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Positive signs for the industry

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Positive signs:
1) Aspen is hosting the Winter X games.
I think Aspen is starting to see that their marketing approach (focusing on the mega wealthy) needs to be revamped. I think there's some management there (anyone have more evidence?) that's crying, "Hey. We're losing out to our competitors. We need to get more skiers and riders on our mountains!"

I'm hoping that other areas (Vail/Beaver Creek) will follow their lead. Skiing has an image of being for wealthy people and it needs to change. Hopefully, SAM is starting to see that they need to sell to the masses, not the classes.

2) Winter X games are being broadcast on primetime.
The more exposure the better. Hopefully, this will bring more youth to the slopes.

3) In Colorado, we're seeing some really low prices.
a) Copper is offering 4 tickets for $69.
b) Keystone and Breckenridge are offering learn to ski packages bundled with a season pass for $179.
c) Breeze ski rentals is offering a rental pass. You can rent or demo any of their equipment, all season long, for $149.

4) Equipment is getting better. I like the new "soft boot" approach.
While soft boots are not for everyone and I think that a proper fit is really the answer, most skiers don't have the motivation to seek out a boot fitter and custom liners are expensive.

5) Shorter skis.
I think proper technique is really the answer. But if skiers can have more fun and learn quicker using shorter skis, I'm all for it.

I still see some negative signs, primarily from the acien regime.
1) Jenny (sp?) Thoren.
I just don't think she's doing women the favors she claims to be. From what I can see, she's still preaching out of date technique and it bugs me that her camps all seem to be sponsored by ski shops. I read an article about her in this months Ski Magazine. After the first day of skiing, she leads her class into ski shops where reps are standing by waiting to sell women new equipment and boots.

2) Ski Magazine.
Still way too many photos of good looking people with white teeth. Too many articles about Aspen and fantasy life styles. And, there seems to be a good old boys network. The editor refuses to write about Harb.

3) The Gang.
By and large, they still don't get it.

4) Clothing is still too expensive.

<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by SCSA (edited August 26, 2001).]</FONT>
post #2 of 28
I don't think every business, company or industry needs to be geared toward growth. So what if the ski industry in the US doesn't grow? Unless you invested your retirement savings in ASC and Intrawest, which would have been stupid, there is no need to grow the industry, "just because". I tend to think that it may actually be good for the smaller, family owned areas, because as the conglomerates stop growing and finish selling off all the real estate, they will start selling off ski area so that they can show profits to their investors. Thirty years from now, maybe most ski areas will, again, be owned by more well-intentioned parties.

Let's say I owned my own business doing something I loved to do. Pretend I made furniture for a living. I probably wouldn't want my business to grow all that much, because once it reaches a certain size, I stop building furniture (the whole reason the business was started), and start becoming a manager and a "decision maker", where I have to decide which state to open the new warehouse in, rather than which stain to finish a table with. Not only that, but the craftsmanship and quality that I prided myself on, is now being replaced with particle board furniture built by machines.

Not every business needs to be ruled by the prospect of growth.

Do you want cheaper equipment or fewer people on the hills and cheaper lodging at destination resorts?
post #3 of 28
Gonzo, do think if Babbitt were updated into a cartoon, he might look like a more ambitious Homer J. Simpson?

As long as they keep the slopes open, I don't really care about the business aspects of skiing.

post #4 of 28
>>> Skiing has an image of being for wealthy people and it needs to change. Hopefully, SAM is starting to see that they need to sell to
the masses, not the classes. <<<

Skiing IS for the wealthy people. If I had to pay for skiing, I would quit. Many of my friends who were occasional, once a week skiers are quitting, selling off their equipment. It is the present economic situation and expensinve hobbies go first, season tickets to the ballet, skiing, even golf courses are now going out of business and are being developed as housing developments.

But with the houses, no mansions, they are building now, predicated on all able family members bringing in a paycheck just to keep up the payments, layoffs will see many of these houses going to market. At Keystone a friend of mine who purchased an condo for $134,000 about ten years ago needed to sell it and got a measely $45,000 for it, re-purchased by the association. And renting it for all but three weeks out of the year covered only the maintenance costs.

I fear all of the large destination resorts are going to be hurting this coming season.
The cost for a family of four at Vail or Snowmass for two weeks can cost as much as a car.

post #5 of 28
I second that. You gotta be rich to ski. Or very creative. Were Utah locals so we get some deals; but it's wierd to invite friends to come visit and ski knowing it'll cost them $60 for a lift ticket per family member, plus all the other stuff each day even if they stay with us. I get, in addition to my Alta pass ($795), an Alta 10 card($300} that's transferable and we get locals coupons to the other resorts at about a 30% discount, but hell, when you figure hotels, gear, tickets and airfare, this sport has priced the average Joe out... these new low season passes are a good sign; when I first got my Alta pass there was so much demand you needed to win a lottery to get one.{no more} I could never hit it but if you were immediate family you qualified automatically; my girlfriend had one so I married her...
post #6 of 28
Sure skiing is real expensive, but what are the alternatives? To ski cheap you have to be willing to carry your own sack lunch, do a lot of hiking, and be drug up the mountain on a device most current skiers consider torture. Lets face it, times are getting tough and will probably get tougher. The ski industry hasn't really felt it yet because the whole group has been in hibernation since last April. Expect a lot of whining this year and just hope that those people who are still bellowing for changes can be silenced so the industry can silently lick its wounds. The worst thing that can happen in any industry is for those who are the fabric of it to cause a panic that tramples the life right out of it. I like the better ski areas with huge infrastructure investments, but many of these will be hard pressed to hold off a couple of bad ski years. For those that think they will just open up with new owners, I request that you look at the past before you predict the future. The operational overhead in these places demands attendance at a given price level. I suspicion that many areas with competing ski areas will have one or more close for the sake of the survival of the others, should a severe downturn occur. Will that mean that only the t-bar hills remain?? I don't have any idea, but I have already spotted the places that I think will survive based on SOUND economics and not just HYPE! SOOOO, yes,I think there are some real positives that are going for the ski industry, but we better all wait unitl the eggs have hatched before we count our chickens!!
post #7 of 28
Just keep the Alta's of the world open.

post #8 of 28
Skiing is not cheap but ya gotta do it.
Season passes, gear from buddies, couch surfing & buying food for home cooking on trips & expecting my guests to do the same when in SLC. I am fairly gainfully employed but still must look for other's kindness & second hand or "discounted" gear to stay in the sport. Those of us who ski a lot don’t contribute as much as we get monetarily, we must do it with attitude & promotion of the sport. I never get it when guys I know heckle the tourists, yet get pissed when they don’t get tipped that night or aren’t getting the hours @ their hotel because business is off. wtf.
I don’t recommend showing ever tom, dick & sally yours or my secret stash on the hill, but honestly not many want to see it. They want to come have a good time, enjoy our silly grins in the line, eat affordably, & get better. They don’t live here so they want stories for the year, to last till they get back. That is why places like Alta stay open. I never saw or heard an Alta add till snowbird started marketing the hell out of the new combo pass. Word of mouth works.

Growth can, and needs to be, done well. Solitude has expanded their base facilities by a large degree but the staff and local skiers there retain the same pleasant attitude that has brought me there for years.
The soul does not seem compromised like other antiseptic resorts I have visited.
I hope Aspen Highlands can maintain it soul once the Ritz-Carlton there is up & running.
post #9 of 28
Thread Starter 
I think skiing is cheap here in Colorado, particularly along the front range. But I agree that in Utah (from what everyone has said) it's not so cheap. Must have something to do with the Mormons.

I'll bet anyone here that we'll see more cheapo skiing packages from Aspen and Vail. Already, Vail has lowered some prices. This year, they're offering 10 days for $319. They did it last year, but there were all kinds of caveats. This year the only caveat is that one ticket needs to be used before 1-31-02 and tickets can't be used during Christmas week.

32 bucks a day (Vail's $319 package) is still not what I'd consider cheap, but it's a step in the right direction.

I've never understood why more people here don't speak out when positive signs like this appear. Ski areas are a business just like any other. They listen to what their customers say.
post #10 of 28
the best thing for skiing would be for Brittany Spires to shoot a video while skiing, that would be a great way to get all the underparented youth of america on the slopes and out of the Gap. If you try skiing because of image it is quite likely that you will not be on the mountain very long.
Unless of course Harold leads you to the promise land by your wallet.
post #11 of 28
Better Britney than Celine.
post #12 of 28
>>> I'm a poor slob by American standards of rich/poor, but I'm able to ski 30+ days per season, simply because it's a priority for me in the winter.<<<

Gonzo, I, and all of us here understand that. But, for how many people you saw on the slopes any day last season does that hold true?

My friends are going sledding with their kids at a local park this season and are waiting to see if they can afford to go skiing the following season, though the kids are lobbying real hard for Disneyworld.

post #13 of 28
Got to say I (mostly) agree with SCSA here. Skiing has to become much more accessible to the average family - and that's both in cost of entry and in "mind share."

The discount ticket plans, partial-season discounts like ASC's "mEticket", the cheapo Vail and Utah deals SCSA mentions are good things. As is the resurgence of tiny but local feeder areas like Boston's Blue Hills (see this month's SKI) where I learned as a kid after school.

And well-designed, attractively-packaged and marketed ski lesson packages, from "easy to get started" teaching plans (whether the Gang or the Cult) are part of it too. People have to get the sense that they are making progress. They shouldn't stop after the first 3 lessons - but they should get started with a sense of accomplishment.

Like it or not, skiing is a business. If we want to enjoy the secret stashes and first tracks, these ski areas have to make money. They need to have a mass market to support the cost of the staff, equipment, insurance. If we want good equipment, there has to be enough of a market of skiers learning, advancing, moving up, to make the equipment market worthwhile to be in.

We "hardcore" skiers (I'm including myself in this just based on my enthusiasm about skiing, not comparing my meager skills to most Bears) are not enough to support the infrastructure we need.

And on the Disney comparison...

Ott said <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> My friends are going sledding with their kids at a local park this season and are waiting to see if they can afford to go skiing the following season, though the kids are lobbying real hard for Disneyworld.

I was just having a very similar conversation at work today with my boss, who's an avid skier. We were talking about how much skiing costs, but how it's a value to our families. He was comparing the cost of going to Killington or Sugarbush for a week, with tickets, lodging, etc., to the cost of taking the family to Disney - and said that Disney was cheaper even with flying to Florida rather than driving to Vermont.

But then I said "yeah, but you'd rather go skiing, right?" And he agreed, proudly saying that his kids would rather ski than go to Disney too.

Ok, so a full-blown ski week for the family is in the same price range as a week at Disney. But which creates better family memories - a week of shared adventure, exercise, challenges, skill-building at a "destination" ski resort, or a week of totally artificial pre-programmed "experiences" from some soulless mega-corp that has to rewrite and "disney-fy" every legend? Would you rather your family be making tracks together or making a mad scramble for the "E-ticket" lines for some passive ride?

Why does everyone always compare some moderately costly vacation elsewhere to going to Disney? Not picking on you, Ott, I hear this all the time from lots of people. What makes going to Disney "normal" but going to Vail or Whistler "extravagance"? I know people who go to Disney year after year - but never got to Europe. And that's where the real castles are (not to mention the Alps too!)

How brainwashed are we by the Disney marketing machine? If a family can go to the Mouse for a week, they can ski for a week. It's all a matter of values.

More Americans get their news from Walt Disney than from any other source.
post #14 of 28
Thread Starter 
"..rich guy". You're the one who's parading the country in your friggin Silver Stream. If I had all your money, I'd throw mine away

I don't get it.

Do you really think I ski because I'm trying to impress anyone? C'mon, like I care what anyone thinks. I've lived my life not giving a hoot and thumbing my nose at the establishment. And, you don't see me at the Super Bee (the 6 pack super tourist lift at Copper). I'm way in the back, blowing a splifferd, trying to figure out some of those books you keep talking about.

I like what MarkXS says.

And if it takes Brittany Spears to get more kids on the hill, great. Because more customers = more competition for the customers which = lower prices.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by SCSA (edited August 27, 2001).]</FONT>
post #15 of 28
I guess any activity will appear "cheap" or "expensive" according to how you prioritize that activity (duh).

A lot of my friends who resort ski are, or have been the poorest people I know in terms of income. But they've skied 100+ days for 25-30 years. So, obviously skiing isn't just for the wealthy.

So find a good mountain, live close to it, don't have kids, buy a season pass, shop the swaps and sales, bring your own lunch, drive down the canyon sober (whoa, what an idea) then dine/party at a friends place.

The person who does none of the above, well....they have chosen to make the sport expensive for themselves.
post #16 of 28
Mary's "drive down the canyon sober" is a great point too. I like my parties as well as the next person, and I really like my margaritas (to paraphrase another Bear)

But how much money gets blown on drinking, especially at party hills like Killington! I keep hearing how drunk everyone gets at Killington. And I've been on bus trips up there with people barfing their brains out on the way up, never mind the way back.

There are ways to make it affordable. And making it about the skiing, and about the companionship, rather than about the "let's get wasted" *excessive* partying, is one of the ways to keep it affordable.

However, there does have to be one good Mexican restaurant with good margs, for the full experience! Just with some moderation.
post #17 of 28
Ah-hem. Is the industry taking an upswing or not.... I believe for the first time in several years, the number of skier days in CO went UP last year. My $.02 - 'cause the Summit County crew cut their prices DRAMATICALLY and sold a ton of tickets (Econ 101 - lowering the prices increases demand). Now comes the tougher questions: is the lower price sustainable? That is, can the ski area's continue to make a profit selling at a discounted price?

Gonzo, don't know what world you ski in sometimes, but I don't know of any ski area being operated as a 501(c)-3 non-profit organization devoted to the philanthropy of improving the lot of skiers everywhere. Every ski area in the US, unless I'm very much mistaken, is either a FOR-PROFIT company or is run by a local branch of the government and is expected to at least break-even. None of them are going to put "The SKIER" ahead of their profits. Some MAY be willing to forego additional profits in order to appease their "SKIER" market (A-Basin, Alta come to mind), but the bottom line is still the same: they're in it to make some money.

Disney and skiing are, for better or worse, much closer than one thinks. Disney has made one very big pile of money from the tourist trade and now represents 'the model' to emulate for 'resort destinations'. One has only to listen to Copper's discussions of greater "resort animation" to understand that. On the other hand, you can do a 'cheap' Disney vacation. Likewise, you can do a cheap ski vacation. All of us here know that. You fly charter instead of first class. You stay in Frisco instead of the ski-in/ski-out condo at Beaver Creek. Ya brown bag the PB&J instead of the $20 lunch at mid-Vile. Etc, etc. The cheap vacation is there, but no one wants to help you find it or to market it because the big profits aren't there.

Skiing has been too expensive for too long and that has allowed the industry to drift away from the mass market. More importantly to me though is that skiing is an athletic endeavor and like many sports, is simple not a sport that can be readily and easily learned. AND the magic bullet of shaped skis making instant experts of anyone and everyone is just as much wishful thinking. The shaped ski revolution has not done anything to get more people hooked on skiing. Golf has hit this wall already. Every club manufacturer promises you an extra 10 yards and clubs that'll practically swing themselves. Yet, the number of golfers playing is starting to decline, the number of new courses being built is starting to flatten, and the money is starting to chase after the affluent customer that's willing to pay $120 for a round of golf and the pampering to go with it. And the rest of the golfers are walking away because no miracle club is going to help if you can't get the club head back to square at impact. It ain't easy and it ain't easy to learn how to ski either!

Well, off the soapbox for now - Next!<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Tag (edited August 27, 2001).]</FONT>
post #18 of 28
wow, amazing how much traffic one topic can get when it hits a nerve. we are all terrified of losing our comfortable existence.
seriously, we have been spoiled by the fact that lift served resorts haave constantly been expanding & improving. gut check time. I dont want disney resorts. but the family of 5 is much more important to the resort than my single pass buying self. & they dont bitch about a resort not being "soul" or "core" a certain amount of mascot drivn little people fun is essential to the resort experience. I mean even my 30 yr old jaded self still smiles at every helmeted, stoked ski kid out there. honestly the more the better. its the second homes & the nickel & diming of my friends that bugs me. provide a fantastic experence 3-85yrs. seems simple.
fun slopes for all abilities.
affordable(as one could make it) food & accomodations.
good instructors(see above)
it seems there was too much money in the 90's & everyone started tripping over each other to cater to the mega wealthy for the big flowthrough cash wise.
it is not rocket science. from boyne to beaver creek we are all looking for a good time. I dont need a bidet in my room.
Snowmass in Aspen seemed to have it figured out, but then again started catering to the top 5% & drove away their base. easy money is quite an allure but families will always support skiing. period. when I have kids, I hope they ski. skiing with my dad is such a huge part of my experience. the creme may support a few places but brighton, steamboat, etc will always thrive because they cater to the middle income siing family. great. the x-games will pass like ballet skiing. short term fixes are no answer to anything. stoke the locals & the visiting & resident families & you will do fine. again hate to offer the oft refered to Alta as an example but it is a simple operation that does those few things & does them well. rents out the food & the lodging & the real estate to others. concentrates on skiing. others profit on the pereiphery. seems copper & CB used to do the same thing but the big $$ lure caught them up.
siplicity is a wonderful soloution.
post #19 of 28
I would still ski even if it was more expensive than it is now. I would find a way by cutting costs somewhere else. I do like the competition for lift ticket prices that goes on in Colorado and wish it would spread to my area (PNW.) As the ad states, my daughter (15) still skis with me...priceless.
post #20 of 28
Thread Starter 
Hilarious, great quote. And if those friggin poor people ask me for one more donation...

Great quote on driving sober. Ever been on I-70 heading East on a weekend? It can be real interesting. I get a break, skiing during the week.

I think you're close on the shape ski observation. But, we still haven't seen a heavy marketing push so it may still be to early to tell. You know, we still haven't seen ads really extolling the benefits of shapers, have we?

So do you think that the ski industry is starting to figure out that marketing to masses/families is the way to go? Do you think they really do care about Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public?

How about a "How to ski cheap" web site? I guess this site works for that. Speaking of which, if anyone is coming to Colorado this winter, drop a post here. I'll bet between all of us we can put together a trip that's bound to get you the most fun at the lowest price. Look what we did for Johnny Boy.
post #21 of 28
SCSA - I haven't driven the 1-70 thing since the mid '70's when I had family who lived in Colo. Spgs. We went to Copper and camped in the parking lot. The drive home was crowded/slow/long and I had to listen to my brother-in-law yapping with truckers on his CB radio. I don't blame him tho, he was bored too.
post #22 of 28
>>>but to me, there is only one thing I want to do when I go skiing -- and that's ski good snow and good runs.<<<

This is the very complaint my best friends hear from their eleven year old boy and a thirteen year old girl.

"When we go to Snowmass, all we do is ski, how BORING."

Put yourself in their shoes.

post #23 of 28
the bigger and more people you have in a group, the more you need "resort towns" Not all the people we ski with are as passionate about skiing so if you travel with a big group you often need more diversions.
post #24 of 28
Gonz, I think we are closer to agreeing here than disagreeing. I agree with you that there are some wonderful ski area's out there ranging from the more famous, such as Alta, and A-Basin to smaller lesser known places like Turner or Ski-Cooper, that are either small "resorts" (minimal bed-base, a restaurant or two, a couple of ski shops), to strictly day skier operations. My read on your comments is that you attribute some altruistic << focus on pure, affordable and fun skiing >>. Again, that's just my interpretation. My take is that these areas look at the multi-billion dollar "ski industry", and say there is a niche in this market that I can serve and make money and that's where I'm putting my marketing efforts. Judging from your comments, you are the kind of skier these area's want to serve and they would like nothing more than to find several thousand more of you.

Ott, sounds just like my kids, although Tag Jr. ranks the skiing up just as high as the activities after skiing.
post #25 of 28
Celine has the crantini crowd covered.
Of course you don't get it. Your idea of getting Kids hooked on the sport is to market the concept of what is cool. My idea of getting kids hooked is for ski areas to hold one or two ski free days for kids. Let them make up their own minds, as opposed to the media dictated view.
By the way SCSA has a striking resemblance to Tony Robins(sp?). This could explain a lot.
post #26 of 28
SCSA's teeth are much better than Tony Robbins.
post #27 of 28
Many of you are whining about the high price of skiing, but you are keeping your eyes closed to other, less expensive, options. Gonz had it right when he mentioned smaller ski areas.
Sure, It is easy to complain about the high cost of skiing if you are only going to look at the large, well-known, destination resorts (ie Vail, Beaver Creek, Deer Valley, etc.) However, there are still places where you can ski and stay relatively cheap.
For instance, if you are willing to stay in a hotel with (gasp) only a small pool and a continental breakfast that includes doughnuts and coffee, it is possible to ski and sleep for less than $50 dollars a night.
I am now planning another outing to Montana's Bridger Bowl and I can get a hotel and lift ticket for $46 dollars per person, per night.
Maybe some of you don't want to drive that far, but there are other places to ski cheap. Colorado's Sunlight, Eldora, nd Loveland areas are all very reasonable, and there are smaller resorts abounding in every state.
As for equipment, if you are willing to buy during pre-season, or end of season sales ther are great deals to be had.
Sure skiing may seem expensive, but you only need to broaden your search and it will seem more and more affordable.
post #28 of 28
Correct concept on the cheap end of things in skiing, but you have to be in the culture for a few years before all of this becomes apparent. Sounds to me like this might be a real opportunity for some internet work on the part of concerned citizens in the ski industry. I've only been skiing for 6 years now and it has amazed me how many of the wonderful finds just lie hidden in the maze of the industry. I honestly believe this goes back to perpetrating a culture where you try to squeeze every dollar you can out of your customers, be they old or new.
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