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High Priced Lift Tickets

joshua segal

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As we approach $300 for a day ticket, I remember when ski areas broke the $10 a day ceiling and the skiing magazines were asking the question, "Who would pay such a crazy amount?"

Remember: The mega-areas have a wealthy clientele who routinely tip their instructor $50 or more and will hire an instructor for the day - not to be taught, but to jump the lift-line.

While the average skier of moderate means may see high prices as an outrage, the big ski areas still feature long lift lines clearly showing a balance between supply and demand.

The multi-area season passes are a business-model choice. If the money is in the bank before the start of the season, the corporation insulates itself against a potentially bad season.

We've seen failed business models in the industry before:
- Private club models have generally failed: Windham, Haystack, Round Top (VT), etc.
- ASC, Ascutney, etc. over-extended
- A number of smaller areas failed due to under-capitalization or lack of a reliable water-supply.:
- A number of larger areas failed due to mismanagement: Magic, Ascutney, etc.

The Epic/Icon/Indy model may fail, but I see the greatest frustration from this pricing model coming from people who want to ski these areas, but are neither willing to buy the pass nor pay the price of the day ticket.

Your thoughts?
 

deadheadskier

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People who are too dumb to buy the insanely affordable pass or plan their one ski weekend a year at a more affordable ski area deserve to be fleeced. Low information people deserve the day rates they pay.


Unless I'm misreading you, it would appear you are supportive of the current industry model of cheap season passes and high day ticket prices?

I think the current model sucks for several reasons

Cheap passes have resulted in over crowding of the major areas and there's just no such thing as a premium product anymore for the most part. I'd rather a place like Stowe charge a premium for a pass and generate the same revenue off fewer people.

I think the insanely priced day tickets are bad for introducing new people to the sport and also virtually eliminates the 2-4 day skiers. I can think of a half dozen friends who I used to ski with 2-3 times a year who have all but left the sport.

The high day ticket prices have also seriously limited the ability for people to go places not on their pass. As an example, a good friend is skiing at Stowe this weekend and invited my family to go join his. Not happening at their day ticket prices. I could afford it if I really wanted to go, but it's such a damn rip off I declined.

I think the sweet spot was about ten years ago and that's what Id like to see the industry go back to. Passes were more expensive than today, but less comparatively to 20 years ago. The break even point was like 10 days vs 20 or so around 2000. Contrast to today when the break even is like 5 days. Then you had reasonable day tickets to be had through liftopia, ski clubs or other means.

I think that era did a better job balancing quality, affordability and the ability to pursue a variety of ski experiences.
 

KustyTheKlown

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As an ikon customer I am beyond pleased with my costs, what I can access, and how the places I can access have been run. Skiing at major ski areas shouldn’t be cheap cheap, especially if someone lacked the foresight to prepare and learn.

It’s a shame that vail doesn’t give a fuck about their mountain ops. Not my problem tho.

I’ll agree that I really liked the Max Pass, which is your about 10 years ago era
 

cdskier

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Unless I'm misreading you, it would appear you are supportive of the current industry model of cheap season passes and high day ticket prices?

I think the current model sucks for several reasons

Cheap passes have resulted in over crowding of the major areas and there's just no such thing as a premium product anymore for the most part. I'd rather a place like Stowe charge a premium for a pass and generate the same revenue off fewer people.

I think the insanely priced day tickets are bad for introducing new people to the sport and also virtually eliminates the 2-4 day skiers. I can think of a half dozen friends who I used to ski with 2-3 times a year who have all but left the sport.

The high day ticket prices have also seriously limited the ability for people to go places not on their pass. As an example, a good friend is skiing at Stowe this weekend and invited my family to go join his. Not happening at their day ticket prices. I could afford it if I really wanted to go, but it's such a damn rip off I declined.

I think the sweet spot was about ten years ago and that's what Id like to see the industry go back to. Passes were more expensive than today, but less comparatively to 20 years ago. The break even point was like 10 days vs 20 or so around 2000. Contrast to today when the break even is like 5 days. Then you had reasonable day tickets to be had through liftopia, ski clubs or other means.

I think that era did a better job balancing quality, affordability and the ability to pursue a variety of ski experiences.

I agree with this. I'm an Ikon customer and I'd be 100% fine with instead of a somewhat cheap Ikon pass if they only allowed full access via a more expensive premium pass. Sugarbush can handle crowds well and I don't think it has been "too" crowded...but I still would much prefer less people as the trails and conditions hold up better and the overall experience is therefore better.

And yes, I agree as well that absurd day ticket prices hurt the handful of day a year skier and remove them from the sport. My brother is a great example. I'm not sure if he would ever ski again because day ticket prices are ridiculous for him as someone that doesn't have time to ski enough to justify a pass. I don't think that the "only a few times a year" skier should be penalized and forced to only ski smaller resorts if they want affordable day tickets. Pretty much all the major resorts had affordable day tickets years ago...and I think that was a good thing for certain segments of the skier market.
 

Smellytele

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I am not skiing the bush this year as I don’t have an ikon pass and the quad packs still aren’t cheap. Went to Stowe yesterday as I had bought an epic day pass before thanksgiving for only ~70. Also got one I used at Wildcat for 45. Didn’t take much planning as they were good any day of the year just had to buy them early
 

deadheadskier

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I am not skiing the bush this year as I don’t have an ikon pass and the quad packs still aren’t cheap. Went to Stowe yesterday as I had bought an epic day pass before thanksgiving for only ~70. Also got one I used at Wildcat for 45. Didn’t take much planning as they were good any day of the year just had to buy them early

Joe 2-3 day a year skier doesn't k ow about these products. Indy is dirt cheap for what you get. I bet 90% of the people I talk to at ski areas have never heard of it.

Resorts in general do a horrible job at marketing to people who aren't regulars
 

AdironRider

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Deadhead's argument falls apart when you actually look at the statistics. Average redemption on a season pass is like 4 days. His example of Joe Skier is the literal definition of the average skier, so they haven't lost anyone. He also has young kids and I guarantee his social cohorts do as well. IME when you have young kids families ski less. That is just the nature of the beast. (I know this and am experiencing it myself currently with a 2 year old).

I don't disagree that the Ikon or Epic hasn't consolidated those visits to certain batch of resorts, but even then it is only certain times. Midweek is still wide ass open just like it always has been. You want to ski a Saturday at a major Ikon or Epic resort, yeah you are going to wait in some lines. Or go to an independent.

Frankly, Ikon and Epic are a vastly superior pass product to anything that existed previously, other than maybe the ASC pass 20 years ago. For less money you get way more access, and that also goes against the skiing has gotten more expensive argument.

I would also disagree that not many people have heard of the Indy pass. Almost everybody that knows Ikon or Epic has, but like it or not, the Indy Pass has a terrible blackout structure and ultimately, the independents struggle to have as much or as quality terrain as the Vail or Epic mountains do. I'm ok personally working around that because I put in 50 days a year and am going to ski regardless, but the average skier isn't going to be cool skiing crap conditions on 1-2 trails on their 3-4 days a year during Christmas.

Lift tickets are not cheap anymore because that business model sucked in reality, and was why lots of resorts closed their doors. One bad year and your business disappears or you only have one or two good revenue days. The season pass model hedges against that, and is why you don't see as many closures anymore.
 

MidnightJester

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The Group passes and the Mountain (3 or 4) pack pre purchase lift tickets are the way to go.
While Vail has its issues I had to buy a Epic Pass this season for $650 to make my winter happen cost wise. If I can get 15 days or so riding my number will come down to below $45 a day with a bunch of great mountains in the the mix/usage especially after my Tahoe trip and I hit up Heavenly for (2 days) and NorthStar for (1 day) possibly a 4th one. If I can pull a half dozen or more into Stowe I will be mostly happy already
 

zyk

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I don't disagree with the high day prices at places on mega passes. And no I'm not rich mostly the opposite. These prices open the door for smaller operations to raise prices a bit and still be a good deal, relatively speaking. I like to travel off pass to some smaller places and am willing to pay the walk up rate. Often these places are great for learning and offer a sense of community. I prefer they don't all go under trying to undercut the big players.
 

Kingslug20

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Wonder if smaller places like bolton are doing better as some people simply don't like the epic ikon weekend shit show..
I'm thinking of bolton tomorrow rather than another shitshow day..
 

deadheadskier

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To each their own Adironrider

The 3-4 a day skiers I'm talking about are some years 2 days out, some years 6. They just prefer to pay as they go and don't want to commit. Nothing of good value anymore to do that.

I have a no blackout Indy. Worth the extra $100
 

AdironRider

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The 3-4 a day skiers I'm talking about are some years 2 days out, some years 6. They just prefer to pay as they go and don't want to commit. Nothing of good value anymore to do that.

I have a no blackout Indy. Worth the extra $100

I'd argue they still can with Epic or Ikon, both offer decent variety in any region in the US, certainly enough for the 2-6 day skier. It is just a different time and the market has changed, at least in how you purchase those days.

I have that Indy as well, def worth the extra hundo to get out of the blackout puzzle.
 

darent

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because of where I live I was always a pick and choose skier and skied all over buying day tickets or liftopia,when my wife skied we bought New England passes and skied Sunday River and Sugarloaf. Now because of high Day tickets I don't ski the big areas but stick to the smaller areas and go midweek when what area has good snow.High day ticket prices will keep a lot of people at home or help out the smaller areas, Quit a few local families use to ski at sunday river over school break but are now either not skiing or going to smaller areas, Avid skiers will buy the big value ski passes and make it work.I live in a resort community and we are suffering the same problems as the Big name ski areas, can't get help, no place for employees to live, really high rents and severe overcrowding, It will be interesting to see how that works out in the future
 

urungus

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I'd argue they still can with Epic or Ikon, both offer decent variety in any region in the US, certainly enough for the 2-6 day skier. It is just a different time and the market has changed, at least in how you purchase those days.

I have that Indy as well, def worth the extra hundo to get out of the blackout puzzle.
The problem is that the 2-6 day skier does not have the mindset that they should be getting a season pass, since they ski so infrequently. Instead I fear they see the $200 walk up rate and abandon the sport.
 

180

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The big problem I see with the mega pass is that is attracts "new" folks to my mountains every weekend. The core season pass holders get lost and our mountain gets loaded with newbies.
 

drjeff

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The big problem I see with the mega pass is that is attracts "new" folks to my mountains every weekend. The core season pass holders get lost and our mountain gets loaded with newbies.
On the flip side, is having new folks actively involved in participating in the industry a "bad" thing vs just being selfish over "what it used to be?"


I look at it this way, if the ski industry now is getting busier? Is it really a "bad" thing for me if it means that it's probably a "good" thing for my yet to be born (and likely for many years 🤞🤞) grandkids and their future ski careers?
 

AdironRider

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You guys do realize skier visit data says otherwise correct? The sport is not dead ala golf and this mass exodus of skiers doesnt exist.
 
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