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post #31 of 78
Again, SCSA, right on all counts. We want the whole skiing/teaching/engagement package, but the skill in providing epic experience for our guests is the centerpiece and overrides "hotfeet".

ESKI:

You ARE in a hard niche. But good luck to you. I hope it works.


And yeah, holding a balance between the needs of the pros and the needs of the owners is essential. It's like breathing--necessitating both exhaling and inhaling. One or the other, to a fault, kills the organism. The same holds true for the relationship between guests needs and pros needs. These are both hard poles to balance.

Our pay scale is based on accrued hours and requested business (or numbers in class in the case of class lessons.

You start low and get a raise every seventy five hours with the raises capped at 450 hours. The idea here is to reward putting in a full, hard season, but not to encourage burnout. It's a form of profit sharing. The more business you generate, the more you get back.

We do get a few instructors who teach 850 hours a season. My hats off to them. I couldn't do that.

Each product is paid slightly differently, and in privates, requests are paid significantly more than assigned.

This system is really fine for full season full timers. Some very good instructors don't like it because they don't want to teach that many hours. New instructors struggle a bit, but they know, going in that there won't be a lot of work fed to them.

I believe that a seasoned, full cert, full timer with lots of return clientele can do better than $30/hour on average. But this varies all over the board. I know that our pros make more than our supervisors, and that's a hard one for the supe's. Except this season, the supervisors have steadier work while the pros have taken a hit. (Thanks Osama!)

Also we have paid training, show up pay (not much), and various non-paid teaching incentives which allow pros to move up in the raise grid.

It's quite complex, but many prosper from it.

Dick Dorworth, in a Mountain Gazette article called it obscene, because he was comparing entry level pay for an apprentice instructor to the price of the all day private. I kind of take issue with that, because the entry level instructor doesn't get all day privates normally, and when she does, then her career takes off like a rocket and she moves up in the grid.

The problem is not the pay. It's the length of the season and/or the dead spots in the season.

If I could, I would pay these people more, because they are wonderful pros and I'm extremely proud of their work and their skill.

But the company doesn't let me make decisions like that: I'm kind of a financial loose cannon and they know it. (This is wise!)

We've also done this without a union. Basically we've "organized" ourselves within the company. The pros don't need to pay union leaders to stand up for them. The company pays the pros to be team leaders, and we give the team leaders power. They do performance reviews, advise management, create new programs and ideas, develop priority systems within their divisions, advise on hiring, training, and policy, and above all, they provide a "safe path" pro council where pros can express grievances including those involved with termination. In the 8 or so termination cases that have been appealed to pro council, management has been overturned about half the time. Although management retains the right to do so, we have never overturned pro council's recommendation.

In this way, the pros are deeply involved in influencing what the school does.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 27, 2002 05:33 AM: Message edited 4 times, by weems ]</font>
post #32 of 78
Thread Starter 
Weems,

You said a magic word, one that is a kind of currency in its own right, and that word is TEAM. If I feel I am a valued member of the resort team, I become less fixated on pay and benefits, because espirit de corps satisfies an important Maslovian need: belonging. Belonging is both reward and recognition.

I think a significant amount of bitching that instructors do has its origins in feeling left out, unappreciated, and unseen as a unique, contributing member of the team.

I am no fan of B.F. Skinner, but the guy had a few brilliant hypotheses. One being, if the scientist withholds reinforcement to his/her subjects, behaviors extinguish more quickly and surely than with either punishment or rewards. I believe there are legions of former instructors whose participation was simply extinguished. No one showed an interest in them.

As our industry has awakened to the fact that consumer participation numbers are flat and have been for 40 years, a corollary 2x4 upside the head is also necessary: we need to patch the hole in the human resource bucket in order to make progress in reversing consumer trends. Solve the problem at the level of the problem.

The patch, it seems to me, is applying some basic principles of Skinner and Maslow to motivate the work force in our schools.

First, to address the problems with extinguishment, establish a mentoring program in the school to motivate and nurture the fledglings.

Second, consider "teacher needs" in the context of Maslow: some are motivated merely to survive; some are motivated by belonging; some by mentoring others; and some by blue sky (challenging the VOID, where no man or woman has been before). Focus on the level of need.

In short, management would do well to treat employees as it would have employees treat their guests.

(Funny how modern psych has a way of restating basic concepts of JudeoChristian ethics...)

Thanks for using the magic word!

NB

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 27, 2002 06:41 AM: Message edited 1 time, by nolobolono ]</font>
post #33 of 78
>>In short, management would do well to treat employees as it would have employees treat their guests.<<

Yep, its always seemed pretty clear that if our instructors are happy - they treat the guests better. Funny how such a basic concept is still overlooked by so many in management!

>>(Funny how modern psych has a way of restating basic concepts of JudeoChristian ethics...)<<

Or JudeoXtian ethics simply restated common sense psychological truth.
post #34 of 78
Thread Starter 
The trick has always been to get past the complexity to the utter simplicity that underlies it.
post #35 of 78
Yep, its pretty clear. Be nice to people and they are nice back to you!

If people use their common sense they quickly find no need for acting kind simply because of fear of "afterlife punishment", or because of legal worries or any such silliness.

Instead, they find that reality brings an actual day-to-day karma with it -- we reap what we sow.

Nothing mystical about it, its just simple reality!

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 27, 2002 11:11 AM: Message edited 1 time, by Todd M. ]</font>
post #36 of 78
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by weems:
There's a picture on the wall in the cafeteria exactly as it was in 1952 when I first skied there.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


that tales me back. The old highway house converted to a "lodge" with the cafeteria in the center and the "ski shop in one bedroom (after the wall was knocked out)? Remember Molly Hogan, Davis, Brook, Novice?
post #37 of 78
I would say that the magic words are wealthy clientle. The Beverly Hills real estate agent does the same job as the Compton real estate agent. The Spago waitress does the same job as the Denny's waitress. In other words, all that teamwork and such doesn't do a damn thing for folks like Ant!
post #38 of 78
Follow the money. Everything hinges on resort revenue. If ski instructors had strong "pull power" and were able to attract significant numbers of skiers to a resort, they would be paid accordingly.

If the ski school had a stong impact on the number of ticket buying skiers or the frequency of ski days, the ski school would have leverage to negotiate higher salaries.
post #39 of 78
Thread Starter 
Instructors who are drawn to the profession for the money are about as optimistic as a farmer. (I know this: I am a ski instructor who is married to a farmer.) There is money there, but it in no way rivals that of even a first year school teacher. (This goes for farming too.) I believe the choice has far more to do with love than money, in this country at least. (In Austria ski instructors make a good living; in Norway farmers make an incredible living.)

I'll share something the head of NSAA said to me: if people only operated ski areas to make money, we wouldn't have many ski areas. They would certainly LIKE to make money, but they are willing to break even because it's a lifestyle choice.

There is more to life than money, like health, peace of mind, clean air, and a great view. I have never experienced such camaraderie as in a ski school setting. Being part of a ski school can be like being part of a family. Plus you get a place to store your gear and there's always someone to ski with if you want company.
post #40 of 78
Yes, Nolobolono.

Absolutely--a powerful team, treating employees with respect, and understanding that there are sacrifices in being an instructor.

I've been in it all my adult life, and have not made money in it--either in or out of management. Would I trade it for anything? Not a chance.

And yes, ski school is a family that I will always be grateful to and appreciate.
post #41 of 78
Powderjunkie! YES! The North Glade. Standard. The Pali face with no bumps. The high speed poma from the bottom where you could get thirty feet of air at the takeoff. And Larry Jump (Jumpo), and Max Dercum, and Willy Schaefler, and long stormy trips over the pass. Three to four hours to Boulder!

Last spring, I was able to throw my kids off some of the trails on the pass that we used to ski. What a hoot.
post #42 of 78
What Weems said BUT also what MilesB said too. Everyone has choices AND if you want to make a decent living in Ski instruction you have the choice to follow the money. Following the money does not mean that you miss out on all the excellent aspects of SS as well. SS is SS anywhere and I would rather work in SS where the topic is not always money. i.e. one where there is the possibility of a decent income. Ant has the choice to follow the cert path and work at a resort where the money may be better. It has only been in the 90s that foreigners with less than full cert could work in the US.

Heres some interesting factoids.

To gain a ISIA stamp for season 2003\2004 each instructor will be required to speak two languages, have avalanche and back country training and a senior first aid certificate. Now this does no affect many USA guys as very few travel to another country to teach BUT unless us foreign guys & girls are given exemption from having an ISIA stamp for visa qualifications (this is currently the main HB2 visa requirement) we will have to spend more of our hard earned dollars on obtaining these new criteria.

I know, as we all do, that having learnt another language and so kept my ISIA stamp I will not actually be paid anymore than I am now.

More factoids.

The major US resorts send out letters to USA ski pros attempting to recruit them and for every thousand letters sent they get about 5 replies from instructors with part time experience. They are after seasoned pros not junior qualified part timers. This indicates the very real shortage of seasoned pros in the pool, hence the number of O\S recruits currently filling the void.

Now the US economy is in the dumps and "lifestyle" is the catchword and so ski instruction has become a choice for many locals just to get a job. Will you see in the US a Labour Market driven recruitment and training program being developed by major resorts? My SS director reckoned a PSIA qualified instructor could be produced in two seasons with the correct program. (thats a worry knowing how hard foreign qualifications are to obtain) mmmmmmm whilst the International standard keeps climbing (ISIA) is the local standard (PSIA)being compromised to fill the shortfall of instructors ?????

interesting times indeed.

Oz

I am not dissing anyone here just passing on some facts and some thoughts.
post #43 of 78
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by weems:
Powderjunkie! YES! The North Glade. Standard. The Pali face with no bumps. The high speed poma from the bottom where you could get thirty feet of air at the takeoff. And Larry Jump (Jumpo), and Max Dercum, and Willy Schaefler, and long stormy trips over the pass. Three to four hours to Boulder!

Last spring, I was able to throw my kids off some of the trails on the pass that we used to ski. What a hoot.
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Only thirty feet? You must have been a little heavier than I was. I've often wondered if any of my lower back pain can be traced back to being launched by that poma. As that poma aged the pomas would occassionally break loose from the cable when you got to the steepest section and you would be rocketing backward down a 45 degree slope.

Skied with Max, his wife (name? - that synapse isn't firing at the moment) and Rolf. Scott and Rudder Pyles. Joe Jancowski(sp?) was managing the area when I worked there a summer (1965).

Ah (to paraphrase Warren Miller), the days when our faces were smooth and our pants were baggy.
post #44 of 78
Most of the posts in this thread are based on existing models. I frequently wonder how the business model or paradigm might be changed to the benefit of skiers, instructors, and owners. In other sports, tennis for example, clubs are often based to a large extent on their instructional program. Why hasn't that occured in skiing? The closest I can think of is Taos with its ski week model. However, as time has progressed I have heard less of this type of distinction in relation to Taos (or other resorts).

While it clearly can't work as the mantra of numerous resorts, it seems to me that some resorts could benefit by making a name for themselves as "THE" place to learn and improve. This could be accomplished through traditional lessons, camps, and regularly scheduled clincs/programs but also other innovative approaches as well. For example, a few instructors always out on the slopes available for questions, single run analyses, etc. Obviously, the quality of instruction would have to be the first priority.

In this type of environment, instuctors would be much more of a key element of the resort's success and thus be paid more appropriately. I understand that this is really a niche market approach but it seems to me that the niche is large enough to represent a viable opportunity. If I were in the realm of those who could own a resort I would love to pursue this model in the broadest fashion, including teaching related to skiing technique, backcountry, equipment, etc.
post #45 of 78
A follow-up thought based on looking at the "What can we learn in a lesson" thread. One of the things about a resort whose focus is teaching and improvement is the opportunity for a skier to know instructors well enough to briefly interact with them as follow-up to more formal sessions. That's one of the ideas in having a few instructors (actually I think coach is a better term here) free skiing on a rotating basis. The resort could even charge (perhaps a weekly and/or seasonal fee) for the priveledge of having access to such a program.
post #46 of 78
Si, I think that's an interesting business model. I question, though, whether it would attract enough skier volume to be profitable. The problem is there seems to be a very low level of interest in "taking ski lessons" among the US adult population.

Most adults I know first went skiing in college. They followed their buddies. Their buddies went down a black run. Everyone made it down alive, although it wasn't pretty. They never took a lesson and, to this day, they don't think they need one because they are able to ski the blacks. They know they don't look "like a ski instructor" when they ski, but, hey, who cares. They are there to get away from work and enjoy the day.
post #47 of 78
Well, Nolo and all, the fact is that in Europe (and by this I stick to my limited experience of skiing Northern Italy, Austria
and Switzerland), an instructor is part of the village tissue.
In summer he may be a farmer, in winter he is an instructor, but can also be a mountain guide,
Whereas the rest of the family runs the house
(every family has at least a couple of rooms to rent to tourists), or the family Hotel.
See, a resort is not run by a company.
The Company operates the lifts, but does not own the land.
The Land is usually privately held, or public land given in concession for the season's duration only.
Nevertheless, the land where the runs are lying during the winter, I well taken care of in summer. Just as an example, in some areas, it was forbidden to walk on the slope, during summertime, else you'd ruin the
grass, which act as a base for the snow!
This, again, because the industry is perceived as a source of wellness and prosperity by the community (village, or valley) of which the instructor is just a part. They are kept in high regards, because
they are the "bait" with which tourist are taken.
Yes, there has always been a fierce competition between national schools, and this has been reflected into the World cup.
Racers are the expression of their national ski school system, teaching methodology and
tecnique, and whenever a skier (like Tomba did, like Maier did), goes a notch further, then the school (as a system) take this
notch and apply it to the school teaching theory (and practice), it's a closed circle.
Anyway the goal is and has always been
to get more skiers on "your" side of the border...
post #48 of 78
I sense most areas in Europe are destination where most of ours are not. Our small areas could not support a ‘’well’’ paid instructor. Secondly the Austria Ski Instructors Federation appears to ‘’protect’’ their profession through rigid requirements, which areas have accepted. (AMA) Finally our instructors do not appreciate their value and therefore were not willing to ‘’force’’ the issue and now the ski school income has become a strong part of the bottom line hence I am sure a major confrontation would occur if instructors attempted to make a change.

The bottom line belongs to those willing to allow the poor remuneration to continue. Weems is happy as many are, not to isolate only Weems, and therefore there will never be a change. Pretty much makes it the end of the discussion.

Floyd
:
post #49 of 78
Floyd, the "area" concept does not apply to
Italy, Austria, Switzerland...
People living in the villeage are the area...
Again, they protect their own, it is true that it's extremely difficult for an "outsider" (a flatlander like me) to become an instructor, it would quite impossible to do like dchan, for example,
work in S. Francisco and the be a part time instructor somewhere.
Difficult but not impossible, of course.
For instance it would mean that the person willing to do so nust have at least a whole winter available, go and take clinics from an examiner (every day!), then present himself at the exams, attend the course, pass the final examination (to get the badge), and last, find a job at a ski school,which operates indipendently from the resort cable car company...
post #50 of 78
Floyd

You forget the guest side of things. With such a shortage of experienced instructors that still rip turns will resorts be forced to up the ante to attract the creme from the shrinking pool. I have a gut feeling on this one. Large companys with a portfolio of resorts NEED the cliental to stay solvent. Happy clients return. A top group of ski pros is an important part of these large companys attraction. To attract top pros the benefits must be there. Have a good look at the aging ski pros currently doing most of the creme work (average age is about 40) and then compare this with the new crop coming through. There is a big shortfall.

I will shut up now!

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #51 of 78
If you guys want ski instructor wages to go up then maybe you should shut down the work visas for non-US ski instructors/patrollers etc. (Sorry Oz.)
You could form a illegal/monopolistic guild that limits the number of ski instructors. This would probably entail capturing and executing all non-PSIA instructors and USSCA ski coaches. (I would have to go into hiding or steal an PSIA pin)

And then there is the little problem of making skiing an important American sport.
post #52 of 78
Thread Starter 
Skiing was an important sport in this country before. Why not again?

It's just a matter of mind share, right?

Thanks to Matteo for a very informative slice of Alpine life--the instructor as integral to the ski village/valley economy seems to be the condition that would have to exist for U.S. instructors to begin to reap "real" economic rewards.
post #53 of 78
Great description, Matteo. In Bormio, one of the ski schools owns the bar in town. Gives them a captive audience for Apres. Unfortunately, they produce better drinks than instructors.
post #54 of 78
Lisa, I know (too well!), unfortunately, that's the other side of the coin of a monopoly, isn't it?
One need be part of a certain group, in order to be accepted, but this does not equal to quality, it may, but life has taught us differently...
post #55 of 78
Thanks Lisamarie and Nolo, at your service anytime [img]smile.gif[/img].
Anyway, bear in mind that those posts were expressing my views, and that others could disagree (as always everything is relative).
Well, my last post for tonight, got to wake up early (04.30ish) and drive to Austria.
Enjoy the w/e, you all!
post #56 of 78
Nord

Don't worry mate the local underground movement in my current neck of the woods is working on the "purge and execute" process as we speak. No increase in foreign visas next year and what looks like a natural attrition process and the start of an emphasis on training more locals. Now making locals stay on as "career" instructors will only be possible with benefit increases due to the competition with "real" jobs in the US.

The Visa guys and girls (Oz, NZ, Canucks,Europeans, Scands & Spanish speaking Argies and Chiles) are pretty popular with the guests and most have ISIA 10+ years full time teaching experience in more than one country\language which presents a dilemna for the SS.

Our SS mens demo team is 60% visa guys and the womens snowboard team is 90% visa girls. Only ones that are willing to put in the hours for training and the Europeans, Scands & Oz contingent pretty well clean up the SS races.

I might do the PSIA exams next year just to cover my bases and besides it would be a good test for me on the US stage. An investment in my career so to speak.

SS is what it is because of all the nationalities that come together for a season to teach and the guests love the diversity, especially in the US, its like the world has come to them.

Interesting times ... I have a world view on all this so what will be will be.

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 29, 2002 05:28 PM: Message edited 3 times, by man from oz ]</font>
post #57 of 78
oz,

I'd blow off the PSIA exam - it means nothing vis-a-vis skiing skills. Sure, you'll get good at pivot slips, but who the hell cares?

Invest your time in working up the ladder at Vail/BC. Go to their classes, train with great instructors, do more free skiing, do some networking, work on getting further "in the loop". You'll move up, I guarantee you.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 30, 2002 07:03 AM: Message edited 1 time, by SCSA ]</font>
post #58 of 78
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by M@tteo:
Floyd, the "area" concept does not apply to
Italy, Austria, Switzerland...
People living in the villeage are the area...
Again, they protect their own, it is true that it's extremely difficult for an "outsider" (a flatlander like me) to become an instructor, it would quite impossible to do like dchan, for example,
work in S. Francisco and the be a part time instructor somewhere.
Difficult but not impossible, of course.
For instance it would mean that the person willing to do so nust have at least a whole winter available, go and take clinics from an examiner (every day!), then present himself at the exams, attend the course, pass the final examination (to get the badge), and last, find a job at a ski school,which operates indipendently from the resort cable car company...
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Of course if you speak dutch, german, english and a little french and can ski too, things are a little different. You can start teaching right away. At the mountain in austria where i have skied for many years, they asked me many times: 'come over to the office of the skischool tomorrow you'll get a jacket and can start teaching'. As I only have 2 weeks or so to ski when i am there and i'm not a certified skiinstructor i never did this. But you can take a course to get certified (Skilehreranwarter) this takes about a week of clinics with an examination the last day. Recently I heard rumours about dutch students who couldn't ski if their life depended on it, but got certified anyway because they speak all those languages. Off course this is the lowest level of certification so hopefully they only get to instruct (baby sit) small children and never evers.
post #59 of 78
SCSA, SCSA, SCSA.

How simple it is to completely put down an organization that has 25,000 members and has virtually built the entire ski teaching industry in this country.

Thanks for clarifying that it all comes down to pivot slips and who cares anyway. I'm enlightened now. yuk yuk

Is this the kind of trashmouth stuff you learn in pmts? [img]tongue.gif[/img]

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 30, 2002 10:40 AM: Message edited 1 time, by weems ]</font>
post #60 of 78
Silliness.

HH developed to his level of skiing . . . as a member of the PSIA.

Today I was working with a couple of instructors, helping prep them for a PSIA III Exam next week, we ripped hard in the bumps all day.

Shoot, was I supposed to just be doing pivot slips with them?

:
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