Park City Mountain Resort should follow others in controlling traffic on their mountains.
With this season coming to an end, after a long overdue few powder days, it’s time to reflect. We can all agree that this year has been another disappointing year in terms of snowfall and the impact on our reservoirs and water supply is concerning given the current drought. In addition to often less than optimal snow conditions, our local resorts have struggled with COVID and related staffing issues.
That said, it was great to see the majority of these stations, both those owned by multi-station operators and independents, pull off the season in relative style by continuing to deliver a great customer experience in terms of operating lift services, snow grooming and manufacturing, ski school, food service, parking and traffic management and general customer service.
Unfortunately, it has been well documented in mainstream and social media that Vail Resorts has done the opposite by falling on all these fronts to Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) and their list of North American resorts.
A great customer experience starts with controlling customer visits. While several members of the community were concerned when Alta implemented a parking reservation system for weekends and holidays this season, I think most people would agree that it proved manageable, not that inconvenient, and didn’t impact his old-school customer experience. and corresponding cult status as one of the country’s most iconic resorts.
Similarly, Jackson Hole’s recently implemented mountain access reservation system was considered a resounding success in controlling crowds and maximizing the guest experience on even the most important powder days. This system was a by-product of collaboration between citizens and businesses in the city and the mountain society, and is now being emulated by several other major national resorts, including Aspen, Big Sky, Brighton and Taos, which require reservations for national pass holders from next. year.
Alterra has also made it clear that they are focused on continuing Deer Valley’s renowned premium guest experience by not including the resort in their Base Ikon pass, thereby limiting day visitors. Several non-Alterra Ikon resorts, including Alta, Aspen, Jackson Hole, and now Snowbasin and Sun Valley (after leaving Vail’s Epic Pass), limit guests by requiring Ikon Base Pass holders to pay fees. premium access fee that almost equals the cost of Alterra’s full Ikon Pass.
On the contrary, recent investor communications from Vail and Epic Pass’ structure and pricing for next year indicate that they have no intention of limiting customer visits and instead believe that their resorts have the ability to accommodate many more visitors. Unfortunately, Vail has also confirmed that they consider PCMR one of their second tier stations, despite its rich heritage, by continuing to not limit access to the station in their Local Epic Pass like they do with Beaver. Creek, Vail and Whistler, where you get 10 days of combined access to all three resorts.
At this point in the evolution of the ski industry, it is important to note that most events, activities and attractions (concerts, sporting events, golf courses, state and national parks, etc.) limit the number of guests and tickets sold for reasons that are rather obvious. Why should ski resorts be different?
Yes, the ski area and the capacity of the ski lifts of certain resorts can be extended. However, many resort host communities lack the infrastructure, physical space, and resources to accommodate ever-increasing numbers of visitors.
Obviously nobody likes higher prices and not being able to do what you want when you want. However, with the prospect of potentially shorter seasons, Utahans and the wider ski and snowboard community must decide now more than ever which resort operators and pass companies (Epic, Ikon, Mountain Collective, etc.) we want to support with our dollars. Those who focus on maximizing daily customer visits for the benefit of their investors or those who focus on customer experience?
Our beloved mountain cities and culture are facing an existential threat. While progressive operators in the industry are to be commended, the surest way to effect change is for companies to see the consequences of their actions reflected in their financial performance and stock price, if listed in stock Exchange. Promises are easy to make, delivery is hard.
Eric Moxham is a Park City resident, outdoor sports enthusiast and entrepreneur.