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Vail Associates the OPEC of Skiing?

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

Just got the new Epic Life Mag in the mail today and as I was leafing through it it dawned on me just how big an industry VA is the amount of influnece they have in the ski biz..The mag contains ski and boot reviews, clothing ect ect.

 

Not a new revelation or anything but of the total tickets sold and resort revenues I'd be curious to know what percent of the market VA now controls. Not sure if having a significant percentage of the ski business controlled by a few key players is a good thing or not. But its hard to beat the value of the Epic Pass when it comes to the cost of skiing.

 

Doesn't seem that long ago I'd have copies of Ski, Skiing, Snow Country, Powder all laying around the house in the fall. The only ski publication I now have is Epic Life.

 

Anyway I just imagine of you are in a business that VA is also in its probably not very fun competing with them.

post #2 of 26

 

It's no longer VA, but Vail Resorts, btw. They own a lot more than ski areas, too ... Hotels, ski shops, bike stores, golf courses ...

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vail_Resorts

post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 

Wow. They are even a bigger player in the sports, leisure, recreation industry than I gave them credit for.

post #4 of 26

Not sure about the answer to your questions, but I've never even heard of Epic Life. They may take over the resort industry, but I think magazines will be fine.

post #5 of 26

epic life is an  magazine published by  VailResorts.  They didn't take over a magazine.  

 

It is like saying Oprah took over "O" magazine.

 

You must have given them your mailing info, so you're getting it for free.

 

Making a magazine is not that intensive.

 

I am sure you get tons of catalogs from various brands/stores which for intents and purposes are the same as magazines.  Just throw in a few articles, boom, it's a magazine instead of a catalog.  (that being said, fhm/maxim/style magazines are pretty much not far off from just being ads).

 

Every airline has their in-plane magazine.  Hotel chains do as well.

 

That being said, all these in-house magazines typically are good at paint a lifestyle a bit more idealistic than reality.

On the other hands VR does have deep pockets.

post #6 of 26

Not sure who said they took anything over. I was saying there's no worry that they will take over (the publishing industry). I'm not sure why the OP seemed to trade in all those other publications for what I can only assume is a dull advertorial.

post #7 of 26

I think the OP was just commenting on how pervasive VR is in the ski business, compared to how it used to be a lot more diversified. The magazine was just the catalyst for the thought.

 

I got the same mag today ... by virtue of being a VR passholder, I imagine, but I'm sure it automatically goes to others, too. The only two ski mags I have ever purposely subscribed to are Powder and Ski Journal ... I still get Ski or Skiing or whichever it is, by virtue of being a passholder somewhere, else ... etc

post #8 of 26

Evil Empire for sure but its not all sh*ts and giggles at VR these days.......

 

http://unofficialnetworks.com/vail-resorts-posts-50-drop-net-income-2012-107751/

post #9 of 26

It looks like they sold somewhere around 200,000 season passes?  I  predicted they would reach saturation and the destination skiers would just stop going to VR resorts. 

But it's taken a lot longer than I thought.  I'm amazed that people will pay over $100/day to ski at these resorts?

post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by roundturns View Post

Just got the new Epic Life Mag in the mail today and as I was leafing through it it dawned on me just how big an industry VA is the amount of influnece they have in the ski biz..The mag contains ski and boot reviews, clothing ect ect.

 

Not a new revelation or anything but of the total tickets sold and resort revenues I'd be curious to know what percent of the market VA now controls. Not sure if having a significant percentage of the ski business controlled by a few key players is a good thing or not. But its hard to beat the value of the Epic Pass when it comes to the cost of skiing.

 

Doesn't seem that long ago I'd have copies of Ski, Skiing, Snow Country, Powder all laying around the house in the fall. The only ski publication I now have is Epic Life.

 

Anyway I just imagine of you are in a business that VA is also in its probably not very fun competing with them.

A very significant % of the Colorado ski business?  Yes.  A decent % of the Tahoe business?  Yes.  Industry wide influence?  Maybe.  A significant % of total world-wide ski revenue?  Not even close.

 

They own/control 8 resorts out of how many world-wide?  VR might have OPEC like influence in Colorado and Tahoe, but certainly not elsewhere. 

post #11 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

It looks like they sold somewhere around 200,000 season passes?  I  predicted they would reach saturation and the destination skiers would just stop going to VR resorts. 

But it's taken a lot longer than I thought.  I'm amazed that people will pay over $100/day to ski at these resorts?

Most of the big resorts are now over $100 per day, and they are all far from reaching saturation since skier days are still well off the peak. 

 

The key to getting skiers to pay the higher pricing isn't from meeting rising costs and making a profit.  The resorts are getting $100 ticket prices because they are meeting or exceeding the expectations of destination skiers (locals have their needs met through season passes), and hoping that they come back in the summer to vacation, refer convention business, and perhaps purchase real estate.  Some of the businesses VR owns, e.g., Any Mountain, were purchased at top dollar so they can be used to promote skier days at VR resorts. I don't buy skis in big box stores, but I can imagine a someone saying, "Buy some skis today and I'll throw in a lift ticket or two." 

 

Some people vacation by staying in Motel 8 and eating fast food, while others stay in luxury hotels filled with amenities and enjoy fine dining (I fall in both categories).  VR knows what market(s) each mountain can cater to, and they do a good job of selling skier days.  The deal on their seasons pass is also hard to beat.


Edited by quant2325 - 10/2/12 at 10:07am
post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by rug wheelie View Post

Evil Empire for sure but its not all sh*ts and giggles at VR these days.......

 

http://unofficialnetworks.com/vail-resorts-posts-50-drop-net-income-2012-107751/

You bring up an interesting point.  VR saw skiers days decline sharply due to the lack of snow, but is still financially healthy (MTN is trading $2 off the yearly high at $57.35 this morning).  Some smaller areas were either sold or closed due to one bad winter.  Some real estate buyers feel more comfortable knowing that their home mountain is owned by a financially stable company, and this is a positive for some of the bigger resort owners.  Disclosure: I do not own MTN and do not own real estate at a resort owned by VR. 

post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

It looks like they sold somewhere around 200,000 season passes?  I  predicted they would reach saturation and the destination skiers would just stop going to VR resorts. 

But it's taken a lot longer than I thought.  I'm amazed that people will pay over $100/day to ski at these resorts?

Shredhead,

 

I come from the midwest where we pay anywhere from $50 to $70 to ski on the better hills in Northern MI and the UP. So the extra $30 is well worth it when you compare the size of the hills.

post #14 of 26

I wonder though how many people go on a destination ski vacation and pay list/window price for a lift ticket?

post #15 of 26

Quote:

Originally Posted by jimmy View Post

I wonder though how many people go on a destination ski vacation and pay list/window price for a lift ticket?

Some pay list when on vacation, but most of us obviously never do.  What people get for $100 is good memories, and that comes from a variety of terrain they can ski and great kiss-butt service that makes them feel good plus great food and a "clean" resort.    Remember, most people here are real skiers but the people spending the money are real vacationers (e.g., the dentist who earns $180k per year whose family ski season lasts between Christmas and New Year's).   We may laugh at the SKI Magazine annual overall surveys, but SKI accurately reflects what their readers want.  That is why for 2012-2013 (issue out Oct. 15th) Vail Resorts has a couple of  overall top tens.  This is also why Canyons (where I ski at least 10 days per year) cracked the overall top ten. These well financed businesses that "get it" accurately identify their markets and either meet or exceed customer expectations. 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by rug wheelie View Post

Evil Empire for sure but its not all sh*ts and giggles at VR these days.......

 

http://unofficialnetworks.com/vail-resorts-posts-50-drop-net-income-2012-107751/

 

 

Is VR the Evil Empire?  Let's see.  Does VR raise prices for locals?  No.  In fact the seasons passes are very reasonable and we get more mountains than ever before (I have the Heavenly/N*/Kirkwood deal for the family).  Does a VR resort generally improve service?  Yes, it is my experience that service improves when VR purchases a ski area.  Does VR increase skier days relative to other resorts, which helps employ people?  Yes.  Does lift access improve when VR buys a resort?  Usually.  Does hill access improve?  Not really. (I hate the lower parking lot at N*).  Overall,VR does a great job.  I don't think they are "evil" at all. 

post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmy View Post

I wonder though how many people go on a destination ski vacation and pay list/window price for a lift ticket?

At least at VR, the majority, because basically there are no significant discounts on lift tickets($10 off or so isn't that much).    In some sense if you book through their vacation planning site you can get a bundle deal with lodging but that's basically it.

Otherwise in South Lake, the only other discount I know of is if you're a gambler and the casinos give you free tickets; but really that's the casino footing the bill and not really a promotion by Vail.

Even if you to set up a group buy to saving money, they give you basically no discount.

 

What's more interesting is the concept of "club" type business model at least in my view.  By raising day prices so high, and epic passes so low, they push you to get a pass so you join their "club" and forsake all others.  For you, maybe this doesn't seem like it matters so much, but once they lock you down, it is a sly social approach to drag in all your friends and social network to go to your mountain.  (I think this was discussed in previous threads).

post #17 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by raytseng View Post

What's more interesting is the concept of "club" type approach.  By raising day prices so high, and epic passes so low, they push you to get a pass so you join their "club" and forsake all others.  For you this doesn't matter so much, but once they lock you down, it is a sly social approach to drag in all your friends and social network to go to your mountain.  (I think this was discussed in previous threads).

 

This is definitely the issue with the cheap passes we see here in CO. It makes it hard to ski with all your friends, people usually fall into one camp or the other. (Intrawest vs VR)  ANd because the VR pass is such a deal, considering, of course it is the more popular, plus Copper and WP offer 4-packs, which VR doesn't.

 

However, I have quite a few friends who have told me they didn't get the VR pass this season and are trying Copper/ WP instead. I don't know if this is a trend, or just anecdotal, but I found it interesting. We'll see. 

post #18 of 26
false
post #19 of 26

Highlights

  • Resort Reported EBITDA (which includes the Company's Mountain and Lodging segments) was $205.3 million for Fiscal 2012 reflecting a decline of 7.5%, or $16.7 million, compared with the same period in the prior year.  When adjusting for acquisition and litigation settlement related items in both current and prior year, Fiscal 2012 Resort Reported EBITDA declined 3.8% from Fiscal 2011.
  • Net income attributable to Vail Resorts, Inc. of $16.5 million in Fiscal 2012 declined from $34.5 million in Fiscal 2011.
  • Sales of season passes through September 23, 2012 for the upcoming 2012/2013 ski season were up approximately 17% in units and approximately 21% in sales dollars versus the comparable period in the prior year, adjusted as if Kirkwood were owned in both periods.  Based on historical patterns, approximately 60% of our total sales are made by this date.
  • During the 2012 fiscal year, we closed on thirteen Ritz-Carlton Residence units and seven One Ski Hill Place units, with Real Estate net revenue of $47.2 million in Fiscal 2012.
  • But Austen Powers ruined our plans for world domination again!
post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmy View Post

I wonder though how many people go on a destination ski vacation and pay list/window price for a lift ticket?

 

This December will be my second time out there, both times at least 10 days. I bought the Epic Season Pass. skied 8 of the 10 days, so my average price of a lift ticket was about $75. This year will be there for 2 weeks and if I ski just 10 days out of 14, my average price goes down to $65.

 

But to answer your question, if people are coming for a ski vacation, I wouldn't suspect that they would buy a single day lift ticket each day. More likely they would buy some form of multi day pass. I think it all comes down to what the person's CO ski vacation IQ is.

post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by veteran View Post

Highlights

 

  • Sales of season passes through September 23, 2012 for the upcoming 2012/2013 ski season were up approximately 17% in units and approximately 21% in sales dollars versus the comparable period in the prior year, adjusted as if Kirkwood were owned in both periods.  Based on historical patterns, approximately 60% of our total sales are made by this date.
  •  

That seems to refute what Seg Brown was saying about people switching away from the Epic pass although the increase could certainly be attributable to more destination skiers buying a season pass as opposed to any increased local/front range/N Cal sales.

post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by MEfree30 View Post

That seems to refute what Seg Brown was saying about people switching away from the Epic pass although the increase could certainly be attributable to more destination skiers buying a season pass as opposed to any increased local/front range/N Cal sales.


It is hard to tell the exact reason since the economy is improving slowly too, reflected in another post that mentioned orders of skis, boots, etc. are also up.  Regardless, MTN is in business to give a return to their shareholders, and one way to do this is through increased revenue from increased skier days.  I once mistakenly thought Kirkwood was purchased for potential real estate sales, but was corrected by people who told me how VR will find ways to quickly increase the skier days just like they have with all their acquisitions (despite the location).  They can do what the former owners could never do, since there is a big difference in the backgrounds and abilities of the owners. 

 

The "club" aspect of sales is also being used successfully in Utah, bundling  access to private facilities and services with certain real estate or season pass ownership. 

post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by MEfree30 View Post

That seems to refute what Seg Brown was saying about people switching away from the Epic pass although the increase could certainly be attributable to more destination skiers buying a season pass as opposed to any increased local/front range/N Cal sales.

 

Yeah, I didn't mean I thought overall numbers were decreasing, and obviously a half dozen of my Front Range neighbors isn't much of a sample size. I would wonder if this isn't some sort of very local trend, though ... people who aren't going to travel to Tahoe, people who don't have kids in team programs at Vail or real estate in Breck, etc. Lots of comments about Breck and Vail being a PITA for weekenders, Keystone too crowded and dangerous -- plus, the Copper Pass is almost $300 cheaper by now.  A few years ago, they were still only $100-150 apart, something like that. Multiply that by four or five family members, and it's significant. Especially when your kids are also jumping from the child to teen rate, etc. 

 

Or it's just a coinkidink. But even in my household, we bought one fewer Epic product this season. My son used his pass only a few days last year, 2 maybe? Ouch. Most of his ski friends go to Copper, but he had one buddy with a house in Breck, and that had made it worth it for him, the weekend trips they took. But the family sold the house over the summer! Without telling us! haha. And then they bought Copper passes instead... 

 

As for Tahoe, I know they adjusted for Kirkwood, but I doubt they could adjust for the effect of previous non-Kwood passholders who decided that having three resorts (esp 2 in South Tahoe) was the tipping point for deciding on an Epic product.

post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by rug wheelie View Post

Evil Empire for sure but its not all sh*ts and giggles at VR these days.......

 

http://unofficialnetworks.com/vail-resorts-posts-50-drop-net-income-2012-107751/

I saw that but also wonder how many resorts can say they had that kind of drop in profits or more during the fiscal year.  I know Northstar and Heavenly had a big share of the Tahoe business because Vail had the best snow making during a snow drought. 

I also know that Squaw suffered with skier ##'s during the season but they also didn't have the $$ into snowmaking, so they're bottom line may reflect that. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmy View Post

I wonder though how many people go on a destination ski vacation and pay list/window price for a lift ticket?

How many people go to Vail Resorts locations because they have the Epic Pass and spend money on other amenities. 

post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post

 

- plus, the Copper Pass is almost $300 cheaper by now.  A few years ago, they were still only $100-150 apart, something like that. 

It is still less than $150 apart if you compare the Epic Local Pass (8 mountains, some with restrictions including only 10 days at Vail/BC) to a Copper only pass (and only about a $50 difference to the RMSP+ that includes WP and 6 at SB).  To get a $300 difference you have to compare the unlimited Epic to the Copper only...I think there has always been at least a $200 difference between those products (and that was when the Epic only covered 6 mountains).

post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by MEfree30 View Post

It is still less than $150 apart if you compare the Epic Local Pass (8 mountains, some with restrictions including only 10 days at Vail/BC) to a Copper only pass (and only about a $50 difference to the RMSP+ that includes WP and 6 at SB).  To get a $300 difference you have to compare the unlimited Epic to the Copper only...I think there has always been at least a $200 difference between those products (and that was when the Epic only covered 6 mountains).

 

:-) I knew I should have looked up prices but I was lazy

 

For comparison ... fall prices for various passes (I'll use the current names, even though some have changed); you can get them $10 or $20 cheaper in spring, of course, but it was too hard to find all the deals.

 

                     2008-09    vs 2012-13

 

Epic                  $579     $679

Epic local         $439    $529

Summit value  $399    $439

 

 

Rocky Mtn Super+    $439   $489

Rocky Mtn Super      $409   $439

Copper  only              $359   $389

 

There has always been a large difference between Epic and Copper only, but I think the perceived value of the no-blackout sub-$600 Vail Pass was enough to overcome it for some people I know .. but not so much anymore. The Vail prices  have been going up at twice the rates of the Intrawest products. Yes, there are more mountains on the VR products, so that makes it a better deal. (Unless you don't ski at all the mountains...)  And yes, blackouts for Christmas are important down here, because that is a big time for Front Rangers to ski; kids out of school, no need to travel overnight, etc. Anyway, just thought it was interesting. 

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