Yesterday I shared the latest Epic by Nature podcast episode. Aptly titled “The Big Idea”, it tells their side of the Epic Pass story.
It’s absolutely worth a listen.
But as I listened and pondered on the perspectives of each interview and the narrative that tied it all together, something stood out to me more than usual. The first starts at about 15:20:
“We started to create a predictive model around how likely you are to renew a pass based on over 100 different data variables, found the ones that were most highly correlated to the likelihood of you renewing your season pass.”
After this quote, Rob Katz jumped back in:
“Going all in on data was a key unlock for us to grow our business.”
Now I’ve done those analyses. I’ve found correlations between renewal rates and things like scan count.
But what Kirsten is talking about here is not finding a correlation between one thing, but all the things. And Rob is saying it’s not a fluke, it’s their MO.
That alone impressed me, but even correlations can just be interesting things without much value. The ability to act on data is another thing in terms of both quality of insights and support of leadership.
Which is why this quote, when I listened to the podcast again later, was…well…eye opening:
“Destination guests were paying top dollar for lift tickets. Historically, we were not willing to put that revenue at risk. But what if we did? What would happen if we drastically reduced the cost of skiing and riding for our out of town guests? We needed to answer that question, so we got to work and started the analysis.
We were taking a leap of faith, but it was a leap of faith underpinned by modeling and analytics telling us this would work.”
I’ve tried to write this next section a few times, but let me try saying it this way.
Vail Resorts knows more than we do.
Like…A LOT more.
About behaviors and trends and patterns and more.
About the industry.
But an even bigger takeaway from this story is that they are good enough at gathering and reading data that they could pivot the business model of 15,000 employee, publicly-traded company based on what they found.
Think about that for a second.
Look, we have some good data in this industry. Some really good data.
But the realization that had been lurking in my gray matter over the last few years, the realization that this podcast unlocked, is that Vail Resorts knows more about our industry than any of us do. And not by a little bit, but by a lot.
That the Epic Pass wasn’t a lucky bet or clever idea. It was proof of how far ahead they likely are in the big data game.
Food for thought.
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