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Ticket Rates 11-12, New England

riverc0il

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That logic doesn't always work. Let's try again: if people can afford 30 year fixed rate mortgage at 5 1/2%, why did they end up with a variable rate at 5% only to see it gone up to 7%? The answer is: the industry pushed for it!
Yea, the industry pushed for it because it was profitable to them. And variable rates can work for some consumers when low rates get fixed for a short period of time. Not many consumers but it does work for some. Snowmaking and grooming are two expenses that ski areas can't live without (with few exceptions as previously cited and those exceptions ONLY exist because of strong community support and often times coop structure). Your comparison does not hold water. Snowmaking and grooming are expected. Hell, even I expect them.

Regarding your not skiing in November: I am glad the ski industry doesn't base their decisions on you alone. That isn't a strong position from which to argue, that they shouldn't do something because it doesn't benefit you personally.

AGAIN, if you want to debate the merits of grooming or not grooming specific trails... that is fine. That is not what my original comments about snowmaking and grooming were in the context of. I'd love to see more terrain left ungroomed. I think we are seeing many ski areas respond to that market. We've clearly seen massive expansions of gladed terrain from almost all ski areas. Many have some half groom and half bump trails. A few have added seeded bumps. That is all great.

But it has nothing to do with my original point: that snowmaking and grooming get mountains open sooner and almost everyone that skis at ski areas appreciates having these two expenses put to use. Even if you don't ski until January... YOU are still benefiting from snowmaking and grooming that laid the base down. If ski areas only relied on natural snow without augmentation... not only would the season start latter, but there would be very few open trails even by January.
 
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Smellytele

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That logic doesn't always work. Let's try again: if people can afford 30 year fixed rate mortgage at 5 1/2%, why did they end up with a variable rate at 5% only to see it gone up to 7%? The answer is: the industry pushed for it!

People don't always knwo what they want. They take whatever is available.

When the majority of the trails are un-groomed, people learn to ski natural terrain. When 90% of the terrain is groomed, they never learn how to ski un-even terrain and they stay away from it at all cost! Now, you just created a ski population that NEED groomers.

I like Bill's suggestion. Groom most of the beginner trails, some of the intermediates and none of the advanced terrains! That way, the yahoos can't straightline a black run and do substantial demand to others! (they can still straightline the green/blue runs, but they won't build nearly as much speed)

A case in point, my first bump run was out west, where they DO have un-groomed blues that bumps up! When the mountain grooms all the blues, how do people learn to ski bumps??? Is it then a wonder why very few people ski black bumps any more?

I don't have a problem with snow making per se. Though I do have a problem with snowmaking in November! In any case, I don't benefit from it in most years because I never ski in November and only rarely ski in December. I save my money for April.

I don't work in the ski industry. But if anyone here know, I wonder the money spend to blow open a couple of WORD on Thanksgiving is recouped by lift ticket?


I have issues with a few things noted here. First off the part of never grooming a black. My wife who happens to be a great skier loves to ski fast in control on steep terrain just because some idiot can't handle it should this terrain be taken away. This is the same "theory" you have when it comes to bumped up runs (which I love). People get hurt on bump runs as well if they don't know how to ski them(even if they do know how).

Not all areas here in the east always groom out there blues - maybe all areas you go to do. I actually know some areas that has some green glades that get bumped up.

As River noted just because you don't ski in Nov/Dec others do. I really don't ski in April because of other commitments so the mountain should stop running the lifts because i don't need it.

Your last paragraph is not readable...
 

Black Phantom

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That logic doesn't always work. Let's try again: if people can afford 30 year fixed rate mortgage at 5 1/2%, why did they end up with a variable rate at 5% only to see it gone up to 7%? The answer is: the industry pushed for it!

People don't always knwo what they want. They take whatever is available.

When the majority of the trails are un-groomed, people learn to ski natural terrain. When 90% of the terrain is groomed, they never learn how to ski un-even terrain and they stay away from it at all cost! Now, you just created a ski population that NEED groomers.

I like Bill's suggestion. Groom most of the beginner trails, some of the intermediates and none of the advanced terrains! That way, the yahoos can't straightline a black run and do substantial demand to others! (they can still straightline the green/blue runs, but they won't build nearly as much speed)

A case in point, my first bump run was out west, where they DO have un-groomed blues that bumps up! When the mountain grooms all the blues, how do people learn to ski bumps??? Is it then a wonder why very few people ski black bumps any more?

I don't have a problem with snow making per se. Though I do have a problem with snowmaking in November! In any case, I don't benefit from it in most years because I never ski in November and only rarely ski in December. I save my money for April.

I don't work in the ski industry. But if anyone here know, I wonder the money spend to blow open a couple of WORD on Thanksgiving is recouped by lift ticket?

Apparently you do not mind waiting a day or two for a mountain to "defrost". I assume you don't get out very much either.
 

BenedictGomez

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When the majority of the trails are un-groomed, people learn to ski natural terrain. When 90% of the terrain is groomed, they never learn how to ski un-even terrain and they stay away from it at all cost! Now, you just created a ski population that NEED groomers.

Have to agree with the above. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. I'm in my 30s, and the ski industry has been like the above for my entire life.

So while I'm not old enough to know, I'll bet "back in the day" more terrain was natural. I'll also bet, somewhere along the way a resort (then resorts) bragged about how "perfect" its' trails were due to new grooming technology, and used it as a marketing tool that other areas copied. Voila! Things changed. Look at gas station brochures, and you'll see Stratton and Okemo are two areas that seem to hammer this point to consumers as their #1 selling point.

When the mountain grooms all the blues, how do people learn to ski bumps??? Is it then a wonder why very few people ski black bumps any more?

Cant argue with this either. I hate it when places have no blue bump options, and there are many "places" like that. Such trails are excellent for practicing new techniques or just reinforcing old techniques in general.


I'd love to see more terrain left ungroomed. I think we are seeing many ski areas respond to that market. We've clearly seen massive expansions of gladed terrain from almost all ski areas.

I was going to respond to your prior post with the above as an example of why I disagreed with you, but you beat me to it. I view the "newness" (*sarcasm*) of tree skiing as a perfect example that the market might not be "demanding" mostly groomers, but simply not able to know the wonders of authentic snow conditions.

Growing up, you'd get your lift ticket snipped if the ski patrol caught you skiing in the woods, you know, because it was so "dangerous". Now, ski areas actively promote tree-skiing, brag about their glades, put them on the map, and positively market them as trails.

What happened? Tree skiing is now "cool", and tons of people are doing it.
 

Nick

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Groomers are my least favorite kinda run. In order of preference:

1. Powder anywhere
2. Woods
3. Moguls
4. Park
5. Groomers
 

billski

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What happened? Tree skiing is now "cool", and tons of people are doing it.

It's a game-changer, they were forced to accept or lose the revenue/market.

How about when ski brakes came out? You still had to wear straps.

[*]Boarders were not allowed because it was not safe and it ruined the trails.

[*]Park features? No way. Super dangerous.

[*]Trees? Too many snow snakes, down timber, cliffs

It's a way (they think) to grow the customer base. Interestingly, Boarder attendance has remained flat for a number of years now.
 

riverc0il

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It's a game-changer, they were forced to accept or lose the revenue/market.
Exactly. NELSAP is full of areas that couldn't afford to or didn't want to adapt to a population that expected snowmaking and grooming. Would the average skill level of skiers improve if we went back in time and stopping making snow and grooming? Yes. But mostly through attrition of casual/recreational skiers that never would have started skiing if it was still super difficult. Also, forcing someone to ski harder conditions does not by default make them a better skier. Unless they have the drive and will to improve and adapt, they are just going to flail.
 

billski

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Snow Sports Area Economic Report, March 2011

SKIER VISITS
According to the EA, total skier visits reached 59.8 million for the season, the second-highest total ever. Except for the Northeast, which saw a slight 2.9 percent decline, visits rose in all regions, more proof of the “snow trumps economy” theory. Not noted in the report, but worth considering, is the fact that the mid-Atlantic region experienced significantly better snowfall and favorable snowmaking temperatures than in the previous few years. That, in light of economic pressures, may have contributed to the strength of visits in the Southeast (up 1.3 percent) against the Northeast. In short, skiers found it unnecessary to drive north to find good snow.

The strongest growth year over year was in the Pacific West, up 11.8 percent, followed by the Midwest, up 8.3 percent. The Rockies fell in the middle of the pack, growing by 1.7 percent.
...
The recession continued to cut into consumer spending, good snow notwithstanding. Lift ticket yields inched up less than one percent (to $35.71, from $35.53), as recessionary pressures no doubt limited price increases. Lead prices were up just under $.30, and the lift ticket yield ratio remained constant at 58.1 percent. Further to the point, non lift ticket revenues dropped one percent overall.

Not all resorts fared equally on guest spending. The Southeast, for example, increased lift ticket yield 8.3 percent.

The overall revenue summary is that despite a slight decrease in total guest spending per visit, the industry saw a 3 percent increase in gross revenues, thanks to the increase in skier visits.

Digging into the non-lift spending, we do find some good news, and an important shift in the composition of who our guests were. While F&B and lodging led to the downside in spending—a two-year trend—rentals and lessons were both up significantly.

The growth in these two latter categories is important for two reasons. First, resorts typically see much higher contribution margins from rentals (as much as 80 percent contribution) and lessons (as much as 60 percent contribution) than from any other non-lift operations. Secondly, increases in rentals and lessons points to an increase in new skiers and riders. After a decade of work on increasing first-time visits, this is encouraging.

The study points out several key aspects of this growth. First, it demonstrates that rental business is a much more significant factor for smaller resorts in the Midwest and Southeast than in the other regions. (See Tables 8G and 8J for small-vs.-large comparisons—under 6,249 VTFH vs. 17,000+ VTFH. Top Table 8A shows overall expenditures.)
...
Further driving profitability for the industry, total expenses decreased by three tenths of a percent against last year. Resorts spent less in 2009-10 on labor, interest expenses, operating leases, insurance, and land use fees, and spent more on general & administrative costs and depreciation.

Direct labor costs are the largest expense category across the industry, and often the most flexible expense lever available to resorts. Resorts spent 24.5 percent of revenues on labor this year, down from 25.6 percent in 2008-09. Interestingly, resorts grew year-round rosters to an average of 107, up from 99 last year. Still, labor expense fell because seasonal rosters dropped, to an average of 663 from 694. Total employment actually grew in the Northeast, remained flat in the Southeast, and fell in other regions.

...
These results pose some interesting questions, opportunities, and challenges for us all moving forward. The report notes that this one-year surge does not necessarily mean that our fear of losing skiers and riders as the Boomers age out is beyond us. One year does not a trend make. In fact, overall, many of the most successful resorts saw peak crowds that as much as doubled their comfortable capacity, and such an experience may well have deterred these new inductees into the sport from future visits. What can we do to make sure we convert these newcomers into regular participants?

...
maller resorts will continue to be challenged. Can they focus their relatively limited financial resources on creating positive experiences even on peak days? Some resorts may benefit by refocusing their entire operating model around that very beginner experience, finding a niche and owning that category within their markets. While many resorts claim to have accomplished this, the industry as a whole hasn’t even cracked the door on turning these first-time snow encounters into loyalty-building experiences, in my view.

Source RRC Associates, March 2011
 

BenedictGomez

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I'll go with this for me:

1. Powder anywhere
2. Moguls
3. Woods
4. Groomers
5. Park


Boarder attendance has remained flat for a number of years now.

I read a blip in the recent Ski Magazine that ski sale growth is now trending substantially back above snowboard sales growth, and that snowboard sales have been declining fairly substantially YoY.

EDIT: Oh hell, I may as well figure out the growth rate (which for the life of me I dont know why Ski didnt include)


PERCENT OF ALPINE SKI SALES SOLD OVER THAT OVER SNOWBOARD SALES

2007-2008 8.8% (snowboards sold 482.7k)
2008-2009 2.6% (snowboards sold 431.7k)
2009-2010 9.2% (snowboards sold 414.7k)
2010-2011 31.7% (snowboards sold 399.9k)



our fear of losing skiers and riders as the Boomers age out

I didnt realize this was a ski industry problem (beyond the obviousness that Boomers are a key component of most business). Are Boomers on average likely more to be skiers than non-Boomers?
 
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billski

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I didnt realize this was a ski industry problem (beyond the obviousness that Boomers are a key component of most business). Are Boomers on average likely more to be skiers than non-Boomers?

Absolutely. The vast majority of boomers are skiers. The other problem however is that total boarders is not increasing. I would have expected snowboards (a younger demographic) sales to remain flat. I suspect the economy would have a lot to do with it, presuming younger demographic has less disposable income.
 

BenedictGomez

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Absolutely. The vast majority of boomers are skiers.

Great. So I have higher lift ticket prices to look forward to when they start dying off
 

abc

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Snowmaking and grooming are expected. Hell, even I expect them.
You've been trained by the ski resorts to expect what they want to sell you. :)

Regarding your not skiing in November: I am glad the ski industry doesn't base their decisions on you alone. That isn't a strong position from which to argue, that they shouldn't do something because it doesn't benefit you personally.
I also don't ski in December either. But I have no problem with snow making in December. It's snowmaking in November I believe is a waste of money, which contributes (albeit in a small part) to higher ticket proice for the entire season.

Even if you don't ski until January... YOU are still benefiting from snowmaking and grooming that laid the base down.
No, it doesn't! Most years, snow made in November tend to just melt away! Nobody benefits from it except the few who skied the WORD on Thanksgiving!

I think we are seeing many ski areas respond to that market. We've clearly seen massive expansions of gladed terrain from almost all ski areas. Many have some half groom and half bump trails. A few have added seeded bumps. That is all great.
If "ALL" skiers wants grommers, why are resorts expanding the un-groom terrain? They would be better off expanding more groomed terrain!

No, it's because plenty of skiers want to ski un-groomed terrain!

Hence my assertion most major resorts over-groom and transfer those wasted money into higher ticket cost than it need be!
 

riverc0il

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abc... we can agree to disagree but you are not understanding my main point. Yes, almost all skiers like snow making because it builds the base. You are delusional if you don't think November and December snow making doesn't help build the base for your January skiing. For example... if there hadn't been snow making for the last four weeks there would be 0" of base and no skiing any where and that would likely continue for the foreseeable future. We won't have MRG open until January unless we get a major storm this coming weekend (doubtful). Use MRG as the benchmark for what happens when there is no base. January openings with limited terrain have happened before at MRG.

If you think I've been trained by resorts to want grooming, you don't know me at all. By mid-season, if I can't ski the trees I usually don't even bother skiing. So your preaching to the choir in that sense.

And AGAIN, I have no contention with the point that most ski areas over groom. Agreed, but that wasn't what started the discussion on this topic nor is it the point I am arguing.
 

riverc0il

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Point? I've skied November and December pow at MRG before. I've skied three feet of powder in October before (not at MRG, just example). But an isolated data point does not a trend make. Just as frequently as MRG opens after an epic December storm, it struggles to open in December at all. More often than not, it opens somewhere in between... enough to get going in December but without a lot of options.
 

farlep99

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Use MRG as the benchmark for what happens when there is no base.

Agree- and keep in mind MRG is in Northern VT & tends to get more natural snow than it's southern counterparts. Snowmaking is crucial for base-building in places south of there.
 

abc

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abc... we can agree to disagree but you are not understanding my main point.

And AGAIN, I have no contention with the point that most ski areas over groom. Agreed,
In that case, riverc0il, I'm not even sure what we disagree on.

Oh yes, the cost of it!

And that we (you and I) are the exception of average skiers.

Let me tell you a story (isolated data point or not). Late last season, I went skiing with my boss who only ski a couple weekends a year. She WANTED to stay on the groomer. But after a day and a half, she's bored of just sliding mindlessly down some wide boulevard. Given there's no easy bumps, I opted to take her into some easy glades instead. In reality, it was easy bumps with occasional trees.

Well. she's been talking about going skiing since October! "so we could go do them trees again"!

My point? The average skiers ski what the mountain offers.

If one mountain wants to stand out with 100% groomers, doesn't mean the rest of the mountain need to do the same! Except that's what we ended up, majority of mountains groom too much of their terrain. In the process pushing up prices needlessly.

You are delusional if you don't think November and December snow making doesn't help build the base for your January skiing.
You're arguing a point in your own mind. No matter how many times I wrote I don't have a problem with snow making in December, you insist I do!

So I give up.
 

riverc0il

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The point of disagreement started when I noted that almost all skiers enjoying the fruits of snowmaking and grooming... and you jumped down my back that I was wrong about that. I never said almost all skiers like snow making and grooming all the time on every run. But for base building, I don't see how every skier can't appreciate it.
 

abc

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The point of disagreement started when I notedar that almost all skiers enjoying the fruits of snowmaking and grooming... and you jumped down my back that I was wrong about that. I never said almost all skiers like snow making and grooming all the time on every run. But for base building, I don't see how every skier can't appreciate it.
OK, I now see where the miscommunication lies. I guess my post wasn't clear enough. I never meant to say YOU were wrong. I argued the mountain was wrong to groom too much, and made snow when it will simply melt down to brown earth the next week!

Too much of a good thing is actually a bad thing, especially if it end up costing so much it prices a lot of skiers out of the market! That's all I meant to say.

My apology for being unclear in my post.
 
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