Economic Recession Could Be Good for Skiers

Posted By: The Ski Channel on September 11, 2009 10:52 am

A recent AP story suggests that the sub-par economy may actually be a boon for local skiers and snowboarders. As folks are staying closer to home, several resorts are slashing prices for locals, offering heavily discounted season passes and special locals-only discounts. If you live in Salt Lake City, where you can literally be on the slopes in half an hour, the deals are especially lucrative.

“It’s a no brainer,” said Nick Como, Solitude Mountain Resort’s marketing director on reducing costs to lure locals. “There’s so many people down there that don’t ski. There’s a great market that’s just untapped.”

Solitude, like many other resorts around the country, now offers lower ticket packages and prices after a season that saw skier visits drop 5.5 percent nationally.

Apparently, destination resorts fared the worst last winter, with resorts close to major cities like Salt Lake coming out on top. Many Utah resorts noticed a dip in room reservations from out-of-state tourists, yet also a boost in season pass sales to Utah residents.

”Salt Lake feels really fortunate to have a large local population near us. A lot of our resorts are reaching out to locals more this season than you’ve seen in the past,” said Jessica Kunzer, spokeswoman for Ski Utah. “A lot of the resorts are saying they’ve extended their early season offerings and discounts. … The consumer really wants to make sure they get the best bang for their buck.”

Colorado is also following suit, with several resorts offering payment plans for season passes and specials tailored to locals and tourists alike.

“What we’re finding is that people are still willing to find a way to make skiing happen this year,” said Colorado Ski Country USA spokeswoman Jennifer Rudolph. “So the planning is happening, yet they’re still looking for a deal at the same time. Resorts are trying to answer the call for both groups of skiers.”

Echo Mountain, for example, which is the closest resort to Denver, is offering night skiing deals for children in hopes of attracting local families to the ski hill on school nights.

“We took a pulse of our members after the Labor Day weekend to see how pass sales were. The majority of them reported very robust pass sales, if not higher, than last year,” she said.

The East Coast is perhaps less accommodating in offering special deals, though according to Jen Butson, spokeswoman Ski Vermont, the deals have always been around. “Now people are doing their homework and people are seeking out specials,” Butson said.

While Vermont saw a decline in skier visits last season, Butson said it wasn’t much lower than the state’s five-year average.

“Last year and the year before were good snow years. That makes a difference on the people making last-minute decisions and people who live in our drive market,” Butson said. “Snow always trumps a bad economy.”


photo: Ski Utah