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Should ski resorts offer a 'pay-per-lift ride' option for guests?

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
With single-day tickets at some American resorts priced at $200 or more, what would you think of a 'pay-per-lift' ride option?

Throughout the day, you'd ride the lifts you want to ride as your pass keeps track of your activity. At the end of the day, you get charged per lift ride – not the static price of a lift ticket. Perhaps the price per each specific lift varies. Maybe riding a gondola costs 'two rides' while a trip up the bunny hill costs one. Either way, the system would have resort guests paying a price that directly correlates with mountain resources they actually use compared to a system where the casual user subsidizes the cost for the heavy user.

Yes, there'd still be season passes. But for people who don't have a season pass at a specific resort, this might be a viable option.
 

SarahXC

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
That’s an interesting idea. At the alpine slide at Lutsen this summer you could pay for a ride or for an all day all you can ride pass. I can’t remember if there was an in between number between buy 1, or unlimited.
 

newboots

Angel Diva
I think I like it. My stamina is lower these days. OTOH, I have a tendency to be cheap, and I’d be adding up each ride, which might make me ski less than I would otherwise. Could interfere with having fun!
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
There are a few ski resorts in the southeast that offer 4-hour and 8-hour lift tickets. Much cheaper to implement that having technology that would allow tracking individual lift usage.

My home mountain, Massanutten started 4/8 hour lift tickets at least a dozen years ago. That was long before they implemented RFID. It helped to avoid a rush at 9:00 when the lifts opened because people didn't want to ski all day felt comfortable starting at 10:00 or later. That's especially useful for families with kids who are beginners/intermediates, which is the primary market for Massanutten.

Jiminy Peak has 4/8 hour lift tickets, plus night tickets that run 3-10pm. Not sure if that was part of the implementation of RFID or not, which happened a while ago before I had reasons to be in Massachusetts during the winter.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
There are resorts with Beginner tickets that only serve magic carpets and 1-2 lifts with only green trails. I wonder if some resorts could expand that idea to include 1-2 lifts that have mostly green or blue trails for advanced beginners and cautious intermediates.
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
There are resorts with Beginner tickets that only serve magic carpets and 1-2 lifts with only green trails. I wonder if some resorts could expand that idea to include 1-2 lifts that have mostly green or blue trails for advanced beginners and cautious intermediates.
This is something I was thinking about. After a morning on the magic carpet, some kids might be ready for a trip to the top with the long green run. I know when I was teaching I had a student that had the goal of, how long to make a run from the top? His ticket was good as he was well beyond the bunny hill. But 1 run still took 45 min with lift ride and then down.

Many ski areas near large cities offer hourly tickets. With more areas using RFID cards, this would be really easy to control.

I believe the original idea is from an article in a Colorado publication @ski diva?
 

elemmac

Angel Diva
Japan has it figured out, and I wish the US would adopt their systems…Most of the resorts I went to on Hokkaido offer some combination of the following options:

- Day tickets
- Hourly Day Tickets (e.g. 2 hour, 4 hour, 6 hour tickets with unlimited access to all lifts for the designated timeframe starting on your first scan)
- Hourly Multi-Day Tickets (e.g. 10 or 25 hour ticket, charged on an hourly basis. When you scan your ticket, your hour starts and you can ride lifts as much as you want. After 60 minutes, if you scan again, another hour begins and gets deducted from your ticket).
- Point system tickets (you buy a certain amount of points and Gondola rides are 4 points per ride, high speed lifts are 2, all other lifts are 1)
- Season Passes

The points and hourly tickets take away the thought of adding up costs throughout the day, which as Newboots mentioned, could definitely interfere with the fun.
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
Japan has it figured out, and I wish the US would adopt their systems…Most of the resorts I went to on Hokkaido offer some combination of the following options:

- Day tickets
- Hourly Day Tickets (e.g. 2 hour, 4 hour, 6 hour tickets with unlimited access to all lifts for the designated timeframe starting on your first scan)
- Hourly Multi-Day Tickets (e.g. 10 or 25 hour ticket, charged on an hourly basis. When you scan your ticket, your hour starts and you can ride lifts as much as you want. After 60 minutes, if you scan again, another hour begins and gets deducted from your ticket).
- Point system tickets (you buy a certain amount of points and Gondola rides are 4 points per ride, high speed lifts are 2, all other lifts are 1)
- Season Passes

The points and hourly tickets take away the thought of adding up costs throughout the day, which as Newboots mentioned, could definitely interfere with the fun.
Sounds like carnival rides at the local fair. You buy "X" tickets and some rides take more than 1 ticket to ride. Could be an idea. I'm sure this whole idea stems from the huge daily ticket prices at resorts.
 

MissySki

Angel Diva
Sounds like carnival rides at the local fair. You buy "X" tickets and some rides take more than 1 ticket to ride. Could be an idea. I'm sure this whole idea stems from the huge daily ticket prices at resorts.

But I thought the point of the high daily ticket cost was to try and force people into season passes being the best value. Wouldn’t doing cheaper nickle and diming type options fly in the face of that whole strategy?
 

WaterGirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Mt. High in So Cal used to have this format - but I don't see it listed for last season. You could by a pass with "points." The longer lift was double the points of the shorter lifts. They also have 8 and 4 hour tickets.
Ski free on your birthday, 70 and older free season pass, and a reasonably priced lesson program for on Wednesdays for seniors.
 

altagirl

Moderator
Staff member
I'm kind of torn on this - on one hand - it's sensible as a solution for overcrowding if the issue is solely crowded slopes. But if the larger issue is parking and traffic, it would likely make things worse? Locally - It would also appeal to the sidecountry skiers who just want a single lift to the top and then to hike and do laps out of bounds. But when the issue is a parking shortage.... that's not doing anything for the resort. They get less money, and parking spots taken up by people who probably aren't spending money at the lodges because they are leaving the resort boundary. (If parking and traffic were not issues, it would be pretty cool though!)

I do think it's sensible as an option in some situations - I know especially getting back into things after surgery, I wanted to go up and do just one or two runs to test things out and at the time we had a "ski free after three" program where you could pay nothing or a nominal fee to ski the beginner slope only. I don't know - maybe it could be offered only mid-week or something to entice some additional skiers on non-peak days?
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
I wonder if there could be a limit on the number of ski days that the Per Lift ticket was possible? Assuming RFID is used. Say 10 days during the core season and unlimited during early and late season. Could even limit to Sunday-Thursday for most of the 10 days. I would guess someone who tries using a Per Lift ticket on a core season Saturday once wouldn't want to do that again in any case.

There was a mountain in the PacNW that has night skiing that created a pass that started at 2pm. It helped spread out the crowd during the pandemic season 2020-21. Jiminy Peak has starts night skiing at 3pm. They are in the process of adding lights to four trails and will have 25 trails for 2022-23.
 

skibum4ever

Angel Diva
This thread makes me realize that if I want to try out skiing next winter without using my pass, I could buy a beginner ticket and take some runs on Chair 11 or Chair 15.
 

Susan L

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Mt. High in So Cal used to have this format - but I don't see it listed for last season. You could by a pass with "points." The longer lift was double the points of the shorter lifts. They also have 8 and 4 hour tickets.
Ski free on your birthday, 70 and older free season pass, and a reasonably priced lesson program for on Wednesdays for seniors.
I remember Mt High having this option too back in the days! They even allowed people to share the pass - you just scan it X times for X people to go thru the gate. It worked for me as a beginner snowboarder back then because it’d take me a long time to come down and I could only ride 2-3x before calling it a day.
 

mustski

Angel Diva
Snow Valley had that kind of pass as well and you could share it with other people. It was particularly popular with parents with babies. One sat in the lodge while the other one skied with the rest of the littles. They could switch off at will. I assume if it had worked to their benefit, they would still offer it.
 

Cantabrigienne

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
One major area in the Dolomites, Alta Badia (one of the key legs of the Sella Ronda ie Corvara, Colfosco, San Cassiano, La Villa) offers a points system pass. It worked out really well for my dad, since he stuck to one small area (Edelweiss Valley in Colfosco) where there's a very good progression of beginner runs to easy blues that aren't part of the Sella Ronda & hence less highly trafficked.

In the context of that market it makes a ton of sense - lots of fair weather skiers who just want to do a couple of runs or basically ski to a specific lunch destination and then back.
 

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