EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › General Skiing Discussion › What are a ski resort operators REAL concerns?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

What are a ski resort operators REAL concerns?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
The following is the leader to an email received this morning.

I understand why this preamble was stated, for if the company doesn't at least break even, we will no longer be in business. But I'm concerned that no where in the entire email does it mention the guest(other than increasing their visits), or the experience they will have. Yet at least five times, financial issues are mentioned.

"What follows is today's press release announcing the new opening date for Vail Mountain.
We are all excited to accelerate our opening schedule with all the excellent snow we have received. However, we still need to continue to be cost sensitive during this start-up phase and all of us should be responsible for minimizing incremental expenses associated with this earlier then scheduled start for Vail Mountain.
Please make every effort to use supervisory, foreman, and existing staff to meet operational needs in this initial start-up period. Our analysis indicates that with good management we can operate at a break-even during this pre-Thanksgiving period and that the PR associated with this accelerated opening will increase our Thanksgiving holiday skier visitation including destination skiers that will allow us to improve our overall November profitability versus our existing budget (which for clarification is actually an operating loss in November).
Please work hard to make this November 16th opening successful, safe, and a positive contribution to our fiscal success.
Thank you in advance for your assistance and cooperation."

What do you think?

:
post #2 of 25
Unsurprising.

A similar thing is happening at the end of the season currently in NZ.

2002 is the third year of a single company owning both Turoa and Whakapapa ski areas on Mt Ruapehu. This season has been an exceptional snow year. Whakapapa closed with a base on the upper mountain of 2.3 mteres, and Turoa will be closing this weekend with a 3.1 metre base.

The main point here is that RAL (the parent company) closed Whakapapa on October 28, despite there being enough snow to go deep into November. But financially it made more sense to close then and let all the remaining skiers going up there head to Turoa and maximise income there and cut costs across the organisation.

Financially very sensible, but sticks in your craw a bit eh.
post #3 of 25
It concerns me greatly that many business have lost the customer focus. Not only in the ski industry but throughout the services sector. You can not save your way to greatness! What makes a great business is a customer orientation and custormer satisfaction; growing the top line -revenues, while being aware of expense control.

With low growth businesses (airlines) there is a temptation to improve profitablility through cost cutting which all too often detracts from customer service and evetually results in lost customers and lower revenues. Now as long as everyone else in your industry is doing the same thing, your business is not at competitve disadvantage but the whole industry goes down the tubes (ski business). This trend is upsetting and seems to be an overriding phenomena with many resorts. I don't know what the solution is but as a consumer you vote with your wallet!
post #4 of 25
It's just a business, run by "managers" and accountants. Supply = the snow and lifts, Demand is the punters. Just like a supermarket.
I like the way they enjoin their staff to "work hard" to maximise the company's profit. Why?!
post #5 of 25
purely hilarious...that's what I think.

//why you wont see me at vail.
post #6 of 25
As general counsel of an electric cooperative, most of my professional working hours are devoted to it. The cooperative is owned by the customers themselves. Every penny we save is theirs, literally. They elect our Board of Directors, and th Board is in charge of the company. Each Board member is [and must be] a customer.

Obviously, our goal is to give the owners what they want - safe, reliable electric service that's as inexpensive as we can make it, with heaps of attention to our customer owners.

I know that Mad River Glen is now a cooperative, and I may be mistaken, but I think Bridger Bowl also is a cooperative.

There are consumer cooperatives, like my electric co-op, and there are worker cooperatives, also.

Do you think things would be vastly different if Vail were a cooperative? Better or worse? Would it make a difference if Vail gave its employees a real economic benefit for "working hard" to improve the bottom line? If you're working for a company - any company - is it legitimate for the management to ask exployees to work hard . . . for anything?
post #7 of 25
Context of original delivery is always important when quoting and what Oboe said.

Vail is one of only two resorts (the other was in Europe) that I have worked for that rewards Ski Instructors financially for "hard work" and attention to customer service, not withstanding there is always room for improvement.

It does not matter what the big guys say it is at the front line where the game is won or lost. The front line is Customer service and Vail excels in this area for its chosen market.

The bottom line is that ALL tourist related industries are hurting around the world at all "affordability" levels.

The godsend is that there is 6ft+ of snow in early November ..... tis all a skier needs !!

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #8 of 25
You are right Oboe. Contrary to the little blip in ski mag. last month Bridger is not owned buy a municipality, it is a non profit corporation. Here's a quote from the By-Laws of Bridger Bowl Corporation, Article II,

"Whose purpose is to provide outstanding skiing to Gallatin County Residents, Montanas, and out-of-state visitors at the lowest prices consistent with good business practice that will allow continued healthy operation of the Bridger Bowl ski area".

It does make working there and our ski instructor wages, easier to take, knowing that every penny goes back into the mountain. Besides, we do have outstanding skiing! [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #9 of 25
I gotta go there! Bridger Bowl!
post #10 of 25
(and they post some cool vids on their site, too.)
post #11 of 25
First we kill the author and whoever is teaching business people to write like amateur old school lawyers. Here are some examples of this author’s prose, which I found absolutely scintillating:

“We are all excited to accelerate our opening schedule with all the excellent snow we have received.” Excited? Well, you would never know it from this e-mail; a corpse could write with more feeling.

“However, we still need to continue to be cost sensitive during this start-up phase and all of us should be responsible for minimizing incremental expenses associated with this earlier then scheduled start for Vail Mountain.” Why not say: “We still need to keep costs down”? Or is this too straight forward?

“Our analysis indicates that with good management we can operate at a break-even during this pre-Thanksgiving period and that the PR associated with this accelerated opening will increase our Thanksgiving holiday skier visitation including destination skiers that will allow us to improve our overall November profitability versus our existing budget (which for clarification is actually an operating loss in November).” I would comment on this pedantic, dull, boring, droning quote, but I have a myocranial infarction every time I try.

“Please work hard to make this November 16th opening successful, safe, and a positive contribution to our fiscal success.” How about if we just say: “…successful, safe, and profitable”?

Here is my analysis of the technical skills of the writer – nonexistent. Lawyers have the excuse that they don’t want people to read whatever they write in legalese but these business people want their employee to read this e-mail or they would not have sent it, right?

As for the substantive content, the e-mail was fine. It is certainly appropriate for the business to try and keep costs down. Presumably, Vail has other, equally well written, e-mails discussing employee/guest relations and customer service, right? I hope so.
post #12 of 25
On the contrary, maddog, I hope those are better written.
post #13 of 25
You are so correct Maddog. The writer must believe that using extra words in each sentence will protect a well paying job. Maybe Vail would accept your application for an editing job! I think Vail employees get free ski passes! [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #14 of 25
Oboe:

Me too!!! My first legal job was a godsend. I was accepted into a firm and a practice area where only English tolerated. I never had the opportunity to learn legalese. Quite the contrary, all legalese was quite painfully wrung out of my system. Now when I see this kind of phony, pompous writing I have a strong desire to redline the paper and send it back for rewriting.

My last sentence was tongue in cheek, or so I thought.

Gladeator:

I am no wordsmith. But even I can tell that the above e-mail was atrocious. I would like a job where part of the time I could edit, if, and, only if, it would change the writing of the employees of a company like Vail. A season pass would be great, but the real reward would be letters, which are simple, concise, and informative. You know the kind of stuff you like to read!

While the author has added extra words, the words he used were pompous and unnatural. Why would he say “…and a positive contribution to our fiscal success”? Is this just to sound erudite? Or does he think it makes him sound more competent? It doesn’t, it only makes him sound like a toady who hears these platitudes and is capable of regurgitating them on demand.

Well, I better get off’n this hobbyhorse before it throws me!

Mark

[ November 08, 2002, 04:14 PM: Message edited by: Maddog1959 ]
post #15 of 25
Oboe said:
Quote:
If you're working for a company - any company - is it legitimate for the management to ask exployees to work hard . . . for anything?
I think it is legitmate for a company to ask that of their employees. If you love your job; if you enjoy work then they probably wouldn't have to ask.

Oboe said:
Quote:
Do you think things would be vastly different if Vail were a cooperative? Better or worse? Would it make a difference if Vail gave its employees a real economic benefit for "working hard" to improve the bottom line?
I don't have enough business saavy to know the answer in terms of the bigger picture. However, I do think that a system which attracts more people who are passionate about skiing would be a huge benefit. A case in point... I work with many Ski Industry folks who will ski one day a season. I'm talking about people who've been in this industry for years. I think passion for the "core" aspect of this industry (skiing/riding) lends an immeasurable benefit. I don't see the passion with one day a season.

Vailsnopro, you posted an internal communication and not a press release as you called it. No I don't work for VR. But you do! Why are you disloyal to VR?

[ November 09, 2002, 09:30 AM: Message edited by: PinHed ]
post #16 of 25
I think all the grunts at Vail should really work their butts off so everybody from Mgrs. on up can get their big bonuses. Otherwise, how will they ever survive on just bloated salaries. It's the American mgmt way.
post #17 of 25
The subject of the memo is about attempting to keep cost effective during a marginally profitable operating period, not customer relations; hopefully they don't need a note from management to remind them how to manage that.
post #18 of 25
Quote:
I think all the grunts at Vail should really work their butts off so everybody from Mgrs. on up can get their big bonuses. Otherwise, how will they ever survive on just bloated salaries. It's the American mgmt way.
...and all the grunts should just stay grunts and bitch about how management is too fat. It's the American way of mediocrity.

BTW, I manage no one. I'm very happy with my station in life. Are you?...

The Japanese say... don't find the blame, find the solution.
The Italians say... there is no love. There's only proof of love.

[ November 09, 2002, 03:52 PM: Message edited by: PinHed ]
post #19 of 25
Its not just Vail... The company I formerly worked for vigorously encouraged turnover within the frontline employees, a 2nd year lift op is a rare beast, less demand for wage increases, health insurance etc.
Another dirty little secret is that each manager budgets his employees at 40 hours per week times their hourly wage times the number of weeks in the season, those employees are hired with the expectation of 40 hrs per week pay. For every dollar the managers come in under the budget, they get a 10% kickback. This incentive pushes the managers to keep their employees under 40 hours per week to the point that the managers shave hours from employees timecards and cut services for skiers to the bone. Do you get a reduced pass price for these savings??? I think not... Its not just Vail, its the ski industry. They are more concerned about selling real estate than selling what they got into business for in the first place, enjoyment and entertainment. Loyalty to employees breeds loyalty from employees......treat your frontliners like $hit, they will steal from you and justify it, treat your guests in the same manner as you treat them, no show when they feel like it and in general give your company exactly what they have paid for.............

[ November 09, 2002, 06:51 PM: Message edited by: BSR ]
post #20 of 25
I can't believe I'm actually going to defend this memo, but I think it's hard to judge based on this limited sample. Is cost management especially pressing because of expenses in improving lodges or adding lifts? The memo doesn't say. All public businesses are obligated to keep costs down, otherwise the directors can be sued. Reminding the employees of that every once in a while is fair game. If Vail chooses to open early and almost certainly run a loss, then I think that's commendable. It's certainly fair game to ask everyone to be on their toes. (Personally, I agree with the general sentiment of this thread, corporate knuckleheads are so focused on "shareholder value" that they come close to throwing the baby out with the bathwater. With our recent and pronounced lurch towards oligarchy and plutocracy, however, it ain't going to get any better any time soon.)

Maddog1959, perhaps you might be pleased by a book called "Junk English"; they have a website, check it out. The book is a condemnation of exactly the types of things you cite. But, it's a dangerous road. One of the examples of bad english on the website is the pretentiousness of "wordsmith" when "writer" is just as good. Guess you should of gotten off the hobbyhorse a little sooner? (Please take this little jab with the good humor it is intended. I'm definitely not one to talk - I've written more than my share of awful corporatese in my day.)
post #21 of 25
With regard to Vail employees happily beavering away for the good of the company because they love skiing, please bear in mind that many of Vail's employees are Mexicans, and this trend is increasing. Many of those that I enountered last season couldn't speak English, and didn't seem to like the cold at all.
post #22 of 25
jim_s,

Well said (and written too.) Maybe sticking up for the giant corporate entity isn't the popular side of the fence. Who on the other side of that fence is going to prove that they can and will do it better within the same market? I'll bet dollars to donuts that nobody will.

If one looks at the big picture, I think they'll see that Vail has tremendous value (at least I do.) Yes, they may be at the top of the food chain and they are a huge corporate machine doing business in an arena that many believe should be left as pure and simple as possible. That makes them an easy target for critisism. The solution for those folks is simple... Don't go.

I think Vail's REAL concern right now has to be improving the bottom line. That means operating mean and lean while keeping the service levels high. Most every business is in the same boat this year. That goes for the Wolf Creeks of the Ski Industry as well as the biggies like Intrawest and VR.
post #23 of 25
The small hokey resorts send out the same proganda as the largest players. They just do in "hokey english" to make everyone feel "warm inside".

Oz

[ November 10, 2002, 06:14 PM: Message edited by: man from oz ]
post #24 of 25
Certainly a publicly held company is concerned with it's bottom line. I have no quarrel with the sentiment of the memo.

What does concern me, however, is someone claiming to be a "pro" distributing internal company memoranda on the Internet. Not very professional at all.
post #25 of 25
This has been mentioned before, but I have to encourage anybody who makes a living from or is a hard-core user of a ski resort to read "Downhill Slide" by Hal Clifford. You may not completely agree with him, but he makes a pretty good case that the industry has put itself into an unsustainable position in search of near-term profit and is running itself into the ground.

I also found this this morning on Andrew Tobias' site, a 1968 essay called "The Tragedy of the Commons," which is interesting (if a little dense) and extremely relevant to the ski resort industry.

Just thought I'd pass these along and this thread seemed like it might not be a completely inappropriate place to do so. Much larger problems here than cost control, employee management, or customer focus, though.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: General Skiing Discussion
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › General Skiing Discussion › What are a ski resort operators REAL concerns?