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Alterra and DV Presidents Speak at Virtual Town Hall Event in Park City

thetrailboss

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Rusty Gregory and the new Deer Valley President did a virtual town hall on "Leadership" last night in Park City. I will post the link when I get a chance. The talking points and marketing lines were in full force. Despite multiple reassurances that they were "not blowing smoke", I had a hard time seeing with all the air pollution. Some highlights:
  1. Alterra is so new that they have "no idea" how many employees they actually have. They are also not really "much" of a company but instead coordinate and collaborate with their own resorts and their partners.
  2. The new DV President looks like he is 35 years old. He does not have a lot of experience. He did not talk much. He said that DV is "the jewel" of Alterra and was really impressed with his employees. He said he wants to do a retreat this summer with his leadership to "develop a plan" for the resort. That seems about four years too late. He also tacitly admitted that Ikon is resulting in more people and he wants to "revisit it." He was adamant that the lines were due to "COVID" and not being able to load chairs fully. Almost in the same breath he admitted that Ikon had "50% more pass sales" this season than before.
  3. The first hot button issue was the $500 increase in DV Senior Season Passes and cutting the Ikon Pass benefit that came with those passes. With a smug smile, the new DV President said he had to "make ends meet", that the increased price made the pass worth "about 7-8 days" of skiing to break even, and was final. Rusty joked that he is not local (basically throwing the guy under the bus) and that he supported the price increases "but" if the market thinks that Alterra is wrong then people would leave and Alterra would reconsider.
  4. Rusty said that he has to appease three constituencies with "limited resources": customers, employees, and financiers/ownership. Without realizing it, he clearly implied that ownership is first by the fact that he spent most of his time talking about the "expectations" of ownership and investors.
  5. Rusty "promised" that $200 mill in upgrades are coming for Alterra Resorts.
  6. Rusty pled with locals to be "more open minded" about Ikon and to share the slopes with the "diverse" clientele that Ikon brings. He took a page right from a PR session by then going on about how important "diversity" is for skiing and that it is not a sport for old white guys.
  7. Rusty said that they are "very concerned" about crowding and degrading the experience. He said that Alterra "listens."
  8. As if high on something, Rusty then waxed poetic about the Ikon Pass and how it brings people to the mountains "to experience their best selves." As to plans, "we are looking forward to morphing the Ikon Pass into a lifestyle platform with more offerings." Whatever the hell that means.
  9. Rusty openly advocated against a national minimum wage. He said Alterra needs flexibility to pay people in different markets. I was appalled that he made a political comment in this charged time.
  10. As to those $8.00 lift attendants and staff, Rusty recognized that affordable housing and the communities are important to Alterra. Alterra has not "forced" its corporate values onto its resorts. He promised that we would see Alterra "invest" in its communities soon.

I'm sure that there is more to highlight. I was happy that they appeared, disappointed in the general platitudes and goals, and stunned about trotting out diversity as a defense for the IKON pass program. I don't think coming into the most liberal area in Utah and implying that the locals are xenophobes for not liking crowds on their slopes was pretty tone deaf in my opinion. But seeing how they have operated before, they are of the mindset of a former President--"say it enough and it becomes true."

Obviously I am not a fan of Ikon because of its impact on my local areas. So I am interested in hearing what others think of this event and what was said.
 

keyser soze

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Well if anyone can handle an expensive product it would be Deer Valley patrons, especially the seniors settled in that area, and that is probably how they view it.
Also, sounds like they are talking about the crowds during COVID, but many locals were complaining before lifts weren't loaded fully. COVID certainly affects the length of the lines, but I'm sure the crowds were less during these times also. That being said, if they're making money with the ikon pass they will not turn away business until enough people do not buy it and affect their bottom line and that is not likely to happen.
 

ss20

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Obviously I am not a fan of Ikon because of its impact on my local areas. So I am interested in hearing what others think of this event and what was said.

You live there, so I will give your opinion its fair value. But that said, I read Pugski pretty regularly and by all accounts Deer Valley is probably the most well-run and least crowded of the PC/BCC/LCC areas.

A $500 price increase for seniors is shitty... but you also are quick to point out the tremendous crowds on the hill... wouldn't this reduce that?

Alterra is promising $200 million in upgrades. They're a brand new company. Why do you have any reason to dis-believe that statement?

As far as the rest of this meeting, it's essentially a virtual press release...it's going to be 90% fluff and vague answers and buzz words. Doesn't matter the company or the industry. I'm surprised the CEO commented on minimum wage...that's more substance than I would've expected.



You're really becoming a one-issue poster with all the Ikon and Snowbird hate. I get that things aren't the same as when you moved out there. But you're clearly trying to throw Alterra under the bus here without any substance that they're f'ing up.
 

thetrailboss

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You live there, so I will give your opinion its fair value. But that said, I read Pugski pretty regularly and by all accounts Deer Valley is probably the most well-run and least crowded of the PC/BCC/LCC areas.
Agreed but the comparison I make is DV pre and post sale. That’s my measure.

A $500 price increase for seniors is shitty... but you also are quick to point out the tremendous crowds on the hill... wouldn't this reduce that?
From what I see—no. I don’t have the data though. I imagine that from their perspective they think yes. And people are living longer so they’re skiing more.

Alterra is promising $200 million in upgrades. They're a brand new company. Why do you have any reason to dis-believe that statement?
I’ve learned to be skeptical. Particularly when there are no details and when I’ve seen deflection and spin from the same people.

You're really becoming a one-issue poster with all the Ikon and Snowbird hate. I get that things aren't the same as when you moved out there. But you're clearly trying to throw Alterra under the bus here without any substance that they're f'ing up.
It’s no different than the pages of comments about Vail. If your home mountain changed for the negative I would imagine that you too would be upset. Hell, if your mountain and the nearest four other options all got overrun by this pass I think you would be upset as well.

Have they effed up? Well, they certainly have deflected criticism and spun the truth more than other companies I’ve seen. I’ve also seen how they treated Solitude locals. I’ve yet to see anything to address the crowding here but admittedly the other resorts have just as much say (Boyne had implemented a reservation system at Brighton).

It is evident that (1) they want to beat Vail at its own game, and (2) the bottom line is most important. Things will eventually change.

And one issue? I thought my Big Sky TR was pretty good and didn’t mention Ikon at all. I’d hope that at least the pics were good 😉 😆
 
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thetrailboss

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Well if anyone can handle an expensive product it would be Deer Valley patrons, especially the seniors settled in that area, and that is probably how they view it.
Also, sounds like they are talking about the crowds during COVID, but many locals were complaining before lifts weren't loaded fully. COVID certainly affects the length of the lines, but I'm sure the crowds were less during these times also. That being said, if they're making money with the ikon pass they will not turn away business until enough people do not buy it and affect their bottom line and that is not likely to happen.
The point about clientele is true. Jeremy pointed out that MOST passholders for DV have an out of town address. And, as I said, today’s 70+ person is more active and is living longer than those a few years ago.
 

LonghornSkier

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The point about clientele is true. Jeremy pointed out that MOST passholders for DV have an out of town address. And, as I said, today’s 70+ person is more active and is living longer than those a few years ago.
The numbers don’t bear that out. Life expectancy is falling in the United States.
 

PAabe

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Not a doctor but as I understand it, life expectancy is average age - how long a baby is expected to live on average. If you make it to 70 one would be likely to live quite a bit longer now. So more people can live longer but life expectancy can still drop due to other reasons affecting parts of the population like drug addiction or increased likelihood of being physically unfit

I would think the skiing portion of the population (who is relatively in shape) would definitely be having a greatly increasing life expectancy
 
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cdskier

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  1. Alterra is so new that they have "no idea" how many employees they actually have.
That's more common than you might think in companies (whether they are new or not). I work for a large global company that has gone through many mergers and divestitures over the years. I can tell you that you can get 5 different answers to that question if you ask 5 different people and/or phrase the question 5 different ways. Without knowing their legal entity/corporate structure and level of IT/HR integration among their subsidiaries, hard to say how easy it would be for them to know the number. I'm fairly certain Alterra is not just 1 single corporate entity as I've seen reference to "Sugarbush Mountain Resort, Inc" in various places since the sale from Summit Ventures to Alterra. I doubt SB is the only separate corp Alterra created.
 

NY DirtBag

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Actually it has been dipping the past few years. Covid made it drop more this year.

View attachment 51150
Strip out the poor and life expectancy is still going up. Adjust for wealth and it turns k shaped. Top 25% still increasing, lowest 25% decreasing. Old article but you get the gist. There are thousands of studies about this

Guess which category 2nd home owners at DV fit into?
 

slatham

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That life expectancy chart is for the total US population. I would hazard to guess that it looks very different when you chart out active skiers.

But the better argument for charging seniors more isn't life expectancy, its level of activity. I would argue (no data) they are simply skiing more than 10-20 years ago - more days, and longer each day. So they should pay more.

And then there's the ability to pay argument. If you're a senior living near and skiing DV regularly you probably have the ability to pay more and will not forgo your pass. Thats the bottom line. If sales drop they will reconsider. But my guess is they hear a lot of complaining but don't see a worrisome drop in sales.
 

keyser soze

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And then there's the ability to pay argument. If you're a senior living near and skiing DV regularly you probably have the ability to pay more and will not forgo your pass. Thats the bottom line. If sales drop they will reconsider. But my guess is they hear a lot of complaining but don't see a worrisome drop in sales.

Agreed, pretty much what I said up above.

"Well if anyone can handle an expensive product it would be Deer Valley patrons, especially the seniors settled in that area, and that is probably how they view it.
Also, sounds like they are talking about the crowds during COVID, but many locals were complaining before lifts weren't loaded fully. COVID certainly affects the length of the lines, but I'm sure the crowds were less during these times also. That being said, if they're making money with the ikon pass they will not turn away business until enough people do not buy it and affect their bottom line and that is not likely to happen."
 

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For what it's worth, Rusty Gregory was on the Storm Skiing Podcast today post Park City event. He stated unequivocally that NEW partners would be joining the Ikon for next season. Also noted that while they are not currently engaged in discussions, Jay Peak is of interest to him as a potential opportunity. Camelback is very likely an add to Ikon but not definite yet.
 

cdskier

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For what it's worth, Rusty Gregory was on the Storm Skiing Podcast today post Park City event. He stated unequivocally that NEW partners would be joining the Ikon for next season. Also noted that while they are not currently engaged in discussions, Jay Peak is of interest to him as a potential opportunity. Camelback is very likely an add to Ikon but not definite yet.

Also worthwhile noting that he said he thought Ikon was priced right and didn't see a need to lower the price to compete with Epic (although said the market would tell them if they're wrong on that).
 

ss20

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Also worthwhile noting that he said he thought Ikon was priced right and didn't see a need to lower the price to compete with Epic (although said the market would tell them if they're wrong on that).

I'd love to see Ikon go the "premium product" route to compete with Vail's discount pricing. People are fed up with Vail crowds...Ikon things seem mixed depending on where you go. I'd bet if Ikon raised their prices by $200 they'd retain enough people that they'd make more money than at the current price point. Yes, some would go to Vail to save the $$$ but how many Epic passholders are coming over to Ikon to at least have some relief from crowds?
 

cdskier

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I'd love to see Ikon go the "premium product" route to compete with Vail's discount pricing. People are fed up with Vail crowds...Ikon things seem mixed depending on where you go. I'd bet if Ikon raised their prices by $200 they'd retain enough people that they'd make more money than at the current price point. Yes, some would go to Vail to save the $$$ but how many Epic passholders are coming over to Ikon to at least have some relief from crowds?
Personally I'm inclined to agree with you, although tough to say whether that is reality or just my personal bias guiding that feeling. I do know there are certainly a number of people out there that care about the actual experience skiing without mega crowds. The question is whether there are enough of us. $200 more would actually be pretty close to what I paid 5 years ago for a stand-alone Sugarbush pass, so it isn't unreasonable to think that at least a lot of the core regulars at some of the resorts in the Alterra portfolio would be willing to pay that.
 

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I'd love to see Ikon go the "premium product" route to compete with Vail's discount pricing. People are fed up with Vail crowds...Ikon things seem mixed depending on where you go. I'd bet if Ikon raised their prices by $200 they'd retain enough people that they'd make more money than at the current price point. Yes, some would go to Vail to save the $$$ but how many Epic passholders are coming over to Ikon to at least have some relief from crowds?
I'm no marketing genius. But I would think IKON can use a more "tiered" approach, as they started last year, by putting Jackson and Aspen on a "premium". I'm specifically thinking of Alta/Bird which should be on a premium level just like Aspen/Jackson. That would induce people to either buy the full pass, or drive the cheapskates to the other mountains in the area.
 
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