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Sugarbush Season Pass Extension

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
I thought I would post a letter writen by a friend and former employee of Sugarbush in VT to the "new" management of Sugarbush concerning the recent season pass extension. I am a former employee and long time season pass holder as well and for the many loyal and sometimes cash straped skiers looking for lowest possible price (if there is such a thing) on a pass this is simply a BAD business move. If you have the inclination please pass along your feelings on the issue.
__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ ______________________________

"Having purchased a Family Pass by the 15th of September - and supposedly Sugar deadline - I am writing to express my disappointment in the recent extension for purchasing a season's pass. As an executive in service-based business, I would like to think that your management team had given some consideration to how season pass holders would react to this extension. In my experience people are willing to challenge deadlines more when you appear to not follow them yourselves. I perceive this as a major problem for Sugarbush as next year you will have a cash flow problem due to the fact that people will expect you to change the deadline when not enough passes have been purchased, thus delaying your expected cash flow from September to October! I too am in a business where cash flow is very seasonal and the necessity of pre-season cash is worth providing a discount for. As a Customer Service Manager customers will respect you for your deadlines especially if you manage their expectations wisely.

I am a customer and I can and will vote with my dollars and feet. For my seventh season, I have shown that I am committed to Sugarbush by purchasing a season pass and committing myself to a seasonal rental of a valley condominium. I am shocked that Sugarbush would blatantly disregard the people that supported them financially, even when their is no snow on the ground.

My wife, Alison and I (former Mini Bear Pro and faithful Sugarbush season pass holder) have just bought a house and hosted a wedding. Finances are extremely tight and having another month to catch up, versus going further into debt would have been very helpful. There were many times this summer that we thought we were not going to be able to afford passes - yet, we made many sacrifices to purchase by the perceived deadline. It is very frustrating to know that the sacrifices we made were not necessary.

I am particularly frustrated by the following. First, several of my ski friends that have also committed to the mountain financially have emailed the mountain seeking a response. Their emails have gone unanswered. A little advise, sometimes people that have a criticism just want it validated to know they are being heard rather than falling on a deaf ear. Second, I just received a mailer from Sugarbush regarding "Yours Free with every seasons pass". Why did you waste my money on marketing collateral rather than putting it towards mountain improvements or operational cash flow! I have already purchased a family pass and did not need a painful reminder that the deadline had been extended. Do I have to respond in time next year, or will you again disregard your "deadlines"?

I would appreciate any explanation as to how Sugarbush plans to reward those who purchased by the original deadline. As the manager of a service-based business, I would be happy to offer some suggestions if this is something Sugarbush overlooked.

After hearing complaints from my friends, I do not expect to hear a response. Therefore, I am copying the industry magazines in hopes that the industry might provide a source for critical feedback which can be used to improve Sugarbush for all to enjoy its wonders!

Good Skiing,
post #2 of 2
"Your freinds" letter strikes me as a little misguided. He must have judged the cost of the pass, including forgone interest, against his anticipated ski days and decided that, to you, the value of the pass was worth the expenditure. Further, sales of additional season passes to others will not materially diminish the value of your pass. So for you it was a good deal. Yes, it might have been nice to have some additional time to make the purchase, but since sales of most season passes occur just before the deadline expires, nobody (owners included) probably knew the deadline would be extended.

It's tough to judge whether or not it makes business sense since you don't have all the facts. You correctly point out that the extension of the deadline may sacrifice some of the resorts goodwill and it's perceived reliability. But the Sugarbush management thought of that too, and still felt they should extend the deadline. You don't know what the projected pre-season cash flow forecasts are and pre-season costs, nor do you know what other financing options were available and their cost. You really can't judge the business sense of the decision, not knowing some other important facts. It might well be that the resort is in better shape on opening day than it otherwise would have been if the extra cash flow from extending the deadline were not available. You just don't know. Be content that your season pass was a good buy for you.
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