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Season Passes (All)
Yesterday Vail Resorts Made a Move That, on the Surface, Goes Against Their Biggest Goal

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Vail Resorts wants to sell 1,000,000 Epic Passes. It’s that simple.

To get there they’ve refined systems of deadlines, cranked up window rates, acquired resorts in key markets, and gone all-in on a lease that depended heavily on legal outcomes.

The pass accounts for 40% of all ticket revenue, selling more than 400,000 this year already. But that counter stopped cold yesterday at midnight.

The Simple, Huge Difference
If you would have looked at the EpicPass website last week, this is what you would have seen:


As of today, you can no longer buy an EpicPass. Seriously.

But if you’ve been watching this over the years, this comes as no surprise.

So why would a company so focused on selling season passes stop selling season passes?

All in On Advance
In effect, Vail goes all in on the true value of a season pass: advanced purchase that generates recurring, predicable revenue before the weather can play a major role.

But it does more than that.

#1) Forces Fence Sitters to Decide
As the season approaches, there are always going to be people on the fence. Again, rather than wait for a dry December to force a decision, Vail makes them choose on their own and they do it while there is still pent-up demand.

#2) Not Just Weather, Alternatives
But remember, the alternative is often perceived though the window rate. In this sense, headlines about the $137 ticket at Vail last year plays to their advantage because it makes the EpicPass a better option.

#3) Both Options = Marketing Opportunity
Think about it this way. If they don’t buy an pass, window rates give them a strong marketing angle to hit them with next year. And if they do buy a pass, they still have a strong angle for the EpicPass as an option.


Smart Moves
Illustrating how different this is only takes a few minutes – or the time required to visit the season pass pages of 5-10 competing resorts. Chances are, all of them will still be selling passes and will continue to do so well into the season.

Perhaps this is what Barron’s writer, Dyan Machan, was referring to when he wrote an article about Vail and EpicPasses but used this as his tagline.

“Vail Resorts CEO Robert Katz brought modern business practices to the rough-and-tumble ski industry.”

What Vail is doing is certainly different. But it’s working.

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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