Here is Rusty's etiquette for tipping (USA based) ski instructors. Rusty is
not familiar with the ski instructor tipping culture in other countries. In
Europe you may find that your instructor or guide will organize apres ski
activities for your group where you can show your appreciation by buying them
dinner and drinks.
When tipping instructors, 15-20% of the lesson price is appropriate for a well taught
lesson. Some students have been known to tip higher when the service is exceptional or if
a major breakthrough has been facilitated.
Tipping is not generally expected for group lessons for full or partial day
lessons. Offering to buy lunch is a nice gesture, but do not feel offended if
the instructor declines because they often choose or are forced to skip lunch.
For multiple day group lessons, it is nice to pool the groups gratuity into a single
envelope and surprise the instructor. A great tip for a group lesson is a follow up
private lesson request (instructors get paid more for private lessons and usually get paid
even more when they are specifically requested).
Tipping is generally expected for private lessons. You are rewarding for personal
attention and the quality of the experience just like in a restaurant. The tip should match the level of service
Tipping is not expected from children, but many parents will tip instructors
after the lesson when the children are returned to them (unharmed, happy and the
right children to the right parent!).
There are two general classes of ski instructors: ski for food and ski for fun.
"Ski for food" instructors live off of their teaching income during the winter.
Which means they go hungry a lot. Tips mean a lot to these folks. "Ski for fun"
instructors are just plain nuts. They don't need the money to eat, but tips do help
cover gas money, expenses for equipment and our professional dues and education
expenses. Most "ski for fun" instructors view
tips as a "job well done" message. Some "ski for fun" instructors will
be insulted if there is no tip for a private lesson. Some "ski for
fun" instructors consider themselves to be professionals and feel insulted
if they are offered a tip. Do you tip your doctor or airline pilot or your kid's
first grade teacher? The message means a whole lot more
than the money, but for most, the money helps too. In general, there are more full time "ski for food" instructors
"out west" and more part time "ski for fun" instructors every where
Don't forget there are other ways to show appreciation to your instructor. A big smile
or a thanks is better than nothing. Offering a favorite libation (and/or food) at the end of the day is a good
way to have an opportunity to describe what worked and say thanks one more time (plus you
get the opportunity for follow up questions). A thank you letter to the ski school or
filling in a comment card complimenting the instructor helps the boss know who's doing a
good job and why. On the other end of the scale, ski instructors get a wide
variety of different kinds of tips. Some of the "unusual" tips that
Rusty has heard of includes: new vehicles, new ski equipment (used once during
the lesson), trips to other resorts, days at the golf course, a condo, lifetime