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Reservations: two philosophies

#1
So, it seems like we have two defined philosophies on reservations for the upcoming season: Alterra doesn't believe they're necessary, and Vail does. What do you think about that? Does your philosophy match up with one or the other?

Personally, I tend towards thinking that having a reservation system is a good idea. Ideally, it's a minor annoyance that doesn't end up doing much. But in a less ideal situation, it could be a critical stopgap in keeping skiers safe on the slopes.

I'm squeamish about Alterra's belief that they can sufficiently regulate the number of people on-mountain at once by limiting day ticket sales. There isn't an actual limit if any number of Ikon passholders can swarm in on any given day. Vail's approach seems more robust; sure, some people will miss some days, but there isn't the potential for an overfull resort with no warning.
 
#2
There isn't an actual limit if any number of Ikon passholders can swarm in on any given day.
Right. At Crystal, they are limited by the fact that parking is somewhat limited (it never used to fill up, but started to last year, as so many people live here now, and so many people have the Ikon pass). But that created a huge amount of anger when passholders showed up to find lots full. I guess they think with no walk up sales they can manage it? I guess we'll see!

Maybe I'll actually ski Stevens this winter. I haven't for years. Parking fills up so early, and lift lines are bad. But, they are on Epic, and so will take reservations. Seems worth trying out.
 
#3
I'm relieved about the reservation system. Last year, before closing, we were supposedly going to have limited numbers on the lifts, and family groups on the gondola. Didn't happen. (Killy and Okemo). I suppose someone forgot to tell the lifties.

I very much want to ski, but I don't want to be stuck on a crowded gondola with a bunch of bros who are too cool to wear a mask.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#4
Vail's approach seems more robust; sure, some people will miss some days, but there isn't the potential for an overfull resort with no warning.
VR has the advantage of actual experience. Reservations were required in Australia at the three VR resorts. Only one, Perisher, was able to stay open all season. Fair to say the the first couple weeks of early season in late June didn't go completely smoothly in terms of how the actual process went for making reservations online. The refund process was also on the slow side. That became a bigger issue when two resorts closed after only four days due to spikes in COVID-19 in their major market, Melbourne. They never re-opened.

One significant change for the VR reservation system in N. America is that people are allowed to cancel a reservation online up to midnight the night before. So that slot will be quickly available for someone else. It took a phone call at Perisher.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#6
I'm squeamish about Alterra's belief that they can sufficiently regulate the number of people on-mountain at once by limiting day ticket sales. There isn't an actual limit if any number of Ikon passholders can swarm in on any given day.
For Alterra resorts like Winter Park, I do wonder how the first few weeks of the season will pan out.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#7
I won't say I don't feel slightly relieved that those too-cool bros might be a bit more likely to opt for Ikon as a result of Alterra going a different direction...
Remember, it's only Alterra resorts that aren't requiring reservations. So doesn't apply to Killington/Pico, which is owned by Powdr. Kton plans to use parking reservations to limit the number of people headed to the lifts.

Okemo is on Epic.
 
#8
Remember, it's only Alterra resorts that aren't requiring reservations. So doesn't apply to Killington/Pico, which is owned by Powdr. Kton plans to use parking reservations to limit the number of people headed to the lifts.

Okemo is on Epic.
Yeah... I guess in my case it feels relatively clear which way the local bros will swing; SV/AM and Mammoth are both Alterra-owned, and it seems like (subjectively, based on the way people I know personally talk) both are seen as more "serious" options than the Tahoe-based Vail resorts (Northstar, Heavenly, Kirkwood).
 
#9
I also prefer the reservation system, at least until we know what the season and COVID-19 looks like. I seriously doubt I'll make any trips for skiing this coming season so unless the number of reservations is ridiculously restricted I am ok to plan a week ahead for my home mountain and I tend to avoid the popular holiday dates anyway.

The naysayers complain that reservations do not allow for powder chasing...two points, 1) no respectable powder chaser plans more than 7 days ahead of a storm and 2) reservations mean less of a surge of people.
 

NewEnglandSkier

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#10
I can only assume Alterra is basing their assumptions on numbers of Ikon passes sold thus far and also maybe thinking that a significant number of people will choose to credit their passes to next year. I haven't done it yet, but I plan to roll my Ikon over for a credit.
But who knows--only time will tell how it all pans out.
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
#11
I pretty sure for Tremblant, no reservations isn't going to be a problem. Not so much Blue Mountain in Colllingwood. They get the crowd from GTA. So Ikon must know how many day passes they sold versus Ikon pass used.

With the border not open, there should be less guests in Tremblant period.
 
#13
The SAM Mountain Spy question went directly at the issue for people who want to book lodging but need some assurance that they will be able to get lift access. Note that the phone calls were made in August, so it wasn't about a solid answer but more about getting a sense of how potential customers were likely to be treated at that time. Only the state of the resort called is provided, not the resort name.

https://www.saminfo.com/the-magazine/this-issue/item/165166-mountain-spy-september-2020
Question: “I’d like to book a trip this winter with lodging, but how can I be sure I will be able to get lift tickets?”
 

vickie

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#15
Funny, that tee time concept is what I absolutely do not like. I'm not sure I would even ski if that was in place, to the point I would probably give up skiing altogether if that became the long-term model for skiing.
 
#16
Funny, that tee time concept is what I absolutely do not like. I'm not sure I would even ski if that was in place, to the point I would probably give up skiing altogether if that became the long-term model for skiing.
As a non-golfer, I ask, what is it about it that's so distasteful? I've been wondering how this will affect me.

I tend to decide to ski based on what time I wake up, the weather, and how this creaky body is feeling in the morning. (I almost never regret deciding to go, but do regret skipping it!) Making reservations will make a big difference, I imagine. Can I reserve M-F and cancel on days it's ra*ning? Or days I am too creaky? Unfair to those who didn't get a reservation that day, but it's not weekends or holiday weeks. Hmm.
 
#17
I tend to decide to ski based on what time I wake up, the weather, and how this creaky body is feeling in the morning. (I almost never regret deciding to go, but do regret skipping it!) Making reservations will make a big difference, I imagine. Can I reserve M-F and cancel on days it's ra*ning? Or days I am too creaky? Unfair to those who didn't get a reservation that day, but it's not weekends or holiday weeks. Hmm.
I find for me, living in and skiing near a big urban area, I have to plan. I have to plan to get up early and out the door at a reasonable time so that I get a parking spot and get ahead of the crowds. I'd rather have a reservation and KNOW that I will be able to get a parking spot and have reasonable lift lines. In fact a timed entry/reservation time/"tee time" would be amazing for me if I could show up mid-morning and still get a parking spot, and know that a bazillion people haven't gotten there before me and skied everything out. (I hate getting up early and hate the drive stress of wondering if too many people are there already). And if "tee times" spread out that morning rush/crowd at the base...that would be great.

Thinking about all the things I already needed reservations of some sort for (everything from medical appts to Pilates classes to restaurants to ferries to car repair to flights and hotels to backcountry camping permits) and all the extra things I need them for during Covid (food pick up, library book pick up, Zoom classes, for a while grocery shopping), ski reservations seem natural and a logical way of crowd control to me. Geez after looking at that list I'm almost wondering what I don't need a "tee time" for anymore.
 
#18
Can I reserve M-F and cancel on days it's ra*ning?
We get our weather off the Pacific and so it's extra hard to forecast, but even we have reasonably accurate 24 hour forecasts. So presumably you could cancel the day before if it was going to rain. I imagine on weekdays there might be same day spots open, too.

I can imagine a system like my Pilates studio uses. You can sign up for 2 spots a week in advance, and you have unlimited bookings within 24 hours. You can cancel 18 hours in advance with no penalty; then someone else can snag your booking. If you cancel less than 18 hours in advance, you are charged $8. If you simply don't show up, you are charged $15. I imagine something along these lines could work for ski areas.
 

NewEnglandSkier

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#19
The "concept" of reservations doesn't bother me so much as the actual "practice" of having to do it. I'm a planned person by nature anyway, so for some things I like having a reservation. I have a season pass for a kayak rental outfitter and this year we had to reserve in advance. I like to take the earliest time slot possible and most of the time that wasn't an issue--there were only a few instances so far that I haven't been able to get my preferred slot. However, for skiing I feel a bit differently. I am super picky about being there early; I have no desire to take a parking shuttle so I always arrive at least 30 min prior to opening to ensure good parking. I also don't drive in bad weather so for day trips, I routinely make my decision about whether to go or not or even where to go at 8pm the night before. I assume this will not be possible with reservations in place--I'd have to reserve a spot and then cancel last minute whatever the consequences of that may be.
For trips that I'd need to fly to, I would have no issue making reservations, since I'd know I wanted to ski everyday anyway---but I won't be flying this year so . . . . .
 
#20
Funny, that tee time concept is what I absolutely do not like. I'm not sure I would even ski if that was in place, to the point I would probably give up skiing altogether if that became the long-term model for skiing.
Agree that it does not make sense for a reservation based on having a season pass or even a multi-resort pass.

A variation on the tee time concept could make sense when combined with dynamic pricing, but only for day tickets. But not in typical golf 15-20 min staggered start times. It worked well enough for the small CA ski area that used that approach in late season for a couple weeks. Probably not practical for a destination resort with way more than 3-4 lifts. An afternoon ticket is essentially based on the idea of paying less for a particular timeframe.

Massanutten went to 4-hour and 8-hour tickets quite a few years ago. There is night skiing so the slopes are open 9am-9pm. It worked out well because then it spread out when people got to the base. So instead of many people trying to arrive around 9:00-9:30, more people who weren't ski nuts would trickle in from 10 to noon. They could buy an 8-hour ticket and ski into the lights until dinner time.
 

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