Tip: Arrange a Special Meeting Place

This tip comes from the Winter 2015 32 Degrees Magazine from PSIA in the article “Go The Extra Mile: 5 Tips For Great Guest Service” by Peter Kray.

It is important to build rapport quickly with your guest. One effective way to do this is to meet your guests early and help them negotiate the challenges of getting equipment and the issues of navigating your resort.

Anne Francis Mattack, states in the article. “I meet them in the rental building before the lesson. Gain their trust before you ask them to follow your lead.” Other examples are to meet them at their slope side lodging, at the bottom of the access Gondola or at the resort bus stop. With your knowledge, you can insure your guest transition to the snow goes smoothly, put them at ease and you can use the time explore their needs and goals for the day.

Meeting them early will show extra effort on your part and can ensure the lesson starts on a positive note. This effort changes a difficult logistical situation into an opportunity to create a bit of magic for your guest.

Tip

Meet your guest early and help them smoothly transition to the snow.

Beyond the Humor: Breaking Ski Instructor Stereotypes

At a party, how do you tell who the ski instructor is?
Don’t worry. He will tell you.
On a date, what does a ski instructor say after the first hour?
“That’s enough talk about me; now let’s talk about skiing.”
How many ski instructors does it take to change a light bulb?
A dozen. One to unscrew the bulb and the rest to analyze the turns.
What do you call a successful ski instructor?
A guy whose girlfriend has two jobs.
What is the difference between God and a ski instructor?
God does not think he is a ski instructor!
What’s the difference between a ski instructor and a bucket of chicken?
The bucket of chicken can feed a family of four.

If you teach skiing, you’ve heard these jokes. You probably laughed; at least the first time. Then, after awhile, the joke, along with the stereotype, got old. The classic image of the ski instructor as full of himself, skiing obsessed and broke prevails throughout all types of media. Let’s look at these stereotypes, and separate truth from fiction.

The One-Dimensional Ski Instructor

In the second joke, the instructor turns to his date and says, “Enough about me. Let’s talk about skiing.” Many ski instructors are fascinating, multifaceted individuals. In addition to their sport, they are often we-read, well-traveled and artistically inclined.

Consider the history of Aspen. Chicago industrialist Walter Paepcke dreamed of a cultural center in a mountain environment. Austrian Ski instructor Friedl Pfeifer, after serving with the 10th Mountain Division, wanted to stay in the US and open his own resort. Aspen became both a world-class resort and a thriving center for culture and literature.

Although most mountain environments attract a blend of artists, intellectuals and athletes, ski instructors often limit their conversation to one topic: skiing. While this is expected in the teaching environment, instructors can attract more students by presenting themselves as diverse individuals, with a multitude of interests.

The Classic Ski Bum


image by Adventure Jay: Creative Commons

In 2000, Peter Shelton wrote an article for Ski Magazine titled Ski Schools on Trial.
Shelton notes that the “culture of lesson taking has changed,” and that the authoritarian days of the Austrian “bend ze knees please” are a thing of the past. In its place, however, is the instructor as ski bum image. And Shelton believes that the resorts are partially to blame.
On the one hand, the PSIA does its best to educate, and instill a sense of professionalism in their ski and ride school instructors. On the other, the resorts pay rock bottom salaries, making it difficult for instructors to support themselves and maintain any sense of professionalism. Thus, the jokes about ski instructor incomes have become “a thing.”

Caveat: Not all ski instructors are broke. Some have a regular base of private students. Others develop special on-mountain programs. In the off-season, they fly to the Southern Hemisphere, and teach in the mountains of Australia, New Zealand and South America. These instructors view their teaching as a business, and treat it as such.

The Turn Analyst

It’s funny how even non-skiers recognize the South Park“bad time” ski instructor meme. Here’s a recap, in case you never saw the episode. The kids are introduced to their instructor at Aspen, who in turn drones on and on about things that will make them “have a bad time.”
Example: “If you french fry when you should pizza, you’re gonna’ have a bad time.”
Meanwhile, they’re still in the base area, talking about skiing.
Finally, one of the kids asks, ” So when are we gonna’ have a good time?”

There’s truth in the humor. You probably know an instructor who spends half the lesson along the side of the hill, talking to his or her students.
Don’t be that instructor.

Stereotypes were made to be broken. Professionalism, flavored with a touch of humility, will encourage respect for ski instructors.

Tip: Let the Pro’s Take Your Social Media Photo

The visual presentation often communicates so much more than the limited amount of text your client or potential client is going to read. Like it or not, they are going to gleam a lot more from that photo of you than anything else on your page or in the email you send. Getting an image that not only puts you in the best light but communicates a bit of your own emotion and story is important.

Team With the On-Mountain Photographers

This tip is from Kevin Foote a ski instructor at Vail and a Digital Marketing Expert.

Headshots are easy…. I let semi-professionals take them (the on mountain photo staff). I subscribe to get all the pictures that are taken for a flat rate; then I send the ones with my clients to them as gifts/souvenirs.

Spend the time to get to know members of the on-mountain photography team. Learn a bit about how the are rewarded and the challenges they face. Think of them as part of your professional network at the resort. Use that knowledge to help the photographer get the best photos of you and your guests. These photos are a great way to memorialize your clients accomplishments one step towards converting them to raving fans. Check out the great photos at Kevin’s web site skiwithkevin.com

Tip

Team up with the on mountain photo staff to get the best photos for your social media marketing efforts and mementoes for your guests.

Tip: Be Genuine

This tip is from Kevin Eddy a Ski Instructor at Breckenridge Colorado,

People can tell when you are being genuine, and when you’re not. If your love for the sport comes through EVERY day. If every tip, trick, task and tactic you put out there has care behind it. If your success or failure is tied directly to those of your students/clients… You’ve got a built-in brand that people will talk about and want to enjoy for their entire skiing career.

Tip:

Be genuine in everything you do as you tie your success to the success of your students.

Tip: Create Momentum

As instructors, we often help our guests achieve some larger goal by breaking it down into achievable steps. Giving the student a path to success is one of the biggest benefits of joining a lesson.

People often push off decisions and making commitments until the last minute. The most successful sales pitches include a call to action with a time limit.

Combine these two concepts to build a path of progress for your client beyond the current lesson. Create a sense urgency with your students. They are close to achieving their goal, booking another lesson with you will push them over the top. “See how much we have improved today, spending the next day with me and you’ll be killing that bump run.”

Tip

Use the momentum of improvement you are creating for your client to invite them back with a sense of urgency.

Greeting Clients on Facebook: Banners and Colors for Ski Instructors

timeline_cover_banners

Inspiring Clients with Font & Colors

Your banner and profile picture sits at the top of your Facebook page. This image combo is your most important important marketing tool. In fact, the results of webcam eye-tracking study indicate that participants spend less time looking at wall posts and more time looking at the cover photo on your brands’ timelines. Your Facebook banner introduces you to potential students. Are you making a good impression? Read on to find out.

Study Results

EyeTrackShop recorded eye movements of 30 participants as they looked at a variety of brand profiles. They recorded:
– What participants looked at on each webpage
– For how long
– In what order
Here’s what they discovered:
– Viewers looked at the cover photo first
– They spent more time looking at it than reading the rest of the content
– Cover photos that featured faces attracted the most attention
– Information that was once less visible now claims prime real estate. The number of Likes, events and apps now have top-and-center territory.

Designing Your Ski Instructor Banner

Two features comprise your Facebook banner:
1. A long, rectangular image
2. A small, profile image
Your profile image sits to the left of the banner. Since these images overlap, choose pictures that complement each other. Here’s a cheat sheet for choosing the proper image dimensions:

Image Guidelines
– Display on page at 851 x 315 pixels.
– Minimum size of 399 x 150 pixels.
– For best results, upload an RGB JPG file less than 100 KB.
– Images with logos or text work best as PNG-24 files.

DIY Banner Creation Sites

Some websites, such as http://www.timelinecoverbanner.com/, help you create interesting banner and profile blends. No Photoshop experience required!
Here’s a mock-up example:
ski-with-bree-facebook
Note: This is not Chamonix, and the woman in the profile picture is not a ski instructor named Bree.
It’s a 1940’s image of Olympic skier Erica Mahringers. But the use of a vintage photo says a lot about the “instructor’s” personality and interests, which can help her find her ideal client. Of course, an instructor interested in a younger crowd might choose a different type of image.

Next, we were able to do some interesting things with Timeline Cover Banner. First: The Erica Mahringers photo was in black and white. By adjusting the hue, we created a blue tint, which blended with instructor’s jacket. The red text matches the red in her jacket. Which brings us to a discussion about color.

What Color is Your Facebook Palette?

Hubspot Marketing lists a variety of factors that contribute to visual brand strategy.

Your Color Palette

Check out the colors of any well known brand. You’ll notice the same colors over and over again. It appears in their logo, their text, and even in their choice of images. Think about the dark blue and red of Breckenridge, and the sky blue and gray of Aspen. These color blends help students recognize your brand. In color psychology, red implies excitement and passion, while blue denotes trust and technology. These are perfect color choices for ski instructors, but you might want to consider other options. Our post on branding explains color psychology in detail.

Your Font Personality

Your choice of font should harmonize with your color choice. Font also expresses your brand personality. Choose three fonts, and use them consistently. Although you can’t vary your font on your Facebook posts, you can create special fonts for your banners and quote photos.

Quote Photos

Quote photos are images paired with inspiring quotes. Hubspot suggests using them as a “Tip of the Day” theme. This is an excellent idea for ski instructors! A number of websites, such as Ribbet.com and Pixlr.com, help you create them. Use your own ski teaching photos, or find Creative Commons and Public Domain photos. Google image search lets you search by size, usage rights, and – most important – color. This means that you can find license-free photos that fit your ski instructor branding scheme. To add text, use the same text you included in your ski instructor Facebook banner, then add two other signature fonts.

Now, look at your own Facebook Page banner, and think about what you can do to make it stand out!

Tip: Make Your Clients Feel Like They Are Important

I saw this quote on my LinkedIn stream: “Managers make you feel that they are important. Leaders make you feel that you are important.” This resonated with the tip I received from Scott Burger a Ski Pro in the Beaver Creek Children’s Ski School. The best ski instructors make the client feel like they are #1.

Honest Approach

You must communicate this feeling honestly. It starts by taking a few moments to learn their name and then taking the appropriate amount of time to understand their goal. Moving below the surface request and teasing out their deeper goals. Then develop a common understanding of what they need to be successful.

It is about paying attention to our clients. Our attention is an important asset. Social Media advertisers and others vie aggressively for our attention. When we focus that attention on our guest, connecting what they said earlier to a new observations, showing that your making detail assessments, they will understand they are important to us.

Tip

Pay attention to your guests and honestly demonstrate you feel they are #1 to you.

Tip: Always ask for that next lesson

There is this sales technique with the acronym, ABC, Always Be Closing. It is good advice for ski instructors as well. I’m not advocating any sleazy salesman speak, or to barrage your client with a constant stream of requests. What I am suggesting is to simply at some point in the lesson tell your client that you would like to ski with them again and ask for that next lesson. Once you get a signal of interest, make a plan with the client to “close” the deal by booking that next lesson. Make it clear, pick a date, and with the clients permission pick up the phone and book it.

Getting That Next Lesson is Like Hooking A Fish

Selling can be a lot like fly fishing. If you tug hard on the line, it will snap, and the fish will get away. The best method is a gentle coaxing that gradually brings the fish in to shore – although sometimes when they are spooked you have to let them out again and calm them down further away.

From an article on Sales at changingminds.org

Tip

Like a fisherman, have a plan on how you are going to reel in your client for another lesson.

Facebook Insights and Graph Search: Useful Tools for Ski Instructors

Congratulations. You’ve built your Facebook ski instructor page. You’ve built it, but will they come? Check out your “likes.” How many do you have? More important: How many of these likes will become paying students? No offense to mom, dad and Grandma Tillie, but they don’t count. Neither do your non-skiing friends.

Fortunately, Facebook has two tools to help you find potential clients: Insights and Graph Search. Many page owners do not know how to use these tools. Mastering them gives you a leg up on your competition.

Who Likes You, Baby? Finding Your Ideal Student on Facebook

We all have had that great client. One that has brought out our best teaching, compelling us to create a WOW guest experience resulting in substantial rewards for all involved. How do we find more clients like that? A previous post on the Snocoach blog describes visualization techniques to attract your ideal student. Facebook Graph Search offers another method.

Facebook Graph Search

facebook-graph-search

Facebook Graph Search is similar to Google search, with a significant difference: It bases your search results on your previous Facebook activity. Here are some ways to use it to find your ideal student:
Search for other pages your followers like. For example, look at the results of a graph search titled “Pages liked by likers of Snocoach.”

Of course, most of these revolve around skiing, but topics such as yoga, Le Tour de France, and a few local restaurants come up in the search results. Using this information, I can post articles on these topics, or join Facebook groups of people who enjoy talking about this subject matter. Try the same Facebook Graph search using the name of your resort, as well as your local ski town.

  • Discover their other hobbies and interests. Queries such as “countries visited by, books read by, movies loved by, hobbies enjoyed by” can help you narrow your results and target your posts. For example, take someone who loves vintage art. Post some vintage ski posters. Hemingway fan? Post stories about the Papa’s ski experiences in France. Traveler? Post about ski resorts around their favorite destinations.

Facebook Insights

You’ve performed the graph search . Was it successful? Once your instructor page has 30 likes, you can use Facebook Insights. This handy tool lets business page owners see important demographics about their followers. Facebook explains how it works:

To see demographic data about the people who like your Page:

Click Insights at the top of your Page
Click People
In the Your Fans section, you can see:

  • The percentage of people who like your Page for each age and gender bracket, based on the data people enter on their personal profiles
  • The countries and cities of the people who like your Page, based on their IP address when they use Facebook
  • The language of the people who like your Page, based on their default language setting
    -You can compare the age and gender data of the people who like your Page with the same data for everyone on Facebook by hovering over an age bracket.

Here’s a game plan for using this information.
– Define your ideal students. Where do they live? How old are they? What is their highest level of education? Do you have a preference for either gender?
– Use Facebook Insights to determine who many of your followers fit this demographic.
– Research what they like to read, and design content that targets this demographic
– Determine what time of day they use Facebook, and use content scheduling services like Hootsuite to time your posts.

Tip: Take A PSIA Clinic at another resort

To maintain your PSIA membership, you are required to attend at least two days of PSIA clinics every other year. I found this to be a wonderful opportunity to push the envelope and explore other resorts. I got started on this habit my rookie season at Loveland, when a group invited me on their annual pilgrimage to Winterpark/Mary Jane for the Performance Bumps clinic. What an amazing experience. That resort has long wide bump runs at just about any degree of difficulty to choose from. Giving our clinic leader, Winter Park’s own Bob Barns, an infinite classroom of just the right degree of challenge for each task set before us.

Benefits

Ski with a different group of highly motivated fellow PSIA MembersExpand your network of other ski professionals
Explore un-familiar terrain, allowing you to respond to your guests resort comparison questions with knowledge
Guided by a PSIA leader which would Cost more then $800/day if you booked commercially
Complete your PSIA clinic requirements
All for less than the cost of a daily lift ticket

This season I’m planning to Explore Crested Butte while pushing my personal envelope on a Big Mountain Clinic. Where are you headed and why?

Tip

Expand your knowledge or other resorts, ski with an excellent group of skiers, lead by a leading professional. All for less than the price of a daily ticket. Signup for a PSIA Clinic at another resort.