Attracting the non-skier

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Attracting the non-skier

Postby coldsmoke » Mon Jan 24, 2011 2:51 pm

http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2011/01/19/ski-resorts-reap-profits-unlikely-sources/

I have noticed this the last couple of years on a small level.
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Re: Attracting the non-skier

Postby soulskier » Mon Jan 24, 2011 8:21 pm

Not doubt these ski resorts are following the American consumerism trend. And while that is good and fine, I believe we also need to have mountain playgrounds that focus on the downhill experience.
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Re: Attracting the non-skier

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Jan 25, 2011 5:07 am

If there is a real issue in the healthy growth of the sport, it is affordability for families. This issue is not being addressed by either the strategy of this thread nor by soulskier and MRA.
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Re: Attracting the non-skier

Postby riverc0il » Tue Jan 25, 2011 6:15 am

Zip Lines, Canopy Tours, and Mountain Coasters all seem to be popular new uses for mountains during the non-skiing season in New England. Seems like at least half a dozen of any of the above are installed every summer. Though some Mountain Coasters have simply replaced existing alpine slides, many are completely new attractions. The upscaling of resorts can only go so far because they are competing for a limited target audience. So if every resort builds up for the up scale market, it will dilute the potential that the first resorts to do so had. On the east coast in recent years, we had Sugarbush, Stowe, and Jay all build up on slope higher end dining and lodging options. Will it be enough or if everyone does it will it not matter? Tony makes a great point that none of these types of things help the financially struggling family that can no longer afford $300+ for one day of skiing with their family (all costs included) or to do that trip many times during the year.
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Re: Attracting the non-skier

Postby jamesdeluxe » Tue Jan 25, 2011 6:24 am

Lots of examples in the East that I've seen over the past year, including Hunter's upper-mountain zipline (which has impressed pretty much everyone), Jay Peak's ice rink, and Mont Sainte-Anne's dogsledding. All appear (anecdotally) to be doing good business.

As far as Tony's point, what do you call the Colorado I-70 resorts' season pass discounts for locals, a good portion of which has been replicated across the country? OTOH, I'm curious if bigtime resorts even bother trying to lure destination tourists via pricing. It's possible that they've already decided to suck it up and pay top dollar for their yearly Big Ski Vacation (maybe paying full price is part of the experience?). For instance, while standing in the Winter Park ticket line last week, an Irish gent ahead of me happily pulled out his credit card for eight full-price tickets at $97(!) each -- I watched; he wasn't using a prepaid discount voucher bought through his booking agent. Meanwhile, a cheapskate like me can ask his Denver-based family for a midweek 2-for-1 coupon from their CCC book, or whatever they're called.
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Re: Attracting the non-skier

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Jan 25, 2011 6:59 am

With regard to Vail Resorts' pass, it's priced near the one week retail price. I had read somewhere that is intended to lure some vacationers to visit more than once per season.

I agree the discount season pass helps some families. The people with small children who need daycare or lesson programs probably feel the worst financial pressure. I think there is danger that some families who stop skiing for 5 years or so with very young kids might not resume. I realize that would not apply to us nutcases here on FTO. :lol:
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Re: Attracting the non-skier

Postby berkshireskier » Tue Jan 25, 2011 8:27 am

Tony Crocker wrote:With regard to Vail Resorts' pass, it's priced near the one week retail price. I had read somewhere that is intended to lure some vacationers to visit more than once per season.

I agree the discount season pass helps some families. The people with small children who need daycare or lesson programs probably feel the worst financial pressure. I think there is danger that some families who stop skiing for 5 years or so with very young kids might not resume. I realize that would not apply to us nutcases here on FTO. :lol:


Anecdotedly, I think Vail's strategy has worked. I have a friend from the East Coast who skis at Vail every March for 6 or 7 days with his family. This year he bought the discounted season pass and is leaving today for a 10 day ski trip to Breckenridge and Vail and then will go back to Vail in March. No doubt he was motivated to do this because of the cheap season pass Vail offers.

With respect to families being priced out of skiing, I'm not sure what the real solution is (if there is one?) Certainly, some smaller areas have gone to cheap season passes to try to make it affordable for families to ski. My local ski hill has done this for 8 or 9 years now, starting originally with a $199 season pass for adults and cheaper for kids. The season pass is now $275 for adults and $179 for kids. Almost everyone I meet on the chairlift or at the ski area says that they could not afford to ski every weekend at a major resort in Vermont or NH or NY state but they can afford to buy the season passes and ski a 1,000 foot vertical mountain most of the time, with an occasional trip to a bigger mountain. I'd estimate that, at least, 50% of the people skiing on weekends have season passes. Whether it works for the ski area, I'm not sure but the fact that they have continued this strategy for many years leads me to believe that it does make sense for them. I just worry that skiing is increasingly becoming a sport for the upper middle class and affluent. I'm not sure that we're going back to the days of the 1950's and 1960's when middle class families could afford to ski.
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Re: Attracting the non-skier

Postby rfarren » Tue Jan 25, 2011 9:39 am

IMHO the most expensive part of skiing is not the lift tix but the educational aspect, i.e. lessons. For example with the big lift card I can ski weekdays at hunter for $27 or weekends for $47. Neither of those prices are outrageous when you consider it can cost the almost the same amount to go to the movies in manhattan. Gas, Tolls, and food, can all be mitigated through interesting routing and preparation. However, educational activities on the mountain are downright expensive. Ski School at most resorts starts at around $90, and private lessons for a whole day can run you in excess of $500 (not including tip). That's simply unaffordable when you consider that many of those going to ski school are renting equipment too. I'm surprised there aren't more private contractors, or outside the resorts teachers who can undercut the ski resort's educational services, at least for private lessons.
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Re: Attracting the non-skier

Postby jamesdeluxe » Tue Jan 25, 2011 9:58 am

rfarren wrote:IMHO the most expensive part of skiing is not the lift tix but the educational aspect, i.e. lessons.

I'm curious to know how many people here learned via lessons. I started downhill skiing at age 35 by watching other people and reading books (Harald Harb and Lito Tejada-Flores) and have only taken a few isolated lessons over the years, maybe five days?

I'm sure that I would've advanced a lot quicker and probably gone well beyond where I am today skill-wise if I'd spent the money for extensive lessons, but as Rob mentions, it ain't cheap.
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Attracting the non-skier

Postby rfarren » Tue Jan 25, 2011 10:15 am

jamesdeluxe wrote:I'm curious to know how many people here learned via lessons. I started downhill skiing at age 35 by watching other people and reading books (Harald Harb and Lito Tejada-Flores) and have only taken a few isolated lessons over the years, maybe five days?

I'm sure that I would've advanced a lot quicker and probably gone well beyond where I am today skill-wise if I'd spent the money for extensive lessons, but as Rob mentions, it ain't cheap.


When I was very young a was put in ski school but maybe 4 days or so. I've never had a private lesson but have skied a ton and read a bunch on technique growing up. However, when you want your wife to learn you realize quickly you can't teach her yourself. That's where ski-school, and especially private lessons become important. IMHO it's better to leave it to the professional when pushing an intermediate/beginner into intermediate/expert territory.
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Re: Attracting the non-skier

Postby EMSC » Tue Jan 25, 2011 11:13 am

rfarren wrote: I'm surprised there aren't more private contractors, or outside the resorts teachers who can undercut the ski resort's educational services, at least for private lessons.


Not that surprising. The resorts generally don't allow it... for multiple reasons. The competition with their ski school being the biggest and most obvious one... The resort is in control of who it allows on the hill, period. Then there are liability issues, workers comp issues, hill space usage issues, etc... The two places that I know of that resorts do allow private (usually), is childrens ski racing clubs (typically non-profits, also occasionally run by the mtn itself though), and very high end adult products that are above what ski school offers... Think Interconnect in Utah or the 'extreme ski camps' that you see advertised. These products still have to go through many hoops that are never seen nor heard about in order to operate even though they are outside the normal ski school competencies.

It is interesting that there are numerous products for learn to ski for adults that are cheaply priced... But then the rates sky rocket for even low intermediates...
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Re: Attracting the non-skier

Postby berkshireskier » Tue Jan 25, 2011 11:36 am

rfarren wrote:
jamesdeluxe wrote:I'm curious to know how many people here learned via lessons. I started downhill skiing at age 35 by watching other people and reading books (Harald Harb and Lito Tejada-Flores) and have only taken a few isolated lessons over the years, maybe five days?

I'm sure that I would've advanced a lot quicker and probably gone well beyond where I am today skill-wise if I'd spent the money for extensive lessons, but as Rob mentions, it ain't cheap.


When I was very young a was put in ski school but maybe 4 days or so. I've never had a private lesson but have skied a ton and read a bunch on technique growing up. However, when you want your wife to learn you realize quickly you can't teach her yourself. That's where ski-school, and especially private lessons become important. IMHO it's better to leave it to the professional when pushing an intermediate/beginner into intermediate/expert territory.


I would echo that sentiment as well for your children. When my daughter was learning how to ski (I started her at 2 1/2, although she was not really doing "real skiing" until about 5), she literally advanced more in a one-hour private lesson than she did with me for two years. It was amazing. Admittedly, lessons are not cheap (esp. private lessons), but many ski areas offer deals on a package of lift ticket, group lesson, and rentals to entice people to try skiing or to improve their skiing. I've been teaching part-time on weekends for the past two years and I think it always helps for someone to get advice and instruction from a disinterested third-party (i.e., the ski instructor) rather than have a spouse or BF/GF or parent try to teach someone. I'm not a psychologist, but I think people tend to focus more when an "authority figure" instructs them on how to do something rather than someone they know plus, if people are spending money for a lesson, they usually are eager to improve and to learn. That is why they are in the lesson!! I also think you can certainly learn from reading books or magazine articles or watching videos, but I think it REALLY helps to get feedback from a qualified instructor who can watch you on the snow and show you what needs to be corrected. It is hard, esp. with skiing, to self evaluate, unless you are using video.
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Re: Attracting the non-skier

Postby jamesdeluxe » Tue Jan 25, 2011 12:01 pm

EMSC wrote: very high end adult products that are above what ski school offers.

I guess you're referring to Epicski (aimed predominantly at beginner/intermediates) or Str8line (expert level), which bring instructors to a specific host ski area (Stowe, Aspen, Big Sky, Brighton, Snowbird, Chamonix are a few of them) for a long weekend or an entire week. It goes against the typical model of preventing non-affiliated instructors from teaching at their mountain, but I guess the resorts look at them as a large revenue-generating group (from lift tickets, lodging, food, etc.) that would go somewhere else if they said no. I remember that Stowe welcomed the Epicski group because they were going there in early/mid December, a dead destination-skier period, so it was all win for the resort.
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Re: Attracting the non-skier

Postby EMSC » Tue Jan 25, 2011 1:08 pm

jamesdeluxe wrote:
EMSC wrote: very high end adult products that are above what ski school offers.

I guess you're referring to Epicski (aimed predominantly at beginner/intermediates) or Str8line (expert level), which bring instructors to a specific host ski area (Stowe, Aspen, Big Sky, Brighton, Snowbird, Chamonix are a few of them) for a long weekend or an entire week. It goes against the typical model of preventing non-affiliated instructors from teaching at their mountain, but I guess the resorts look at them as a large revenue-generating group (from lift tickets, lodging, food, etc.) that would go somewhere else if they said no. I remember that Stowe welcomed the Epicski group because they were going there in early/mid December, a dead destination-skier period, so it was all win for the resort.


I'd forgotten about things like Epicski... the huge destination group of hundreds that only shows for a week a year and brings a handful of 'instructors' (really more like 'guides' who have skied there before). The resorts do tolerate them - exclusively due to the huge numbers for a short period. But you'd never get on the mtn if you set up a local shingle for low or mid level lessons and tried to go to the same resort or two over and over all season long with clients. There have been both groups and individuals who have been banned from certain mountains (I've watched it happen as a resort literally pulled an 'instructor' aside and took his pass for example).
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Re: Attracting the non-skier

Postby soulskier » Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:31 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:If there is a real issue in the healthy growth of the sport, it is affordability for families. This issue is not being addressed by either the strategy of this thread nor by soulskier and MRA.


One of MRA's goals is to make skiing affordable and available to all social classes.
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