruction. As someone who also chose to a profession that makes me happy as opposed to wealthy, I can relate to what you are saying! [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #22 of 28
So if the resort gets most of the fee for a lesson, how does one go about setting up a lesson with an instructor without involving the resort? The student could pay less for a lesson and the instructor receive a larger fee at the same time!

Just a thought...
post #23 of 28
The Instructor and Coach Listing!
post #24 of 28
ah yes, the tip debate...
in Banff, this was on every instructors mind. We taught a lot of Bits and they aren't used to tipping waiters, etc back home, so some instructors took it upon themselves to "educate" them. Some would talk about their last client who tipped them, or get another instructor to drop a hint. Some would just outright suggest it. I don't know about other areas, but we would be fired if we were caught teaching a lesson that had not been arranged through our snow school. One good thing about those Brits.. they will not hesitate to buy you drinks all night! Some days I would make a $90 tip, other days I would get nothing, and I found that there was no way to predict who would and who wouldn't tip!
I agree that the CSIA / PSIA needs to set min. wage standards, but you DO have to think of the benefits.. free skiing, excellent sessioning, meeting other great instructors, and doing what you LOVE! If you do what you love long enough, you will find a way to make money from it!
This season, I am back home in Ontario, teaching at the local hill. I am getting paid less than I was last year, and I don't expect I will EVER see a tip here. BUT I am still doing it so it obviously isn't about the money!

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 28, 2002 07:45 PM: Message edited 1 time, by rossi9irl ]</font>
post #25 of 28
Thread Starter 
I suppose there's always a difference in outlook, from people who live in the area, and those who fly half way around the world to ply their trade. ie, you have to pay for airfares, and also all the stuff you have to buy when you arrive, as you can't bring a lot of stuff with you.

Plus, there's the pressure of not getting much work, mixed in with the low hourly rate. Some days I only get a morning lesson, that's 2.5 hours, at 11 bucks an hour, before tax (and boy, do we pay tax in Colorado!). Eating and sleeping start to become worrisome if that is sustained.

Plus you have the pressure of unexpected expenses, like my recent problem with a guest breaking my ski poles. A few of those, or a medical problem, and bankruptcy starts to loom!

But a few days of steady tipping, and that pretty well pays for food and other expenses, it makes quite a difference.

However, I don't think it'll ever change. PSIA seem bent on remaining a helpful entity to ski area managers, rather than advocates for their members.
post #26 of 28
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by ant:
PSIA seem bent on remaining a helpful entity to ski area managers, rather than advocates for their members.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Ant ... same as the APSI.

If you work in Perisher back home you are working for the biggest retard SS director in Oz. This man has done more to undermine the rights and conditions of Ski Instructors than any other I have encountered in 20 years.

Certification and experience will get you off the $11 hr rate .... of course you will go broke three times just getting full cert.

Keep your chin up, get good at hunting for free food and beer nights, get a safeway card for discounts and use all that free time to practise for cert.

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #27 of 28
Us Brits aren't particularly mean (well, not all of us) but we tend to feel ski instructors are 'fellow professionals' rather than paid skivvies so tipping is embarrassing whereas buying drinks is what you do for your mates.

When we were in NZ & Australia (for a summer holiday, not skiing) we were told that you never ever tip anybody as we're all social equals. Does that apply to all your ski instructors down there too?
post #28 of 28
Thread Starter 
I'm a psia level 1, in Australia (at what is evidently Man from Oz's favourite resort!) I was on 16 bucks an hour. In vermont I finished on 8.55 per hour, and here in CO I'm on 11 per hour.
I guess the trick is to find that perfect ski hill to work at: where the pay allows you to live living expenses need to be reasonable...there's enough work, and you get some tips.
Australia has strongish laws about minimum wages, that tends to help a bit.

ant (skiing Breck today, you can tell how good it is by the fact that I'm on the net!)
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