How Ski Resorts Hope to Operate Under COVID-19 This Winter
It’s only July, but in a normal year, this would already be past time for avid skiers and snowboarders to have bought their passes for the upcoming season.
In recent years, ski-resort operators have significantly reduced the prices for season passes, especially for those who buy them immediately after the end of the prior season. The offer of a sharply discounted price to the most loyal and most organized skiers has made it feasible for ski resorts to sharply increase prices for single-day passes bought at a ticket window without alienating core customers. Advance pass sales also nudge customers to commit to their plans to take ski trips, and they mitigate ski companies’ weather risk by locking in customers before anybody knows whether the season will have excellent snow or not.
But this winter, snow will not be the biggest source of uncertainty for skiers and ski operators. Customers don’t know what the status of the coronavirus pandemic will be by the winter, and what sorts of ski (and après-ski) activities will be available and advisable. They don’t know how comfortable they will be about getting on airplanes to take ski vacations. They may also be uncertain about their own personal financial outlooks, and whether they will want to spend money on ski trips. So ski-resort operators have had to adapt their season-pass sale pitches to reassure customers that they’re not going to waste money on a pass they won’t use.