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Changes are coming to Liftopia

VTKilarney

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It takes a while to get there in these series of articles, but the punch line is that changes are coming to Liftopia.
Here are the articles, in order:
http://www.slopefillers.com/yield-management-and-skiing-1/
http://www.slopefillers.com/yield-management-and-skiing-2/
http://www.slopefillers.com/yield-management-and-skiing-3/

The short version is that Liftopia is going to introduce pricing tiers based on how much flexibility you want with your ticket. The traditional Liftopia model is that you get no refunds and no changes in dates. There will now be higher priced tickets that allow for changes to be made to the ticket. The more flexible the ticket, the higher the price.

I suppose the theory is that Liftopia was losing customers who did not want to gamble on the weather or their ability to get to the ski area on a set date.
 

dlague

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It takes a while to get there in these series of articles, but the punch line is that changes are coming to Liftopia.
Here are the articles, in order:
http://www.slopefillers.com/yield-management-and-skiing-1/
http://www.slopefillers.com/yield-management-and-skiing-2/
http://www.slopefillers.com/yield-management-and-skiing-3/

The short version is that Liftopia is going to introduce pricing tiers based on how much flexibility you want with your ticket. The traditional Liftopia model is that you get no refunds and no changes in dates. There will now be higher priced tickets that allow for changes to be made to the ticket. The more flexible the ticket, the higher the price.

I suppose the theory is that Liftopia was losing customers who did not want to gamble on the weather or their ability to get to the ski area on a set date.

A few snippets -

In regards to 2 for 1's
But in each case there was little to prevent cannibalization. Two friends that were already planning to ski could now do so at half price. duh! Certianly, not going with a stranger! It often entices people to go too that otherwise would think it is too expensive!

Risks (associated with buying a lift ticket for a specific day) one reason for missing skiing was - Alternatives (may get invitation to White House) - I would go even if I was not skiing!

This leads me to another thought - I do not think liftopia has done little to increase skier visits - it has shifted them around (maybe). Liftopia has actually enabled those who normally ski somewhere to get a discount!

For example:

We planned on skiing at Bretton Woods with a bunch of friends but we were faced with paying full price (which I never do). So, we looked it up on Liftopia and rather than paying $82 Liftopia was offering the Resort Guest price of $67. On top of that we had about ten Liftopia gift cards for $10 (could only use one at a time and once per year) each which now made out lift tickets only $57 - not the best but better than $82. Since we used two of the gift cards we told our friends about the deal on liftopia and handed out the gift cards. In this example - the people all planned on skiing at Bretton Woods not matter what. They were all planning on paying full price - effectively Liftopia did not shift skiers rather Bretton Woods lost $250 - if not more.

I also feel Liftopia is well known by skiers and not so well by non skiers coming into the sport.

The series was good in any case and it does seem like a smart approach. I have ideas that I have not seen Liftopia or any others attemp but I am looking to prototype it - a call to web developers!
 

VTKilarney

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One problem Liftopia presents for ski areas is that it has made "deals" a cheap commodity. Prior to Liftopia, ski areas could target their discounts much more directly. Offers could be distributed only to a particular region, or only to a particular demographic. In other words, you could focus the discounts on the segment of the market that actually required an incentive to come to your ski area.

But Liftopia deals are out there for anyone and everyone to take advantage of. And with very little effort I can see if it's cheaper to ski Okemo than Stratton and pick accordingly.

My gut feeling is that Liftopia hasn't increased by much the OVERALL amount of money spent on lift tickets by its customers, and often decreases the overall amount spent. Most people have a limit as to how much they are willing to spend on lift tickets each winter. Let's say my budget is $800. Instead of of skiing 10 days at $80, thanks to Liftopia I can now ski 20 days at $40. Also, Liftopia does not reward loyalty to any particular mountain. If anything it works against loyalty.

The problem for ski areas is that NOT joining Liftopia is probably worse than joining it.

I'm certainly not complaining because this is all a great thing for consumers, but I doubt it's been as good for the industry as they would have liked.

How do the ski areas fight back? They take a page from the airlines. Sabre (pre-Travelocity) opened up comparison airfare shopping to the average consumer. In order to maintain market share, the airlines ramped up frequent flier programs. So once you have me as a customer, I'm going to feel some pain if I take my business elsewhere. Ski areas should do the same.
 
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dlague

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Kind of similar to my point! I fact you can wait until the last minute sort of speak as long as you purchase before midnight of the day you want to ski so risks are low for the consumer and not as high as the article states and not a huge commitment.


.......
 

ScottySkis

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Kind of similar to my point! I fact you can wait until the last minute sort of speak as long as you purchase before midnight of the day you want to ski so risks are low for the consumer and not as high as the article states and not a huge commitment.


.......
But when you wait i know at Platty the price goes up by 10to20%if i wait to day before to buy compared to week before. I lost out with rain once or twice on vacation with liftopia but over the years i have as above stated saved morey so i could ski more.
 

VTKilarney

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I've also noticed that the best deals are typically only available several days in advance.
 

deadheadskier

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Let's say my budget is $800. Instead of of skiing 10 days at $80, thanks to Liftopia I can now ski 20 days at $40.

The latter is much better for the resorts.

Conservatively, I probably spend on average $20 per day on F&B and other items (sun block, neck warmers, ski area schwag) each day I go to the mountain. There are plenty of days I just ski and don't spend a dime, but there are others where I might enjoy a sit down lunch or extended apres ski visit at the bar and drop $50. So, if you get me to the hill 20 times, you're getting $400 more of my money. If I show up 10 times, you're only getting $200.
 

jimk

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Did they issue details on the switchable liftopia tickets? How late can you switch dates, for example, it's 5am on Jan 20th. I just woke up and it's raining. Today is my ticket date, can I switch it to tomorrow?
 

dlague

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But when you wait i know at Platty the price goes up by 10to20%if i wait to day before to buy compared to week before. I lost out with rain once or twice on vacation with liftopia but over the years i have as above stated saved morey so i could ski more.

But you are probably saving money on a resort that you normally go to. Granted since it was cheaper you might be ok with spending more on F&B. Question is are skiing more days or going to other resorts?


.......
 

mbedle

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With that said, what do you believe drives increases in ski visits besides weather? Normally the first thing that comes out of someone's mouth when talking about skiing is how expensive it is. Why would ski areas team up with liftopia if it didn't increase ski visits? I guess the good thing for ski areas, is if they can get people on the slops and at the resorts, they will make more money off of them. Like DH was implying, the money is in everything but the lift tickets at major resorts (food, beverage, retail, accommodations, lessons, rentals, etc.).


A few snippets -

In regards to 2 for 1's
But in each case there was little to prevent cannibalization. Two friends that were already planning to ski could now do so at half price. duh! Certianly, not going with a stranger! It often entices people to go too that otherwise would think it is too expensive!

Risks (associated with buying a lift ticket for a specific day) one reason for missing skiing was - Alternatives (may get invitation to White House) - I would go even if I was not skiing!

This leads me to another thought - I do not think liftopia has done little to increase skier visits - it has shifted them around (maybe). Liftopia has actually enabled those who normally ski somewhere to get a discount!

For example:

We planned on skiing at Bretton Woods with a bunch of friends but we were faced with paying full price (which I never do). So, we looked it up on Liftopia and rather than paying $82 Liftopia was offering the Resort Guest price of $67. On top of that we had about ten Liftopia gift cards for $10 (could only use one at a time and once per year) each which now made out lift tickets only $57 - not the best but better than $82. Since we used two of the gift cards we told our friends about the deal on liftopia and handed out the gift cards. In this example - the people all planned on skiing at Bretton Woods not matter what. They were all planning on paying full price - effectively Liftopia did not shift skiers rather Bretton Woods lost $250 - if not more.

I also feel Liftopia is well known by skiers and not so well by non skiers coming into the sport.

The series was good in any case and it does seem like a smart approach. I have ideas that I have not seen Liftopia or any others attemp but I am looking to prototype it - a call to web developers!
 

dlague

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With that said, what do you believe drives increases in ski visits besides weather? Normally the first thing that comes out of someone's mouth when talking about skiing is how expensive it is. Why would ski areas team up with liftopia if it didn't increase ski visits? I guess the good thing for ski areas, is if they can get people on the slops and at the resorts, they will make more money off of them. Like DH was implying, the money is in everything but the lift tickets at major resorts (food, beverage, retail, accommodations, lessons, rentals, etc.).

With that thinking - resorts should charge less from the get go then more people would come and increase sales on F & B and make more money!


.......
 

dlague

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Plus not playing with liftopia is potential lost ski visits since they would ski elsewhere!


.......
 

VTKilarney

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Bingo. They really don't have a choice at this point.

I agree with the argument about selling food, etc - and was going to mention it earlier but my post was long enough as it was.

I suppose an argument could be made that Liftopia makes the marketing of tickets much more efficient for ski areas. It's likely cheaper than other options, and there is little effort required. If you take what the average skier was paying, factoring all of the various promotions, why not just put that average price up on Liftopia?

I am sure that Liftopia was marketed as being like an airline pricing system. (e.g.: sell low to the cheapskates and sell high to the people on expense accounts) But since skiing is a leisure activity, and you don't have "business skiers", I'm not convinced that this works nearly as well as the airline's model. It's just too darned easy now for people who would have paid full price to NOT pay full price.
 
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jimk

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Did they issue details on the switchable liftopia tickets? How late can you switch dates, for example, it's 5am on Jan 20th. I just woke up and it's raining. Today is my ticket date, can I switch it to tomorrow?

By the way, the answer is two days out, but that may be subject to change after launch depending on user data and behavior.
 

AdironRider

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You guys make accountants look riveting. You wont ski unless you are getting off retail. Thats cool but 5 bucks is more important to you than skiing.

Liftopia is great, but Id rather ski where and when I please and not chase deals. Really sucks the fun out of things when you nickel and dime it.
 

ScottySkis

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But you are probably saving money on a resort that you normally go to. Granted since it was cheaper you might be ok with spending more on F&B. Question is are skiing more days or going to other resorts?


.......

Yes last year I ate more at Platty Fand B for sure because of savings on liftopia. I skiied my but off last years, but I had gotten a raise that allowed me ski a lot more last winter. This year I plan on getting a season pass at local hill before winter starts but will still use liftopia for VT or out west ( assuming I have a new job before ski season).
 

dlague

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You guys make accountants look riveting. You wont ski unless you are getting off retail. Thats cool but 5 bucks is more important to you than skiing.

Liftopia is great, but Id rather ski where and when I please and not chase deals. Really sucks the fun out of things when you nickel and dime it.

Not really! We generally have several options and we do not target a resort and think that we HAVE to go there. We skied 21 ski ares last year and never thought it was not fun! Not only that but I won't go some where if I am only saving 5 bucks, rather we ski for half price or less.

The last three years we have skied for $23 (2011-2012), $8 (2012-2013 my son had a 5th grade passport for VT & NH) and $21 (2013-2014) per skier visit and included ski areas like Killington, Stowe, Sugarbush, Jay Peak, Saddleback, Sunday River for example.

It is easy and we generally only use liftopia like one or twice per season. Generally not a significant deal tool.


Sent from my iPad using AlpineZone
 
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Evmo

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Wow - this is a great discussion!

One of the best parts of this discussion is that pretty much everyone is asking the right questions as to whether this (and what we do at Liftopia in general) is good for the ski resorts. Building value on both sides is fundamental to scaling a business that serves an industry as we do.

We are always working to help resorts offer more value to consumers in a way that is still beneficial for their businesses. Frankly we only deserve to exist as a company if we deliver on that aspiration, which is why everything we build ties into our mission statement (Liftopia helps people spend more time doing the things they love by helping our partners run their businesses more effectively). This new option for consumers and everything we build is checked against that statement and we use data to inform whether or not we are delivering on that aspiration.

Thanks to any of you who are customers, and I hope we can continue to work to find ways of helping you spend more time on the snow that also benefit the industry that we are very fortunate to get to work for.
 

WWF-VT

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I have never used Liftopia to shop and compare lift ticket prices across multiple mountains for a given time I plan to ski. I have only purchased via Liftopia to get a deal for tickets a few days in advance of when I plan to ski at a specific mountain.
 

bobbutts

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You guys make accountants look riveting. You wont ski unless you are getting off retail. Thats cool but 5 bucks is more important to you than skiing.

Liftopia is great, but Id rather ski where and when I please and not chase deals. Really sucks the fun out of things when you nickel and dime it.

Aren't you out in JH? So what are you going to do, comparison shop between Snow King and JH? You get what you get out there, captive audience. At least for me, there are some pretty damn similar hills that I'd be equally happy to go to (Gunstock, Sunapee, Ragged for example). In that case, a less expensive ticket via Liftopia isn't really giving anything up at all.
Also FYI your conceited attitude sucks. I know you are trying to look superior, but the effect is actually the opposite.
 
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