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Ski Area Staffing Concerns

mister moose

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The ski industry isn't gong to ramp up to the hourly pay levels needed to fill all the vacant positions. Housing is super tight with all the WFH COVID transplants. I'm expecting to see lots of "Thank you for your patience" signs this year, at resorts, at restaurants, at ski shops.
 

zyk

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Here’s an example of shortages.

September 28 QUICK UPDATE:

Based on some event and food & beverage staffing shortages, our ability to pull off a multi-band, multi-stage, heavily attended BrewGrass Festival is not ideal. So we are unfortunately canceling the music portion but still hope to have fall foliage rides for this Saturday to Sunshine Corner with a grill going and brews flowing (cash only), plus some cornhole. Making progress on the Green Lift maintenance and hope to have it approved by Friday. Still TBD until we know for certain, but it is in our plans. Tickets would go on sale Thursday online at our ticket store for foliage rides 10/2, 10/9, 10/10. Thank you for your understanding.


If a small independent mountain like Magic is already having trouble staffing just imagine the large resorts this winter (pack a lunch).
Ouch that sucks. Off topic but we use charity volunteers for certain aspects of events, mostly beer service. They work hard, have fun, and the charity gets the tip money. Last event was 4k+ for the local animal shelter.
 

2Planker

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The days of showing up w/ zero experience and patrolling are no more.

1982, I was PreMed in college. Stratton gave me a 1 run ski test, and I was hired in 15 mins, ZERO training !

Now, w/ liability. Lots of training & certification to get jacketed. Then annual retraining and recertification.
40 years later, Need a sign "Will haul sleds for season pass"...
 
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abc

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I can't tell if you're agreeing with me on the cheap passes being a negative for staffing. Prices prices have gone down, benefits cut, and wages extremely slow to grow. Your "total compensation" is less now than when passes were expensive.
That was exactly what I was saying. When the pass is cheaper, the "total compensation" is less.

Add to that the high housing cost, it's not a sustainable living wage. So young instructors who go into it have no future financially.

But in the short term, older semi-retired "hobby instructors" will fill in some of the gap.

you can clearly see that only being able to sell 70% of your supposed ski school capacity due to being short on labor would have pretty big implications on finances. And that's just lesson revenue... beginners still need to buy lift tickets, rentals, and burgers.

I also happened to be at Thunder Ridge when I was "hobby instructing" some years back. They constantly ask for more instructors to come in. But on a busy holiday weekend, the rental shop couldn't keep up. So instructors were idling waiting for students to show up! Plus, the bunny hill was soooo crowded there's barely enough room to turn! To me, that doesn't spell lacking instructors.

I hear what you're saying about selling more lessons being profitable. But of my experience at TR, no day I showed up had shortage of instructors! Each time we lined up, a few people end up without students! The instructors who got students may or may not be of any good either. (I was given students of varying level, as a rookie instructor, I really didn't have enough experience to teach effectively yet, "follow me and do as I do" doesn't always work). Plus, I felt I was taking lessons from people who need the money more than I do. So I stopped.
 

BenedictGomez

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cheap passes being a negative for staffing.

Huge negative that's probably the #1 most overlooked factor by people. The only reason I worked at Stowe out of college (and for 6 seasons) was that I couldn't afford the then $1,300 season pass price ($1,950 in 2021 currency). Were that today I'd just buy an EPIC pass & LOL @ working at Stowe.
 

deadheadskier

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Huge negative that's probably the #1 most overlooked factor by people. The only reason I worked at Stowe out of college (and for 6 seasons) was that I couldn't afford the then $1,300 season pass price ($1,950 in 2021 currency). Were that today I'd just buy an EPIC pass & LOL @ working at Stowe.

Probably no longer the case and I'm not sure when it ended, but up until at least 2005 you didn't have to work at Stowe to get a cheap pass. If you worked for any business in town that belonged to the local chamber of commerce you could get a cheap midweek pass. It was $200 when I moved to town in 95 and had crept up to $300 by the time I left. That made it difficult for the mountain to attract talent even back then.
 

Hawk

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What state is that?
Vermont. Like others said I think it is the same in other states. It makes sence. If there were not experienced lift machanics on site in proper numbers, People would possibly be stuck on lifts for extended amounts of time putting them at risk. Or would not get quick care if injured on the slopes.
 

Hawk

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Not many, except Egan was asked to leave.
I can't think of anybody that just left because of the resort was bought by a big company. I will say that there has been a pretty good size departure in the last year or two for various reasons. Some management directive, some for better pay oportunitues, some covid related, some just fed up. I can think of at least a dozzen off the top of my head.
 

2Planker

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SR lost many the season AFTER Boyne took over. For Patrollers the unionizing talks started in 2009......
 

BenedictGomez

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Probably no longer the case and I'm not sure when it ended, but up until at least 2005 you didn't have to work at Stowe to get a cheap pass. If you worked for any business in town that belonged to the local chamber of commerce you could get a cheap midweek pass. It was $200 when I moved to town in 95 and had crept up to $300 by the time I left. That made it difficult for the mountain to attract talent even back then.

There were many people who worked at Stowe when I did solely for the pass. For starters, I wanted to ski weekends too, I'm sure many did, but if you dont need the part-time in the first place (I didnt) why work for a restaurant or something like that and still pay $200 or $300 for a pass when you can just get the pass for free working for the resort itself! Not to mention, it was fun working at Stowe, grinding it out as a dishwasher or hostess at a Mexican restaurant? Not so much.
 

thetrailboss

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There were many people who worked at Stowe when I did solely for the pass. For starters, I wanted to ski weekends too, I'm sure many did, but if you dont need the part-time in the first place (I didnt) why work for a restaurant or something like that and still pay $200 or $300 for a pass when you can just get the pass for free working for the resort itself! Not to mention, it was fun working at Stowe, grinding it out as a dishwasher or hostess at a Mexican restaurant? Not so much.
Stowe is a great example of what was said about cheap season passes. During AIG, their pass prices were top dollar. Now they are EPIC and literally less than half the price.
 

deadheadskier

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There were many people who worked at Stowe when I did solely for the pass. For starters, I wanted to ski weekends too, I'm sure many did, but if you dont need the part-time in the first place (I didnt) why work for a restaurant or something like that and still pay $200 or $300 for a pass when you can just get the pass for free working for the resort itself! Not to mention, it was fun working at Stowe, grinding it out as a dishwasher or hostess at a Mexican restaurant? Not so much.

Well, I made a lot more money bartending at various places in town vs the one season I bartended up at the mountain. So, the $200-300 was easy to cover. And the in town gigs were more year round with shorter layoffs in spring and fall than what was offered at the mountain. That could be very different today with the Spruce development though.
 

kbroderick

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Vermont. Like others said I think it is the same in other states. It makes sence. If there were not experienced lift machanics on site in proper numbers, People would possibly be stuck on lifts for extended amounts of time putting them at risk. Or would not get quick care if injured on the slopes.
I'm not sure, but I was under the impression that it's not just some states that have quotas on lift mechanics per operating lift and patrollers on duty; I've been told (by people who should know) that both the USFS and insurance companies have standards on at least one or the other. I don't know how they decide how many patrollers you need, though.
 

tumbler

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Find some cool niche woodworking product(s), brand it with the whole "Vermont made" thing, and sell it online and/or via Etsy.
The market is saturated with that stuff. Sounds like Slug is in property management/maintenance- there is a real need for people to do small jobs and repair work. Everyone wants work done and there are very few available to do it.
 

BenedictGomez

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Well, I made a lot more money bartending at various places in town

I'm sure you did, but I wasn't trying to live that youthful ski bum life; I had a job using my new degree in Burlington, so I didnt care about the relatively crummy Stowe pay for the part-time gig, the money was gravy. There are were plenty of people like that.
 

BenedictGomez

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The market is saturated with that stuff. Sounds like Slug is in property management/maintenance- there is a real need for people to do small jobs and repair work. Everyone wants work done and there are very few available to do it.

Well, he's "retiring", so I was working on the assumption that highest value of money he can pull in isnt critically necessary. And he likes working with wood, and doing what you like is what retirement is (or should be) about. Lastly, maybe you're right about market saturation, but if you have a great niche product that doesnt really matter (hence the niche bit) - and in order for saturation to occur, it likely means plenty are in fact doing okay at it. It was just a fun/silly idea anyway.
 
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