Are We Seeing the End of Regular Season Passes?


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  1. #1
    thetrailboss's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    NEK by Birth; Alta/Snowbird by Choice

    Question Are We Seeing the End of Regular Season Passes?

    We have had several threads over the past couple years talking about Epic, IKON, and other "Mega Passes." Whenever I talk to folks out here who have one of those "four letter" passes I tell them not to discuss it with the locals because as you all know too well Ikon at least contributed to some crowding last season at a lot of resorts out here. Alterra announced that this season Ikon has seen a 60% increase in sales. A lot of ski areas in the program have not responded well to their passholders' concerns and have instead said "it is the snow" or gave their passholders a peace offering in the form of an Ikon Base Pass (Jackson Hole, Aspen for example), Some areas, like Brighton this week, have even started extending discounts once reserved for season passholders to Ikon Passholders. It seemed downright odd that a lot of areas were quick to defend Ikon passholders who are not committed to a single area rather than try to please their own passholders.

    Other areas are responding by creating their own mega passes. For example, there is the Monarch Pass (with all those deals), and some other independent resorts partnering up.

    The one thing that seems to be going out of style is just having a season pass to a single ski area for an entire season.

    So considering these changes, and wondering WHY ski areas don't seem to care as much about their own passholders, it dawned on me--are we at a point where the season pass model is ending? Are areas no longer interested in catering to their own loyal and captive audience and more willing to curry favor with a larger group of potential customers in a Mega Pass program?

    Certainly we have seen this movie before--how many of you, like me, have at least one old "American Ski Company All East Pass" in a drawer or in a photo album or memory box? The difference between then and now is that ASC went under before the pass could expand anymore than it did. Now, we are dealing with TWO big pass products that seem to be going head-to-head in an arms race leaving ski areas to decide which team to join. We're also seeing a lot of market consolidation with Vail and Alterra leading the way.

    So I am just thinking out loud here--with both passes growing, are we seeing the end, or "disruption" of the season pass model? Who here, like me, still has a pass that is good for ONE or at most TWO independent areas?
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  2. #2
    JimG.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Hopewell Jct., NY
    I think season passes will remain at many hills. But I think fewer skiers will buy them.

    And that will disrupt the collect money early model many resorts use to fund upgrades.

    Which I think will lead to even fewer people buying single mountain passes. The end result will be more ski areas going out of business.

  3. #3
    No. Still plenty of faithful locals dedicated to their single mountain. Even at the big hills, there's plenty of homeowners who will only ski that resort. I have a Killington pass. Ikon wouldn't do it for me- I've got ties to Killington that make it the best fit for me. 7 days isn't enough.

    Also of note is that for every Mega-resort there's two local ski hills on independent passes. There's still many more independent areas with single-mountain passes than multi-mountain. It's just that 90% of the major players have gone the multi-mountain route.
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  4. #4
    Not a fan of consolidation. It seems deals are drying up as window prices soar. Stowe got rid of their ski council days. An opportunity to ski there at a reasonable price. I am glad Greek joined the Freedom Pass. I can't explain why they aren't listed on the Freedom Pass website. I informed about 5 Greek passholders on the hill today about the free tickets to the east coast hills, Platty, Bolton Valley, and Magic. They were totally unaware. You have to ferret that information out of Greek's website. If I were a passholder to a mountain inundated with Epic or Ikon skiers, I wouldn't be happy.3kr1zj.jpeg

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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by ss20 View Post
    No. Still plenty of faithful locals dedicated to their single mountain. Even at the big hills, there's plenty of homeowners who will only ski that resort. I have a Killington pass. Ikon wouldn't do it for me- I've got ties to Killington that make it the best fit for me. 7 days isn't enough.
    I agree with this. Next year I suspect I'll be forced to go Ikon since my resort is going to be owned by Alterra. But if it wasn't for that I'd stay a single mountain passholder.

    I guess it really depends what type of skier you were/are. If you jumped around in the past and weren't a single mountain passsholder, then Ikon or Epic may be natural choices. But if you were a passholder to a single mountain for a specific reason (and that mountain is only a partner with limited days on a multi-pass), then I don't know that you'll see a ton of those people converting. Some will no doubt. But others will remain loyal to their resort (could be that they are a homeowner there like you said or they don't like planning different lodging every weekend or have friends somewhere that they like to ski with, etc).

    Passes like Ikon are making the largest impact to other forms of passes to those resorts. What I mean by that is many Ikon people are using that to replace day tickets or other discounted options like quad packs. Some resorts are seeing a significant drop in those type of things and thanks to technology are able to tell that those same people switched to Ikon (There was some interesting stats on this from one resort in Chris Diamond's latest Ski Inc 2020 book). So ultimately you are going to see those other deals continue to dry up. That's going to be one of the biggest downsides for people that don't join a multi-pass. But as you pointed out, there are still a lot of independent areas out there. This is a great potential opportunity for them to offer better day ticket prices and capture people that don't want to get a multi-pass.

  6. #6
    I have a Snowbird senior season pass because I can stay with family members nearby. I hope to get about 25-30 days there on the pass this season.

  7. #7
    I've written about this more extensively, but eventually Vail's going to fail. Might take a decade or so to complete the cycle, and then the future will be more like the past. This mega pass thing wont last forever. If you have one, enjoy it until the price increases that they're telling you wont happen, happen.
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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by BenedictGomez View Post
    This mega pass thing wont last forever. If you have one, enjoy it until the price increases that they're telling you wont happen, happen.
    That's exactly why we went for it this year - seemed too good to be true so we wanted to take advantage of it while it lasts (is what we were thinking when we purchased them in September...)

  9. #9
    I think the first season for Epic Pass was 08/09 and when it came out it dropped a Vail pass from $1,849 to $579. Now it's what, $939?

  10. #10
    The problem I see with these mega passes is the bigger ski areas pricing themselves out of the 4-6 day a year casual skiers. $100+ a day to me is insane. Some people who love the sport just can't commmit to more than a handful of times, and for them to have to shell out that kind of money.... I was in that 4-6 times a year skier about 20 years ago and if I had to pay these current rates IDK if I would have even skied that much.

    Yesterday I thought about a half day at Mount Snow... but they weren't offering their $49 deal... 99 bucks to ski limited trails with crap conditions, and deal with those crowds... well no thanks.

    But ya, sooner of later this model is going to come crashing down.

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