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Do Seniors Deserve Such Hefty Discounts on Season Passes?

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This year, Durango Mountain Resort is raising season pass prices for seniors from $169 to $399. Needless to say, skiers in their golden years are speaking up. The news, covered by an article in The Durango Herald, makes some very interesting points about pass usage, lifestyle, and how they work into the pass pricing strategy.

In this example, letters were sent from Durango to passholders with the news of the price increase which the author interpreted as:

“You guys have been getting a smoking deal for years, but the party’s over. Resorts finally got the courage to insist older customers pay their fare share. You are still getting a discount. It’s just not the ridiculously out-of-whack discount you are accustomed to.”

The reasons given are simple. The author of the article quotes Purgatory’s (and others’) data that:

  • On average, retirement-age skiers use their pass more than 20 times a season, according to Purgatory’s ticket-scanning data. That’s equal or comparable to every other type of pass.
  • Skiers in the 70-plus age bracket have the highest pass-usage rate of all, skiing more frequently than even college students
  • The median net worth of households headed by people 65 and older was 42 percent higher than the same-aged households in 1984
  • Households headed by those younger than 35 had 68 percent less wealth in 2009 than the same aged households 25 years earlier.

So, you’ve got these older skiers who have all the time in the world to ski, have more money to pay for it than ever (especially compared to younger groups), rack up more days than any other group, but are typically getting a hefty discount on their passes.

So, are older skiers getting a discount everywhere? A quick browsing of 6 random mountains may not represent the industry, but shows these discounts aren’t a hard and fast rule, but still very common:

  • Big Sky (GOLD): Adult – $799, College $599, Senior $799
  • Hunter Mountain: Adult $749, Young Adult $329, Senior $425, 70+ Club Member $129
  • Mammoth: Adult $659, Youth $494, Senior $329
  • Winter Park: Adult $369, Teen $299, Senior $249
  • Summit at Snowqualmie: Adult $479, Teen $409, Youth $349, Senior $349, Super Senior (70+) $219
  • Indianhead Mountain: Adult $279, Junior $239, Child $190, Senior $190

I’ve always been torn on the idea of senior discounts. Part of me wonders if it’s nothing more than an “everyone else does it so we should too” sort of phenomenon or if there’s a politically correct thread to it. That not doing so is disrespecting your elders. A recent article in Time actual argued why seniors DON’T deserve discounts (the comments are pretty heated).

So, do senior skiers deserve a discount? I’m not sure, but The Durango Herald encourages them:

When writing that $399 check for a DMR season pass, please make this note in the memo line: “Thank you for the opportunity to write this check.” There are many seniors out there who are physically unable to ski, who didn’t save for retirement or who never lived to celebrate their 65th birthday on a snow-kissed slope.

Be grateful. Be of good cheer. Wave to that younger guy cruising down Paradise with his two kids. He paid $937 for his pass and the kids’ passes at preseason prices and has to take time off work just to enjoy a weekday of powder.

I don’t think it magically smooths it over, but he makes a good point. Whether skiers see things this way (or pay $399 for their passes) is another story. Thoughts?

It is great if your senior family members are doing well and are ready for skiing challenge. Still when something goes wrong, you should know that Home Caring – Sydney Office can provide special caring for people so that they can live comfortably and happily at home for longer.

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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