2.10.22 – Big Things in Ski & Ride School
February 10, 2022
Granby Ranch’s Ski & Ride School is on the verge of achieving something truly remarkable in the industry. Later next week another eight instructors will vie for their Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) Level 1 certification at Granby Ranch. If all eight pass, our percentage of total staff with current certifications climbs to 74%. On a relative basis, this is unusual both for smaller independent mountains, which have historically relied on longtime instructors who often don’t seek to “level up” their skiing or teaching capability, and destination resorts, which by way of sheer guest volume count on a bevy of non-certified instructors (often folks still getting comfortable with the sport) to manage the many group lessons that go out on a daily basis.
There are a number of benefits to guests and resort operators associated with achieving certification either through PSIA or American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI). A certified instructor is:
- Trained through a mountain’s internal program
- Trained by nationally-recognized instructors and examiners
- Required to pass courses of ski & ride mechanics, movement analysis and teaching methods
- Required to pass a national teaching exam
- Required to pass an on-hill practical ski or snowboard exam
- Required to attend continuing education classes
(A non-certified instructor typically only goes through the mountain’s internal training program).
It also just makes sense business-wise. It’s not to say that non-certified instructors can’t be great skiers or great teachers, but having a certified staff creates a shared, standardized teaching language. Guests experience the latest methods; accelerated learning becomes more evenly distributed (and not just in “hot shot instructor” lessons); and successes become more repeatable for a greater number, contributing to overall conversion — or, a key metric we follow closely that tracks when a guest who takes a Level 1 (beginner) lesson indicates they will go skiing again. (That person is considered “converted” to skiing). Certification can play a central role in a guest having a great time, learning a ton, and becoming a return customer. We believe this is the purpose of a ski school.
For our instructors it’s important to their livelihoods. We’ve built a wage structure in the last two years that solely incentivizes achievement of certification — not tenure, hours worked, status, how long you’ve been skiing or how many lessons you’ve historically pumped out. This approach also eliminates bias in hiring or performance evaluation and creates transparency in pay. This past fall we made another significant adjustment to further incentivize certification achievement. Now, our ski & ride staff make as much or more than many destination resorts here in North America. With so many conversations in our mountain communities regarding what it takes to live here, it’s been a major recruiting tool and we hope it also contributes to already successful retention efforts in the coming years.
The bottom line is we’ve chosen to invest significantly in our instructors, focusing on the quality of the guest experience as opposed to lesson volume. You’ll see more stories and posts about our efforts in Ski & Ride School over the next week because there is so much to be proud of and excited about. And if you’re in need of a tune-up or want to get a friend or family member out on the hill, head over to ski school for a great lesson from one of our awesome, certified instructors.
Check out more episodic content on projects, upcoming events, operations updates, strategic announcements, and more on the “Inside Granby Ranch” page of our website as well as on the Granby Ranch Resort app, available on iOS and Android devices.