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Is Vail's recent announcement limiting lift ticket window sales all that meets the eye…

Updated: Sep 16, 2022

Issue # 15 (494 words/3 Minutes)

Is Vail's recent announcement limiting lift ticket window sales all that meets the eye…and why is it important to your destination?

A recent announcement by Vail Resorts to limit daily lift ticket sales sounds like Vail may have recognized crowding challenges over the past several seasons, and they felt a need to respond to complaints of resort overcrowding. In this new policy, Vail indicated guests are encouraged to purchase a lift ticket in advance as lift tickets will be limited every day, across every resort, during the 2022/23 season to preserve the guest experience at each resort. The availability of lift tickets will be visible on resort websites in the coming weeks. If tickets are sold out online, guests will not be able to purchase them at ticket windows. But is that policy all that it is cracked up to be? It is a fair question. According to Vail's annual report (below), window lift tickets only account for 5% of the lift ticket revenue mix,

Source: Vail Resort Annual Report

It's no secret that Vail aims to move entirely to online lift ticket purchases. While Vail encourages visitors to shift away from purchasing a lift ticket at the ticket window to shift Epic Day Passes, Pass Holder benefit tickets will not be limited. There is also no impact on guests who enroll in ski and ride school lessons, including lift access or employee and dependent pass access.

So, if window lift tickets only account for 5% of lift ticket revenue and Vail is moving consumers to pre-purchase a day ticket but has not publicly stated what the number of limited day tickets will be and there is no change or Epic Day Passes or other pass products what will be the real impact? Maybe this is not just about managing crowds and getting all customers moved over to online purchases. Why? Because once consumers are moved to online purchases, Vail can better manage those customers' for-profit and the timing of when they visit.

This trend is beginning to get traction in the tourism industry, shifting many destinations to revenue yield and away from volume. While DMOs have been focusing on rethinking their role and focusing on destination management activities, the private sector has been slowly migrating its effort to focus on yield per visitor. The airline and lodging industry has been doing it for a long time, but we see other industry sectors also move in that direction. A case in point is that Disneyland has moved to a yield strategy reducing visitor volume while increasing profits. Consider Yosemite National Park, which instituted a reservation system this past summer. More and more elements of a destination are moving to manage visitation and, in the process, shift to strategies that increase the yield per customer. Paid parking, reservation system, demand pricing, all the elements are there, and they are now starting to come together.

Vail is just one example of this subtle but clear trend.

Fore more information contact Carl Ribaudo at

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