Below is a reply I posted on the “Harb” thread. Over the coming months I will be tackling some of these questions one at a time and doing a deeper dive regarding the inconsistencies in ski school services.
Here is one question to get you thinking…Obviously according to the original comment, Aspen is doing things differently and they DO have a reputation of having a great school. SO, In light of the size of Vail Resorts and now, ASPEN/KSL, what happens to the relevancy of PSIA if either or both of those behemoths decides to create their own in-house certification programs and not require their instructors to become PSIA certified?
One immediate answer is clear. Between the two corporations they employ many thousands of instructors. At the moment, PSIA’s long term survival is more dependent on how well they serve those two companies than it is on its membership.
On discussions of bio-mechanics…I have spent enough time on EpicSKi (R.I.P) and many other online forums to know that there is no such thing as consensus amongst instructors.
On generalizations…mine, based on observed behavior at 17 resorts are no less valid than yours based on observations at one resort. There are some very real studies that indicate something is deeply wrong.
1) Only 10% of visit-days result in the sale of a school “product”
2) 70% of people just finishing a lesson either were “not likely to” or “would not” recommend lessons to friends or family
3) Membership surveys show that older instructors are accepting of the role PSIA plays but not necessarily enthusiastic or engaged. The younger the instructor, the more dissatisfied they are, on some questions, 2.5 out of a max of 5.
These aren’t good numbers. The problem is there are many studies asking “what” is happening but they don’t get to the bottom of “why” it is happening.
Surely, some of the customer’s dissatisfaction comes from some expectations based on the price. There is no reason to conclude that an L2 at Vail gives a better lesson than an L2 at Snowbowl, but the difference in price of those identical products is $900 versus $180.
I am also intrigued by the information that PSIA has been involved in the development of software based Do-It-Yourself lessons. For the long term health of the industry, I think it’s a good thing. Proficiency surely plays a role when a customer is making the decision to continue skiing or quit and take up knitting. DIY learning tools offer proficiency at a MUCH lower price point than even the cheapest school lesson.
Compare these two messages…
1) “Take multiple PSIA lessons over 4 years at $300 each to reach level A proficiency”
2) “Buy this combination of hardware/software with PSIA lessons embedded and have the same 4 years worth of lessons for $250.
One has to be curious why an organization, that has resisted codifying a concrete progression for it’s members, would do that for the open consumer market first.
This is “personal” only in an indirect way. I have a ton of friends and acquaintances who pay their dues and teach and do a great job. they are getting the shaft but are afraid to speak out. So, I do what I can for them.
There are many questions and very few answers and THAT combination always piques my interest.
Later this summer I will be putting up an article on the astonishing new thing the OSV in Austria has done with their program. IN a nutshell, they went out and ASKED the public what THEY wanted to learn. That simple step triggered a brand new 528 page manual and the statement that “carving is out and elegance is in”
For many decades, a relative handful of “experts” have decided what the customer SHOULD learn without ever once asking the public what they wanted. It took some courage for the OSV to do that.
Nationalist snow sport organizations have a long history in reacting to market changes at a very glacial pace. How many years between the introduction of snow boards and the first certification of a snowboard instructor? How many decades passed between the first freestyle world championship and the first certification of a freestyle instructor?
In part, the poor market penetration and high levels of customer dissatisfaction can be blamed on an ongoing, major chasm between what the skiing public wants and what experts are willing to offer.
While I find the embedding of PSIA teaching in a software product as a step in the right direction, the Austrian market study may prove that the “carving lessons in a can” may still not be what the public wants.
In the end the long term value of that effort may accrue to the PSIA brand and to the resorts but not to the membership. What happens to how a customer sees YOU, the instructor, when they show up with this PSIA branded technology and ask “I am stuck on Lesson 4.2 and need some help” ..and you have NO IDEA what they are talking about?