The Rise Of Start Ups

How can anyone make an educated decision when booking a ski or snowboard instructor course with the rise of so many start ups?

The journey of becoming a ski or board instructor has to be one of the best gap years or career moves that someone can experience, yet it is full of potential let downs and disappointments if one does not have a solid over view of the company you may be about to entrust your future with and of equal importance the politics that weigh down the snows ports industry worldwide.

As one of the largest most successful and proven training academies worldwide Ski Instructor Academy would like to share our thoughts and concerns in the hope that we can better assist those who are about to begin their journey in snow sports.

A person set on starting the journey of a ski or board instructor has already many preconceived ideas, thoughts and images dancing around their head and they just need a slick salesman to take advantage of this and add the finishing touches to draw them in. People are generally excited and really just want someone to say a few magic words that will confirm their preconceptions so they can part with their cash.

It is of the upmost importance that people remain calm and objective when making enquiries and bookings. Below is a guide that may help you make the right decision for your future in snow sports.

Ski Instructor Academy (SIA Austria) is in a great position after training over 3,000 instructors in it 10 year history to help you make the right choice. Lets look first at the top 3 questions we are asked by people when looking for a training course.

1. The number one question falls into the category of who else will be on the course I am planning to do? 

We find that people put a huge deal of importance in feeling that they will be on a course as part of a larger group so they can benefit from the greater likelihood of finding like minded people or they are concerned by gender and age of the other students.

Ski Instructor Academy has without question of the largest single courses world wide with almost 200 students in resort pre season but equally we have other courses that have only one or two groups of students (about 8 to 16 people). We are careful to point people in the right direction that fits the experience they are looking for.

WARNING!!! Many start ups are carefully hiding behind cleverly produced videos and marketing to make themselves look larger than they are in the hope of sucking people in. We have heard often about unscrupulous companies masking carefully their answers about how big any given course is they operate in the hope of persuading people to join their courses. Make sure you ask directly about their courses last season NOT their ‘projected’ numbers for upcoming courses and their numbers on said courses and get their reply in writing as a method of getting a refund if they mis-sell or mis-represented themselves to secure your booking. History is your best source of proof and confidence when booking with a course provider. This is why start ups and fakes really don’t want you to ask direct and specific questions about their courses last season.

It can be very uncomfortable if you end up in a resort for 6 to 10 weeks with a company that has 4 or 5 students on a course and you just don’t fit in with the people on the course. With a larger course you are guaranteed to find like minded souls yet have the personal touch of small training groups when skiing or boarding.

Imagine also that you have just one trainer for the whole of your course and you do not find his/her teaching methods work for your learning style. One of the main benefits when training with SIA Austria is that you will experience many different trainers to ensure you get the best out of your course.

2.  What is the pass rate? 

Companies love you asking this question as they will be quick to produce answers that are very close to, or are 100%. In reality this very popular question is almost a waste of your time to ask. Why? Pass rates will vary as no two people are the same and the actual important question should have been which qualifications are on offer, as equally, no two ski qualifications are the same! If you are doing a Canadian or British level 1 you should expect a 98% to 100% pass rates to be advertised but in comparison Austrian standards far exceed this level and pass rates drop accordingly. You know yourself and you know your own capabilities. Your chances of passing lie as much in your hands as well as that of the training course provider.

3. Can I work once I have finished the course and do a season and/or seasons in the future? 

Watch out for the following answers “we help you find work” or “internship” or “we have contacts in ski schools everywhere” “you will have a job interview” – What you need to hear is, yes! At Ski Instructor Academy we simply guarantee work and not just for the first season. That said if it is an Internship you want then we also offer these in Canada. You need to decide if this is a one season gap year or something you may do for a number of years. An honest course provider will use this information to point you to the correct qualification and experience.

The big problem is anyone can build a professional looking website, anyone can use their go pros and hire a drone to make an impressive video that ticks all the boxes that the potential client wants to see and these companies will rely on the fact that there is always someone out there that will dive head first into something without doing some research and asking difficult questions.


So how can you be sure that you are about to make the right decision.

Well unfortunately the responsibility lies with you as you are unlikely to get to talk to someone that will be playing devils advocate and warning you of the downs as well as the ups. You need to be and act like an investigator.

1. Ask direct, simple questions and make sure you hear a blunt confident answer. Get the answers in writing.

2. Look closely at the history of the company. Look at its Facebook page, Instagram and Vimeo. Look at their videos. Do you see previous courses with groups of different faces? Or do you see just a handful of people that could be potentially friends and family rather than genuine clients.

Eg. Ski Instructor Academy trains over 400 instructors each year, have over 30 trainers and it is obvious when you look at our web page, Instagram (@siaaustria) videos, photos and Facebook site that this is fact. You can see our students working in ski schools, you can see group photos from 40 through to 200 students together. Our Instagram shows a solid history. Our Facebook fan page is a long story that would be impossible to fabricate. Social media can be your enemy at times but also when used correctly it will confirm what the company is claiming.

3. Does their promo video (if they have one) just show a few people skiing or boarding? Be aware that people can produce some great videos today with all the available technology making the smallest of enterprises or start ups look huge and professional. Don’t get sucked in by flashy marketing. Remain realistic and make rational decisions with your future.

4. Look at their webpage. Does it have on-line booking, on-line live chats, a large gallery of photos and videos with many past groups. Is their web page a source of information or just a selling tool.

5. Don’t forget companies can easily manufacture a large number of positive reviews or create a 5 star look with just their friends and family backing. You need more proof. Asking for the Email of a previous course participant may seem like a good idea but lets face it, it would not be hard for you to find 2 or 3 people to fabricate an Email backing up any story you wanted to sell. Genuine companies can be found all over the web and often just by asking friends and family you may find out more than you thought possible.

We recommend that you ask the following questions that makes it difficult for someone to hide behind the answers.

When was the company first registered? If the company is less than 3-5 years old be aware of the risks in sending large sums of money to start ups.

How many students has this registered company taught last season to be ski/board instructors? (if less than 50, alarm bells should be ringing).

Do you have examiners on your team of trainers that I will ski/board with during my course, that are also the examiners for the association I will do the exam with? (if no, look elsewhere).

Do you have connections with the ski association that I will take my exam with? Be suspicious if they ask you to independently register for exams. Legitimate companies that have close partnerships with Ski and Snowboard Associations would be dealing with all these logistics for you if they were connected with the association as they claim.

Can I talk to other people that are also booked onto this course? 

Each season SIA creates a private members Facebook page that allows you to see and communicate with other participants months before you even arrive into resort. This is a great way of breaking the ice and it once again demonstrates that the course does exist and that there are many others involved.

Companies hiding the fact that they have only a few participants will not want you to see the list of people booked for one of their course instead they will talk about what they expect to have for a course and then act all innocent when you turn up and find you are almost the only one there.

Having a big company behind you may make the difference between success and failure, a dream gap year or a experience from hell. The list of specialist companies with a solid history in this area is actually not that big, companies such as Snowskool, Nonstop, Yes Tours, NBS and of course Ski Instructor Academy – however, the list of companies that actually offer these courses has grown exponentially in the last few years due to the ease of using social media, manufacturing videos, developing cheap but effective web pages etc.

Who are you going to entrust not only your money to but more importantly your future?