Ski Instructor Shortages

justplanesteve

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AMA, ABA, AIA, SAE, Teaching cerrtification for public schools ......

"Professional Associations"
AKA unions.

Most of those professions were underpaid except for a few stars and self promoters.
Then they actually professionalized, and kept at it.

Apparently (according to posts) Major Resort Areas can essentially recruit instructors off the street because there is no legislation mandating credentialed standards to prevent it. Kind of like in the old days, for medical and legal help. Or how school teachers were hired before credentials.

It's like another parallel argument going on about the "ethics" of lift tickets.
Fundamentally, there are none.
It's always about advantage.

The Providing Entity/MRA attempts to stack the deck to minimize services and maximize fees, including lobbying for legislation that enhances their positions; positions the gendarmarie to prosecute their side, & promulgates PR that promotes their position as "rights". Consumers attempt to minimize costs and enhance the experience, but have little connection to improve their advantage except between the cracks. A small portion "cheat back". What is difficult these days is seeing how so many industries are optimizing short term gains in ways that will short change immediate clients, but worse, diminish prospects for long term growth for that industry.

There's a big difference between how "mom 'n pop" /aka locally owned businesses work to grow the base of customers and enhance every aspect of the experience. VS multi operation enitities that commoditize the consumer to benefit shareholders in ways that are less likely to grow the resource long term.

I'm not necessarily in favor, but with the 'net, it is difficult to understand why someone has not yet "bundled" consumers in a way that takes a lot of the power back out of a given set of providing institutions. With experience (to understand how they are used, and which areas tend to benefit most, among other metrics), the multipass systems could start to.

PS, it is a monopoly if, when you enter a system, there are no competing options for your "needs" within *reasonable* out reach. Food, Shelter, education, fuel; separate from the entertainment. US monopoly law used to understand that with many of the divisions that were once codified. Fine if you are Disneyworld. Possibly questionable if your entity is on "public" property.

smt
 
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SkiSchoolPros

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Sure it is. You are free to sell your labor to whomever you choose. The higher bidder might not be a ski resort. It might be an accounting firm. It might be a night nurse position at the hospital. It might be an electrician.

Of course. If it was worth it, they'd do it.

I have a business background.

@SkiSchoolPros The industry is running on leases that date back to the 50's and earlier. Many run 99 years. You have a lot of inertia to overcome to change the operating terms of those leases. They are after all legal agreements. You don't get to burst in and change them, and claim rights to use assets the lessees have paid for because it sounds good to you. But I could be wrong. Give it a try.
You are wrong (but not the first to speak/write loudly without knowing the facts). Ski Area Term Special Use Permits are 40 year max with clauses allowing for modification, termination and asset transfer pricing.
 

mister moose

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You are wrong (but not the first to speak/write loudly without knowing the facts). Ski Area Term Special Use Permits are 40 year max with clauses allowing for modification, termination and asset transfer pricing.
How many major ski area leases have gone out to bid in the last 40 years?
 
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Wade

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Surprisingly, about 7 years ago at our seasonal Kickoff event Ski School Management presented a cost breakdown that showed NET PROFIT of 54.6% of gross school revenue.
Considering that the typical S & P 500 company is happy with 10% net profit, this raises a number of issues:
1. Would competition, like that found in Europe, increase instructor pay, the number of instructors and the number of lessons while reducing lesson costs and normalizing profit margins?

2. Would a greater number of lessons at a lower price increase mountain safety, make skiing more accessible and increase total revenue to the USFS?

3. Why hasn't the USFS utilized its regulatory powers agreed to in the Ski Area Term Special Use Permits to "Regulating Services and Rates. The Forest Service shall have the authority to check and regulate the adequacy and type of
services provided the public and to require that such services conform to satisfactory standards. The holder may be required to
furnish a schedule of prices for sales and services authorized by the permit. Such prices and services may be regulated by the
Forest Service: Provided, that the holder shall not be required to charge prices significantly different than those charged by
comparable or competing enterprises." Alternatively, if the USFS doesn't have the resources to properly regulate the monopolies they have created, why haven't they simply issued additional "non-exclusive" permits for competing ski schools or even exercised their power to "
Revocation and Suspension. The Forest Service may suspend or revoke this permit in whole or part...At the discretion of the authorized officer for specific and compelling reasons in the public interest."
So, let me preface this by saying I think resorts are charging too much for lessons, and ski instructors aren’t being paid a high enough hourly rate for the revenue they help to generate. But…

If you’re comparing the 54.6% net profit contribution for Vail’s ski school to the average net profits being reported by S&P 500 companies, you’re misunderstanding the chart.

The key word in the description of what’s included in the chart is “contribution”. The costs included in the chart are the direct costs of operating the ski school, and don’t include any share of the overhead incurred by the overall business. It’s essentially a form of gross profit.

I’m not going to go through Vail’s financial reporting to do this, because I’m not that interested in Vail’s accounting policies or their overall margins. For Vail’s external reporting, I’m assuming they don’t allocate shared corporate overhead, interest, depreciation, amortization or taxes to individual profit centers.

For example, if those shared costs were say, 25% of revenue and they were allocated based on revenue contribution of each profit center, you’d be at 29% profit before tax, and likely 22% or so profit after tax (net income). 22% would be an above average return for the peer group you cited, but not unusually high.
 

raytseng

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How many major ski area leases have gone out to bid in the last 40 years?
not a major ski area, but Yosemite NP with badger pass ski area changed concessionaires a few years back to great contention and multimillion dollar lawsuit. And I recall articles of some smaller restaurants or businesses on park/national land also either changed over or lease was not renewed and shuttered at end of term despite the Tenant doing well and wanting to keep their agreement going..

I think Canyons fiasco is apt. In that it shows the letter of whatever was written agreement is enforced both ways . It wasn't a handshake ok we will keep the status quo let you off the hook even for a clerical mistake, when the time is up or you screwed up, it is not guarenteed you get preferential or automatic renewal.
 
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SkiSchoolPros

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So, let me preface this by saying I think resorts are charging too much for lessons, and ski instructors aren’t being paid a high enough hourly rate for the revenue they help to generate. But…

If you’re comparing the 54.6% net profit contribution for Vail’s ski school to the average net profits being reported by S&P 500 companies, you’re misunderstanding the chart.

The key word in the description of what’s included in the chart is “contribution”. The costs included in the chart are the direct costs of operating the ski school, and don’t include any share of the overhead incurred by the overall business. It’s essentially a form of gross profit.

I’m not going to go through Vail’s financial reporting to do this, because I’m not that interested in Vail’s accounting policies or their overall margins. For Vail’s external reporting, I’m assuming they don’t allocate shared corporate overhead, interest, depreciation, amortization or taxes to individual profit centers.

For example, if those shared costs were say, 25% of revenue and they were allocated based on revenue contribution of each profit center, you’d be at 29% profit before tax, and likely 22% or so profit after tax (net income). 22% would be an above average return for the peer group you cited, but not unusually high.
You make some valid points, but, in my mind, the higher the corporate overhead attributed to the ski school, the more it makes sense for it NOT to be "run" by a big corporation (especially when nobody in corporate has ever worked as an instructor). I know a number of independent ski school operators and they keep corporate overhead quite low.
 
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SkiSchoolPros

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How many major ski area leases have gone out to bid in the last 40 years?
If Vail continues to have staffing and price/quality issues, I think it increases the likelihood that the USFS would terminate, amend or put up for bid VR's Ski Area SUPs to best serve the public interest.

According to VR:
"Each of the Forest Service Resorts operates under a SUP, and the acreage and expiration date information for each SUP is as
follows:
Forest Service Resort Acres Expiration Date
Breckenridge 5,702 December 31, 2029
Vail Mountain 12,353 December 1, 2031
Keystone 8,376 December 31, 2032
Beaver Creek 3,849 November 8, 2039
Heavenly 7,050 May 1, 2042
Mount Snow 894 April 4, 2047
Attitash 279 April 4, 2047
Wildcat 953 November 18, 2050
Kirkwood 2,330 March 1, 2052
Stevens Pass 2,443 August 31, 2058
Crested Butte 4,350 September 27, 2058
We anticipate requesting a new SUP for each Forest Service Resort prior to its expiration date as provided by Forest Service
regulations and the terms of each existing SUP. We are not aware of the Forest Service refusing to issue a new SUP to replace
an expiring SUP for a ski resort in operation at the time of expiration. The Forest Service can also terminate a SUP if it
determines that termination is required in the public interest. However, to our knowledge, no SUP has ever been terminated by
the Forest Service over the opposition of the permit holder...

The Forest Service can terminate or amend these permits if, in its opinion, such termination is required in the public interest. A
termination or amendment of any of our permits could have a materially adverse effect on our business and operations...

We may not be able to hire, train, reward and retain adequate team members and determine and maintain adequate
staffing, including our seasonal workforce, which may impact our ability to achieve our operating, growth and financial
objectives.
Our long-term growth and profitability depend partially on our ability to recruit and retain high-quality employees to work in
and manage our Resorts. Adequate staffing and retention of qualified employees is a critical factor affecting our guests’
experiences in our Resorts. Maintaining adequate staffing requires precise workforce planning which has been complicated and
is unpredictable due the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on guest preferences and on labor markets. The market for the
most qualified talent continues to be competitive and we must provide competitive wages, benefits and workplace conditions to
attract and retain our most qualified employees. Year round employees may seek other employment and seasonal employees
may decline to return, to be re-hired, or to be hired for the first time...
Our mountain and lodging operations are highly dependent on a large seasonal workforce. We recruit year-round to fill
thousands of seasonal staffing needs each season and work to manage seasonal wages and the timing of the hiring process to
ensure the appropriate workforce is in place. Furthermore, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to recruit and hire adequate
seasonal personnel as the business requires..."
 

raytseng

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Therr is a problem with the above is the assumption the forest service's metrics for Success and Public interest is the same as individual guest satisfaction.

Issues of overcrowding nor individual people not geting their "pass value" nor paying $1000 for a ski lesson, isn't necessarily breaking the permit or necessary against the public interest when you really consider the public.

If more people are on the mountain and experiencing the land even at a slower pace (stuck in lines) that could actually be a boost, even if an individual person gets less days than they might have in prior years or a worse "ski resort" experience.

Look at yosemite (or any top np) , they all have insanely huge crowds, starting to use reservations, and they want the rock climberbums to vacate after a week rather than getting the months of value for their "annual pass" as they had done historically. I waited 2hrs in line to get to a national park visitor area just last year for a parking spot

Everyone gets a do-over anyway for covid19, i mean i havent even gotten my tax refund yet...so it would be the pot calling the kettle black if administrative/operational leeway isn't given in a literal 100years situation vs no good reason mistakes. Some notice or chance to show improvement should be given when covid times finish up.
 
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SkiSchoolPros

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Therr is a problem with the above is the assumption the forest service's metrics for Success and Public interest is the same as individual guest satisfaction.

Issues of overcrowding nor individual people not geting their "pass value" nor paying $1000 for a ski lesson, isn't necessarily breaking the permit or necessary against the public interest when you really consider the public.

If more people are on the mountain and experiencing the land even at a slower pace (stuck in lines) that could actually be a boost, even if an individual person gets less days than they might have in prior years or a worse "ski resort" experience.

Look at yosemite (or any top np) , they all have insanely huge crowds, starting to use reservations, and they want the rock climberbums to vacate after a week rather than getting the months of value for their "annual pass" as they had done historically. I waited 2hrs in line to get to a national park visitor area just last year for a parking spot

Everyone gets a do-over anyway for covid19, i mean i havent even gotten my tax refund yet...so it would be the pot calling the kettle black if administrative/operational leeway isn't given in a literal 100years situation vs no good reason mistakes. Some notice or chance to show improvement should be given when covid times finish up.
You make valid points, but I think ski school selling out and terrain/lifts/restaurants not opening BECAUSE OF A LACK OF WORKERS UNWILLING TO WORK (or afford to live in the mountains) DUE TO THE LOW MONOPSONISTIC WAGES OFFERED BY VR are not in the USFS/tax payer owners' interest (less SUP revenue) nor are they in the interests of the skiing public (less supply).

Econ 101- monopolies are bad because they result in less supply at higher prices and monopsonies (Company town employers) are bad because they result in fewer workers at lower wages. On the local ski school level, VR is both a monopolist (only lesson seller) and monopsonist (only instructor employer).
 

mister moose

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I think Canyons fiasco is apt. In that it shows the letter of whatever was written agreement is enforced both ways . It wasn't a handshake ok we will keep the status quo let you off the hook even for a clerical mistake, when the time is up or you screwed up, it is not guarenteed you get preferential or automatic renewal.
The Canyons/PC fiasco actually has very little bearing on renewal of forest service leases.

1) The lessor of the land is Talsiker, not the forest service.
2) The reason the lease was awarded to Vail has nothing to do whatsoever with operational quality, it was because POWDR had a sweetheart rate grandfathered, and when they mistakenly did not renew, Vail made a much larger offer. It was about money.
3) There was zero discussion of employee wages or allowing additional concessionaires.
If Vail continues to have staffing and price/quality issues, I think it increases the likelihood that the USFS would terminate, amend or put up for bid VR's Ski Area SUPs to best serve the public interest.

According to VR:
"Each of the Forest Service Resorts operates under a SUP, and the acreage and expiration date information for each SUP is as
follows:
Forest Service Resort Acres Expiration Date
Breckenridge 5,702 December 31, 2029
Vail Mountain 12,353 December 1, 2031
Keystone 8,376 December 31, 2032

We anticipate requesting a new SUP for each Forest Service Resort prior to its expiration date as provided by Forest Service
regulations and the terms of each existing SUP. We are not aware of the Forest Service refusing to issue a new SUP to replace
an expiring SUP for a ski resort in operation at the time of expiration.
The Forest Service can also terminate a SUP if it
determines that termination is required in the public interest. However, to our knowledge, no SUP has ever been terminated by
the Forest Service over the opposition of the permit holder...
Consider the next 3 leases coming up in the next 10 years. Do you know what the terms are for renewal? Do you know what contracted options for renewal are already in place?

I agree instructors are underpaid for the level of training and the transient nature of the work. I've seen ads from ski areas recruiting high school students to teach skiing. "No experience? We'll teach you!" In the ski instructor arena (pre COVID), many ski schools have lowered their standards instead of raising wages to fill openings.

However, you don't get to set what price individual products sell for and claim it's in the public interest. You don't get to cherry pick only certain sales numbers and claim the profitability is too high. The lessee is going to be judged on the total package of services offered, and how that compares to other similar lessees. So your burden to change the way ski leases are written in the US as each comes up for renewal is to not only convince the forest service that a particular lessee is not serving the public interest, but that every lessee is not serving the public interest, that every lease should be changed with respect to ski schools even though they all have run that way for decades, and that ski school operations are primary over lifts, snowmaking, grooming and food for determining public interest. That's a high burden.


Econ 101- monopolies are bad because they result in less supply at higher prices and monopsonies (Company town employers) are bad because they result in fewer workers at lower wages. On the local ski school level, VR is both a monopolist (only lesson seller) and monopsonist (only instructor employer).
In Summit County you have far more than Vail properties. You have Copper, A-Basin, and Loveland just over the pass. It is not a monopoly or a (single) company town. Copper is what, 20 minutes from Vail?
 

raytseng

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I would agree with the moose above, that if you think that part of the Ski Permit clause of "public interest" means that the agency is going to come down down mid-permit and modify the permit or even throw them out; is akin to Wishing for Superman will swoop down and save you because you prayed really hard.

However, on the flip side, within the next 10 years time at the time of expiry; if OP gets his political lobby in play and happens to runs across US Senator X; Sec. of Agriculture Z; and Billionaire Honcho Z who wants a pet project to atone for his other sins; in his the private clientlist or colleague's clientlists , rather than farting around in the forums; then it is possible that at the next renewal if he has an alternative ready.

Conspiracy theory: this whole thread is filled with paid actors by Ski Resorts just to distract you from the above purpose and use up all your energy on pointless internet arguments.
 
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LiquidFeet

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PSIA is not a union and has no intention of becoming one. It has been discussed.

Starting a union not attached to PSIA would be a good idea, but only if it would have a chance of working. It would need enough members to make a difference were it to go on strike across the nation, wouldn't it? Is there a potential labor force waiting to take the jobs of those who might go on strike?

The union's members would probably be people depending on the job to make a living during the winter. What percentage of ski instructors are doing that?

Here on the east coast I can't see the part-timers here interested, and they out-number the full-timers - I think (could be wrong). And... the east has a lot of retired skiers serving in ski schools. They are not in it for the money. Same for skiers with kids teaching part time on weekends - they are in it for the perks (free passes for kids and SOs).

How could a national union ever have any power or leverage? Could regional or local unions work? I don't know.
 

justplanesteve

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Who owns Ikon & Epic?
Are they an actual consortium of ski areas, or does someone own the brands & negotiate?

If the latter, starting to add instruction packages with only PSIA acredited instructors could begin to move the needle.

If not the latter, someone needs to organize consumers for their own benefit :) And start negotiating packages.
An entity that began to have significant influence on where large blocks of casual and semi-casual consumers skied would have a rapid impact.

The free market should set prices.
But my feeling from having once been an avid skier, returned after some 15 years lapse of actual skiing, more like 30+ years since subscribing to magazines, paying attention to the industry, and actively planning a years outings is that things have changed conceptually about the practice of skiing for many people. If you don't live in an area where skiing is a natural part of life, or just one of many elementary school and HS winter sports, it is starting to be perceived as "unusual" and a rich person's frivolity again. As prices go up, "average" people fail to start skiing. If they do, lessons are an easy thing to skimp after the introductory/starter package. As the skier and lesson-taker base erodes, prices go up, causing more people to fail to start. Or to convince their friends, etc.

smt

Edited: OK, I see Epic is "Vail Resorts Management".
Not sure who "Alterra Mountain Company" (Ikon is?) but they are starting to offer instruction, apparently.
The multi- area pass does seem about right for disruption.
 
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martyg

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The union's members would probably be people depending on the job to make a living during the winter. What percentage of ski instructors are doing that?

I don't agree with that. It would probably be people who's livelihood does not depend on instruction, but who care deeply and actively pursue PSIA certifications / clinics , etc. These are also the people who could afford to walk out and not be financially impacted, strengthening the overall bargaining position.

While I don't think that a quantitative survey has ever been done, my sense is that a very small percentage of instructors do so for a living.
 

HardDaysNight

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While I don't think that a quantitative survey has ever been done, my sense is that a very small percentage of instructors do so for a living.
I’d agree, or at least as their sole living. This, of course, is a major reason ski companies are able to get away with paying instructors very low wages. There appears to be an inexhaustible supply of hobbyists who are prepared to “teach” essentially for nothing. I’m aware of some who actually lose money when one takes into account their equipment and commuting costs.
 
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