In a recent article in the NSAA Journal, the relationship between ski area management and ski school is explored. One can not be without the other, but there may be a disconnect based on different objectives, motivations, people to please, and interpretations of success.
Owners and managers often must focus on the bottom line while ski school should be looking at whether guests are getting the undivided attention and TLC that they deserve. These are pertinent issues related to conversion rates - that is, transforming a person who is taking a lesson into a regular or loyal customer.
When you consider ski area departments such as guest services, rentals, ski school, marketing, grooming and so on, it is relevant that there may be cultural differences between the groups. Resorts that run the most smoothly and successfully have instilled the perfect balance of the employee experience, the guest experience, and the owner experience.
Ski school should be a strong revenue department and it may not be aligned with management whereby the ski school wants to provide the best guest experience while owners are mostly profit-driven. Instructors are inherently focused on people and while it is probably not true that they care less about the ski area's bottom line, they just care MORE about the people that they are trying to teach. Bringing in revenue is probably not the instructors' prime and immediate focus even though the student helps to pay their salary. There may very well be a sales-based payment bonus or commission plan in place, but that is not the focus of this article.
Instructors share their love of skiing with each client. Each skier pays in advance for their less. The instructors depend on the number of people assigned to them, the amount of time they have with each learner, and the expectations from ski area managers. They do not think about how an extra person in their group represents extra revenue, they are focused on how they can give everyone the best possible learning experience and succeeding in creating someone who learns to love XC skiing.
Owners and managers cares about the guest experience but their primary and immediate motivation is to keep the area running as safely and efficiently as possible. They're juggling many things at the same time and they don't often zero in on any one function. They are trying to provide an experience for hundreds of guests and employees at the same time - in short there is different lens between instructors and owners/managers.
Breaking down departmental silos just requires a shift in thinking, an honest respectful communication, and a willingness to compromise when necessary so that everyone feels heard and appreciated for what they bring to the table. Owners and managers should set the tone but the positive intention needs to go both ways. Departmental heads needs to be mindful of the different stressors and priorities not only for management but also for other departments and convey that awareness to the people they supervise.
Ski areas with the best "conversion" rates regard everyone's role as essential - with every single person working together as a team to deliver the best guest experience possible. Each department has to make sure that each guest is carefully attended to. The silo effect is reduced when every employee within the process has a common goal to provide a great guest-focused experience.
When people are caught up in their own role, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that this is all about the guest experience. The guest does not care about the hierarchy of staff at the ski resort and is not aware of the ski area as a collection of different departments. Each and every department is critical to providing great guest experiences. That should inform the way every single person working at the ski area or hotel listens to each other, thinks about each other and relates to each other, regardless of whether they are teaching a skier to glide, setting up someone in rental equipment, taking money in food and beverage or sitting at a desk for some other function.
The Pew Research Center conducted a survey about Smartphone Activities to show some distinct trends and differences among age groups.
Of those who use the smartphone to get recommendations or directions: 95% of those aged 18-29; 94% of those aged 30-49; and 82% for those 50 and older.
With regard to purchasing products online such as books, music, toys or clothing: 73% of the 18-29 group purchase on smartphones; 67% of the 30-49 group; and 44% of the group that is 50 and older. Those smartphone users who watched movies or TV through a paid subscription service (on smartphones?) included 52% of the youngest group; 36% of the middle age group; and only 13% of the older group.
The level of smartphone use among those under 30 is really not news to most of us but it is interesting to see the drop off of smartphone use when looking at some activities among age groups. It might be useful for ski area operators to see the percentage of smartphone users to willingly order trail tickets in advance. Clearly, catering to smartphone users as a significant market segment will continue to grow as younger people become the majority of the customer base.