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Ski operators perform a range of duties to keep a ski resort running smoothly and to ensure a good experience for each guest. Lift operators run and maintain the ski lift and make sure each skier enters and exits the lift chairs safely. They also verify each skier's purchased lift ticket. Ski tour operators are responsible for arranging ski vacations at a particular ski lodge or resort, and they often sell package deals that include lodging, ski lessons, and lift tickets. A ski area owner typically oversees a team of ski operators and makes final decisions concerning resort operations.
Many ski operators get their first ski resort jobs as lift attendants. They are typically hired for this seasonal position at the beginning of every ski season, and their main responsibility is to keep the ski lift running to take skiers to the top of each slope. Although many ski lifts are automated with simple buttons, some prior experience with machinery operation can be helpful. The number of hired lift attendants usually depends on the number of slopes at a given ski resort. Depending on the size of a resort, a ski lift attendant may also have other duties such as operating a snow machine to keep fresh powder on each of the ski slopes.
Some ski operators have supervisory positions and oversee crews of lift attendants as well as slope maintenance workers. They are often responsible for training new hires and for ensuring the ski lifts are operated according to all safety procedures. Supervisors are also usually the first contacts for customer questions and concerns, and they are often responsible for arranging timely repairs when one of the ski lifts does break down.
Ski tour operators are professionals in the travel industry who arrange ski vacations for clients. Some may be employees of a certain ski lodge while others work for a separate travel agency. Their most common job duties include making ski lodge reservations and scheduling guest activities, such as skiing or snowboarding lessons. Tour operators often sell these types of ski vacation packages at a lower price than customers would pay if they were to pay for accommodations and activities separately.
Many ski area owners started as ski operators who decided to go into business for themselves. Some small ski lodges may be owned by an individual or a family, though most larger resorts have groups of owners. Ski area owners often plan and implement new ideas for increasing the numbers of yearly visitors to their resorts. Many of those who own large resorts work with teams of public relations and tourism experts to meet these goals.
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