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The "Sugarbush Thread"

WinS

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Win -

Have you ever seen the industry, particularly New England, discuss how many skiers learn at feeder hills vs larger resorts?

With respect to the dismal retention rate you mentioned, I see a lot of casual experimenters giving it a try at the resort, like you might try tubing, a zip line, or get a ride on a horse drawn sleigh. It's one activity of many on a Vermont weekend for someone who has no long term interest, doesn't like the cold, is not involved in any other outdoor activity whatsoever, any part of the year. The likelihood of retention on that person is very low right out of the gate. For those people a ski lesson is a day's diversion, nothing more. And how does the industry measure retention if they spend their first lesson with you and their second and third closer to home in NJ? I bet the real number is higher than what you measure.

I wonder what the retention rate is on kids that were introduced to skiing by their parents. Or High School kids that take more than one bus trip to a resort. Or with kids that go to a feeder hill after school once a week for 6 weeks?


I have not, but I am confident that the smaller feeder hills are incredibly important for all of us and many of them are doing well. In our back yard Cochran’s and Bolton are great examples. Wachusett in MA is another good example that has a great school program. If they are smart and well run smaller areas can afford to make the necessary investments to remain sustainable. I am very positive about the new indoor ski areain the NJ Meadow lands. They expect 650,000 visits with 2/3rds first timers. One thing the industry is focused on and unified on is growing and maintaining first timers.

On thing the Cheddar prodcast did not include was the fact that we Baby Boomers are aging, but we are skiing more and have a “Peter Pan” complex so we are not going away as fast as some thought.

Ps: Thanks for the nice Killington Zone comments.
 

Orca

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The window rate is very misleading and most people do not purchase this way any more. They are purchasing passes, products like our Quad Pack or purchasing ahead on time online at a much lower rate.

But some do pay the window rate! And it's a pretty tough one at that. Pre-purchasing online or via Quad pack isn't necessarily a better deal. The ski area is not in the business of arbitrarily rewarding the virtue of those that plan ahead. They know pre-purchasing shifts the risk of the product going sour to the purchaser. The ski area realizes that selling at a discount works because some of those tickets are never used, or are used on ski days that would otherwise be "unattractive". Nothing comes for free and discounts aren't arbitrary. Win, you know this. Consumers who have eaten Quad Pack tickets (like me) know this too.
 

mikec142

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I’ll happily take a quad pack off someone’s hands. Already burned thru most of mine.
 

Orca

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How is it that at 6a today Mad River is claiming 14-16 inches in the last 48 hours, but Sugarbush is claiming only 4-5 in the same 48 hours?

Edit: Never mind. I think this morning's Sugarbush snow report is ahead of its snow total table. They appear not to have been updated at the same time.

At least it is good news!!!!! :)
 
Last edited:

WinS

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How is it that at 6a today Mad River is claiming 14-16 inches in the last 48 hours, but Sugarbush is claiming only 4-5 in the same 48 hours?

Not sure where you saw that. Skivermont.com had them at 4”. The only mountain showing a big difference from us was Stowe at 11”.
 

WinS

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But some do pay the window rate! And it's a pretty tough one at that. Pre-purchasing online or via Quad pack isn't necessarily a better deal. The ski area is not in the business of arbitrarily rewarding the virtue of those that plan ahead. They know pre-purchasing shifts the risk of the product going sour to the purchaser. The ski area realizes that selling at a discount works because some of those tickets are never used, or are used on ski days that would otherwise be "unattractive". Nothing comes for free and discounts aren't arbitrary. Win, you know this. Consumers who have eaten Quad Pack tickets (like me) know this too.

Orcsa, you are correct that some do not get to use all four but it isn’t a large percentage and we prefer to have them fully utilized. As you know, they are about a 50% discount, have no blackouts and are fully transferable, so I do think they are a very good deal for both of us.
 

Hawk

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This whole argument about the price of walk up day tickets is getting old. I really do not care at all. I have been buying a season pass for the better part of 33 years and have never had my daily cost go over $25 a day. If you are not savvy enough to find a deal that suits you then tough. Personally I hope skier visits go down so the crowds will go away. But what irks me the most is people think is it some kind of right or responsibility of the business owners to provide an inexpensive ticket to people. it is not and guess what, skiing is a very expensive operation for these people. I have zero issues with the pricing structure right now. It is is actually cheaper for me to ski right now then in the past. Well except for when I did college passes.
 

Los

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Not sure where you saw that. Skivermont.com had them at 4”. The only mountain showing a big difference from us was Stowe at 11”.

Win - MRG is indeed reporting 14-16 inches in the last 48 hours. From their 1/17/20 snow report:

Capture.PNG
 

mrvpilgrim

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I believe that I have brought this up before but Sugarbush has a $25 pass good for the magic carpet and village chair that is always available. There is no need for first timers to be buying full mountain tickets
 

Greg

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This whole argument about the price of walk up day tickets is getting old. I really do not care at all. I have been buying a season pass for the better part of 33 years and have never had my daily cost go over $25 a day. If you are not savvy enough to find a deal that suits you then tough. Personally I hope skier visits go down so the crowds will go away. But what irks me the most is people think is it some kind of right or responsibility of the business owners to provide an inexpensive ticket to people. it is not and guess what, skiing is a very expensive operation for these people. I have zero issues with the pricing structure right now. It is is actually cheaper for me to ski right now then in the past. Well except for when I did college passes.

Well said. I won't get down to $25 a day anytime soon, but I generally find value in what I pay per day for skiing, especially at a place like Sugarbush where, to me, the terrain is unmatched.
 

cdskier

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But what irks me the most is people think is it some kind of right or responsibility of the business owners to provide an inexpensive ticket to people. it is not and guess what, skiing is a very expensive operation for these people.

Yea...it also pisses me off when people think SB day ticket prices should be substantially lower than their neighbors for some reason. The "I'm not going to SB and going to go elsewhere due to high ticket prices at SB" argument doesn't hold water with me. Where are they going instead? K is nearly the same price. Stowe we know is higher. Sure they can go to Bolton and pay less, but it is also a much smaller resort. People that expect to pay Bolton prices at a major resort like SB are just living in fantasy land.
 

Greg

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Yea...it also pisses me off when people think SB day ticket prices should be substantially lower than their neighbors for some reason. The "I'm not going to SB and going to go elsewhere due to high ticket prices at SB" argument doesn't hold water with me. Where are they going instead? K is nearly the same price. Stowe we know is higher. Sure they can go to Bolton and pay less, but it is also a much smaller resort. People that expect to pay Bolton prices at a major resort like SB are just living in fantasy land.

I went to Stowe for the first time last season and paid $250 for an advanced online two-day ticket. The whole time I was there, I thought to myself how much of a better value Sugarbush is. Better terrain than both Stowe and Killington in my opinion.
 

CastlerockMRV

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Don't forget the For20s and For30s passes. We bought our son the For20s for $329 and he got 11 days out of it over Christmas.

Amen to this. I started skiing SB exclusively after graduating college thanks to the For20's pass. Did many a 4:30am hungover Saturday wake up for day-trips from Boston when we were too broke to afford lodging. I don't think I would be a ~30 day per year skier if not not for that pass. It was the conduit to me falling in love w/ the Valley as a whole -- now coming up in the off-season to MTB and fly fish, and also patronizing the local businesses, restaurants, and breweries every weekend I'm up. I even met my fiance on the Summit Chair at Ellen 5 years ago. We've both skied SB every year since graduating college thanks to that pass; even during a 2 year stretch when living in TX b/c it was possible to come up and get good days in over the Xmas-New Year stretch. Now we're about to age out of For20's but are looking to buy a condo in the next year or 2 (once I make back those wedding bills lol). I'd go as far as saying that the affordable pass options have had an outsized impact on the economy of the Valley as a whole because I am sure there are many others in my shoes who have become repeat visitors, purchased real estate and become tax payers, etc.

I sincerely hope For20's and For30's stick around w/ Alterra.
 

cdskier

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Amen to this. I started skiing SB exclusively after graduating college thanks to the For20's pass. Did many a 4:30am hungover Saturday wake up for day-trips from Boston when we were too broke to afford lodging. I don't think I would be a ~30 day per year skier if not not for that pass. It was the conduit to me falling in love w/ the Valley as a whole -- now coming up in the off-season to MTB and fly fish, and also patronizing the local businesses, restaurants, and breweries every weekend I'm up. I even met my fiance on the Summit Chair at Ellen 5 years ago. We've both skied SB every year since graduating college thanks to that pass; even during a 2 year stretch when living in TX b/c it was possible to come up and get good days in over the Xmas-New Year stretch. Now we're about to age out of For20's but are looking to buy a condo in the next year or 2 (once I make back those wedding bills lol). I'd go as far as saying that the affordable pass options have had an outsized impact on the economy of the Valley as a whole because I am sure there are many others in my shoes who have become repeat visitors, purchased real estate and become tax payers, etc.

I sincerely hope For20's and For30's stick around w/ Alterra.

Similar situation here. I'm a bit older (getting close to aging out of the For 30s pass!), but the For 20s pass the first year it was offered was what drove me to decide to buy a condo in the valley (I already loved SB and the valley at that point, but an extremely affordable pass is what gave me the push to say "hey, maybe I should buy something up here and make it my home mountain" . I went from a 3 or 4 day a year SB skier prior to that For 20s pass coming out to a 40+ day a year skier now that spends a considerable amount of time (and money) in the valley.
 

Orca

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Look, I have a season pass and have for many years. I haven't bought a window price day ticket at Sugarbush in at least a decade. The whole window rate discussion is related to its relative expense as related to other ways of acquiring a day's (or a season's) access to the mountain. It is not helpful for pass holders to wave around that they are only paying $10 a day because they ski so much, etc. It comes across as a little smug and self-serving; it is a bit like saying "hey, I've got mine, so I don't give a crap about the casual skier". Well, $10 or $25 as an average source of revenue all the skier days would put SB out of business fast, so you are getting a subsidy if your costs are that low. So have some tolerance for those that might not like the idea of anyone paying $129 for a day.

I get it too that SB is aligned with the greater industry in charging much increased window rates. I am not asking for SB to atone for the industry trend. I just lament that the trend is a little ugly for the casual skier.
 

mister moose

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Well, $10 or $25 as an average source of revenue all the skier days would put SB out of business fast, so you are getting a subsidy if your costs are that low. So have some tolerance for those that might not like the idea of anyone paying $129 for a day.

I get it too that SB is aligned with the greater industry in charging much increased window rates. I am not asking for SB to atone for the industry trend. I just lament that the trend is a little ugly for the casual skier.

Maybe not so much. Using some rough numbers, if Sugarbush gets 400k skier visits, and the ratio to unique skiers is about 7:1, then there are 57,000 unique skiers at Sugarbush. If all those 57,000 skiers bought a $900 pass, and zero day tickets were sold, that's 51 million in pass revenue. Somehow I think Sugarbush could run on that. So each passholder's contribution is a reasonable percentage of seasonal revenue on a per skier basis, even though the cost per day might be lower for a high volume user.

The industry is rewarding a lack of spontaneity in how they sell tickets. They want advance commitment, and an earlier revenue stream. Until that changes, window prices are going to be rough.
 

Orca

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Maybe not so much. Using some rough numbers, if Sugarbush gets 400k skier visits, and the ratio to unique skiers is about 7:1, then there are 57,000 unique skiers at Sugarbush. If all those 57,000 skiers bought a $900 pass, and zero day tickets were sold, that's 51 million in pass revenue.

Sure, if each pass holder skied only 7 days (400k / 57k). If each skied 21 days, lift lines would triple. You want that?
 
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