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Hey, snow school directors... or anyone with an opinion!

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
It's that time of year when life turns into one big meeting. Gotta have next year's plan ready to show in the next couple of weeks, get the budget approved, that sort of stuff.

It's my first year as a director, wow has it been fun! Now it's time to look ahead. Any input on the following questions would be appreciated.

What choices do people want in lessons? (Beginner clinics, all-day "camps", privates, group lessons... what does your school offer?)

If price was no object, do you think people would choose private lessons over group lessons the majority of the time?

At what age do your lesson programs start?

How do you teach the weeest ones? like, 3 to 5 years old...(Groups, privates...?)

Are parents mostly looking to get rid of their kids for as long as possible so they can go ski on their own? What's your experience with kid's all-day "camps"?

How do you deal with instructor sessioning? Mandatory? Are sessions paid time, or unpaid time? Does your area management recognize the need for on-going training in skiing technique, teaching technique, policies, procedures, etc? Any tips in convincing a management that is... ummmm... say, "less" supportive of such things?

I'll shut up now. Hope some of ya might be able to help a brother out with your good advice!
post #2 of 5
Recovering director here. Good questions, I'll give some input tommorow . . . bedtime now, and I've got a bunch of ice to go ski tommorow!
post #3 of 5
As a ski school customer I'll tell you what I look for:

Choice of all day or morning group lessons.

Ability to have 'adults only lessons' (age 16+ or similar). Every ski school group I've been in has had 11-15 year olds & they make the experience worse for everybody else - I won't bore you with the detail.

Proper 'streaming' of group lessons rather than a 1-minute test at the beginning e.g. rearrange groups the next day once you've seen what the group is like.

Private lessons available

I'm not a parent, but people I've chatted to in general seem to want to get rid of their kids all day if the children are beginners, but want to ski together in the afternoon if the kids are competent.

Advertise in advance how many people is the maximum in a class so they know what they're paying for.

p.s. on the 'price is no object' question: No I don't. I think many beginners/near beginners would pick group lessons anyway. I not a beginner & could afford privates but I generally go with a group as I find I enjoy it more (though it's not true that 'price is no object' for me). Also I'm a bit unfit & I welcome the extra standing around you get in a group lesson so I don't have to admit to needing the rest!

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 14, 2002 10:59 AM: Message edited 1 time, by Frances ]</font>
post #4 of 5
My read of our guests in the Aspen area is:

Yes, they would generally take private lessons, althought there is a large second group that likes very small group lessons and multiday group lessons. Breakthrough on Skis--the Lito program--is a sell-out every year, and when I worked in Taos, the Learn to Ski Better week (six days, two hours every morning) was clearly the prime and most attractive product.

But Frances is right. People will not accept large groups.

Our locals/employees program has really taken off this season.

We start kids at about three, although we are very careful to advise parents that their expectations must only be that the child skis a bit and really enjoys being here.

We also have licensed infant care from 18 months to 3 years.

And yeah, parents like to ski with their kids, but usually not all day. Once they trust the kids are having fun in class, they release the bond and just meet them later.

TRAINING: We really believe in on-going training and spend huge dollars on it. There is NO substitute--either in marketing, pricing, or packaging--for well-trained, highly motivated, deeply caring pros. This training has to include teaching, skiing/riding, AND service, otherwise it is inadequate.

We have three large training chunks per season--early, January, and April. And we support cert training and beyond Level 3 training throughout the season.

I wish all schools would commit to this, because I believe the pro is the number one factor in retaining skiers/riders. Our goal is to set it up so that it is more fun to ski/ride with your pro than it is with your family!!

It's a monster investment with great results.

Having said that, training is no substitute for great hiring, and great hiring is a function of fair pay and an empowered atmosphere.

These are great hot buttons--good questions.

I hope one day to be a "recovering director". For the moment, I have failed in my quest for downward mobility. However, I'm tenacious and one day will succeed!

post #5 of 5
A lot of great questions! When I get time, like Todd, I will try to respond in earnest.
After 14 seasons of this....maybe a 12 step program?
Weems, I remember your days in Taos! The bumps are right there where you left them!
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