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Paying by the lift ride

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I just learned from Phil's western trip reports with the Divas etc that at Solitude you can buy a ticket that charges you by the lift ride rather than the day. I am definitely going there the next time I see Utah. I have been writing to eastern resorts and filling out suggestion cards for years to get this option, since at my state of decrepitude I can no longer ski from 8 to 4.

Do any other North American areas do this?
post #2 of 25
I've been suggesting the same thing to some people for years, here in the east. No one has taken me seriously, so far.
Speaking to other skiers I pointed out how much people pay for a ride on a roller coaster or ferris wheel at an amusement park, and compared it to a lift ride.
Having a season pass, I've made attempts to keep track of how many runs I do in a season, so see how much I paid for each one.

If you think about it, there's a lot of potential here. They could decide to lower the charge for rides on certain lifts during the day to encourage people to spread out.
Areas with lifts that start higher on the mountain could charge less at certain times to lure the crowds up - I'm thinking of the F lift at Hunter; the Glades lift at Killington; Summit Quad at Whiteface, etc.

Of course, people could take one run, discover that the conditions report was a total lie, and leave... so the mountain would lose the sale of all those $60 - $70 tickets based on lying about conditions. Not a problem for an honest area like Okemo, where they let you check things out for free; big problem for some other areas (which shall remain unnamed).
post #3 of 25
When I started skiing in the early 60's, single ride tics were available, though not everywhere. In those days, my season pass at Catamount, (went to school near there) was $50. That allowed all lifts weekdays and I had to pony up $2/day to ride the chair on weekends.

Today, most "resorts" ain't that much interested in selling lift tickets to day skiers, as they make their real bucks in real estate sales and rentals. Sure, they have to offer a ski product or even us addicted to the sport will stop coming.

Not that long ago, the cost of 5 or 6 days of lift tickets was a small percentage of the cost of the whole vacation, say to Colorado or Utah. Boy, those prices sure have snuck up :!! A single day, off-the-street price at Vail this year was $92!!!! YOW!

I seriously doubt management is interested in the skier that is budget concious enough to want to buy a single ride. They would have to administer it and heavens knows they really hate handling cash at the window.

The point that was made anticipating that you may bolt for home or the movie theater, (especially in the East), after the first run, is a good one. Then they couldn't over-charge you for lunch, (I bring my own). BUT....they'd still have your parking moeny , (still don't do that here in the East....yet).

Peace
post #4 of 25
Good points about the real business - real estate.

The way to charge by the ride would be by using something like the RF activated EZ pass system; or a ticket with a barcode for scanning, connected to credit care info...
People who have season passes or day tickets could just slide right past that system and get on the chair, the way some premium tickets allow skiers to skip lift lines at certain areas.
It's doable, with an investment; it may not be worth it.
post #5 of 25
Thats a great idea for us....but not so good for the resorts.

The amount of runs I get varies greatly, but I always pay the same over inflated east coast price.

Maybe if they employ the EZpass system and teired pricing, $2 a run, but if you do 20 or more it drops to $1.50 a run.
post #6 of 25
A couple places in WV offer a single ride ticket, for people who just want a ride up to the top in order to access the backcountry. I always thought that was a pretty good idea.
post #7 of 25
I'm getting older, so the wife and I usually do between 12 and 14 runs/day, (they are high quality runs though ).

At Stratton prices, (last weekend) that'd be ~5.50/run
At Vail prices, (vacation week in Feb), it'd be ~6.50/run.

Usually at my "home" area, Gore, I can see the frozen cat-tracks under the tripple poking through by run #2. (don't bust me on this one, as it's quite often true. If you don't think so, you're suffering from a bad case of "Lowered Expectations"). If I was thinking about the cost of the next run, I'd be outta there!! Doubt they'd want that.
post #8 of 25
I was a frequent Solitude skier when they implemented the by-the-ride pricing with the turnstiles. They marketed it quite a bit, but I don't think it ever sold well. For me, part of the skiing experience is the freedom; I didn't want to start calculating "Let's take this lift for 10 points, rather then that lift for 7, etc.", or if the conditions were so-so, to feel like I was wasting my money by staying, and spending points for more rides.

But then, I live about 55 miles from Solitude. I wasn't going to drive all that way for one or two runs. Maybe if you lived slopeside.
post #9 of 25
The solitude system seems to be designed for back/slackcountry skiers using the lift system to access the terrain outside the gates, therefore a pay by the ride system makes sense.
post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 
One Utah area, either Snowbird or Snowbasin, already uses a sensor to open a turnstile to each lift activated by a ticket you keep in your pocket. I'm sure each use is recorded by a computer, so it certainly wouldn't be hard to adjust it to a debit-per-ride system.
post #11 of 25
Pay per ride is a horrible idea. Does anyone really think it will be cheaper than by-the-day? It only makes sense for backcountry access, where more per ride is still a better deal for one ride a day.

At Solitude:
pay per ride = $5.70 per ride.
day ticket = $55 walkup, or $50 in town

So breakeven is 9 or 10 rides per day. And some runs take more than one lift to get back where you started!

Now I know people that make fewer than 10 runs per day, but I sure ain't one of them, and I bet most of you aren't either.
post #12 of 25
I was just at Solitude for the Diva gathering and had planned to use the 10 ride ticket ($57) to get a few runs in on my arrival and departure days instead of getting day lift tickets ($55 each, $110) knowing I would only get an hour or two in. They also have half day tickets ($47) but that'd only work for the arrival day, as they're only available for the latter half of the day.
post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by evansilver View Post
One Utah area, either Snowbird or Snowbasin, already uses a sensor to open a turnstile to each lift activated by a ticket you keep in your pocket.

Solitude.
post #14 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by evansilver View Post
One Utah area, either Snowbird or Snowbasin, already uses a sensor to open a turnstile to each lift activated by a ticket you keep in your pocket. I'm sure each use is recorded by a computer, so it certainly wouldn't be hard to adjust it to a debit-per-ride system.
yes they have that at Alta and Snowbird, its awsome.


but I would hate having to pay per run.
post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 
It may sound like a terrible idea when you have young knees, but not when you're 65 and you know you're going to be at an area 3 or 4 days and want to take an easy day or two in the middle, just go out for two or three hours and then recharge. Less than 10 rides a day is reasonable when the vert per ride approaches is between 2,000 -- 3,000 ft or more. And don't areas think it might be a good idea to have an edge to attract aging boomers with discretionary income?
post #16 of 25
I think you would find that areas that did offer 'ala cart' ski tickets would price the 'per ride' price in a way that you probably wouldn't like. I'm betting in the $12 range. Sure you'd save a little bit if you only wanted to take 3 runs, but the price would be structured to squeeze every nickel out of these short day skiers, and encourage everyone else to buy full day passes.

It would also be a major enforcement problem for the ski areas. People would naturally try to squeeze a few 'extra' lift rides out of the one ride ticket, try to move to lifts where tickets aren't checked. So areas would need to scan every ticket or pass, of every skier, every run. So liftlines would slow down, people would complain about not getting the 'value' they want from full day passes, etc.
post #17 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by C.B. View Post
Today, most "resorts" ain't that much interested in selling lift tickets to day skiers, as they make their real bucks in real estate sales and rentals. Sure, they have to offer a ski product or even us addicted to the sport will stop coming.
That's not really true. Most resorts with a large real estate component separate revenue at a very high level within the company. The actual ski company/operations division, and usually it's a different company altogether, does care about ticket prices. However, what's really affected the ticket prices is competition. In Colorado the competition between Intrawest and Vail for the front range skiers is ridiculous and the side effect has helped the consumer - cheap lift tickets. Resorts do care about lift ticket prices. All of them.

When you break revenue out along other lines of business, rentals doesn't hold a candle to retail or F&B (especially alcohol sales.) Well, depending on how you measure it. If you measure along the lines of cost/sq ft of commercial space it actually does.

Quote:
Originally Posted by C.B. View Post
I seriously doubt management is interested in the skier that is budget concious enough to want to buy a single ride. They would have to administer it and heavens knows they really hate handling cash at the window.
It's not handling the transaction or administration backend. It's what someone else pointed out...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phlogiston View Post
It's doable, with an investment; it may not be worth it.
Actually, it doesn't take much of an investment on the ticketing backend at all and most resorts could do it tomorrow. Most resorts use RTP for their ticketing backend. An extra RTP module called "Area Wide Charge" needs to be integrated with it to make this happen and a lot of areas already have that.

The biggest problem is scanning on upper lifts and most areas don't bother to do that. Scanning costs are non-trivial - you need wireless ethernet at each lift and a $2000 scanner.

Having said all that, we have all those problems already solved. I think I'm going to propose this idea. There will be a few caveats - different lifts will cost different amounts. I like the idea of maxing out the total cost to be the ticket window price, but I don't think the access rules could be written in such a manner.
post #18 of 25
Thread Starter 
Having said all that, we have all those problems already solved. I think I'm going to propose this idea. There will be a few caveats - different lifts will cost different amounts. I like the idea of maxing out the total cost to be the ticket window price, but I don't think the access rules could be written in such a manner.[/quote]

I'm gratified to see that someone in the industry thinks this way. If you do it, you will get my business. Keep us posted, please.
post #19 of 25
[quote=evansilver;874772]...Less than 10 rides a day is reasonable when the vert per ride approaches is between 2,000 -- 3,000 ft or more...quote]

There are only about 20 lifts in the entire country that have that kind of vertical.
post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by evansilver View Post
Having said all that, we have all those problems already solved. I think I'm going to propose this idea. There will be a few caveats - different lifts will cost different amounts. I like the idea of maxing out the total cost to be the ticket window price, but I don't think the access rules could be written in such a manner.
The problem I think you're going to have is with the CFO, as I have had when trying to structure pricing programs which have the potential to signifiacntly alter revenue projections.

Bottom line, every company anticipates similar revenues plus moderate increases from share growth and price increases each year based on historical trends. Of course adjusted for competitive pressures and demographic shifts. Regardless of how ticket sales are structured, the overriding need will be to remain "revenue neutral" - if a company gets to the end of the year and has spent (payroll, marketing, operations, etc.) based on a particular revenue projection and it doesn't happen, then the company goes belly up or seriously downsizes thereafter.

Either the cost per ride will be set to approximate the average daily revenue of what non-pass customers currently spend to buy unlimited daily tickets , the cost of season passes will go up, or some other pricing structure will be implemented to "guarantee" annual revenues will stay the same.

"More people will buy the product and sales will go up" , you will say in your pitch. If your CFO is any good, he's going to say prove it, or he will ask you to make up any revenue shortfalls our of your paycheck. Unless you make millions, you can't guarantee to reimburse the potential loss. MANY jobs - including yours and the CFO's - will teeter on you being right. If you're a marketing wonk, your job goes first - always.

Good luck! This is the kind of thing that either makes or breaks a "career".
post #21 of 25
I think I'm the guy the OP is referring to in Phils TR.

I like Soli.

I really liked the option of a full day lift ticket or a number of rides up.

I think it's best as an option.

I agree that it works best for back/slackcountry access. That's what I like about it. So many resorts get fairly tracked out quickly on pow days.

I only hit resorts 2-3 times a year, I hike almost all the time. I would like to go ride some lifts on pow days, but it's hard to throw down $60+ to get a few good pow runs. Yes, I am spoiled, if you call hiking for all your turns spoiled. I want untracked, fairly bottomless pow. The stuff that only happens in the first few runs at a resort (I know I know, there are always stashes).

If the resort had open boundaries and the option to buy a certain amount of rides to the top, I would go to the resort way more.

Soli's 10 pack is 2 bucks more than a lift ticket. Most people, especially vacationers are still going to buy the lift ticket. Most ticket sales wouldn't be impacted IMHO.

However, they would attract more people like me who don't have any interest in going and riding inbounds at the same resort for 4 days. I would, and will, go back to Soli based on the ability to buy 10 lift rides, use a few (maybe all) on bumped chairs on a pow day, and have the ability to head out the gates and do a little tour. I'll be staying in the lodging, buying beer and food, and bringing friends to a place I would never have spent money at if it wasn't for the lift ticket option.

Around Tahoe, Sugar Bowl offers a once up to the top for $15. I use it. Mostly for a trip to the Benson hut which is a 3 mile ridgeline skin from the top of Lincoln lift.

If they offered 10 up for $60 I would definitely go throw a couple of lift riding laps down inbounds on a pow day and then drop off the back into cold stream canyon or the lake run (donner lake) after everything got tracked.

That's $60 more dollars then I've spent at Sugar Bowl the last 2 years.
post #22 of 25
My local area has something in between. The have two-hour, four-hour and full day tickets. The tickets are time stamped. The more hours you buy the more you spend and the better it is for them, but the cheaper it is per hour for you.
post #23 of 25
[quote=Powdr;876055]
Quote:
Originally Posted by evansilver View Post
...Less than 10 rides a day is reasonable when the vert per ride approaches is between 2,000 -- 3,000 ft or more...quote]

There are only about 20 lifts in the entire country that have that kind of vertical.
True. Problems grow exponentially as you increas the length of the cables. There are also regulations that the area must be able to evacuate everyone from the lift within a certain time period if it sticks. Longer lifts make this harder.
post #24 of 25
Don't think there's much potential for either the resort nor the skiers.

Resort: Yes, there're skiers who may want to ski a few runs. In the end, they have to decide to ski or not to ski. Half will bite the bullet and pay for the full day ticket while the other half simply skip a day. As far as the resort is concern, they got half of the full day tickets, which is the same as twice the skiers at half the price.

Skiers: You may only want to do a few runs. But the best condition maybe somewhere up high that requires two lifts to even get there! So your 10 pack is only worth 9 runs. On a spread out resort like Canyons, it takes 4 lifts to get to the Dreamscape! And 4 lifts to get back to the main base!!! So you'll get your 3 runs in, for the same price of a full day ticket, only in the form of a 10 single ride!!!

BTW, since no one had mentioned it. Utah isn't the only place have that options. Wildcat in NH also sells single ride tickets for back country skiers. Or a 10 pack for the "frequent bc skier", which can be used inbound just as well.
post #25 of 25
WOW!!! I'm exhausted from reading all that!! What's more, I'm totally confused :.

You guys should be running the country with ideas like that. Maybe we wouldn't be in such a mess.

Ah, the heck with it, I'm going to bed.

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