Will season pass sales save the ski industry this year? Resorts across the U.S. are keeping their fingers crossed and a recently published article in The New York Times called “Stay Alive and Survive” paints a sobering picture of what they are facing this year.
For the first time ever, skier and snowboard rider visits generated by season passes exceeded those from multi- and single-day lift tickets, according to a study per formed for the National Ski Areas Association.
“Overall, the proportion of visits from season passes rose to 45.5 percent of visits while visits from daily/multi-day tickets were down to 43.5 percent,” said the Kottke End of Season Survey 2019-20 commissioned by NSAA. “Thus, the share of visits from season passes has overtaken daily/multi-day tickets for the first time.”
Selling season passes early certainly is a benefit to both resorts and more dedicated skiers and snowboarders. Obviously, resorts get early dedicated revenue and skiers/snowboarders who visit resorts frequently get a break with lift ticket prices.
Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass and Alterra’s Ikon Pass are no longer “on sale”. All Vail properties require reservations in advance in an effort to mitigate Covid issues and curtail crowd size. Ikon pass holders are not required to make reservations at most of the network’s resort members but each resort does monitor is crowd capacity. Despite those efforts, there have been plenty of photos posted on social media of long lift lines and challenges with social distancing.
The Indy Pass is still available on sale for $229 through December 31. The Indy Pass includes 50 mostly smaller resorts that, as the name implies, are independent in that they are not part of mega pass network like Ikon or Epic. Organizers added 15 new locations this year with the largest being Jay Peak in northern Vermont.
The Indy pass keeps costs down because it is all done online. There is no physical pass provided. Pass holders are asked to provide a photo ID at the destination of choice and a lift ticket is issued via the Indy Pass database. Skiers and snowboarders can access each resort member twice during the season. Some resorts require reservations and some do not.
Each of these season pass products keep their web sites up-to-date with health and safety procedures and guidelines.