Ski resorts optimistic about this season’s financial forecast

Posted By: The Ski Channel on November 17, 2009 8:50 am

As this El Nino winter starts to find its legs, copious amounts of snow have fallen throughout various parts of the country. From Washington to Vermont, many ski resorts are already open for business. While the prospect of a long season is always welcomed, the looming economic uncertainty is always a wild card, as resorts attempt to gauge their numbers for the upcoming season.

The general outlook among the industry is to look for a season mirroring last year, although some are forecasting potential increases in business. Those who might see particularly good seasons are resorts with its customer base living nearby in major cities, and resorts that can offer economically-friendly pricing.

On the flip side of that, destination resorts that annually rely on consumers to make week-long pilgrimages to their ski towns, will face greater hurdles during this economic climate. Tactics to curb these potential decreases may include creative packages that invoke value, and are customized to specific markets. Additionally, the concept of variable lift ticket pricing will be another technique these resorts might call upon to draw in their annual crowds of tourists.

One of the key business drivers to look for has been pre-season sales of industry standards such as season passes. Fortunately for the resort industry, this benchmark has matched last year, as these products have actually increased in their sales. For example, Vail Resorts, owners of five major resorts in the US, recently reported a 13% increase of season pass sales going into this winter season. In fact, Vail Resorts has seen so much success they have extended sales deadlines on many of their passes such as the Colorado Pass. Even more optimistic about the company’s season are Wall Street analysts, who are predicting an increase in skier and snowboarder visits across the company’s portfolio of resorts.

If all else fails, resorts may have to simply bank on the popularity of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Traditionally, skiing and snowboarding have become increasingly trendy in Winter Olympic years, a pattern resorts hope could bring the resort industry back to record-setting levels.