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Staffing at Ski Resorts: '21/'22

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I don't know where this info comes from, but I've heard that ski schools everywhere will be expecting staffing issues this upcoming season. I'd like to hear that it isn't the case and that I've been misinformed. I don't know why they are expecting fewer ski instructors to want to teach this season, unless it's continuing worries about Covid.

Has anybody else heard this or know more about it?
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
I don't know where this info comes from, but I've heard that ski schools everywhere will be expecting staffing issues this upcoming season. I'd like to hear that it isn't the case and that I've been misinformed. I don't know why they are expecting fewer ski instructors to want to teach this season, unless it's continuing worries about Covid.

Has anybody else heard this or know more about it?
Staff for essentially every position will be an issue for every ski area/resort this season. For that matter, it's been an issue for the travel and leisure industry all summer. I have seen more Help Wanted signs in restaurants and gas station convenience stores from NC to NY/MA than I've ever seen in decades of driving trips. Also many restaurants that used to be open 6-7 days a week are more likely to be closed on Sun, Mon, and/or Tue. Meaning in tourist towns where there is enough demand during the summer so staffing is the issue, not lack of customers.

As an example, Big SNOW was short-staffed for instructors when Divas were there in July. Ideally, they would like to have 8 instructors available, 6 on snow in three general areas plus 2 more so that people can take breaks. That Saturday I only saw three blue jackets when we were there around lunch time (opens at 10am on weekends). The business model caters to beginners so instead of pre-scheduled group lessons, roaming instructors are available at all times for no extra charge.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
One more point about ski instructor staffing.

For as long as I have been teaching (14 years) my ski schools have been understaffed along with the other ski schools in the region (NE).

I've always thought this was because the pay and lack of benefits in the industry is not enough to bring in the amount of instructors needed.

There's also the complication of housing - which is definitely more difficult for this upcoming season.

I'm hearing that this season's staffing issue will be worse than usual. Still wondering if this will actually be the case, and if so if it's primarily due to the worsening housing shortage, or if there's something else going on.
 

SallyCat

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
In Vermont generally, staffing is going to be a very significant issue. Housing costs here are astronomical, and at least here in the Upper Valle (VT/NH) region, rentals are all-but-impossible to find and if they are available, the rents are exorbitant.

Vail is raising its company-wide minimum wage to $15/hour, but they are also very likely to start requiring vaccinations for public-facing employees and ski patrollers. Unfortunately, that will reduce already-low staffing levels.

I used to help manage a ski school: if I were an instructor, I would jump ship immediately to a resort job with regular hourly pay (instead of the "we only pay you when you're teaching, no worker's comp if you're hurt skiing between lessons" grift that ski schools generally run). There has to be a limit to how much loving teaching can compensate for naked exploitation, especially when so many other opportunities are available.

Hopefully this staffing crunch will ultimately lead to better working conditions for seasonal employees.
 

Christy

Angel Diva
I don't know where this info comes from, but I've heard that ski schools everywhere will be expecting staffing issues this upcoming season. I'd like to hear that it isn't the case and that I've been misinformed. I don't know why they are expecting fewer ski instructors to want to teach this season, unless it's continuing worries about Covid.

Has anybody else heard this or know more about it?

It makes sense, given the labor shortages found in so many other industries, and, in particular lower wage, seasonal, or public facing jobs. That coupled with the fact that seasonal housing, which was already so difficult to find in ski towns, has gotten even scarcer and more expensive...Oh, and no J-I visas again, right?
 

Christy

Angel Diva
SallyCat said:
I used to help manage a ski school: if I were an instructor, I would jump ship immediately to a resort job with regular hourly pay (instead of the "we only pay you when you're teaching, no worker's comp if you're hurt skiing between lessons" grift that ski schools generally run). There has to be a limit to how much loving teaching can compensate for naked exploitation, especially when so many other opportunities are available.

Hopefully this staffing crunch will ultimately lead to better working conditions for seasonal employees.

It sounds like a lot of economists are waiting to see if we've reached a tipping point in terms of what workers will tolerate. It's certainly been well documented that legions of restaurant employees (in WA anyway) have left that industry for jobs in Amazon warehouses and grocery stores, where the benefits are good and the hours and wages steady.

I still have 2 friends that haven't gone back to work in their industries (one a hair stylist, one a substitute teacher that was planning to move to full time this year) because they lost reliable child care. Their day cares were, open, then closed, then open, then closed when they had outbreaks. They both gave up and stopped working.
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
I haven't heard about Tremblant, but I do know that if you want a job, it's there for you. Right through the summer the restaurants and bars have been alternating who's open as there just aren't enough people working.

And after the government shut the ski schools down last winter for 6 weeks, I'm not sure how many found other jobs.

And yes, pay and housing are the biggest problem. No one wants to rent for the season, when they can make big bucks in the STA arena.
 

Abbi

Angel Diva
I can tell by one of the Okemo Facebook sites that anyone working is scrambling for housing.
 

Christy

Angel Diva
Employers and municipalities really need to figure out the housing situation. Airbnbs and other short term rentals have just decimated the housing stock. One of my friends who is a permanent employee of Sequoia National Park lost her housing in the nearest town when it turned into an Airbnb, and the only other thing she could find is about to turn into an Airbnb, so it's a very short term lease. Her town of 3000 has 700 Airbnbs/short term rentals. Everything that was ever a regular rental is now an Airbnb. There is no place left for workers to live. Then of course with the pandemic you had more people buying homes in these places so that took out worker housing too.

I just read that on Orcas Island the owner of a the hot restaurant moved into his car so that he could let employees live in his house. Otherwise he was going to have to close his business. There are countless stories like that. Orcas has capped the number of short term rental permits but it might be too little, too late.

It seems like if you are a big ski resort you are going to need to provide/rent housing. It's not THAT hard. Sun Valley does it (even the animal shelter near Sun Valley bought a 4-plex in town where some employees could live). Crystal does it (to a limited degree).
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Oh, and no J-I visas again, right?
Actually the ban on J-1 visas expired in April 2021. But not sure how someone from South America deals with the current travel restrictions for people coming from countries that are considered high risk for COVID-19. I saw on the Aspen website that they work with third-party companies when it comes to J-1 workers. Aspen is not dealing with H1B visas at all. I think those may have applied to some very experienced instructors from S. America who could do a great job for guests from there. But I would guess they won't be able to ski in N. America this season.

April 2021
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
The destination resorts owned by the multi-location companies do provide some employee housing but it's never enough. Boyne Resorts has been building employee housing at Big Sky in recent years as they have been expanding terrain and services.

I noticed on the Alta online job application that there are questions related to employee housing.
 

altagirl

Moderator
Staff member
Yeah, we visited Winter Park, CO back in July and most of the restaurants that were actually open only had one or two waitstaff trying to handle a whole restaurant and had signs up for increasingly large cash bonuses for signing on to work. We talked to people who spent hours trying to get a table somewhere to no avail. Made us glad we had a room with a kitchenette!
 

sibhusky

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Whitefish was only open partial weeks all summer due to staffing issues. They even cancelled events. Some days they announced they weren't opening mere hours before. I guess some is a housing issue, but for summer I don't think they normally were staffed with transient workers, I think summer was primarily locals -- college kids, etc. I noticed that a local restaurant chain owned by the main shareowner of the resort is offering free season passes to workers. Now, last winter there were staffing issues due to Covid sickness. (Apparently lifties like to party, who knew?) For the upcoming winter, added to that, you've got an absolutely bonkers real estate market, with zero long term rentals available. Really zero. I've seen lots of postings by long term residents looking for housing. But this has developed just in the last 12 months. They did not import workers last winter due to Covid and if they try to do it this water, I dont know where they would put them. I had friends who spent all summer trying to find a place after they (stupidly) sold their house. (He's got Parkinson's, I think they needed to cash in, but they should have planned better.) Zillow:
Screenshot_20210910-163040_Zillow.jpg
 

MissySki

Angel Diva
Same thing is happening in MA and RI with staffing shortages at restaurants etc. EVERYWHERE is hiring, it’s crazy. Where are all of the workers?
 

ilovepugs

Angel Diva
Same thing is happening in MA and RI with staffing shortages at restaurants etc. EVERYWHERE is hiring, it’s crazy. Where are all of the workers?

- Not wanting to pay for daycare (if it’s even available) in order to barely break even at a job involving extensive contact with the frequently-rude public while still facing greater risk of COVID than remote workers

- Making money off OnlyFans

:eyebrows:

(That emoji was just too good)
 

MissySki

Angel Diva
- Not wanting to pay for daycare (if it’s even available) in order to barely break even at a job involving extensive contact with the frequently-rude public while still facing greater risk of COVID than remote workers

- Making money off OnlyFans

:eyebrows:

(That emoji was just too good)

I know plenty of women who have or do work to mostly pay for daycare until their kids are in school, because they’d go crazy being home constantly. Covid might add a new element, but many of these summer seasonal service jobs are often college kids etc. which are hardly the population with kids or that are terribly frightened of Covid. Obviously that’s not the whole story here, but a curiosity to me anyway. Maybe it’s still a lack of visas for seasonal workers? I’m not sure where we are on that either.
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
Also here in Eastern Canada, the provincial governments have shut down in the past and closed most of the service type industries. Workers need at least some sense of job security.

Even the union at Tremblant can't save their members if the province goes into shut down.
 

ilovepugs

Angel Diva
I know plenty of women who have or do work to mostly pay for daycare until their kids are in school, because they’d go crazy being home constantly. Covid might add a new element, but many of these summer seasonal service jobs are often college kids etc. which are hardly the population with kids or that are terribly frightened of Covid. Obviously that’s not the whole story here, but a curiosity to me anyway. Maybe it’s still a lack of visas for seasonal workers? I’m not sure where we are on that either.
Oh for sure, I think daycare is only part of a very complex issue (and if I had kids you bet I would pay for daycare) but I do think the bad behavior of the public has a big impact. People are on short fuses and not everyone is on their best behavior these days. A lot of people in their 20s-30s who used to work in the restaurant industry have left the industry for better working conditions.
 

sibhusky

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
@sibhusky does Whitefish (resort) provide any housing?
Not that I'm aware of. But then we live here already, we have housing. At one point there was a scandal about the housing conditions of the South American "hotel students" but housing was arranged by their agency. They've been using fewer of those students ever since. I think during COVID-19 it's the last thing they want to get involved with.
 

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