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Limiting pass sales to limit crowds.

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
#1
I absolutely hate skiing in crowds, so I found an article in Storm Skiing particularly interesting. It's about how some some ski areas are limiting pass sales to cut down on crowds. You can find it here.

What do you think about this? Is this something more ski areas should do? Is it a trend?
 
#2
Sounds good to me. Who wants to pay so much money for all the costs associated with skiing only to spend so much time in line?

Here in WA all of the Cascades ski areas except Mt Baker will continue limiting day tickets next year with the explicit purpose of limiting crowds.
 

kiki

Angel Diva
#3
Yes, one of our hills here is doing that and it’s why I bought a pass for next year. I don’t mind paying a premium for guaranteed parking and smaller lines, I am quite happy for that. You can see in the attached video their commitments to reduce season passes as well as maintain time limits and reservation systems for next season:
https://fb.watch/4Vxo2V7sO2/
 
#4
I believe in limited user numbers but not by creating more expensive season passes. Places like the Yellowstone Club have their right to exist and remain completely exclusive, but land that is leased from the tax payers, such as national forests, should not become the domain of the ultra rich which I could easily see happen on the slopes in my geographic area. It already is at the food establishments on and off the hill where affluent local and non local guests will buy out a whole establishment paying tens of thousands for a table of 6 to eat without other guests near them.

When dropping an extra few thousand dollars a day for no crowds does not even cause a moment of reflection for many skiers, I worry that our hills will be completely out of reach for even the upper middle class skier. What starts off as a hundred or so dollars per day can easily escalate. Many guests already pay over a thousand a day to cut lines and ski more. I do not in any way blame them as that is an option, but pay to play can make the entry point to the sport impossible.

I am not sure that there is an easy answer, or one that would work for all resorts given differing demographics and user peaks. Lottery? Tickets tied to hotel reservations?

Who gets priority? Locals with passes, visitors with reservations?

I enjoyed the outcome of the longer lines for less riders on each lift, the empty slopes!

I also get to cut the lines with my students, but even those lines were longer than I have ever seen them before, even on big powder days.

I don't think the issue is just limited to skiing. Living in a natural beauty destination, I have seen parking lots to lakes and hikes fill up earlier than ever, trails littered with masks, etc....
 

Abbi

Angel Diva
#6
At my house only thing impressed with the price drop on the Epic Pass is my wallet! This year was more than crowded enough. We won’t figure next year until we see how work from home shakes out. While I anticipate more kids being at school desks next year we will find out how that affects everyone appearing during midweeks.
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
#7
I think here in Canada it's going to depend on the border. If it opens, then the Ikon and Epic pass holders will invade. That's great for the mountain's coffers after this year, but not for us skiers.

At this time, Tremblant has raised the price of it's "express pass" and limited it's availability. As in right now it isn't...This is used by the race families and resort condo owners (who get it free) and some average skiers like me. You get to bipass the line and go in through the ski school gates.

Being unlimited on the Ikon pass is a good thing and not. But I suspect that to buy a day ticket is going to $$$$$.
 
#8
It depends. Wachusett halted their pass sales early last year to limit them, but I have never seen lines so long on weekdays. Hopefully last year was an anomaly and they sold too many passes before they stopped. Or just so many work/school from home people that were not expected.
 

diymom

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#9
I’d say yes, weekday numbers were up a bit this year, but a lot of the line was due to reduced lift capacity. If they do limit the number of passes sold again (as they are saying they will) but lift seats are filled to capacity the lines will be back to normal. But the number of people on hill at any given time will also be back to normal.
 

SallyCat

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#10
It makes sense that Magic would limit pass sales. They have just two lifts, and they are both slow fixed-grip doubles. It wouldn't take much of a boom in attendance to create insufferable lift lines, and if that happened, the charm of the place would wear quickly. With a spike in skiers overall, and Magic doing a great job marketing itself and offering affordable and creative pass options, they might well worry about overpopulation and protecting their "product."

I love Magic, btw, and I've never experienced long lines there; the slow lifts mean that the trails are always uncrowded, which is part of the attraction. But I can see why they would lead the way in limiting sales.
 
#12
@Christy while I would give the same answer, I really wish there could be a 3rd option that is not pay to play based but maybe a ranked lottery system.

It saddens me that the only way we can manage crowd access to nature based sports is by making them inaccessible for most.

I for one love shaeing the slopes with a socio economically diverse clientele of snowsports enthusiasts from the billionaire skier prepping for gis first AK heli trip to the young woman working three jobs who's only doing a couple of seasons in a ski town.

Has anyone seen approaches that work that are not monetarily based?

Prebooking years ahead maybe? It is what we do for certain festivals.
 
#13
I don't have a strong feeling about this. And, does it matter if the limits are placed on season passes or day passes?


Regardless, if pass sales are limited, we can expect higher f&b prices, more a la carte/piecemeal charges (i.e., preferred parking, special/early lift access), and (eventually) higher ticket prices. They have to make $ somehow
 
#14
@Christy while I would give the same answer, I really wish there could be a 3rd option that is not pay to play based but maybe a ranked lottery system.

It saddens me that the only way we can manage crowd access to nature based sports is by making them inaccessible for most.

I for one love shaeing the slopes with a socio economically diverse clientele of snowsports enthusiasts from the billionaire skier prepping for gis first AK heli trip to the young woman working three jobs who's only doing a couple of seasons in a ski town.

Has anyone seen approaches that work that are not monetarily based?

Prebooking years ahead maybe? It is what we do for certain festivals.
Well, the question asks about season passes, which have become vastly cheaper at most places in recent years. Thus the crowds. Meanwhile day tickets have become far more expensive. I'd argue that is what is pricing people out and limiting access to the sport.

Most of my friends and neighbors don't downhill ski and the #1 factor they have cited, for a long time, is the cost (even when day tickets were much cheaper). These people prefer to get outdoors in winter by snowshoeing, nordic skiing or hiking in the lowlands. I understand the desire to have everyone that wants to, to be able to downhill ski, but it's not as if that's the only way to get outside.
 
#15
@Christy. Thank you for explaining the pass versus day ticket imbalance at your area. I know that the grouped resort passes have made skiing more reasonable. At my area passes have not gotten less expensive, but I do see that day tickets have so in essence yes we are facing the same issues.

For me the irony is that prices increase for tickets, lessons, food, etc... Resort wages meanwhile are frozen while cost of living sky rockets in ski towns, and profits continue for shareholders.

I know different resorts have different challenges, but I wonder if limiting unnecessary capital improvements might help too? Sorry to digress.

I was actually happy to see the affordability of resort skiing change when Ikon and other passes included my local hill. The trend in the other direction had a lot of people complaining too. Then the crowds arrived and the guest bashing. Trying to not despair and missing Europe and Japan that have it figured out a little bit better.
 
#16
I know different resorts have different challenges, but I wonder if limiting unnecessary capital improvements might help too? Sorry to digress.

I was actually happy to see the affordability of resort skiing change when Ikon and other passes included my local hill. The trend in the other direction had a lot of people complaining too. Then the crowds arrived and the guest bashing. Trying to not despair and missing Europe and Japan that have it figured out a little bit better.
I think you hit the nail on the head with these two comments. First one about capital improvements. Being that Vail has been a "destination resort" (Aspen as well) for a long time now, the people who demanded high class service and a Disney World like experience trended towards taking vacations in those locations. Now that Vail owns A LOT more locations, they seems to be implementing that "Disney World Experience" at a lot more destinations. They have geared their model towards people buying a season pass, and taking vacations to their larger destination resorts. Now that buying a season pass is more affordable than a 7-day lift ticket, it was pretty easy to implement this model. In order to have an influx in non-local skiers, capital improvements are necessary.

Realistically, the US was a lot more similar to Europe/Japan 20 years ago (pre-EPIC/IKON). Lift tickets weren't cheap, but they were a lot more affordable than what they are now. Capital improvements were minimal outside the necessary. Europe and Japan both have minimal infrastructure at any given resort. This is especially true where European resorts rely on towns for their base. Then Japan still maintains a very old-school local structure, which is fading fast in the US.
 
#17
That was another one of the questions the Summit sent out. Where do I want investments made--on mountain infrastructure like lifts, or at the base, with plazas, new lodges, even a new hotel (it's traditionally a day use area less than an hour from Seattle) etc? I left it blank because I didn't think they need either.
 
#18
@Christy. Thank you for explaining the pass versus day ticket imbalance at your area. I know that the grouped resort passes have made skiing more reasonable. At my area passes have not gotten less expensive, but I do see that day tickets have so in essence yes we are facing the same issues.
I imagine we will have different perspectives, too, because the ski area that was the focus of the survey is less than an hour from downtown Seattle and so within an hour and a half of...3 million people? It's a pretty different situation in terms of visitation than a destination resort not near a large population center.
 
#19
@Christy your point is so spot on! Different circumstances for each ski area. I can see why limiting passes and user days is key. Maybe we'll get to the point with skiing where it is like campsites in natiinal parks or music festivals. Mark the date, stay up until midnight with friends doing the same and hope for a spot.
 
#20
@Christy your point is so spot on! Different circumstances for each ski area. I can see why limiting passes and user days is key. Maybe we'll get to the point with skiing where it is like campsites in natiinal parks or music festivals. Mark the date, stay up until midnight with friends doing the same and hope for a spot.
Eek that sounds terrible. At least for anyone used to have full unlimited access with a pass.
 

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