Uncertainty from COVID-19 has put season pass sales in jeopardy.
Friday, April 17, 2020, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
As the New England ski industry faces its largest crisis ever, ski areas are making many concessions to preserve as much of their season pass base as possible.
Season passes typically provide ski areas a weather-proof revenue stream, which also provides cashflow to make payroll and perform off-season projects during the lean months. With the drastic shift from day ticket to season pass revenue driven by the Epic, Max, Peak, and Ikon passes in recent years, areas have typically seen a large infusion of cash during the final weeks of the ski season. However, with sudden closures from COVID-19, as well as uncertainty sweeping the globe, areas are scrambling to maintain their season pass revenue base. Meanwhile, many passholders are out of work and confined to their homes, not knowing if they will be able to ski next winter.
In response, many ski areas have extended their early pricing deadlines, while also offering a variety of different payment installation plans.
Multi-area pass entities have had varying responses.
Vail Resorts has yet to make any major changes to the 2020-21 Epic Pass as a result of COVID-19. The publicly traded company is expecting to lose hundreds of millions of dollars and has cancelled much of its 2020 capital plan. Vail owns Attitash, Crotched, Okemo, Mt. Snow, Mt. Sunapee, Stowe, and Wildcat in New England.
Alterra has recently made significant changes to its Ikon Pass, dropping prices back to 2019-20 levels and extending its early pricing deadline to the end of May. In an e-mail tonight, Alterra also announced that purchasers of the 2020-21 Ikon Pass will have the option to defer their passes to the 2021-22 season for any reason. Alterra owns Stratton and Sugarbush in New England.
Boyne Resorts has extended their New England pass early pricing deadline to June. Boyne owns Loon, Sugarloaf, and Sunday River in New England.
Individual areas have also developed creative incentives and assurances.
Magic Mountain has reduced its season pass prices and extended its early pricing deadline. In addition, it is offering passholders a credit if government orders impact 2020-21 operations.
Jay Peak is offering purchasers a refund for any reason before October 1.
Burke is offering existing passholders a $100 credit as a result of its early closing.
Smugglers Notch has pledged to donate a portion of early season pass revenue to Vermont Food Bank and United Way of Lamoille County.
Waterville Valley will give free 2020 summer access to its Snows Mountain chairlift to all 2019-20 and 2020-21 season passholders.