Originally Posted by Strato
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But competition between Intrawest and Vail has blessed us with cheap choices. The epitome of Kensyan economics.
Its not just about competition, although competition is a part of the reason for the pass prices in CO. It's also about the structure of the market. The Summit County resorts depend heavily on Front Range traffic for revenue. A significant chunk of their revenue comes from day-traffic, rather than from destination traffic. While destination skiers are locked into a slice of time by the need to secure flights and lodging, day traffic can come and go depending on the conditions.
Season passes convert some of that uncertain revenue stream into certain revenue coming from season pass sales. So, its like a swap contract, where the variable revenue is converted to fixed revenue. Very advantageous for a business with so much cost in fixed expense (labor) and not much that is variable.
Conversely, if you've got primarily destination skiers, they are more locked into coming and buying lift tickets/lodging regardless of the conditions. Hence, places like Steamboat, Aspen, Telluride, Jackson Hole, etc. all have season passes that are significantly more expensive than those areas that depend on the day trip crowd.