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Consumer and Ski industry come full circle?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
This topic is related to the rich and privilege right to buy fast lane tickets but I don't want to go this route again. I don't want to bring it from the perspective of rich and poor class but from the consumer perspective and consequences on accepting change in the industry.

I was just thinking that the first thing the giants of the ski industry did is to put expensive high speed lift on the mountain to eliminate lift lines and serve more customers. With those high speed chair came an increase in price of the lift tickets. This was right since the service was faster, better. Most of the consumer liked the idea and started to ski and take vacation to those resorts. Some small resorts could not compete and closed their door limiting the choice available and concentrating the skiers in bigger area.

This concentration increase so much that on most weekend days, a lot of ski resorts have to slow down their lifts to reduce the concentation of skier going down the hills. If you let all those peoples full speed up the hill at the same time the slope will get so crowded on the way down that it will increases the collisions risks and makes the situation unskiable.

Because of this reason, some area with high speed lift are now seeing their lift lines increase. On a consumer point of view, we are still to the starting point waiting in a lift line again, paying more for a ski ticket and having less choice of ski resorts. On the other end, we have fancier village and shop at the bottom of the hill and more people can enjoy the mountain, skier or not.

My question is:
Did the consumer lost or won?

My point is:
I don't know but one thing is sure, it's that we cannot go back. I am careful about the way some new benign things can turn somewhat around and bring deep changes that are not easily reversible.

[ June 01, 2003, 07:18 PM: Message edited by: Frenchie ]
post #2 of 10
I'm not so sure it was the big corporate giants that put the little guys out or the industry needed to consolidate in order to survive. The labor cost have risen very sharply in the US over the last 30 years but the real costs of goods has remained relatively flat. A high speed lift will transport more skiers per man hour than a slow lift. Couple that with skiers demand for better faster lifts and the little guys loose.

There are few companies that make huge marketing mistakes and survive. Things are pretty well consumer driven. Companies don't always figure out what the customers want but most do and getting better with the use of surveys now.

Almost all companies have diffent levels of pricing for different levels of service. I think that trend will continue in the ski industry as well.

It would be a bit galling if there were a whole lot of people taking cuts though. They need to price the cut privileges high enough to limit the number. Say twice to three times normal rate. That is how first class is priced in the airline industry.

Corporations are also driven by us in another sense. A high percentage of Americans own stock and want a return on their money. That leads to short term goals and short term profit thinking. Remember, the corporations are largely us.

We have met the enemy and it is us. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
And we are still stuck waiting in ski lift lines... :
post #4 of 10
And we are still stuck waiting in ski lift lines
Yeah. Not much has changed. We have the old lifts at our local hill and the lines can get very long. A highspeed detach would do little except increase congestion.

[ June 01, 2003, 08:06 PM: Message edited by: Pierre ]
post #5 of 10
I have never seen a lift line at Loveland or Eldora. Perhaps at the beginner areas at both locations, however, not involving the bulk of the lifts. Lines don't exist. It reminds me of the old Icelandic Airlines slogan....our planes are slower but our fares are lower. Yes neither has a high speed lift.

I can understand the reason folks vacation at the destination resorts. The condos and the restaurants are great. I don't know why the common man puts up with the crowds. Good skiing can be found at a variety of resorts.

I once heard a reason why Eldora never installed a high speed lift and it involved a lack of seating for food service and the bathrooms! In essence the place could not handle the crowds a new fangled lift would bring.

On weekends the parking lot fills up, yet somehow, everyone spreads out.
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
This is call sensible management. I remember somewhere someone saying to a bunch of new entrepreneur "You already imagined the most probable scenario and maybe the worst one. Now imagine the very best. Are you ready for it?

Your ski resort figured out that they were not ready and that was smart. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #7 of 10
A lot of day areas survive due to their proximity to population centers. They rarely have the terrain features to warrant the expense of high-speed lifts, especially when you consider most properly-maintained lifts haven't "worn-out" yet, and used lifts appear on the market as ski areas close or upgrade to high-speed quads. Without the financial boost that comes with being a destination resort, it just doesn't make sense when your current lift is reliably taking skiers to the top to upgrade to a high-speed lift.

I love the little, funky resorts with character. A great staff, affordable lift tickets, a few interesting terrain features, and I can be content for awhile. Then again, I like seeing a variety of trails, and sometimes those hills with the 30 second runs (doing slalom turns) and 4 minute lift rides get a little old. Sometimes there's no substitute for vertical.

I prefer a detachable quad to a fixed lift, because it is possible to safely run it at higher speeds- not that they always do it. I've also found them to be a bit smoother in the wind, probably due to the extra weight.

The old rope tow hills had a hard time keeping up with the chairlift hills, but I don't see a whole lot of chairlift hills going under because they don't have high-speed lifts. Usually its's a variety of reasons. Sometimes resorts never find an audience that's willing to pay. Some hills survive solely because of their terrain park, some solely because of their race team. Some survive because of a close affiliation with a school system. Whatever the reason, for a day area to survive there needs to be a niche for it to fill. Some of the closed areas never found one- and it's a shame. I don't think it's not a question of lifts- it's a question of how many paying customers are on those lifts.

When it comes to slowing down or speeding up a lift, it's really not about getting the skier to the top of the hill in the fastest manner (although it's a good marketing scheme)- it's about safely putting as many skiers on the hill at one time as possible. Maximize the potential of the hill.
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
So according to the comment I received the ski area are doing a good job at targeting customer needs and keeping them happy. So I think that answers my question. I just wanted to know because frankly I did not.
post #9 of 10
I didn't say that. There's always a lot more that can be done. Sometimes something as simple (yet complex) as a contented and friendly staff can make or break public opinion. Even when the hill isn't huge and the runs aren't varied, a warm atmosphere attracts those who aren't ski-or-die fanatics. Put me in a resort that has terrain and good atmosphere, and I'm completely content. Unfortunately, that atmosphere can't be bottled. A resort staffed and run by people who just want customers to have a good time on the snow- that's easier said than done.

Lifts are part of it. Customer service is part of it. Facilities are part of it. The hill itself is part of it. None of them is the magic bullet, though.
post #10 of 10
I don't know if this is on the right track. I don't like glitzy resorts. I feel it takes away from the experience (mine anyway). I always compare Alta and Snowbird. They are right next to each other but coudn't be more different. To me Alta is perfect. It hasn't changed much in a long time. It has an atmosphere that is hard to describe, down home maybe? Small lift lines, slow lifts, a somewhat small base area. I really feel like I'm "in" the mountains.
snowbird is a mega resort. High speed lifts, big base area, the works. I like the place for its terrain and big vertical but it doesn't have that feel that I like. This is hard to explain but I think most of you know what I mean. I hate to see a parking lot when I ski. I don't like seeing anything but mountains when it comes down to it. The smaller places are good for this. It all depends what you like.
As far as the question of who wins or loses. It all depends on what that person is looking for. I think there are enough variety of resorts to please anyone. I bet if Alta started installing high speed lifts and upping ticket prices, they would lose a certain number of clientel, but might also gain a different type. Hope they don't, I like it just fine the way it is.
P.S. when one of my local hills got rid of the t-bar and replaced it with an old double, it was a great decision.
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