• Welcome to AlpineZone, the largest online community of skiers and snowboarders in the Northeast!

    You may have to REGISTER before you can post. Registering is FREE, gets rid of the majority of advertisements, and lets you participate in giveaways and other AlpineZone events!

Article on "mega pass" being bad for the sport

deadheadskier

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Mar 6, 2005
Messages
25,627
Points
38
Location
Southeast NH
https://www.outsideonline.com/2389964/ski-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.


Sent from my XT1635-01 using AlpineZone mobile app
 

cdskier

Active member
Joined
Mar 26, 2015
Messages
3,767
Points
38
Location
NJ
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.
 

machski

Active member
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
2,104
Points
38
Location
Northwood, NH (Sunday River, ME)
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.

Sent from my Pixel 3 using AlpineZone mobile app
 

Do Work

Member
Joined
Aug 6, 2015
Messages
291
Points
16
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.
 

cdskier

Active member
Joined
Mar 26, 2015
Messages
3,767
Points
38
Location
NJ
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.
 

Domeskier

Active member
Joined
Oct 15, 2012
Messages
2,054
Points
36
Location
New York
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.
 

Do Work

Member
Joined
Aug 6, 2015
Messages
291
Points
16
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.
 

Domeskier

Active member
Joined
Oct 15, 2012
Messages
2,054
Points
36
Location
New York
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.
 

BenedictGomez

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 26, 2011
Messages
10,679
Points
48
Location
PRNJ
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:

BenedictGomez

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 26, 2011
Messages
10,679
Points
48
Location
PRNJ
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.
 

deadheadskier

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Mar 6, 2005
Messages
25,627
Points
38
Location
Southeast NH
The VRBO discussion is in regards to long term rentals coming off the market. I don't think that has anything to do with epic/ikon, but the ease and insurance security available through using VRBO. You can rent out a place for the week at a far higher rate than you can for a season.

Yes having lower fees than working with a local realtor contributes, but in the old days before VRBO, you had much more concern with damage to your property. So, you either gambled on short term rentals or find one responsible tenant for the season who wasn't going to destroy your property. With VRBO, you have piece mind that if you do get unlucky with a bad weekly rental, that organization will take care of everything for you much faster, cheaper and better than realtors ever could ever do in the past.

Sent from my XT1635-01 using AlpineZone mobile app
 

BenedictGomez

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 26, 2011
Messages
10,679
Points
48
Location
PRNJ
The VRBO discussion is in regards to long term rentals coming off the market. I don't think that has anything to do with epic/ikon, but the ease and insurance security available through using VRBO.

It doesn't; that's a bizarre conclusion to draw, and the author doesnt even provide his logic/reasoning behind it.
 

Do Work

Member
Joined
Aug 6, 2015
Messages
291
Points
16
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.



Well thankfully for them it doesn't matter if they take over or fail completely a decade down the road. They're making money hand over fist right now and that's all that matters. Much like Wall Street's current outlook, they couldn't care less about anybody but themselves and as long as #1 is making money all the other details are water under the bridge.
 

KustyTheKlown

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 1, 2013
Messages
2,384
Points
48
Location
Brooklyn
Do work, are you Geoff from magic?

My girlfriend and I ate lunch at the next table while you were being interviewed on sunday.

We were so glad to see the black line tavern packed with people eating and drinking

We are ikon pass holders but we very intentionally make sure to get days in at magic, mad, smuggs, platty. And when we go to those places we buy our food and drink. I refuse to spend an extra nickel at the ikon resorts on that stuff. i'm also going to silverton co in two weeks. so i feel pretty good about mixing in the indies.

Thanks for keeping Magic special

considering a magic sunday pass for next year since i prefer skiing soVT on sundays to shorten the drive home. stratton doesn't cut it. at all. i tend to leave there angry at groomers and gapers.
 
Last edited:

thetrailboss

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Jun 4, 2004
Messages
28,162
Points
48
Location
NEK by Birth; Alta/Snowbird by Choice
You beat me to it, DHS. The article has a lot of truth to it. Folks in Park City saw a lot of these issues coming when Vail first showed up in 2014. The housing situation is really bad. The traffic and lack of parking is a real problem. Park City only ran shuttles from the high school to the mountain, on the taxpayer's dime, for Sundance or the World Cup events at Deer Valley. Now they run it every weekend and holiday. The comparison between money Vail has spent on employee housing versus on-mountain improvements is pretty eye-opening. And, assuming that the article is right that Epic is $939 or so for next year, unrestricted, then I have to say that the price is not "that" great of a deal as it once was. Same with Ikon. I'm not sure if that will curb sales.

The author also did a good job commenting on the issue of beginner skiers and riders, as has been pointed out here. That is a legitimate concern.
 

Rogman

Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2007
Messages
172
Points
16
Location
Cape Cod
Internet has changed many things. VRBO, the ability to instantly price shop, has made realtors far less the gatekeepers to rentals than they use to be. It has nothing to do with passes. And does anybody pay the walk up window rate for a lift ticket? It’s like the manufacturers suggested retail price on an automobile. Many resorts offer lesson deals to bring in new skiers. Cheap passes are about brand loyalty but it only works if the brand is worth being loyal to. For all Vail’s faults they do invest in their resorts.
 

drjeff

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 18, 2006
Messages
17,170
Points
48
Location
Brooklyn, CT
Internet has changed many things. VRBO, the ability to instantly price shop, has made realtors far less the gatekeepers to rentals than they use to be. It has nothing to do with passes. And does anybody pay the walk up window rate for a lift ticket? It’s like the manufacturers suggested retail price on an automobile. Many resorts offer lesson deals to bring in new skiers. Cheap passes are about brand loyalty but it only works if the brand is worth being loyal to. For all Vail’s faults they do invest in their resorts.


Whether this is a good or a bad thing is still TBD.... Having a generation now who is trained to think that basically the only way to purchase something is online vs in person, no matter what they're looking to buy/consume basically is likely going to create many more problems, and maybe close to an equal amount as the convenience about everything online consuming can add as well.
 

njdiver85

Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2015
Messages
134
Points
18
I was probably the poster child a few weeks ago for why resorts charge such high walk-up rates. Planned a last minute trip (like 10 days in advance) out west to ski with friends. Was my only trip out west and don't have IKON or EPIC. Knew we were going to be at PCMR or DV, but didn't have a day by day plan or even how many days at each resort, only than we would figure it out day or two before the actual ski day where we'd go. And even when we did for example purchase tickets online the night before, the "discount" off the walk up rates was only like $5. That plus eating in the lodges was pretty costly. Interestingly, PCMR food prices were now pretty much the same as DV, but portion sizes and quality at DV were much better.
 

abc

Active member
Joined
Mar 2, 2008
Messages
3,879
Points
38
Location
Lower Hudson Valley
I don't think an occasional window ticket is what people are talking about. I've done that too, when the situation warrants it. But I limit the occasion that happens.

It's people who are just starting who will be hit hard, and potentially deterred from progressing.

But from the "ski corporation"s point of view, "a bird in hand is worth 2 in the woods". Hence the low season pass price.
 

slatham

Active member
Joined
Sep 17, 2012
Messages
1,681
Points
38
Location
LI/Bromley
There's a new factor to the equation for next year - "EPIC for Everyone". Advance purchase 1-7 day "pass" valid at all Vail owned resorts, which at its best can get daily rate to $106. Not exactly a bargain, but way lower than walk up or short-term advance purchase.
 
Top