D.L. Schrader: Interpreting the IKON Pass survey results
April 1, 2018
The March 26 Steamboat Today published results from the survey asking readers if they planned to purchase or not purchase the new IKON pass before April 30. The overwhelming number of "no" responses — 67.7 percent of 483 votes cast — were more than double the "yes" votes.
What current pass holders are possibly represented in these negative responses?
• Seniors: Skiers/riders 70-plus years old who regularly buy senior passes (despite the largest percent price increase yet this season) want this again available. Seniors are often local residents, retired and ski all winter here, preferring low density days. They host their adult children/grandchildren and have taken advantage of the cancelled Grandchild Ski Free program, former Value Packs and the Friends & Family vouchers. They spend money at the resort to entertain relatives. Other targeted groups here (college students/children/active military) get special rates, but not seniors. Loveland—$99, Taos—$350 and Copper Mountain—$369 do offer senior rates.
• Steamboat Springs residents: They are not necessarily interested in skiing at other Colorado resorts or far away destination ski areas because travel/lodging/food would be too prohibitive for their budget when they already have lodging in town and a large acreage resort. The IKON Base Pass ($599) for eight destinations of unlimited skiing (Copper, Winter Park, Eldora) would be perfect, but unfortunately, Steamboat merits only five days. Not appealing for any Steamboat local. A pass including holiday blackouts could be acceptable to locals who want to ski Steamboat exclusively. Note that The Copper Pass ($459 adult/$369 senior) is less expensive than its participating IKON Base Pass that includes Winter Park and Eldora. Vail’s EPIC Local Pass is $669 for adults (plus six Buddy tickets) and has unlimited/unrestricted days at Breckenridge and Keystone/A-Basin. Keystone/A-Basin itself is $349. A Steamboat equivalent of any of these base passes would be much appreciated by locals.
• Veterans who know that Vail sells a $499 Veterans Pass and that Keystone/A-Basin offers the Liberty Pass at $269. Dependents, same price. Steamboat veterans deserve a similarly priced pass.
• Previous pass holders who cannot pay the whole price up front on April 30 and were helped by 2017's increment billings. Also others who want to know specific ticket prices and time periods to buy after early bird date. Steamboat always provided full disclosure of price tiers/sale dates at first announcement. Prospective pass purchasers deserve full details to make informed decisions whether to purchase.
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• Those who appreciated options for their visitors, such as the former Value Packs (5/10 days with add-ons) and the Friends&Family vouchers priced around $89/day. Next year, a Friends & Family day pass could conceivably cost $120 (25 precent off $160 ticket window price).
These groups mentioned above, especially all the locals and seniors who have been so supportive of Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. year after year, feel completely unappreciated and ignored by Alterra who wants to undercut the local population in favor of destination skiers.
Steamboat Springs is a special place, not just a ski resort for wealthy tourists, but a real town with working families. It would be detrimental to the locals if they were priced out of their ski resort by this change of policy.
Who provides the future generation of skiers? Local families do; these children need regular training on Howelsen Hill and Steamboat Resort to reach those future Olympian goals.
Who provides friendly, knowledgeable, and spot-on answers to visitors' queries? The seniors — never in a rush, always congenial and possessing good conversational skills for interacting with visitors.
How will Alterra respond to this survey?
Let's hope the new owners won't risk the goodwill of locals/seniors by pricing them out.