Article on "mega pass" being bad for the sport

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  1. #1

    Article on "mega pass" being bad for the sport

    https://www.outsideonline.com/238996...pass-epic-ikon


    Kinda interesting to read about the employee housing situation at Keystone as I once lived in their employee housing. The accommodations were a bit "snug" as they were.

    I'm not sure the mega pass has much to do with seasonal rentals switching to VRBO, but it does stink that there are so few seasonal properties left. In the 90s I rented a 4 bedroom house in Stowe with some ski bum buddies. $6k for six months. Good luck finding anything close to that today even adjusted for inflation.


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  2. #2
    There are some interesting and valid arguments in the article, but implying that people are moving their rentals to VRBO due to mega passes is not one of them.

    “All the affordable long-term rentals we had before this year are now off the market and seem to be on VRBO,” said a longtime local and resort employee, who requested anonymity for fear of losing their job.
    Newsflash to this anonymous person - if something is listed on VRBO, then it is still "on the market". People are moving to options like VRBO because they charge much lower commissions than traditional local real estate agencies. With VRBO, you could list your property for less than with a realtor and still make more money.

  3. #3
    machski's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cdskier View Post
    There are some interesting and valid arguments in the article, but implying that people are moving their rentals to VRBO due to mega passes is not one of them.



    Newsflash to this anonymous person - if something is listed on VRBO, then it is still "on the market". People are moving to options like VRBO because they charge much lower commissions than traditional local real estate agencies. With VRBO, you could list your property for less than with a realtor and still make more money.
    The key in your reply was "could" and that may hold true in the East to some extent. The problem in Big Sky is as folks move former seasonal rentals to VRBO etc, they are not lowering prices in Big Sky but increasing. Everything is there, Big Sky specifically has been found by the masses now. Several years ago, you could wait and book pretty much anything you wanted last minute outside of holiday periods. Now, good luck even booking in September. Big Sky is huge but it's lodging options are miniscule by comparison to it's terrain. Things are changing, a new Residence Inn opens in the village town center next month and other facilities are under build that should ease the crunch a bit. But I get the frustrations of resort employees that have seen their options dwindle likely over the past two seasons when Big Sky's draw really increased due to two awesome snow years there.

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  4. #4
    Well that depends on what you refer to as "skiing".

    The current Vail/Alterra business model may work great for them personally in the short term, but industry-wide it's cannibalizing the future of the sport in favor of short term profit goals.

    Basically, by offering very low priced season passes and astronomical day pass rates they're effectively pushing out the day pass buyer and simultaneously consolidating all of the season pass buyers- that means it's solely up to smaller areas (which they're currently whittling away at the feasibility of) to attract all the new skiers and keep the sport growing with reasonable day pass rates, smaller marketing budgets and smaller infrastructures- and then pass them off to Vail once they're a full-blown skier buying a season pass. This concern doesn't even begin to touch the housing concerns of employees and people that rented there before the takeovers- who are often displaced without alternative.

    So basically, this is a short term money grab by these conglomerates that essentially consolidates and homogenizes product and fixes pricing in a way that is as disgustingly selfish and short sighted as it is wildly profitable. If this trend continues, we will see the demise of the small ski area, and the death of the sport as we know it. But hey, Vail is making a killing being the Walmart of skiing and you get to go to Colorado on your pass so who cares right?? Let's just throw another ski area on the fire and put our feet up!

    The problem is that people don't care, they just want it all and they want it for free. Walmart is a perfect example of the consolidation we're seeing across the industry, and it's scary as an operator of a niche ski area. Thankfully we're differentiated enough to stand on our own and we're growing, but that is not the norm. Lots of small areas are suffering heavily, and without them this is just a rich man's sport.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by machski View Post
    The key in your reply was "could" and that may hold true in the East to some extent. The problem in Big Sky is as folks move former seasonal rentals to VRBO etc, they are not lowering prices in Big Sky but increasing.
    Yea, I definitely realize just because someone can theoretically charge a lower rate via VRBO and still pocket more money doesn't mean that's what they would always do. I was more citing that as an example of a reason why people are moving to options like that. Charging less makes more sense in a market with an oversupply. Price yourself lower than the realtor options and you'll have a competitive advantage (while still making more money). In a market with higher demand than supply, no surprise that people are charging more even if they move to something like VRBO with lower commissions. If they charge more and find people willing to pay it, can't say I blame them.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Do Work View Post
    Walmart is a perfect example of the consolidation we're seeing across the industry, and it's scary as an operator of a niche ski area.
    I'm pretty sure Walmart's business model is the exact opposite of Vail's. I guess they both have the effect of putting smaller, independent competitors out of business, but I don't think there's any danger of Walmart putting cheap, poorly-made consumer goods out of reach of the general public any time soon. Lot's of people dislike Walmart, sure, but forcing an analogy between Walmart and Vail obscures the main problems with Vail's business model that you and others are highlighting.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Domeskier View Post
    I'm pretty sure Walmart's business model is the exact opposite of Vail's. I guess they both have the effect of putting smaller, independent competitors out of business, but I don't think there's any danger of Walmart putting cheap, poorly-made consumer goods out of reach of the general public any time soon. Lot's of people dislike Walmart, sure, but forcing an analogy between Walmart and Vail obscures the main problems with Vail's business model that you and others are highlighting.

    Look, I don’t have time to come up with a perfect analogy for you. Let’s discuss the issues at hand and not waste our time on peripheral trivialities.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Do Work View Post
    Look, I don’t have time to come up with a perfect analogy for you. Let’s discuss the issues at hand and not waste our time on peripheral trivialities.
    I'm not asking for a perfect analogy; just one that bears even the slightest resemblance to the facts. People dislike tobacco companies too. Maybe Vail is the Phillip Morris of ski companies. Bad analogies just cheapen your point for rhetorical effect.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Do Work View Post

    Basically, by offering very low priced season passes and astronomical day pass rates they're effectively pushing out the day pass buyer and simultaneously consolidating all of the season pass buyers- that means it's solely up to smaller areas (which they're currently whittling away at the feasibility of) to attract all the new skiers and keep the sport growing with reasonable day pass rates, smaller marketing budgets and smaller infrastructures- and then pass them off to Vail once they're a full-blown skier buying a season pass. This concern doesn't even begin to touch the housing concerns of employees and people that rented there before the takeovers- who are often displaced without alternative.
    Perhaps only"reasonable" based on the new-normal, but even at the smaller areas these mega pass battles are already leading to lift ticket price inflation, and for obvious reason.

    If everyone takes their lift ticket price from $85 to $150, there's no reason you need to sit idle & keep your lift ticket price at $60, you may simply raise it to $65, $75, $85 now. This is happening already, and is wholly supported by, well, Economics 101.
    Last edited by BenedictGomez; Mar 14, 2019 at 10:04 AM.
    President - Bicknell's Thrush Extermination Solutions (BTES), LLC



  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Do Work View Post

    The current Vail/Alterra business model may work great for them personally in the short term, but industry-wide it's cannibalizing the future of the sport in favor of short term profit goals.
    Your point about how these Mega Pass battles will be harmful to the future of the ski industry via lower skier numbers, I agree with 100%.

    My only caveat is that given my prediction that EPIC & IKON will ultimately fail, I do not believe this will be the future, but if I am wrong and EPIC & Ikon do "succeed" (ironic usage), then yes, this will hurt the ski industry, but we likely wont notice it in tangible numbers of decline for at least a decade.
    President - Bicknell's Thrush Extermination Solutions (BTES), LLC



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