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Superpasses: more crowds?

FBGM

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Mega passes are good for skiing. It makes it cheaper for all.

Few years ago - everybody panicking “skiing is loosing visitors, we need to get more people”

Today - “mega passes suck. To many people. Get off my lawn”
 

abc

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Here's my experience at Stowe- Stowe has always been very busy on holidays/weekend powder days. Like everywhere else it's ski on-off M-F. What has been noticeable to me since Epic is early and late season weekend crowds. Primarily late season, but it applies to early season (defining this as pre-Christmas).
It's not just Stowe. I was at Squaw Valley last spring. I couldn't believe how far I had to walk from my car to the base! The lot was like 75% full in late April. I've skied Squaw in spring quite a few years, it wasn't nearly half as busy back then.

I think a big part of this is that you can find really decent deals in the many Stowe hotels/inns + Airbnb in early and late season. Since ski cost is already covered, you can squeeze a relatively cheap weekend in coming from NY/Boston, etc. This is most notable in the Spring though. The Mansfield lot is now typically full right to the end of the season on weekends. I think Epic has definitely increased the number of crowded weekends. As far as holiday crowds & lift lines I avoid holidays like the plague. That's XC ski time for me.
I resemble that remark!

(and the part about taking advantage of cheap'ish lodging in spring)
 

BenedictGomez

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While nationally the reported annual skier/rider visits data hasn't fluctuated too much year to year over that time frame, with the fluctuations attributable more to whether it was a "good" or "bad" snow year in various regions of the country that year, I think what it going on is with the multi resort mega passes, you are seeing more and more people who used to spread their days around across a host of resorts, now primarily taking advantage of the resorts solely on their passes for the majority of the season's days on the hill, thus keeping the total annual skiers visits relatively level and at the same time making some resorts that are part of the "mega passes" more crowded.

BINGO

This is exactly how I see it, and I cannot come to any other logical conclusion by crunching the data. C'est simple.
 

VTKilarney

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If you support second-tier ski areas, then crowding at the mega-pass resorts is a good thing.

If the second-tier hills can't compete on season pass price, they can at least compete on crowd level.
 

abc

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This is exactly how I see it, and I cannot come to any other logical conclusion by crunching the data. C'est simple.
We all "see" it! The the CEO of mountains in the Ikon/Epic pass kept telling us it's not! "It's ONLY because we had a bumper snow year".

The "numbers": if it's ONLY due to the bumper snow year, skier visit number should rise ACROSS THE BOARD, including mountains NOT affiliated with EPIC/IKON. And the increase "number" should be similar whether it's IKON/EPIC or independent mountains, even feeder hills. But if Jackson and Aspen and Big Sky and Solitude (the list goes on) have bigger percentage increase than non-multi-pass mountains, say Loveland, Mt Rose, Whitefish, we know what the "extra increase" are due to!

Loveland and A-basin are nearly mirror images of each other apart from their pass affiliation (or lack of in the case of Loveland). Jackson vs. Targhee, Big Sky vs Bridger to a slightly lessor degree. All of those pairs have sizable LOCAL skier contingent, whom the CEO of their respected "suddenly crowded" mountains claimed to be the real cause of the crowding!

The comparison of percentage increase in skier visit of each pair of mountains would be very telling (if anyone can get their hands on those numbers)
 

mister moose

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Let's look at some data.

Nat'l visits.jpg

These are the last ten year's national skier visit's. I'm not sure you can infer anything, as visits have been bobbling 50 - 60,000 nationally for a long time. Weather, the economy, and ticket prices all figure into the mix. Back in the 70's it was 45-50,000.

I would think more passes = marginally more skier days, but it will take several years to flush that out of the background noise.

This is a 16% fluctuation over the period.
 

slatham

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My anecdotal take from the Mount Snow perspective over the last dozen plus years where it's gone from an ASC property to a "restricted" Peak property (with limited days for Peak pass product holders unless you bought the top of the line pass) to an "unrestricted" Peak property (most any Peak pass product vaild the majority of the days each season) to now an EPIC property

Without a doubt, the crowds are noticeably larger, most any day of the season, than they were in the ASC and "restricted" Peak days era. While I don't have any hard data, as someone who has skied Mount Snow the majority of the weekends they're open for the season for close to the last 15 years now, currently, and for the last season or 2 when Peak removed the limited days a season for Mount Snow for most of their pass products, crowd wise it certainly feels like what used to be a "Holiday Week/Weekend crowd" is now a typical weekend crowd (especially if the weather is remotely decent), and a Holiday Week/Weekend crowd sure feels like its 10-15% above what used to be a BIG crowd. That's just me going by how long the lift lines are, how crowded the base lodges are, how crowded the parking lots are, etc.

Thus far this season, with EPIC now part of of the equation, I have seen some early season weekend days where there were cars in parts of the parking lots that typically don't get used until either the $12 ticket Founder's Day (next Friday the 13th this year) and/or Christmas week crowds, as well as I have already had more rides up the Bluebird this season where it was obvious it was someone who was on the chair with me, first ride on the Bluebird just based on them thinking that they had to lift the bubble up at the top to unload verses letting the chair lift the bubble for you as it does, than I typically have encountered in an entire season the last few years.

While nationally the reported annual skier/rider visits data hasn't fluctuated too much year to year over that time frame, with the fluctuations attributable more to whether it was a "good" or "bad" snow year in various regions of the country that year, I think what it going on is with the multi resort mega passes, you are seeing more and more people who used to spread their days around across a host of resorts, now primarily taking advantage of the resorts solely on their passes for the majority of the season's days on the hill, thus keeping the total annual skiers visits relatively level and at the same time making some resorts that are part of the "mega passes" more crowded.

It will be interesting to see how things are in a few years if the NSAA can accomplish it's goal of adding roughly 5 million annual skier/rider days across the country by 2025 and help grow the sport, as well as how the mega pass situation continues to play out...

Really interested to get your analysis of the pre/post EPIC crowd situation, once we've had a few weeks of the season to compare.
 

FBGM

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Unless Mega passes eventually have a material deleterious effect on skier recruitment, which is exactly my hypothesis, and that is because.........



nothing could be further from the truth.

How is it more expensive? Passes are now dirt cheap, and you can ski more mountains then ever for less then the price of 1 a few years ago. So That means cheaper.

Pick Stowe for example. Few years back that place was charging like $2k a season pass. Vail buys it. Now Epic one is like $750 and you can ski all the other epic hills within a few hours drive or few hours flight for the same price. It’s cheap!

Now if you’re a dumbass sucker laying window ticket prices. Yeah it’s expensive. But if you’re that dumb you deserve the price. Same goes for food.

Lodging is cheaper these days then ever with air B and B. Do you know what that is boomer or should we google it together? That’s www.google.com - but you don’t need the www or .com these days, fyi
 

Smellytele

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It costs more to start skiing. Most new skiers don’t ski enough per year to even make the 750 worth it. New skiers the first few years ski 3 or 4 times a year. Yes the learn to ski first year can be a deal but after that not so much.


Sent from my iPhone using AlpineZone
 

cdskier

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I would think more passes = marginally more skier days, but it will take several years to flush that out of the background noise.

Exactly. We simply need more years of data to get an accurate understanding of the impact. Or as abc points out, we need to be able to do a deep dive on comparison between individual resorts. That would be interesting to see.
 

Glenn

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Interesting thread! I was just thinking the same thing the other day. I'm curious to see how this plays out at Stratton this season vs. other seasons. I'll also be interested in hearing about crowds at Mt. Snow. Being the two most Southern mountains in VT, the propensity is there for more volume.

And yes, the other side of the coin....it brings more skiers to the hill which could help the sport overall.

And good to see you back Greg! Love the fact that it's been awhile, but you're still killin' it with the post count. :lol:
 

VTKilarney

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Something tells me that this has a lot more to do with the Disney World model than anything else. Disney makes it extremely cheap to add days to a pass after the first four days. This provides a strong financial incentive against splitting your vacation time with Universal Studios. The theory is that, if the customer would have gone somewhere else, you are better off having people pay very little to remain on your property because they are going to spend money on food and souvenirs. In other words, some money is better than no money.

Therefore, it is likely that the mega-pass resorts are seeing increased skier visits. Vail isn't stupid, after all.

It's no secret that the biggest losers in this type of battle are the other resorts. As I have said earlier, I would not want to be Magic, Bromley, Bolton, Smuggs, or Burke right now. Those resorts are going to have to offer a sub-$500 season pass if they want more than condo owners and locals buying them. The silver lining is that they won't have to substantially reduce day ticket prices since the mega-pass resorts charge insanely high day rates.

I have a feeling that you will start to see a lot of deferred maintenance and scrubbed improvement plans at the non-mega pass resorts. That will not make their long term survival any easier.

It is very possible that we are experiencing a heyday of skiing in the northeast prior to a renewed wave of ski area contractions.
 
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BenedictGomez

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How is it more expensive?......Now if you’re a dumbass sucker laying window ticket prices. Yeah it’s expensive.

Because you are only considering people who ski numerous days per season.

It's also apparent from your post that you have absolutely no idea how few days the average North American skier gets on snow each season, which is only approximately 5.

Additionally, you're also not considering "new" skiers as part of the market at all, or perhaps more likely you aren't intelligent enough to realize that that's what "recruitment" means. I'll try not to use so many multi-syllabic words if replying to your posts in the future.


It costs more to start skiing. Most new skiers don’t ski enough per year to even make the 750 worth it.

Yup. And this is a big concern some of us have in the long-term.
 

BenedictGomez

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And yes, the other side of the coin....it brings more skiers to the hill which could help the sport overall.

A better way to phrase this, is that it brings the same skiers to the hill more often.
 

kingslug

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The Epic pass has opened up more possibilities for us. Hunter, Mt Snow Okemo Stowe...it will be cheaper overall to go to all these places now, even though we will probably be at Stowe more..but we can leave Stowe and hit Mt Snow or Okemo on Sunday ..or hit Hunter for a quick day trip. I used to get 25 days in ..now get 40.
 

GregoryIsaacs

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Looking at the webcams it already looks like a normal mid-winter weekend day at Mount Snow. Do these EPIC people even work?
 

Domeskier

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Are epic passes as big an existential threat to skiing as climate changes? Which pass will be the first to include skiing on Mars? Can you even get to Mars before the season ends? What's the best wax to use on red snow? When are the US and Norway closing the sale of Greenland? Did a computer really prove the four color theorem? Was it Watson?
 
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