2019-20 Season Passes, A-Basin Switch to Ikon

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2019-20 Season Passes, A-Basin Switch to Ikon

Postby tseeb » Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:20 am

Following copied from pugski. Good news for me as I was concerned that I may had passed up my last chance to ski A-Basin for free as they dropped off Vail passes after last season. (My Tahoe Local pass gives me 5 days, subject to blackout at Vail CO/UT resorts. I only used one day to ski Canyons side of Park City last season when I was burning through my Ikon Altabird days too fast last March and needed to save some for predicted storm THAT DELIVERED.) Comments on Blog include people that are not happy as they were counting on reduced crowds at A-Basin next year or they bought A-Basin and Ikon passes.

From Al's Blog
http://arapahoebasin.blogspot.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

As you know, back in February we announced that there would be some changes to make the skier experience at A-Basin even better. Over the last 15 years, Arapahoe Basin has expanded the ski area twice adding The Beavers and The Steep Gullies and Montezuma Bowl. We added Black Mountain Lodge, the Kids Center, Black Mountain Express and more, all to improve our guest experience. With these improvements we have seen substantial visitation growth and have, at times, had trouble maintaining the quality of experience that we aspire to. We realized, as many of you have, that changes were necessary.

Our focus has always been to provide extraordinary mountain experiences and we already have the terrain and staff to make that happen. Staying true to our guests, our employees, our business, our community and the environment, we searched for the best path forward for The Basin. We have targeted a substantial reduction in ski and snowboard visits on weekends and holidays next season to improve our ability to provide the services and experiences we are known for.

Today we are proud to announce that we have entered into a partnership with the Ikon Pass. Skiers and riders will have 7-day access with no blackout dates on the Ikon Pass, and 5-day access with selected blackout dates (Christmas holidays, Martin Luther King weekend, President’s weekend) on the Ikon Base Pass. These restrictions and blackout dates will make our already busy periods more manageable.

We know that many of our guests want a multi-resort pass. We believe this pass solution will provide the ideal access to Arapahoe Basin while joining a team of excellent resorts and providing us better control of our business. With this addition, we will only be part of two limited passes (Ikon Pass and Ikon Base Pass) and we will no longer be part of very low-priced multi-resort passes.

Lastly, as I look at the Ikon Pass partner destinations—Alta, Snowbird, Jackson, Big Sky, Revelstoke, Lake Louise, Sunshine Village, Aspen Snowmass, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Mammoth Mountain and more—I realize that most of my ski vacations have been to these resorts (Yes, I still go on ski vacations). We are pleased to partner with these destinations whose brands are so in sync with ours.

I am very excited for the next chapter in A-Basin’s history. The Ikon Pass will be a fantastic new partner. As skiers and riders, all of you will have even more exciting ways to enjoy The Basin. The new partnership is designed to preserve that culture and vibe we all love. Those of us who call Arapahoe Basin home will have that same great feeling upon arrival, except now … we will have a fair bit more “elbow room.”

posted by alan henceroth - coo at 7:12 am
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Re: Pass Wars 2020 edition, A-Basin Switch to Ikon

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat Aug 03, 2019 11:36 am

I saw the news yesterday, read Al's Blog and the pugski thread, but tseeb beat me to the post here.

First it's worth a Review of Ikon and the 2018-19 season. Here's what we knew in March:
Here are some details from Alta

I think it's fairly clear that for resorts on Mountain Collective, the Ikon is more of a replacement than an increment. Alta is not the only area I've read about season passholder visits being way up in the current good season vs. the prior bad one. At Snowbird I was told by a host during Iron Blosam week that visits were way up from 2017-18 but about even with 2016-17.

Jackson is a special case:
1) 2017-18 was above average there which probably drew a few people from places having poor seasons.
2) Jackson has strong underlying growth (close to doubling visits of the past 15 years) that is probably ongoing regardless of pass affiliation.

Areas NOT on a previous group pass program are the ones most affected. Solitude probably tops that list, followed by Deer Valley.

The RMSP areas in Colorado were mostly Intrawest before and now Ikon. I doubt there's much change other than the snow of course. I've read that Aspen is getting a bump from Front Rangers who didn't have it on RMSP but now do on Ikon.

The Boyne and Powdr Corp areas were all on the Max Pass. All of Boyne is now on Ikon, and I have the impression that it's noticeable at Big Sky. Powdr did not put all of its areas on Ikon, most conspicuously Mt. Bachelor.


Since then we have the preliminary Kottke Report. US skiers visits in 2018-19 were a high 59.1 million but not a record. My guess is that the long season at a few resorts will bump that up a little, but 2018-19 will likely remain in 4th place behind the 59.8M visits in 2009-10 and the record 60.5 M in 2007-08 and 2010-11.

IMHO this year's numbers and particularly the 54.8M skier visits in the even better 2016-17 season reinforce the view of many that the industry is doing a poor job of attracting new skiers. Skier visits grew modestly during the 2000's when Millennials were coming into the sport, but they are flat at best since that peak in 2010-11. Note also that 2009-10 and 2010-11 were right on the heels of the Great Recession and the economy is much better in 2016-17 and 2018-19.

For the past 17 years overall skier visits are 63% correlated with snowfall. By region that's 66% in the Northeast, 77% in the Pacific Southwest and 87% in the Pacific Northwest, reflecting flexibility of those drive-up skier markets. In Kottke's broad Rockies definition the correlation to snowfall is only 32%, reflecting a lot of inflexibility from advance booked vacations.

But there is one stat that jumps out in 2018-19, and Ikon probably has some role here. Rockies skier visits were a record 24.0 million, well beyond prior highs of 22.3M in 2015-16, 21.7M in 2016-17 and 21.3M in 2007-08. By comparison Northeast visits were 12.7M (average 12.4 since 1979) vs. 4 seasons over 14M, two of those in the 1980's. Pacific Southwest visits were 7.7M (average 7.2 since 1996) vs. 3 seasons over 8M plus the standout 9.3M in 2004-05. Pacific Northwest visits were 4.0 million (average 3.6M), but half of the past 18 seasons were between 4.0M and 4.2M. The Rockies are on an uptrend over time at the expense of other regions. Average 1979-2005 was 17.3M with no seasons over 20M. the 14 seasons since 2006 have averaged 21.0M with only 2 seasons under 20M.

At the individual area level we don't know much that we didn't know in March. Jackson set a record of 750K, but we know Jackson has an underlying growth trend that few areas do. Locals were bitching about Ikon at Mammoth, but I'll have to see actual visit numbers before I believe that. The SoCal core of 40K passholders would have just moved from the old MVP. Mammoth like Alta/Snowbird was also on the Mountain Collective, so as for those areas the comparison should be made with the 2016-17 season. I'll probably get those numbers in Nov/Dec. One factor that could have bumped Mammoth's numbers was Squaw passholders who became Ikon and now get Mammoth for free. Anecdotally we did see quite a few of those people at Mammoth this spring. I also observed that Memorial weekend and the June Saturday were the busiest I've seen at Mammoth in those time frames.

A-Basin
I'm sure EMSC will weigh in here on the perspective of Front Range locals. He should delighted to have A-Basin added to his Ikon.

With the advent of Ikon Vail's Epic pass sales dropped from 950K to 750K. Alterra sold "at least" 250K Ikon passes, but we don't know the exact number because it's a private company. It is speculated that 100K of the Ikon passes were from Front Rangers who had RMSP before. I think it's a safe bet that the vast majority of RMSP people are on base Ikon and will thus get 5 days at A-Basin with holiday blackouts.

So I think the vocal minority of A-Basin passholders wailing the that the crowd issues will be as bad are a bit premature. Comments in the other thread with which I agree:
1) A-Basin probably didn't sell enough of their own season passes after dropping out of Epic to be comfortable going independent.
2) 5 days is not the same as unlimited and there are more Epic than Ikon passholders so it's not unreasonable for A-Basin to test the waters and see if this change achieves the desired balance between decent revenue and avoiding overcrowding. If crowds remain bad they can change their mind and try Mountain Collective or going independent.
3) Surely the people with 5 days will be less inclined than unlimited people to go to A-Basin during October/November WROD season. Impact upon late season is less clear.

There are unknown impacts for which we have to wait and see.
1) Some unknown number of Front Rangers will switch from Epic to Ikon because of A-Basin.
2) Some people say, "The average Front Range Epic passholder skied X days at A-Basin, and since X is probably in the 5-day range the crowd situation isn't going to improve." This is a situation where the average doesn't tell the story so you need to know the entire distribution of skier visits. Maybe half of the Epic visits were coming from people who skied 10+ days. If so, the crowds will likely be reduced. WE don't know this info, but Al Henceroth probably does, so maybe he's fairly confident this change will work out well for A-Basin.
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Re: Pass Wars 2020 edition, A-Basin Switch to Ikon

Postby tseeb » Sun Aug 04, 2019 11:35 am

A few points:

1. Not sure we needed to start a 2020 thread when we still have almost 5 months in 2019. I could have put 2019-20 Season Passes and left out Wars in my title.

2. Are you sure "With the advent of Ikon Vail's Epic pass sales dropped from 950K to 750K"? Article from last Dec. at https://www.skyhinews.com/news/vail-res ... ki-season/" says Vail sold 925K passes. And it says "Following the previous two years, both of which set records for pass sales, sales for the 2018-2019 season were up 21 percent in units sold and 13 percent in revenue.
While the dollar gains lagged the unit gains, Katz said much of that can be attributed to sales of heavily discounted passes for military members, their families and veterans."

Vail corporate news release http://investors.vailresorts.com/news-r ... -and-early" said in early June "Season pass sales through May 28, 2019 for the upcoming 2019/2020 North American ski season increased approximately 9% in units and 13% in sales dollars as compared to the period in the prior year through May 29, 2018, excluding sales of all military pass products in both periods. Pass sales include Stevens Pass..." So the 900+K may not include military passes.

3. Not all Vail passes included unlimited days (with our without blackouts) at A-Basin. My Tahoe Local Pass only gives me 5 total days in CO and UT. The slightly less expensive Tahoe Value Pass does not include CO/UT days. The slightly more expensive Epic Local Pass was unrestricted last season at Breck, Keystone and A-Basin and adds 10 total days (with blackouts) at Vail, Beaver Creek, and Whistler Blackcomb and was probably purchased by a lot of Front Rangers. See https://www.vail.com/plan-your-trip/lif ... -pass.aspx" for other benefits.
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Re: Pass Wars 2020 edition, A-Basin Switch to Ikon

Postby tseeb » Mon Aug 05, 2019 9:13 am

To add a little more to my previous post, I don't think moving from Vail to Ikon will reduce crowds much on powder days or weekends. And if you want to ski A-Basin on a weekend powder day, you better be there before 9 AM and probably want to be coming from Keystone side vs. I-70 and Loveland Pass. Crowds should be lower early season as Ikon passholders probably will be saving their limited days for later and better days, but late season weekends should still fill parking early.

In other 2019-20 season news Powder Alliance is adding Mission Peak and White Pass, both in WA. See https://www.powderalliance.com/white-pa ... 20-season/
Also note that while Castle, AB and many other interesting areas remain on Powder Alliance, Stevens Pass dropped off due to acquisition by Vail and that Silver Star, BC is no longer listed as part of Powder Alliance.

The other thing both of these WA ski areas have in common is free parking for RVs. All RV parking at White Pass is free. When I skied there in 2017, I had mountain tour by someone staying in RV and he seemed to know a lot of other RVers. See http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards ... =3&t=12329
At Mission Peak, they have 15 RV spots for $20 which can sellout by advance reservation, but "Truck campers can park in our lower lot in the area designated "Truck / Tow Vehicle Overnight Parking" without reservations or a fee." Note also "All RVs must be self-contained. No electrical hook-ups are available."

Other interesting Powder Alliance news that I had missed is that someone won a trip for 2 to Chile by skiing 15 of the 19 areas last season. https://www.powderalliance.com/larry-mc ... der-quest/
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Re: 2019-20 Season passes, A-Basin Switch to Ikon

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Aug 05, 2019 12:07 pm

tseeb wrote:1. Not sure we needed to start a 2020 thread when we still have almost 5 months in 2019. I could have put 2019-20 Season Passes and left out Wars in my title.

Title of new thread is now changed. IMHO this topic should be divided by ski season not calendar year.

tseeb wrote:Are you sure "With the advent of Ikon Vail's Epic pass sales dropped from 950K to 750K"?

No I'm not sure where I read that, and after a month out of the loop I'm not inclined to search very much.

Tseeb's 925K number is probably correct for Epic Passes and variations thereof in 2018-19.

The 250K mark for Alterra was "guidance" in fall 2018 and it's possible the real number was more.

It's not unreasonable underlying growth of Epic Passes offset any switches to Ikon so far. A-Basin might well motivate some Front Rangers to shift to Ikon, but both passes offer the best deals if you buy in spring so I'm guessing most people are locked in for 2019-20. Therefore A-Basin's crowds could dip in 2019-20 and rebound some the following season. But remember that all drive up market skiing is sensitive to snow conditions. A bad year like 2011-12 or a good year like this past one will dominate A-Basin's visitation stats as demonstrated by Alta/Snowbird during the past 3 years, two very good and one very bad.
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Re: 2019-20 Season Passes, A-Basin Switch to Ikon

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Aug 06, 2019 12:44 pm

A-Basin is now on Mountain Collective too.
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Re: 2019-20 Season Passes, A-Basin Switch to Ikon

Postby tseeb » Tue Aug 06, 2019 12:54 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:A-Basin is now on Mountain Collective too.
You beat me to that one. Al's post inludes "news for Arapahoe Basin Full Season Pass Holders is that they will receive lift tickets for 50% off window price at all Mountain Collective Resorts." But that still means over $75/day to ski Jackson Hole or Squaw and $100/day at Aspen.

Also interesting that if you attempt to comment at http://arapahoebasin.blogspot.com/2019/ ... ctive.html it says "Comment moderation has been enabled. All comments must be approved by the blog author." Has it always been that way?
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Re: 2019-20 Season Passes, A-Basin Switch to Ikon

Postby EMSC » Tue Aug 06, 2019 4:08 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:A-Basin is now on Mountain Collective too.


While I've also been out of touch for a couple weeks with vacations, I knew that this particular one was coming. Ikon I knew was very much in discussion too... was waiting to see if that had worked out.

Not sure if the timing was to publish in dead summer and attract less attention from the whiny die-hards you see on Al's blog or etc... I would have thought splashier announcing just ahead of the labor day kick off to ski area marketing and sales push would have been in the offering. That would be the traditional timing for the kick off to ski goods and ski area marketing here in Colorado, ABasin's primary market (historically).

For me personally, good news to get a couple ski days late season at ABasin. My sense is that there are quite a few more Epic passholders in the front range than Ikon, though my sense is that Vail is starting to lose some % of front rangers over to Ikon due to the overcrowding at breck, Keystone (and previously) Abasin. Vail is also crowded from the perspective of parking, buying food, etc.. if not skiers per acre. BC remains relatively less crowded for them in the drive-up market. Vast majority of pass holders already bought in the front range and probably only a tiny number will add another pass at this point based on new announcements. Some epic holders may buy 4 paks to Abasin though and skip out on Breck's new late season.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a decent number of local Ikon folks burn 1 of their 5 days in October. So I think the first couple WROD weekends only get slightly better, crowds wise. I would guess that Nov to mid-Jan will be dramatically less crowded than recent years at Abasin. I think the difference between unlimited epic and (let's be honest nearly all the Ikons sold are 'Base") Ikon 5 days + Mountain Collective 2 days, is that crowds will still be significant at least March-May on weekends, but probably manageable. The epic pass crowds the past two seasons were so much that the entire experience was not fun for nearly anyone.

That said, if it is a mediocre season, the few powder weekends could be just as bad as before since everyone will try to use their pass at the same limited times. Though that would be true at all front range ski areas, not just at Abasin. Which is the real elephant in the room in Colorado front range. I70 and parking issues/crowding at virtually all drive up ski areas is completely overwhelmed basically every weekend for nearly the entire season lately. The boys at Big Sky and Jackson for example might be complaining about Ikon crowds, but they haven't seen anything yet when it comes to crowding.........

And to your point Tony, Rockies are gaining at pretty much everyone's expense in a flat ski days market. Not that you have time but would be interesting to see if there is correlation to snowfall, or multi-year consistency of snowfall or etc... (eg annual snowfall is biggest factor, or the other regions snowfall is/has become so inconsistent from year to year that everyone just books to the rockies region since a bad year is still solid enough but say a bad far west year is so bad they don't want to risk it).
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Re: 2019-20 Season Passes, A-Basin Switch to Ikon

Postby Sbooker » Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:21 pm

A Basin now on Mountain Collective. \:D/
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Re: 2019-20 Season Passes, A-Basin Switch to Ikon

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:42 pm

I answered EMSC's visits to snowfall correlation question above:
For the past 17 years overall skier visits are 63% correlated with snowfall. By region that's 66% in the Northeast, 77% in the Pacific Southwest and 87% in the Pacific Northwest, reflecting flexibility of those drive-up skier markets. In Kottke's broad Rockies definition the correlation to snowfall is only 32%, reflecting a lot of inflexibility from advance booked vacations.

Why are the Rockies gaining visits vs. other regions? I could speculate...
1) Faster local population growth. Denver and SLC are Exhibits A&B with increased weekend crowding over the past 10-15 years. For new arrivals or teenagers, I'm sure it's more attractive to take up skiing if you live in one of those places than in the Midwest, most of the East Coast or in high growth areas far from skiing like Texas and Florida.
2) The proportion of experienced vs. beginner skiers is higher than ~30 years ago. Experienced skiers are more willing to pay up for higher quality skiing at a destination resort.
3) Two key components of destination skiing are cheaper than ~30 years ago: air travel and Ikon/Epic type passes. The passes play a role just in the past few years, the 2019 Rockies record suggesting this.
4) If the ski population is overall more affluent than ~30 years ago (I don't know this for a fact but it's plausible), more people can afford destination vs. local skiing.
5) There is scant evidence that weather/climate/ski conditions are worse than 30 years ago. And if so in some cases, improved grooming and snowmaking are an offset.

My guess is that #1 above is the primary explanation.
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Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
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