In recent months, skiers have expressed their anger at Col Stevens as it has closed several of its ski slopes due to a lack of staff. More than 44,000 people have signed a petition asking Vail Resorts to be held responsible for inability to access ski areas, as well as a deterioration in the overall experience.
At the heart of the matter was the Vail Resorts Epic Pass, which was supposed to grant access to several Vail Resorts ski resorts in the United States and Canada. Petition commenters said they were unhappy to spend money on passes that ultimately did not provide sufficient access.
Companies like Vail Resorts use season passes, which provide access to multiple resorts they own, as a way to make money. It also gives a boost to their bottom line for shareholders, as many of these companies are publicly traded, said Heather Hansman, a Seattle-based ski writer and author of Powder daysa book focusing on the impact of the ski business on its culture.
“[Stevens Pass] sold more passes than they had capacity,” she said.
In a bid to address the issue, Stevens Pass appointed Tom Fortune as interim chief executive last month. Fortune grew up skiing at Stevens Pass and started her career there.
Since arriving, Fortune has written many blog posts and Facebook posts to notify customers about several issues, including capacity. The ski area also offers season pass holders the opportunity to get a discount on next season’s pass for the Stevens Pass only or a credit that can be used on the restaurant, ski school or areas. station retail if they purchased or renewed an Epic Pass.
Fortune said he feels staff have made progress in opening more parts of the resort. He said Stevens Pass was able to break more ground by streamlining the hiring process and reaching out to former employees.
Frequent communication is crucial to regaining consumer trust, he said. Feedback has been crucial as they work to increase the availability of its ski area.
Although Stevens Pass’s woes have been the best known, it’s not the only ski area facing capacity issues, said Hansman, the Powder days author.
“Everyone is trying to figure it out,” she said.
At White Pass, that meant selling fewer season passes and day lift tickets. McCarthy said it was essential not to let the lure of additional profits come at the expense of customer experience.
Capacity issues can harm the entire industry, not just a particular ski area or ski resort, he said. A bad experience might discourage people from coming back.
Or it could lead to overcrowding in other ski areas by taking customers turned down elsewhere.
“It’s the worst thing you can do: invite someone over and send them home because ‘Oh, we invited too many people,'” he said.