FROM THE TOP :: 2017/18 SEASON PASSES
Posted by Mike Solimano on April 1, 2017
As you review our season pass offerings for winter 2017/18 you will notice that we are not offering a Blackout pass for the coming winter season. I wanted to provide some background information regarding this decision as you make plans for coming winter season.
This spring, we went into season pass planning with the intent of offering the same product mix as last year, and with incremental price increases similar to increases we’ve made each of the past several years. But as we began to compare our planned offerings to our competitors, there were two main differences. First, other areas had already announced lowered “unlimited” pass prices, and secondly, many other resorts eliminated blackout passes as part of lowering their all-access pass prices.
Much of our competition in Vermont has moved to Unlimited Passes in the $800-900 range, and if we didn’t react our Unlimited Season Pass at over $1100 would have been the price leader in the North East market by far, and our blackout pass at $800 would have been priced higher than many competing resorts’ all-access passes.
This was a scenario which I do not believe would have played out well for our long term success, so we explored other options. Unfortunately, models where we reduced prices on all passes just did not work financially.
So the result is we have a lower-priced Unlimited Pass that is competitive within the marketplace but needed to take the blackout pass out of the mix to make this work. We looked at the data and realized that many blackout pass holders also bought a few K-tickets each year to supplement their blacked-out periods, and in many cases ended up spending more money than is required to jump up to the new lowered Unlimited Pass price.
Many of the pass holders looking at a slight price increase next winter will see significant added value from being able to ski any day of the season, plus additional premium perks and benefits afforded to Unlimited Pass holders. I need not remind you that no other resort is as committed to offering such a long season and making snow whenever we can.
I understand that if you have bought a blackout pass in the past and have zero interest in skiing during holiday periods that you’re probably not excited about the decision to combine the blackout and Unlimited products, but this was the best way for us to reduce prices across the board to keep in line with market conditions while still providing a mix of products that work for the majority of our pass holders.
In looking at sales and skier visit numbers, trends show that our busiest days have changed over the years, and many mid-winter Saturdays are now typically busier than holiday periods that we have historically blacked out. One solution we discussed involved changing the blackout pass days to black out more Saturdays during the winter but we figured that would not be well received by most. We also looked at the floater day usage and determined that those were being used on the busiest of blackout days meaning the pass wasn’t being effective at reducing crowding and many blackout pass holders actually didn’t mind skiing on busy days. Knowing that demand existed for access on those busy days, a less expensive Unlimited Pass made the most sense to bridge the gap.
We intentionally kept the Midweek Pass as an option for folks who ski often but try to avoid the crowds, and K-Tickets, e-Tickets, Express Cards and Spring Passes are all returning to provide a range of supplements should some of our midweekers want additional access without committing to the Unlimited Pass.
We had to respond to our changing Northeast marketplace – both from competition resorts, but also from trends in how our guests consume our products, that’s just how this business works. Every time the marketplace changes (think Liftopia, then killington.com/tickets, or the M.A.X. Pass), we adjust what we do. It would be foolish to think we can offer any prices we want and still survive in this competitive industry. An Unlimited Pass cost $999 when I started here 15 years ago and I think it’s pretty cool that we’re able to offer you an even lower rate for winter 2017-18.
With all that said, this winter has been one of my all-time favorites here at Killington, and I want to close by thanking our pass holders for its passion and dedication to Killington.
Let’s have a great spring and keep charging toward June.