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Bust out the popcorn... S.A.M. article about saving skiing.

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Here we go:

http://www.saminfo.com/article/speak-out-standing-skiing


Thoughts? Derision? Praise?

popcorn.gif
post #2 of 24

In Europe we don't have these prolems. We tend to make good buiseness out of carrying other people's gear...

 

:jedi:

post #3 of 24
Oddly, as I got ready this AM, I said to my husband the biggest problem with skiing is the hassle. Doesn't matter if you have a locker, park in the first row, have a routine, getting to the snow is still a hassle.

I think I've still got beginning of season issues... But the older I get, the more I start trying to minimize life's hassles. Really, if I were a rich old lady, I'd have a ski butler.
post #4 of 24

I think the comment on the article says it all:

 

The popular image of Colorado skiing is that it caters to aggressive, pretentious, rich new yorkers and texans. That may be unfair but where there's smoke there is fire. I won't ski in Colorado just because I prefer not to mix with those people. I'll take down-to-earth, hard-skiing norwesters any day.

 

So who's the aggressive pretentious one hurting the sport...the live and let-live vacationer out for a good time?  Or the too-core bro who would "prefer not to mix with those people".

post #5 of 24

You know, I've skied 23 days so far this year in Colorado, and haven't yet experienced any aggressive New Yorkers or Texans. Guess that guy is doing it wrong.  (although I do admit it hasn't been xmas or spring break yet)

 

Anyway, the article makes little sense. I'm not clear how "bending over backwards for the miniscule [sic] fraction of our guests causes inconvenience for the majority of our visitors."  I mean, it was just a bunch of assertions with no examples. I certainly don't want anyone carrying my gear to the mountains, but why does this hurt the rest of us? I mean, maybe it does, and I'm too dumb to see why, but usually it's good to support your argument....

 

And yeah, as Sib says, skiing is a hassle. And it's cold. And expensive, and sometimes you get hurt. That weeds out a lot of participants. I don't really think rich people are weeding out participants? But I don't know. 

post #6 of 24

Skiing used to be marketed as a glamor sport that only the rich and privileged did.

That gave way to mass marketing and mega skiing.

With a shrinking leisure economic base, skiing is being pushed upscale again.

Problem is, the resorts require numbers to make good profits.

I expect a shakeout coming that will downsize the sport to fit the new economic normal.

Beaver Creek will do just fine, your local hill, not so much.

post #7 of 24

i think his argument is a bit simplistic and doesn't really offer what he suggests should be done.


If we go take a look at the evil empire of Vail and our own death of skiing threads, the resorts actually catering to the Middle, rather then catering to the rich and snooty.  If anything the rich are the ones actually paying absurd walk-up rates and "sponsering" everybody else.  

 

So summarizing the vail is evil threads, they've lowered the ladder way way down to the middle with the epic pass, and most would say to a far less snooty and more disneyland-ish manner.  

But part of that business strategy to lock in the middle also involves raising the ladder on the people wanting to come for just 1 day, while keeping the middle so affordable that it kills the smaller hills.   So it's not that they're catering to the rich, it's that they're catering to money in general and fighting in a price war with other resorts for that same money.

 

From a business strategy standpoint, I don't think they necessarily do it primarly to scrap and screw over the people walking up and fighting over those dollars, but more so it's to keep a "lock" on the current passholders so if they don't get an epicpass next year, they'll be "locked out".  

You always cater and grow your core, instead of scrapping for side business.

 

 

The end result of a downward spiral maybe the same, but the "minority" who he says are being catered to is actually the "majority" and having a cheap grand time.  


Edited by raytseng - 12/15/14 at 3:34pm
post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by dakine View Post
 

Skiing used to be marketed as a glamor sport that only the rich and privileged did.

That gave way to mass marketing and mega skiing.

With a shrinking leisure economic base, skiing is being pushed upscale again.

Problem is, the resorts require numbers to make good profits.

I expect a shakeout coming that will downsize the sport to fit the new economic normal.

Beaver Creek will do just fine, your local hill, not so much.

 

I am far less sure than you who the winners and losers will be.

 

If "local hill" means a 200 vertical foot hill when a more substantial alternative is within driving distance, you may be correct.

 

But looking at Colorado (what I am most familiar with) is large resorts that tend to carry debt, tend to have tens to hundreds of millions tied up in illiquid assets (real estate), and are locked into an arms race with each other over who can spend the most millions in the following year to fight over the dwindling number of total skiers (that for now, are propping up the industry by skiing more).

 

Meanwhile, I see smaller ski areas that are almost all debt free, and solidly profitable based only on skiing- not real estate, not summer operations, just spinning lifts when there is white stuff on the ground.  Those areas include Arapahoe Basin, Loveland, Monarch, Wolf Creek, Eldora.  Hell, even Ski Cooper is debt free and making money, and if they can do it given the reality of their location, terrain, and snowfall, the era of the small ski area has not passed.

 

I think the question becomes whether the Vails of the world can service their debts and get their real estate sold 20 years from now. If enough people leave the sport of skiing,  will there actually be enough skiers to pay for operating the ~150 ski lifts, many of then detachables, that currently spin off I-70 between Denver and Avon? If so, will enough skiers be around to pay for their replacement? When the average ski day is taken by somebody .3 years older, year after year (this has happened for the past 2 decades), I think these are real questions.

 

If/when we reach the point where increasing skier days by a decreasing pool of skiers can no longer result in a net positive in total ski days, the question becomes who will be best positioned to continue to pay the bills. I don't know the answer. And of course, there are other considerations that aren't known at this point- what ski area will be winners and losers based on climate change, for one... What ski areas will be winners and losers if we see $8.00 a gallon gas, or what ones win/lose if in 20 years we are all zipping around on alternative fuels that cost the equivalent of $.75 a gallon and with effectively unlimited ranges- oh, and these cars drive themselves so you can sleep overnight and wake up 1000 miles away-what ski area would you set off to for a weekend trip then?

 

Point being, while I think the industry is going to change, I don't think anybody can reliably say how. Too many wildcards.


Edited by anachronism - 12/15/14 at 10:17pm
post #9 of 24

When I retired a few years ago and bought a truck camper I daydreamed and wished for a multi major resort pass for North America. So thanks to Vail and their EpicPass which imo forced the creation of the Mountain Collective Pass (one of several multi ski resort passes that are available). I can now ski cheaply at some of the best resorts in N.A.

 

To me Vail is not really too evil as they have made mult-pass associations the new norm.

post #10 of 24

Being highly leveraged in any business can be a problem when things change.

Except government.

post #11 of 24

I think the "problem" alluded to in the article is something that probably makes more sense when constrained to the Roaring Fork Valley (Aspen).

 

When you say Vail, Beaver Creek, and Deer Valley/Park City, the other resorts singled out by the author people thing skiing first.  Sure, second could be thoughts about who they cater to with their operations, but the first is skiing.

 

When you say Aspen, people think "Over the top rich person place."

 

Skiing is overshadowed there by the internationally known reputation or the town, some of which is deserved and some of which is not.

 

This is sad for a ski company that offers some of the best skiing in Colorado, yet has lost control to some degree over who it is trying to cater to. There is a world of skiers that will pay out the nose to take their 5 day trip to Vail that would not even consider the same trip to Aspen, in most cases because the family is concerned over 1) cost, or 2) that they wouldn't fit in, feel welcome, or something else having to do with the perceived status of the place.

 

You can just go look at the resort discussion forum on this board to see this in action- people commonly  have to be talked into pricing out an Aspen trip over Vail or even Whistler, when the reality is that the cost of Aspen vs. Vail is usually a wash.

 

So yes, if I lived in the Aspen/Snowmass area, I would be concerned about things that catered to the wrong perception, and Aspen gets that more than any ski locale I know.

post #12 of 24

That's a very good point that he maybe writing up something Aspen-specific.  

 

But if he's taking that route, he's mixing up his points.  He can't use the industry-wide slowdown and growth percentages and assume that what they do in Aspen is what the whole industry is doing and Aspen's plan is the entire cause for the whole industry slowdown.  

 

If you make this distinction, then therefore by the same token the Aspen-specific solution doesn't have to be the industry solution.  

Then the punches in his whole argument somewhat fall apart (even if it still maybe valid).  


If anything, it might actually be better to take the opposite route and give in and only cater to the rich to save their town. Just like the legal business argument why Alta bans snowboarders that being exclusive is a valid business reason.

It maybe better if you find a niche for yourself rather then continue to struggle or just be a copycat and do exactly the same thing everyone else is doing.

post #13 of 24

Some target the luxury market, some target the family market, some target the adventure market...so?

post #14 of 24

If skiing is a dying sport then why are condos anywhere near slopes so damned expensive? I would say that there is a high demand. Is it growing in a large way year in and out no but a dedicated base of spenders are keeping resorts making money.

post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by raytseng View Post
 

That's a very good point that he maybe writing up something Aspen-specific.  

 

 

 

 

This is probably the case. All I know is that my pop sure kicks himself for not buying some property near Snowmass in 1972. :)   Personally, I'd love to spend a season teaching there.

post #16 of 24

What would happen if Vail and Aspen offered the same lift ticket prices as Abay and Loveland?

post #17 of 24
It is Aspen specific, but out of context.

Roger's the local crudmugen and writes a letter every week. This one was against a proposed private club that was never built.
post #18 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by core2 View Post
 

What would happen if Vail and Aspen offered the same lift ticket prices as Abay and Loveland?

 

Abay and Loveland would almost certainly have to lower prices.

 

One thing that hasn't escaped my notice is that there was a rash of CO ski area closures in the 1980's and early 1990's, and very few since then- Berthoud, Cuchara Valley, and Conquistador being the ones of note that took place after that...

 

It seems to me that Vail charging $130 for a lift ticket makes plenty of room for smaller CO ski areas to charge $50-80 and make healthy profits.  However, when Aspen and Vail charged $30 (late 1980's price), what was Geneva Basin going to charge that would pay the bills? Idlewild? St Mary's Glacier? Arapahoe East? These places were squeezed out of existence in a way that is not happening to the current crop of small ski areas (most of which would have been considered medium-sized ski areas before almost everywhere smaller closed).

 

But, I'm not sure that the reality that forced all those areas closed still exists. With the major resorts being based on so much more than skiing, it could be that a smaller ski area, by virtue of being lean and mean, could leverage lower overhead to offer a better value than what a major area would need to service debts and keep 20-30 lifts spinning.

 

If somebody reading this post has never heard of the defunct areas mentioned and is even slightly interested in the subject, this is a great site.

 

http://www.coloradoskihistory.com/lost/index_wellknown.html

post #19 of 24

To paraphrase Mr. Lawrence Berra--no one skis any more. It's too crowded.

post #20 of 24

That whole article needs examples/support/proof. I feel like it should be two or three times longer with good analysis and examples. Without that, it could just be a lot of strawman arguments, and emotional supposition. Overall, to me (someone who's an east coast, intermiediate, handful-of-days-a-year skier), it reads like someone just afraid of change and the unknown. The comments above about this being Aspen specific do help a bit to clarify where that might be coming from... competition in service/entertainment industries is tough.

 

 

 

'It’s no secret to ski industry executives that catering to the crowd that demands to be catered to is destructive for the long-term survival of skiing."

 

How is that destructive? Quotes from execs or studies? (This is an industry magazine I'm not familiar with, so maybe this one is obvious to everyone.) 

 

 

 

"But, I think we’ve lost sight of the fact that we should be selling skiing first and our destination second."

 

Based on what? What's wrong with marketing both or the town first? What brings in the most revenue? 

 

 

 

"...continue to up the ante on converting the sport of skiing into an activity for lazy rich people who refuse even to carry their own equipment to the slopes."

 

Same point as the previous quote.

 

 

 

"The problem is that nobody is protecting the image of skiing."

 

How is that the problem? Who's image of it? What image? What should "skiing" be to the author?

post #21 of 24
"It is Aspen specific, but out of context.

Roger's the local crudmugen and writes a letter every week."

This explains everything.
post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by raytseng View Post

"It is Aspen specific, but out of context.

Roger's the local crudmugen and writes a letter every week."

This explains everything.

 

I think so too. I'm probably Vail's biggest critic on this board- "Ruining skiing" is a pretty nasty critique...

 

But I don't see this specific "problem," if having rich people catered to in ways that would make us roll our eyes is one, is something that really carries over.

 

I do think Aspen has an image problem that hurts the ski area's attempts to attract ski vacations from the more casually oriented end of the spectrum.  I know they care deeply about this- so much that they were caught attempting to poach booked trips to Sunlight (!!!) a few years back, which indicates they really, really, really want more people to understand that an Aspen trip is not unaffordable and skiing in Aspen is not exactly like trying to fit on the French Riv or something...

post #23 of 24

I think some of the points made are valid, I would consider myself a value ski planner. when  thinking about ski trips out west I really don't look at Aspen or Vail. I look for the most skiing days for my dollar and it seems that some of my favorite places are getting on the Aspen,Vail type list.

post #24 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by darent View Post
 

I think some of the points made are valid, I would consider myself a value ski planner. when  thinking about ski trips out west I really don't look at Aspen or Vail. I look for the most skiing days for my dollar and it seems that some of my favorite places are getting on the Aspen,Vail type list.

 

There is definitely a valid argument that you can get more value out of a non Aspen, non Vail trip.

 

I think Aspen's specific problem is that many people will consider a Vail trip (for a 5 ski day or less trip, more or less the typical ski vacation) that won't even price the same trip to Aspen because of a perception that the cost will be higher. Reality is that costs are very comparable, and crowds at Aspen are a non-factor.  If you go by anecdotal evidence off of this board, there are a lot of people out there convinced they can afford Vail and not Aspen for their ski trip.

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