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Season Pass Price Wars

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Well, it looks like Vail Resorts has done it again. By acquiring a second Lake Tahoe resort (Northstar at Tahoe) at the beginning of last season, they have inadvertently triggered a season pass price war, very similar to what occurred in Colorado in the early 2000's when they acquired Keystone and Breckenridge in Summit County, CO. In response to the Epic Pass, Epic Local Pass, and Tahoe Value Pass, Kirkwood Mountain Resort, Alpine Meadows Mountain Resort, and Homewood Mountain Resort have teamed up to offer the "Kirkwood/Alpine Plus" Upgrade to their unlimited passes, allowing skiing and riding at multiple resorts with only the peak holiday periods blacked out. This upgrade is going for $799 as compared with Vail Resort's Epic Pass ($649). In addition, just last week these resorts teamed up again to offer a college version of the Kirkwood/Alpine Upgrade called the "Triple Threat" Pass for $329 for half-time enrolled college students. This type of competition is what has occurred in Colorado between the Rocky Mountain Super Pass Plus (Copper, Winter Park, 6 days at Steamboat) and the Epic Local Pass (Arapahoe Basin, Keystone, Breckenridge, 10 days at Vail & Beaver Creek, Northstar-at-Tahoe, Heavenly) 

 

So what is your take on this? Are season pass price wars a good thing for the ski industry by insuring a steady income stream for the resorts, or do they degrade the guest experience by crowding the slopes with far too many people? 

post #2 of 12

WTLW.

 

But I think people who want to ski are going to ski regardless, so I seriously doubt it'll lead to overcrowding.  More so than the price drop, I like how Vail is at least pressuring other resorts to team up and include multiple mountains on a single pass - that's definitely a good thing.

post #3 of 12

It just leads to more skier visits, and more overall revenue generated. I think ski resorts have figured out, that if you reduce the cost of a season pass, you gain that money back in terms of number of skier visits and dollars spent at the resorts overall. Of course in large part if the snow totals are excellent, that probably is a stronger variable than season pass prices. I'm sure the bean counters have counted the beans, and have it all figured out.

post #4 of 12

There's also a good percentage of people who see the cheaper season pass, buy it, and then end up not using it anymore than they would have if they were paying for daily lift tickets.  I know people who had passes last year and didn't go once, ridiculous as that sounds.

post #5 of 12

Call me a curmudgeon, but I don't really like it--not so much for the reasons stated, though.  Firstly, I think this puts incredible downward price pressure on the smaller ski areas, and I don't think it's healthy to put them out of business.  Second, I think this changes the focus of big resorts from skiing to value added amenities; they'll open restaurants instead of terrain.

post #6 of 12



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toadman View Post

It just leads to more skier visits, and more overall revenue generated. I think ski resorts have figured out, that if you reduce the cost of a season pass, you gain that money back in terms of number of skier visits and dollars spent at the resorts overall. Of course in large part if the snow totals are excellent, that probably is a stronger variable than season pass prices. I'm sure the bean counters have counted the beans, and have it all figured out.


Exactly, and when in Summit and Eagle Counties in CO most here would be very surprised to find they are frequenting VR business' at a distance well off the mountain.  Plus the area gets it's cash up front.  Vail_SnoPro gave me the numbers of passes Vail resorts sells yearly and I was floored. 

 

While my situation is somewhat unique living here in Kentucky I manage to drop a lot of bucks in the area for the multiple weeks I spend there.  W/O the "VR Local's Pass" SugarCube and I would be dead in the water.  (probably skiing at Perfect North in Indiana rolleyes.gif)
 

 

post #7 of 12

I don't think skiers of mountains out West are allowed to cry about over-crowding, ever, even during holiday weeks.

post #8 of 12

If reasonably priced passes are such a bad thing, I wish we would suffer from it on the East Coast. Given the economy, skiing as a whole is much more endangered in the long run by a large segment of the populace being priced out of the market.

post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Louie View Post



 


Exactly, and when in Summit and Eagle Counties in CO most here would be very surprised to find they are frequenting VR business' at a distance well off the mountain.  Plus the area gets it's cash up front.  Vail_SnoPro gave me the numbers of passes Vail resorts sells yearly and I was floored. 

 

While my situation is somewhat unique living here in Kentucky I manage to drop a lot of bucks in the area for the multiple weeks I spend there.  W/O the "VR Local's Pass" SugarCube and I would be dead in the water.  (probably skiing at Perfect North in Indiana rolleyes.gif)
 

 


 

I would hazard a guess that VR sells over 500k season passes/year. If we are talking all types of passes, including 7 day passes, I'd say that number is closer to 1 million. VR isn't just competing against other CO resorts but UT, Canada, and CA resorts, of which they are a player in Tahoe too.
 

 

post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toadman View Post


 

I would hazard a guess that VR sells over 500k season passes/year.

 

 

That's pretty darn close to the answer.

 

 

post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xela View Post

Call me a curmudgeon, but I don't really like it--not so much for the reasons stated, though.  Firstly, I think this puts incredible downward price pressure on the smaller ski areas, and I don't think it's healthy to put them out of business.  Second, I think this changes the focus of big resorts from skiing to value added amenities; they'll open restaurants instead of terrain.


I agree with all that, especially the part about putting small areas out of business.  The focus on "amenities" has been around for a while.  A ski area manager once told me that the best skier he ever saw was a 14 year kid with a full price lift ticket on his jacket, wearing rental boots, eating a $8 slice of pizza and playing video games while his father was in the bar.

 

BK 

 

post #12 of 12

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan Febles View Post

 inadvertently 


I'm not sure that's the word I would use.

 

 

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