Originally Posted by Harry_Morgan
Yeah, the skiing apparently wasn't great, but they were open for more than 10 days, which is the breakeven point for a full price pass. You didn't go, or didn't like the conditions, too bad.
Agree it is a mess Jan/Feb weekends. But if you have kids, the full passes at $459 can still make sense. Weekends early and late in season. Weekend nights, etc. Plus some parental midweek skiing. Rounding off a few pennies, in my case that's $1.8K of passes for two adults and two teens. A bit more than that $200 lunch discussed above.
Are we all at the mercy of mother nature? Yes. However, I think Stevens should have done a bit more for those of us holding passes this year (and especially for those of us who have been buying passes for years). Not because they "owe" us per se, but because it would have been good business. Sharing the pain now would have made many of us more willing to share the risk for next year.
Every year you buy a pass is a bet of sorts. However, this year it became clear that the bet, especially on pre-season pass sales, comes with unexpectedly large risks to the buyer. Stevens made almost as much off of me this year as they would have during a normal year (minus a few lunches and lattes). I got in a few $100 lift rides (per) on a mountain that was only 1/3 open. To my knowledge, they never opened the backside. Big Chief was open maybe a few days - if that. Night skiing might have been open for a few days - but for all practical purposes never happened.
So what we have is a hill that claims to have been open 40 days. In fact it was never totally open and never had full operating hours. Their teaser to get me to place the same bet again next year? Effectively a $75 buck gift cert payable when I'm on the hill next year. After they've had my money as working capital for 6 months. And, given margins and slippage, that $75 is really probably about $35 at risk to them. Max. So, basically I'm getting under a 10% to 18% (depending on the side of the transaction you are on) "rebate" after a half year wait for bellying up to the bar and betting again - after getting killed this year...
I'm not sure it is a good bet for me. The incentive they offer is pretty paltry. As for the "never two bad years in a row" thing - what were the odds of this year falling out as it did? Heck, I had more and better days at Stevens by the end of Thanksgiving weekend 2003 than I did this whole season! Even with prices for passes kicking up late in the season, the "insurance premium" might be worth it next year. That or just grabbing tickets at the Chevron on the highway on the way up & assume, again, that any days over 10 are paying a risk premium. Or that not having prepaid Stevens, I can hit Baker and Crystal more. If they'd offered something like 25% off, I'd be more likely to take their offer.
Another interesting twist. Near the end of the previous season, many full passholders were seriously up in arms and threatening not to renew. The reason is interesting. Late season weekdays the hill is populated almost entirely by passholders. Because Stevens was not selling many lift tickets, they tried to cut back on operations costs. The result was that they closed many lifts during the week. The common question was "so why did I buy a full pass?" Enough people made enough noise that the resort did a bit of a "we're sorry" thing and fired up a few more lifts. I have to believe that backing up a horrible season against that ending to the previous season is not making people stampede to take their current offer.
And one other thing. Their letter was a bit insulting in the way it tried to scare all of us into jumping on the bandwagon. So despite being a bit on the fence about grabbing at the bait (despite my better judgement!), I think I'm probably going to pass - both because of the risk/reward issue and the attitude. Here's the annoying part:
"Remember these low season prices and the 'Added Value Credit' offer will not be available after April 30, so don't wait to renew your pass. When we begin selling passes in September, the prices will increase and the 'Added Value Credit' will not be applied. Please note passes will not be available for purchase between April 30th and September 1st."
Way to go the extra mile guys!
I can't say I'm especially angry. I really feel their pain from a business point of view. And I accept that buying a pass is a bet. And all in all I think they run a decent hill with some great skiing. I'm just not convinced the odds they are giving me make it worthwhile to place the bet on passes for the family again. I hope we have a great year - and if we do, I'll still buy lots of lift tickets at Stevens. I'll just know what I'm getting for my money.
Well, that was a ramble.......