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Season Passes
Balancing passes and day tickets? Mission Ridge is one to learn from.

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Six months ago I published a story about a dude I’ve really come to respect. Someone whose unique background helped him see Mission Ridge’s performance and future opportunities in a way not many did.

His name is Tony Hickok.

For the last few weeks we’ve seen resorts trying to balance day tickets with season passes while preserving the guest experience and ensuring the financial boxes are checked. Interestingly, this is exactly what I talked to Tony about in our Q&A. Let me quote a couple of the more important pieces.

“Coming out of the 14/15 season we had a really tough pass sale due to the extremely low snow season. Mission Ridge was the only resort in the state of Washington to operate every weekend of the season (though we were closed midweek for a lot of it from February on) but that season had a major effect on some passholders. We had a really low number going into 15/16 relative to historical averages. The next year was a great snow year. We sold a lot of tickets.

“For a long time, Mission had been looking for a way to move the needle on passes. Historically pass sales are an awesome example of supply and demand. If you lower the price units sold go up. If you raise the price units sold go down. But at the end of the day, revenue stays pretty much the same unless you are able to tap into a new market.

“After the 15/16 season, we decided to really focus on making sure we were helping guests experience The Ridge through the best product for them. We also wanted change when passes were being sold. In order to offer better guest service, set the business up to be more successful during the summer months (we have no summer operations, just expenses), and to be able to focus on ticket products going into the fall, we changed our pass sale strategy going into the 16/17 season. A shift to a quantity-based, rather than a date-driven deadline system has been one of the most important decisions for Mission Ridge. It has helped us move the needle and be able to re-invest more back into our infrastructure to make sure we are around for the next 50 years (we celebrated our 50th anniversary in 16/17).”

Tony was clear when I talked to him, “The way everyone else does things can be the right decision for them and Mission Ridge not doing it that way can be the right decision for us at the same time.”

But if you find yourself asking the season pass vs day ticket question? I’d encourage you to re-read his story.

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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