Ski school staffing: '21/'22

fatbob

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Given I can't get into the US right now not my battle but doesn't bode well. Understaffed at instructor level suggests understaffed at many on hill roles and without resorts consciously stepping into the local real estate pools going to be hard to fix. Wonder if anyone will call midweek shutdowns or skelton staffing and declare themselves out of the credible destination market.
 

martyg

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Given I can't get into the US right now not my battle but doesn't bode well. Understaffed at instructor level suggests understaffed at many on hill roles and without resorts consciously stepping into the local real estate pools going to be hard to fix. Wonder if anyone will call midweek shutdowns or skelton staffing and declare themselves out of the credible destination market.

I am traveling right now. While I used to travel extensively for business, I haven;'t done so since I retired 10 years ago. This trip reminds me of how much it really sucks.

What I am experiencing right now, from small towns to ModeratelyOverPricedBusinessHotels, is a lack of staffing. Restaurants are closed. The hotel that I am staying at, a standard hotel for MBA's and execs, has one elevator working for 11 floors. Phones are down. It is, not unlike staying in a Chinese hotel before the country was Westernized. Staff are visibly busting their asses, but if management doesn't provide the tools or pay, it is a losing, and no doubt frustrating battle for them.

This trend doesn't bode well for the UX at ski hills. For those of us who have our "special" parking spots, lockers, own gear.... probably not a big deal unless a lift fails and you are crippled. For the casual user, the experience may really suck and be a detriment to user retention.
 

dovski

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So last year Alpental/Summit at Snoqualmie was short on instructors as were many of the concession schools who operate up there. This year my understanding there will be some limits on class sizes and the number of classes on the mountain at any given time so this may actually alleviate some the demand for instructors.

For those of you planning to travel for skiing this season book now. At lot of resorts are now fully booked through to the end of March. We had to change the dates for our Big Sky trip just to find accommodation in the mid-March time frame. This leads me to believe this is going to be a busy ski season.
 

weatherman

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Yeap. All of this.
  • In Durango, many restaurants are closed several days per week. They simply cannot find help.
  • Service staff are moving out, due to low wages / high rent - if you can even find a rental.
  • You can make $25 / hour washing dishes now. Signs are up that you can get a free beer by even walking in the door and chatting with management.
  • Ski school pays (if I remember) $15.00 / hour for L2. Yes, the mtn is a much better environment than the kitchen. However if you need to male ends meet, $25 beats $15. And that is a $25 / hour with schedule that you can bank on - not piece work based on guest traffic flow.
Being engaged in the business community as a mentor, consultant, and investor, it is really interesting to watch the macro trend. Those businesses who treat employees as their most valued asset, and have a culture of vulnerability, open hard discussion, and courage do not have issues with employee retention. Those that have a toxic work environment build on armor, are failing. Natural selction in process - and I love it. It is a healthy cleansing process for the business ecosystem.

This does not put most of the ski hill managements in the US in a good position.
This all checks out. Very similar story here. There's a local diner here that is constantly advertising $55k/year salary for line cooks. And you want someone to work for $15/hr seasonally? Ha!
 

Jwrags

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I think resorts are going to have to change their employment/benefit model or they will be in danger of having no staffing. If in town service jobs are paying $20-25/hour then they can buy their own passes compared to $15/hour on the mountain.
 

weatherman

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I think resorts are going to have to change their employment/benefit model or they will be in danger of having no staffing. If in town service jobs are paying $20-25/hour then they can buy their own passes compared to $15/hour on the mountain.
Bingo. Many, many local employers buy passes for their employees. It's a drop in the bucket. That $800 pass is transferable if an employee quits. It adds up to something like the equivalent $1/hour across the season.
 

James

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People forget that you basically only get paid for actually teaching. It’s not line most jobs that pay you the whole tine you’re there. So you could be there 9 hrs and get paid for 2. Full time nmght be 4, but then it’s 6 days/wk. Plus get hurt in between lessons, it’s on you.
 

skiprob

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Our director has already reached out and requested us to respond with our intent to return for next year.

He also noted he is taking reservations based on our schedules from last year.

I have never heard from him in September.
 

Ron

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I think resorts are going to have to change their employment/benefit model or they will be in danger of having no staffing. If in town service jobs are paying $20-25/hour then they can buy their own passes compared to $15/hour on the mountain.
same here on all accounts, No lodging due to low wages and high cost of housing if you can find it (within 40-50 miles). VRBO, AirBnB and work-from-home, have driven up housing costs to stupid levels. A house just below us, 1400 sqft, 2 Bedrooms, nothing fancy, 1.2Million, People are leaving town in droves. It already hit all retail, construction, landscaping and any other job that pays under $25 per hour, if not more. restaurants and some shops are on reduced hours/days, grocery stores cant hire enough staff so they closed the Seafood and butcher shops and goods are not stocked regularly. One landscape CO has 1/3 of his normal staff, our friend who is a GC, just lost several carpenters and his last tile guy. The resort puts up ads on FB and they get pummeled by people about living wages and housing. one of my favorites was "live the dream" ad. person posted, " Yeah, living the dream on food stamps and living in your car". My wife volunteers at the food pantry and the number of people who are holding 2-3 jobs and still cant make enough to feed themselves is insane. I really dont know how the Ski School is going to fill those jobs. you can work at CitiMarket for $19.00 per hour.
 
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Jwrags

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I will be very curious if all resorts are going to be dealing with a shortage or just certain areas, although I do not know were it is cheap enough to live on entry level instructor pay. I will be very curious to see if there is a shortage at JHMR where my son will be a newbie first year. If there is I see that as a good thing for his ability to work regularly.
 

rustypouch

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I work full time as an instructor in a a destination resort. In Canada.

Accommodation (if you can find it)- $300/week
Groceries in a resort town - $80- $100/week
Gas - $30/week
Beer, Pizza, Eating out -$20/week


Pay is per hour, the average pro will do 30-40 hours/week:
L1 ski pro $15/hr - $450-600.00 (minus tax)
L2 ski pro $17.50/hr - $525-$700 (minus tax)
L3 ski pro $21/hr - $630-$840 (minus tax)

We offer training daily with senior pros that is unpaid but free to attend. Commission on all sales made.

Long service (5+years) gives RRSP matching, family season passes.

With low wages and high cost of living it's hard to stay in the industry.

I'm also an instructor at a well known Canadian resort. The only thing you posted that I disagree with is the hours. What instructor get anywhere near 40 hours a week?
 

AmyPJ

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Snowbasin had to cancel their summer concert series due to staffing shortages. This does not bode well for a good experience this winter for those who want lessons and a decent dining experience.
 

HardDaysNight

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For decades resorts have hired as instructors thousands of inexperienced people who can barely ski themselves, paid them minimum wage and fobbed them off onto unsuspecting customers. In addition to defrauding those customers, this practice has had the effect of wrecking the career prospects of the real instructors who have trained and worked to develop the skills to deliver high quality lessons. This deceit is now coming home to roost and I, for one, have absolutely zero sympathy for Vail, Alterra et al.
 

Ron

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For decades resorts have hired as instructors thousands of inexperienced people who can barely ski themselves, paid them minimum wage and fobbed them off onto unsuspecting customers. In addition to defrauding those customers, this practice has had the effect of wrecking the career prospects of the real instructors who have trained and worked to develop the skills to deliver high quality lessons. This deceit is now coming home to roost and I, for one, have absolutely zero sympathy for Vail, Alterra et al.

this is a thread unto its own.......
 

AmyPJ

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For decades resorts have hired as instructors thousands of inexperienced people who can barely ski themselves, paid them minimum wage and fobbed them off onto unsuspecting customers. In addition to defrauding those customers, this practice has had the effect of wrecking the career prospects of the real instructors who have trained and worked to develop the skills to deliver high quality lessons. This deceit is now coming home to roost and I, for one, have absolutely zero sympathy for Vail, Alterra et al.
I am married to one of those in the latter description. He's not teaching much anymore and is contemplating whether to do so this winter. The level of commitment for a part time seasonal job allows for not much actual personal time on the hill. They essentially want instructors to teach every single weekend during ski season. Doesn't allow for much fun time as a couple or family, and the pay certainly doesn't make up for it, even for a high-level, highly experienced instructor.
(And your first description is also spot-on.)
 

HDSkiing

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For decades resorts have hired as instructors thousands of inexperienced people who can barely ski themselves, paid them minimum wage and fobbed them off onto unsuspecting customers. In addition to defrauding those customers, this practice has had the effect of wrecking the career prospects of the real instructors who have trained and worked to develop the skills to deliver high quality lessons. This deceit is now coming home to roost and I, for one, have absolutely zero sympathy for Vail, Alterra et al.

I’m not sure it’s fair to label people new to the industry as tools of the corporate elite who are in some way unknowingly “defrauding” customers.

The industry needs those people, that’s how we get the best. How many of us can say that we were unquestionably competent our first season, or 5…

I agree about the wages, certainly we need to incentivize the job for both entry level and of course experienced staff. The two are not adversaries.
 

surfsnowgirl

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I've been fortunate enough to teach at mountains that provide ample training so everyone was qualified to teach the level lesson they were given. I've also been fortunate that my mountains worked with whatever schedule you gave them. Yes there was pressure to work every holiday period but other than that we turn in our schedules and the director determines coverage. There have been times where I've been approached for an extra private or to be on standby during low coverage days but I've mostly worked the set schedule i had. If I do have a day off i try to ski at my other mountain so that I can be incognito. The past couple seasons I've been dealing with a foot issue making it painful to teach all day so I teach half days. Due to the half days I give 2x as many days. In the past I ski Canada on MLK weekend so as to give myself a break from the holiday weekend teaching insanity.

I definitely wish we got paid more but I don't do it for the money. I do it for the joy of sharing my love of skiing, the training I get, tuning and food discounts. I've always been very much about the balence of teaching and free skiing and I do my best to create my schedule so that happens.

Maybe I've been lucky with where I work but I'm grateful nonetheless.
 
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Bad Bob

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You guys get paid to teach? Lucky.

Last year was the 1st year back teaching after a very long absence. So really can't compare it to the current teaching world with any reasonable knowledge. But from then to now:
more women teaching ( a very good thing)
more emphasis on PSIA (a thing)
less clinicing or so it seems (part of that might be I ran the clinics then)
the pay still sucks (that's a fact)

If you teach skiing for the money you have very low expectations.
 

Ron

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"defrauding" is a very heavy and serious word. On one hand, most "Never Evers" dont need a L2 teaching them, but on the other hand, should an instructor teaching Never Ever's have solid skills to pass along and begin to engrain the correct movements even at that level? Does a L2 or higher want to teach never Evers? How does a resort attract and keep low-level instructors long enough to develop them into l2's and higher?

edit: my point is this is more complex than it seems.
 
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HDSkiing

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@surfsnowgirl I’m so glad you chimed in! We’re going into that time of year where those of us in management start actively engaging in recruiting, hiring and training not just new hires but experienced staff as well.

I’m always stoked at the prospect of bringing new people into our school who really to a person want to be here for reasons other than pay. I’m less interested in whether they can rip or not, we can teach them to do that, it’s about how they interact with people, something much harder to learn and which you illustrated well.

Don’t get me wrong, compensation is important & I can’t speak for other schools but no one we hire, even some still in HS makes minimum wage. I’m always honest in what one can expect to earn, & I have found that most are in it for the benefits, which more than anything else revolves around skiing, not pay. We’d all like to get paid more and this season might be a reckoning for many mountains with such a need for more employees .
 
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