From an Instructor: An Obvious Perk
Thursday, 08 January 2009 22:00
One of the obvious perks of my job is that I get to ski, quite often, at a high level. When I'm training or free-skiing with co-workers, both of which doesn't happen often enough, I'm in good company, and that can be really fun.
I also get to ski with paying clients that are upper level skiers, and that can get interesting. There are times when the student is one I've had for years and who has progressed to tackling the tough stuff on the hill, and since I've usually instilled the same bad habits I have or guided them to the gnarly terrain that I'm partial to, we usually have a good time.
Skiing with a familiar client at an upper level allows the opportunity for learning to occur both ways...we can mirror each other, sometimes unintentionally. When I watch one of my students ski down something I feel I haven't skied particularly well I can usually identify what I was doing by watching the student ski the same line. I also try to convince the skier to occasionally be the leader down the steep/bumpy stuff, but most of the time they prefer to follow-and at the prices they are paying, they can do pretty much whatever they want on snow.
And these private lessons are expensive! The upper level students that have learned to ski the challenging stuff in lessons ski with me as private clientle. Occasionally someone will remark, "you'd think if they pay that much, and ski with you that often, they wouldn't need you anymore", and sometimes that is the case. Happily for me (hopefully the client, too) those same clients often refer their friends or family to me and a new relationship begins. Other times, the booking is made under my original client's name, but I ski with their family, business clients, friends, pets, etc. But sometimes it is the same person for many, many days per season and since I truly believe that there is always something new to discover and tweak, we usually keep it fresh. There are mornings, though, that I wonder what on earth I am going to do with my regular client during the day ahead, and I have a solution for this...I ask them what they'd like to do. And I listen. Simple, effective and not done often enough in ski school, in my opinion.
The vast majority of the price they pay for the private lesson goes directly to the ski school, but I am VERY aware of the fact that these people are plunking down the equivalent of my mortgage payment for each day they ski with me, and I always try to give them their money's worth....even if it isn't my money, but ski school's. And, yes, I do receive gratuities. But that is a very individual, private matter for each instructor and it can vary greatly from student to student. Tipping doesn't occur at many resorts, and doesn't always occur at mine, which makes any and every gratuity a gratefully accepted bonus.
I have gotten to the point where I know most of the names that show up on my computer schedule and look forward to each...yet another terrific perk! I stay in touch with my clients year ‘round, and try to develop the kind of extended relationship that they would like-sort of like a mini-concierge for some, for others, I am the "long lost ski bum" family member they always wanted (or wanted to be, most likely).
The private lesson client at my resort can have as many a six people in the group and they can schedule the day based on their needs. For example, if one member of the group has a conference call they can't take from the chairlift, they might want a late start and I'll go out with another member of the group.
One client has a son that I occasionally take a run or two with while his dad works, and the son skis better than some instructors. When people remark that he could come out for a year or two, crash in his dad's multi-million dollar ski in/ski out house and teach, he was baffled. "Why?" Not everyone wants to be an instructor, sometimes we forget that....
I know I'm biased, but on those fresh powder days, when I'm skiing with a client who is having as much fun as I am, there is nothing better. And there is no amount of money that would pay me to do anything different. I am the luckiest girl on earth!