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Is 2020/21 the year of the “intermediate” or “area” lift ticket?

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This week I wanted to look deeper at a few thoughts I keep having around COVID, capacity, and what could be part of resort strategy in 2020/21.

Today, specifically, I want to dig into a product that’s always been a footnote. But one that might be worth some deeper discussion during the era of COVID-19.

That product? Beginner tickets.

Beginner Lift Tickets
These tickets have been around for a long time. Most of the first tickets I bought when I learned were beginner passes. And the way they work is pretty straightforward as we can see with The Summit at Snoqualmie’s.

If we break it down to it’s core pieces, we see a list like this:

  • A ticket only valid for specific lifts
  • Priced based on the value that provides
  • Sold as a separate product

There are surely some resorts that don’t do these because of terrain or technology or whatever, but what I want to simply do is expand on this idea where it already exists or could exist.

Capacity, Distancing, etc.
Let’s say that in some shape or form, your capacity is restricted in 2020/21. Now, the number of skiers you can have on your mountain is likely going to be defined by one or two or three hot spots.

You can’t have more than, say, 1,000 people riding a certain lift. But that lift is a really popular one, so you capacity for the whole mountain may be, say, 1,500. You can probably already see where I am going with this, so let’s cut to the chase.

And I’ll use Brighton as my example. Back in the day, I did purchase a beginner pass at Brighton and this is what it gave me access to.

But the resort naturally divides itself into other areas. Great Western and Snake Creek (circled in blue) only cross paths with Crest’s traffic at the bottom and that could be avoided by closing or dividing one run. And Millicent is completely separate (circled in green). Both of those areas are more advanced than Crest.

So let’s say capacity is limited to 2,000 at Brighton because of all the traffic that goes through Crest. But what if, alone, each area could safely handle 1,500 skiers? By selling passes for different areas of the mountain (or skill levels) you could increase you capacity.

  • 1,500 tickets for the Crest Intermediate Zone
  • 1,500 tickets for the Great Western / Millicent Advanced Zone

This would take some careful, thoughtful planning and marketing to do right. After all we’ve tried to convince folks for decades that they need 100 runs to not get bored by lunch even if they only ride 10% of those during a day.

And maybe something like this wouldn’t even be close to necessary. We can absolutely hope for that outcome.

But if beginner passes can exist and overall capacity has the risk of being limited by the capacity of a single, high-traffic area…well…maybe there’s value in thinking through a few random solutions (like this one) now while there’s still time to execute if there’s a solution hidden inside.

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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