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Season Passes (All)
Intrawest’s New Joint Pass Bridges the Continent and Goes All-In on Skiing Families

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GREGG
BLANCHARD
       

When I finally took at look at this release, I regretted not digging into it soon. To me, this is big.

A new product, The Intrawest Passport, launches tomorrow. Starting at $549, it gives the holder 6 days of riding at 6 different resorts – Winter Park, Steamboat, Blue Mountain, Mont Tremblant, Stratton, and Snowshoe. Plus, the holder becomes the gatekeeper of some hefty family perks. Kids under 12 ski free (five with each pass), teens are $199 each, and additional adults (up to fifteen) are $399.

Plus there are no blackout days.

They’re citing a changing “traditional family structure” as the catalyst, but I think it’s more than that. Let me jump into what I see and, please, let me know what you see as well.

Where
Let’s first look at where these resorts are located in relation to one another.

For a good chunk of North America, places like West Virginia, Ontario, and Quebec simply aren’t going to draw people who travel beyond a fairly limited radius. More will travel to Vermont, but Winter Park and Steamboat are likely going to see the bulk of traveling passholders.

intrawestmap

In that sense, I don’t see it as a play to drive sampling on a large scale. Instead, it feels closer to the Powder Alliance as a play to increase perceived value of season pass alternatives. This also seems to widen their markets for non-season-pass products and gives them an advantage in existing markets.

Especially in the East.

Who
The release referred to “multi-generational families” a few times. It was never placed first in a list of prospective buyers, but that’s exactly where I’d put it on mine.

To me, this gives boomers a way to spend more money on their own families while facilitating the passing on of the sport beyond the first generation and into the next. I think Intrawest dug through their data and saw that family-introductions to skiing weren’t just an big piece of their business’ sustainability, but a massively underutilized one.

I love Homewood’s Generation Pass that includes two passes for the grandparents, two for the parents, and two for the kids. But this Passport gives a grandparent the tools to get everyone involved.

Last Piece
Each pass includes 6-days of skiing at each destination. This tells me they aren’t looking for any ticket revenue beyond the price of the Passport for travelers. Instead, this seems to put a big responsibility on the lodging side to maximize non-ticket spend for Passport holders and especially those close enough to reasonably drive to an Intrawest resort.

Overall, I like it. I like that it adds value to a 4-pack type product that encourages a small amount of sampling. I like that it bridges the two sides of the continent to appeal to Eastern markets who ski locally but also take a trip to the Rockies. And I really like that it gives boomers a way to get more of their family involved.

What am I missing? What do you think of the pass and what’s the motivation behind its creation?



  • SkiG

    Should be interesting to see if this works. I see a major geographic challenge with this product that will limit participation, but I also thought Mountain Collective wasn’t going to work for the same reason and was dead wrong. So, what do I know?
    That said, we’re planning on doing something similar to the above as a benefit to passes with our sister resorts, not an added product though.

    • I was in the same boat on the Mountain Collective, Matt, but was also quickly proved wrong. I love the idea of the value add to existing passes rather than a separate pass. I don’t like it as much, but I also like the idea giving the head-of-house something to rally his/her clan around which seems easier to sell and highlight with a separate product. Very interested to see if this works as well.

    • stevewright

      Participation only matters in year two; perception of participation is what’s going to sell this (and that buys them some time to figure out what to spend their IPO’d hundred milly on).

  • Kevin Forrest

    I think that the pass is a good idea, I really like the family perks. I also think that putting revenue generation on the other venues (snow sports, retail, food and beverage, lodging) is something that most ski areas already depend on. Yes tickets bring in money, but it is all about boosting “per skiier” revenue by having them spend additional money once they arrive. What is nice since they pay for the lifts way in advance it makes it easier for them to spend money once they arrive as they are not thinking about the money spent on the pass anymore. In my opinion this lowers inhibition to spending money on other stuff.

    • You may be right on the in-resort spending inhibitions of buying in advance, but that concept in itself isn’t really unique to this pass and advanced sales of tickets is widely pushed by much of the industry. It’s an interesting concept though, and similar to Dan Ariely’s experiments with the “Pain of Paying”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCujWv7Mc8o

      • Kevin Forrest

        Thanks for the video.

        I agree that it is not unique to this pass, but the huge family perks and lack of black out dates seem to be unique. You can use it on a whim if you happen to be close to any of the areas…this is something Power Alliance does not offer. Powder Alliance is closer to perceived value due to blackout…Intrawest does seem like it does offer a little better value to me

        I have a terrible habit of asking people where they are from when I am skiing and I am constantly amazed out how far some people come. I would estimate that about half of the people I talk to have driven 12+ hours. Not to mention the person who flew 2000 miles and then drove like another 500. If you had this pass and were visiting the north east or Colorado I don’t think that it would be out of the picture for people to say, “Hey, I got this pass, lets go skiing.” I might be wrong on this and people may plan their vacations better than I do

        If I had this pass and I was skiing on the day after Christmas with all of my kids while my wife was hanging out in the lodge it would be far easier so spend more money than if I had a Powder Alliance simply because of the lack of blackout dates.

  • Christian Knapp

    Lots of similarities to Mountain Collective, not Powder Alliance. It’s interesting that everyone gets caught up in the reciprocity discussion when Intrawest pass holders already get a discount at the other resorts in the portfolio, same for Mountain Collective at 50% off the lead rate with no blackouts. This is a compelling new product that rubs 5+ day lift ticket purchases, not season pass sales. My main question to Intrawest is why not just match the lineup of Epic Passes and be done with it? After all, they’re only $150 shy of a full Epic and in the same territory as an Epic Local, plus they’re one company and can justify the lower average pass price with volume growth.

    • Kevin Forrest

      Maybe they identified a price point at $550 and $700 was too much?

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