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2018/19 Skier visits

Smellytele

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People also buy their passes before they know if it will be a good winter. This locks in a minimum amount of revenue that the operator receives and puts a floor on how bad lean winters get.

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This has nothing to do with skier visits and your making my point.


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cdskier

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This has nothing to do with skier visits and your making my point.

Even season pass-holder skier visits can substantially vary though depending on the weather. In a good year, season pass-holder skier visits can be significantly up (as is the case this year according to many resorts). In a bad year, you get a mix of results from pass-holders. Some will visit anyway "because I already paid and want to use it" while others may only use it enough to break even. You can argue that "well the pass is paid for so who cares whether they ski 1 day or 100 days", but it still does matter. Many pass-holders do spend additional money on the mountain on days they are there. Or if the season is really good they may contribute to other people visiting (i.e. maybe they go to work and talk to co-workers or call up friends saying "conditions are amazing. You should get out there and go skiing".) So you need to consider indirect benefits of season pass-holder visits being up as well.

Today thanks to technology many/most resorts can get an accurate picture of pass-holder skier visits. Years ago when these annual skier visit numbers were generated, they would be pretty much just making an estimated guess on how many skier visits a season pass should count as. Today any resort with RFID or scanning can get a pretty accurate count.

Skier visits, while certainly not a perfect metric, are still one of the key metrics to compare year over year performance in a pretty consistent manner. NSAA does produce some other interesting metrics too and someone that really wants to understand the full picture of industry performance would be reading the detailed report once it is released (and if they manage a resort would surely be studying their own internal numbers too).

I honestly can't think of a single "better" metric to use to compare performance from one season to another. The next closest is probably the number of people participating in the sport (unique visitors). If that number goes down year after year, then you could have a major problem. But conversely it also doesn't help if that number goes up but skier visits as a whole goes down. Of course age is another key factor too from a long term growth perspective. But now we're again getting away from a "single" simple number to use for quick comparison and making things more complicated with multiple metrics that need to be looked at together.
 

Smellytele

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Even season pass-holder skier visits can substantially vary though depending on the weather. In a good year, season pass-holder skier visits can be significantly up (as is the case this year according to many resorts). In a bad year, you get a mix of results from pass-holders. Some will visit anyway "because I already paid and want to use it" while others may only use it enough to break even. You can argue that "well the pass is paid for so who cares whether they ski 1 day or 100 days", but it still does matter. Many pass-holders do spend additional money on the mountain on days they are there. Or if the season is really good they may contribute to other people visiting (i.e. maybe they go to work and talk to co-workers or call up friends saying "conditions are amazing. You should get out there and go skiing".) So you need to consider indirect benefits of season pass-holder visits being up as well.

Today thanks to technology many/most resorts can get an accurate picture of pass-holder skier visits. Years ago when these annual skier visit numbers were generated, they would be pretty much just making an estimated guess on how many skier visits a season pass should count as. Today any resort with RFID or scanning can get a pretty accurate count.

Skier visits, while certainly not a perfect metric, are still one of the key metrics to compare year over year performance in a pretty consistent manner. NSAA does produce some other interesting metrics too and someone that really wants to understand the full picture of industry performance would be reading the detailed report once it is released (and if they manage a resort would surely be studying their own internal numbers too).

I honestly can't think of a single "better" metric to use to compare performance from one season to another. The next closest is probably the number of people participating in the sport (unique visitors). If that number goes down year after year, then you could have a major problem. But conversely it also doesn't help if that number goes up but skier visits as a whole goes down. Of course age is another key factor too from a long term growth perspective. But now we're again getting away from a "single" simple number to use for quick comparison and making things more complicated with multiple metrics that need to be looked at together.

How about how most companies/corporations measure success - revenue, gross and net profit, etc?


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cdskier

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How about how most companies/corporations measure success - revenue, gross and net profit, etc?

There are many privately owned ski areas that would never release such info. So you would only have partial information at best for the industry. Not sure how valuable it really is to judge the status of the ski industry with just the financial info for the publicly owned resorts.
 

abc

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Even season pass-holder skier visits can substantially vary though depending on the weather.
...
if the season is really good they may contribute to other people visiting (i.e. maybe they go to work and talk to co-workers or call up friends saying "conditions are amazing. You should get out there and go skiing".) So you need to consider indirect benefits of season pass-holder visits being up as well.
I found it interesting that everyone treats season pass holders as "expense" as soon as they paid up for their pass!

In my early day of career, I worked in a market research firm. I learned there, "customer loyalty" are assigned $$ values, because they're considered "influencers" in bringing in new customers. They're considered "advertising resources".

My casual observation of ski industry confirms that view. A season pass holder typically don't want to pay to ski in other mountains. Make sense, right? So what happens if they have family/friends/visitors who don't already have lift tickets? They go the mountain of their host have a pass!

Treat the brown-bagging pass holders as scums the rest of the season, you remove their enthusiasm in inviting others to come visit the mountain.

In the marketing world, it's established it cost many times more to bring in new customers than retaining the existing one. It may not be a big deal for Sun Valley which has no nearby competition. But in the crowded world of the northeast, the mountains will pay for their arrogance.
 

cdskier

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Does anyone have a rough idea of what the average number of ski visits for pass holders?

It varies quite a bit by region. This is one of the additional metrics NSAA does release in one of their yearly reports. For the 16-17 season it was 13.7 in the northeast, 10.9 southeast, 10.1 midwest, 9.1 rocky mountains, 9.7 pacific southwest, and 10.6 pacific northwest.

Top line revenue would be a good metric, but as noted, not available.

And the more I think about it, the more I don't think it accurately would reflect skiing itself anyway. Resorts have various revenue streams even during the non-ski season. For example some do a lot of summer activities or wedding events during the off-season. While those are great to help the resorts pull in more revenue, at the same time it would prevent you from seeing a true picture of how "skiing" itself is performing year over year. Overall revenue going up doesn't mean the ski industry itself is healthy if they are now starting to pull in more off-season revenue to compensate for a loss of skiers and ski revenue (not saying that is actually the case, just a hypothetical on why those numbers by themselves may not be a good indicator).
 

BenedictGomez

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This is one of the additional metrics NSAA does release in one of their yearly reports. For the 16-17 season it was 13.7 in the northeast, 10.9 southeast, 10.1 midwest, 9.1 rocky mountains, 9.7 pacific southwest, and 10.6 pacific northwest.

Surprises me it's that low given the average skier is at 6 days per year. I'd have thought a pass holder average would be much higher.

Makes me wonder if IKON/EPIC are bringing that number down? More people buying a pass primarily for 1 week in Colorado or Utah, etc...
 

cdskier

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Surprises me it's that low given the average skier is at 6 days per year. I'd have thought a pass holder average would be much higher.

Makes me wonder if IKON/EPIC are bringing that number down? More people buying a pass primarily for 1 week in Colorado or Utah, etc...

I agree...I would have expected it to be higher as well. But then again there are a lot of people that only use them a handful of days for whatever reason. For example while I used my season pass 40 days, my dad only used his 10 days this year. And I overheard a guy in the parking lot at Sugarbush this weekend saying he only used his Sugarbush pass 6 days (but he's also a MRG pass holder and only buys the SB one as "insurance" in case of a bad year for MRG. He was quite "happy" to have not had to use his SB pass much in this case).

Perhaps overall cheaper pass prices also could contribute a bit to lower average ski days per pass (i.e. the break even point is lower so more people are buying them and simply not using them to their full potential). That sort of goes along with your point of people buying Epic/Ikon just to use for 1 week of vacation somewhere.
 
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This has nothing to do with skier visits and your making my point.


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I didn't realize I was addressing anything you'd said, but I don't think what you suggested about the optimal mix makes any sense in practice.

Passholders that don't show up would be a major risk to not renew the following season. While the $/skier day is higher for day tickets (assuming passholders show up often enough to drive it down), it's awfully hard do drive day ticket skier visits up without attracting a massive amount of new individuals/families. This would almost certainly involve a heavy marketing and infrastructure budget to keep your place front of mind. People who can't get enough of the same place would graduate into passholders because they visit frequently enough to justify it. It's not a long term strategy to assume you can get people to just buy day tickets.

For one season, what you say makes sense, but you're seriously short changing the value of repeat business. Getting passholders to show up enough times to feel like they got good value, but not too many times (as you suggest), is the key.

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abc

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Perhaps overall cheaper pass prices also could contribute a bit to lower average ski days per pass (i.e. the break even point is lower so more people are buying them and simply not using them to their full potential). That sort of goes along with your point of people buying Epic/Ikon just to use for 1 week of vacation somewhere.
I have a strong suspicion that's THE main factor on the average pass holder visit number.

In the northeast, season pass used to be high compare to day ticket, until Epic/Ikon came along. I've never bought a single mountain pass in the northeast, because the math just doesn't work out.

But I did in the west. There, the pass are so much cheaper I come out ahead in 2 trips (break even in 1 week, but that's pointless unless I have realistic expectation to do more than that). I was a pass holder for one Colorado mountain or another for many years until MCP came along. I went that way, then MAX, then Ikon. Now I have unlimited access to a few mountains in the northeast as part of my multi-mountain pass. So now, I only need to break even in 1 single western trip. All my northeast skiing will be "free"!

Until Ikon/Max/MCP, I bet I was one of the "statistics" of pass holder who only use the pass 9.1 days! (with a bunch of additional day tickets in the northeast). I'm curious how they "divide" the pass holders in this day of multi-mountain passes?
 

mister moose

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So now, I only need to break even in 1 single western trip. All my northeast skiing will be "free"!
You say this in half jest, but yet you do say it, as do thousands of other people. Imagine training your customers to think that by jacking your walk up day rate to stratospheric levels, you can "break even" by buying a pass for about the same as 5-6 day tickets. That's quite an accomplishment for mega pass marketing.
 

BenedictGomez

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You say this in half jest, but yet you do say it, as do thousands of other people. Imagine training your customers to think that by jacking your walk up day rate to stratospheric levels, you can "break even" by buying a pass for about the same as 5-6 day tickets. That's quite an accomplishment for mega pass marketing.

And don't forget the intentional elimination of virtually all S.O.T.C. deals & BOGOs as well, which is part of the "strategy". Make it hurt so bad to buy a lift ticket, that you buy their pass instead.

My prediction is that while this is great for short-term business, it's bad for long-term business
 

abc

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My prediction is that while this is great for short-term business, it's bad for long-term business
I agree, but only to a degree.

But let’s look at the pass price. How much did 1 week a year skiers pay for their lift tickets BEFORE (right before) Vail bought its first northeast mountain? How did that compare with the price of Epic/Ikon pass?

Customers had been “trained” by the existing day ticket rate, what WAS that?
 
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Smellytele

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And don't forget the intentional elimination of virtually all S.O.T.C. deals & BOGOs as well, which is part of the "strategy". Make it hurt so bad to buy a lift ticket, that you buy their pass instead.

My prediction is that while this is great for short-term business, it's bad for long-term business

Price to enter the sport is getting cost prohibitive as well so they are cutting out the stream of new skiers in order to keep their aging customer base. New skiers are not going to just jump at a season pass that will save them money after X number of days as they have no idea if they even want to continue in the sport. Will they even pay $160 to ski 1 day plus rentals and other costs?
 

cdskier

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Price to enter the sport is getting cost prohibitive as well so they are cutting out the stream of new skiers in order to keep their aging customer base. New skiers are not going to just jump at a season pass that will save them money after X number of days as they have no idea if they even want to continue in the sport. Will they even pay $160 to ski 1 day plus rentals and other costs?

In principle I agree that the price to enter seems cost prohibitive and I've complained about the rising cost of day tickets being an issue for growth in the past. However, I'm curious historically speaking where did most "new" skiers come from? Was it from people being introduced to the sport when they were already older? Or were they introduced by parents at a young age? When I look at the ski school programs at resorts I visit, they seem to be doing very well with a rather large amount of young kids in the programs. (I have no comparison point for what this was like in the past though as I didn't start skiing until HS). As long as those kids continue in the sport when they grow older, then you have a good stream of new skiers. Are enough of these kids continuing when they get older though? That I don't know.
 

BenedictGomez

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Price to enter the sport is getting cost prohibitive as well so they are cutting out the stream of new skiers

That is precisely what I meant when I said EPIC/IKON are bad for long-term business.

But that wont show up in the data for roughly a decade. Until then, EPIC/IKON will appear to be a great success.

In fact, my prediction is that soon you're going to start seeing even cheaper, "learn to ski" packages as a result. I also predict that wont work appreciably enough to cover the damage.
 
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That is precisely what I meant when I said EPIC/IKON are bad for long-term business.

But that wont show up in the data for roughly a decade. Until then, EPIC/IKON will appear to be a great success.

In fact, my prediction is that soon you're going to start seeing even cheaper, "learn to ski" packages as a result. I also predict that wont work appreciably enough to cover the damage.
I also wonder if the super passes will squeeze smaller feeder hills out of business by driving more of the established skiers through a smaller number of resorts. It's tough for independent hills to compete with low cost passes and "free" days at Vail or Alterra resorts on the margin after customers have bought their passes. These smaller hills seem to be the most budget friendly for beginners in most cases. Their potential demise could hurt the pipeline of new skiers.

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