My little world of social media has gone nuts over the $209 “walk up to the window” price of a single day Vail ski lift ticket.
Calm down everyone.
Yes, $209 for a lift ticket is expensive, but you know what also is expensive?
I could go on, but you get the point.
Another point is that very few pay the window price for a single day lift ticket. If they do, they are either rich enough that $209 is peanuts to them or they are occasional spur of the moment skiers.
Skiing is a business and a ski company can’t base its business plan on a skier who may or may not show up at the window to buy a ticket once or twice a season.
Skip the Ticket Window, Buy a Pass
For under $1,000, the Vail ski pass (the multi-resort, multi-day Epic Pass) is a reasonable option for people who ski or ride more than a half dozen times a year and are willing to commit to buying the pass before the season begins or early in the season (Epic Pass sales end on November 24).
A head spinning array of Epic Pass choices are described on the Epic website, including the new Epic Day Pass, and most skiers who want to ski Vail ski resort for less than $209 a day should be able to find a plan that works for them.
Share in the Risk, Invest in Your Ski Season
Operating a ski resort is a gamble based on the weather. Despite not knowing if weather will bring customers or keep them away, a ski resort must begin each season fully staffed and with proper infrastructure ready to handle the crowds.
At Vail owned and affiliated resorts, buying an Epic Pass means the skier shares in the risk. The company hedges its bets by getting much of its operating revenue before the season starts and the skier is rewarded with cheaper ticket prices.
Some of my appalled ski buddies argue that the Epic Pass and the $209 window price ticket discourage newbies from trying the sport.
To that I say balderdash.
People learning to ski or ride do not need that.
There are hundreds of smaller resorts, some owned by Vail Resorts, where people can sample the sport for a lot less money. Many resorts have reasonably priced beginner’s packages and many have discounted lift tickets that are only good on the novice lifts. Not sure about Vail since their web site states:
“Discounted beginner tickets with restricted mountain access may be available at select resort locations. Please visit the lift ticket window for details.”
That’s no help for those who would like to plan and price their ski experience before they get to the ticket window.
Another online naysayer wrote that the season pass / high day ticket model discourages those who chase snowstorms. For that relatively small group I respond that if you want to ski the best places on the best days, you are going to have to pay a premium.
Football versus Skiing
Take note of the price on an NFL ticket. While prices fluctuate, my quick online search of Bronco tickets found many priced way more than $209 and for that you just get a hard plastic seat.
Yes, operating a football team is expensive, but the ticket holder doesn’t get to run around on the meticulously groomed Kentucky Bluegrass field. Skiers on the other hand get to enjoy the product, not just look at it.
I Pay My Way
A couple of weeks ago I was running my theory on Vail lift tickets by some real (as opposed to Facebook) friends and they accused me of being a shill for the ski industry in general and Vail ski resort in particular. Not true. Both my wife and I buy our Epic (and Ikon) Passes at the regular rate. No media discounts. And we use the passes enough to make them incredible deals. I’ve got my individual ticket price down to about $30 a day.
So let’s stop being shocked by high ticket price stories. It is irrelevant for most skiers and riders.
Martin Griff is an East Coast ski bum. A journalist by education and profession, he shares his thoughts, impressions, experiences and those things that puzzle him with Braveskimom.com throughout the ski season.
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