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Season Passes (All)
This season’s EpicPass numbers are huge. Here’s what we know.

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The EpicPass is a product our industry has never seen.

Vail Resorts has gone all in a season passes for locals for destination skiers for families for everyone. They’ve priced a pass valid at 10 resorts on par with a pass valid at one middle-class ski area and priced day passes to make a season pass the painfully obvious choice.

Driven by a goal to sell 1,000,000 passes in a season, sales have been growing like crazy for years.

But it’s a recent earnings call that got my attention.

Those are big numbers. Huge numbers. Here’s what we know about what they mean.

#1) Last Season Sales
As far as I know (and multiple people have supported), Vail Resorts sold roughly 500,000 EpicPasses last season.

Like I said, huge.

#2) Current Pace
Which means that based on the current pace (+29% YOY), they’d sell as many at 650,000 season passes in 2016. This would be, by far, the biggest jump in EpicPass sales ever IF (and that’s a big if) that holds.

For reference, to this point in 2015, EpicPass sales were only up 12% YOY.

#3) Wilmot Basin
Does January 20 seem like a strange time to announce a resort acquisition? Not if you are all in on season passes, the acquisition is aligned to a major market (Chicago), and pass sales started 6 weeks later.

#4) More Acquisitions Likely Coming
What the acquisition of Wilmot Basin told us was that this buy-a-small-resort-near-a-big-market strategy is working. And if it’s working and you have the cash that Vail does, it won’t be the last.

What market will be next? Your guess is as good as mine, but it’s almost certain this isn’t the last.

The Question
The question then becomes a simple one.

Will the pace hold?

The answer is, almost surely, no. That strong of a spring following a (finally) good winter in Tahoe almost surely spells, as many have pointed out before me, that a slow fall may be coming for the Epic Pass. Will it be up 20%, 10%, less come December when sales end? Not sure.

My guess, if I had to make one (I don’t but I’m going to anyway), would be somewhere around 15-20% (+75,000-100,000 total passes).

But an even bigger question that’s yet to be answered (on a large scale, I’m sure many of you have individual answers), is what effect +100,000 season passes at one company is having on the rest of the industry. Many of those sales are coming from skiers who have never been passholders before and/or non-US skiers, but they’re surely stealing share as well.

Remember, they may steal/create 400,000 before they hit their goal. Just think about that for a minute if you’ve already seen a dip at your mountain.

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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