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September 2019

Mountain Spy :: September 2019

Facebook Messenger mission: "Can I buy an Epic or Ikon pass?

Written by Dave Meeker | 0 comment

THE QUESTION: “I’m looking to buy an Epic or Ikon Pass, but I don’t see either on your website. Can you help me with that? I plan to mostly ski at [YOUR RESORT], but would also like to check out other places, and I heard that’s what I can do on Epic or Ikon.”

We conducted this Spy mission on Facebook Messenger to see how independent ski areas responded to a guest that just assumes every resort is part of Epic or Ikon season passes. Consolidation has flooded newsfeeds, led by the two behemoths currently battling it out: Vail Resorts and Alterra Mountain Company.

Their respective flagship season pass products have a lot of marketing behind them, so it’s not out of the question for an ambitious young skier who mostly pays attention to social media to think her local mountain is included on one or the other.

It was an interesting experiment that also aimed to see how quickly resorts respond to messages on Facebook. Some were quick, thoughtful, and thorough. Others, of course, weren’t. The answers are lightly edited and paraphrased to help keep the identities of the resorts that responded anonymous.

If you have a question you think would be good for Mountain Spy to ask, email it to


SAM (Tuesday, 3:40 p.m.): Stated question.
Staff (Tuesday, 3:44 p.m.): Hi Kay, we are not part of either the Epic or Ikon pass. We do offer a super affordable season pass, though, at $$$ and we have partnered with other independent ski resorts so that all passholders also receive 2 free lift tickets to [other resorts].
SAM (Thursday, 1:14 p.m.): That sounds awesome. So you guys don’t own those other resorts? How does that work?
Staff (Thursday, 1:20 p.m.): Hi Kay, no we don’t own the other resorts, each of the resorts in the alliance is independently owned. We came to an agreement we felt would be beneficial to all of us if we each agreed to honour 2 free days at our resort for passholders from each of the others so that we can all boost the value to our season passes, and hopefully get a few more people out on the slopes having fun this winter.

Rating: 8
Comment: Impressively fast, personable response. Great explanation of the partnership, and no hint of defensiveness. Minus points for not providing a link to the season pass page, though.


SAM (Tuesday, 3:40 p.m.): Stated question.
Staff (Thursday, 8:59 a.m.): We are not part of the Epic or Ikon pass deals. Our [ABC Pass] allows you to ski here at [resort names].
SAM (Thursday, 1:14 p.m.): Oh, OK. Sorry about that. What else do I need to know about the ABC Pass?
Staff (Thursday, 1:42 p.m.): We have X types of passes: (provides pass names, access for each pass, and prices). These prices are current adult rates (18+), and are valid until [deadline]. After [deadline], prices for our passes will increase. You can purchase a season pass online or over the phone, and passes will be available for pickup starting late November. After you have purchased your ABC pass for this coming winter, anyone who has a pass can receive [a discount] off of summer activities. However, the discount is not valid on [certain activities].

Rating: 4
Comment: It took nearly two days to get the first response, and the response was, ah, terse. The second response came quicker and was fairly thorough, aside from telling me I can buy a pass online or over the phone—and then not providing a website or a phone number.


SAM (Tuesday, 3:40 p.m.): Stated question.
SAM (Thursday, 1:15 p.m.): Hey, there. Just following up to see if you can help me out. What are my options?
Staff (Friday, 1:08 p.m.): Hi Kay, sorry we missed this the other day. [Our resort] is not a participating resort on the Epic or Ikon passes, though we are part of a (yet to be announced) multi resort pass this season. Stay tuned! For more info on [our] passes go here: [season pass page URL]. Also, you do get benefits at other area mountains when you buy our pass: [another pass page URL].

Rating: 3
Comment: Points for the tease (I love surprises!) and providing links to pages to buy and learn more. Otherwise, that kind of response time doesn’t fly nowadays.


SAM (Tuesday, 3:41 p.m.): Stated question.
Staff (Wednesday, 1:21 p.m.): Hi Kay, you can use either [a mega pass] or [other pass] at [our group of resorts]. If you need links to purchase let us know.
SAM (Thursday, 1:15 p.m.): Thanks! So those passes are unlimited at [your resort]? I hope to ski a lot this winter.
Staff (Thursday, 4:11 p.m.): Hi Kay, not unlimited, you’d need a season pass at [our resort] for that. Here are some details on what’s included with [the mega and other pass] [lists URLs and other information].

Rating: 3
Comment: Response time was slow at first, and the responses left it to me to sift through the options. And why no mention of the resort’s own pass and perks?


SAM (Tuesday, 3:41 p.m.): Stated question.
Staff (Wednesday, 2:03 p.m.): Hi Kay. Thanks for your note. We are a part of the Epic Pass program, so if you’re looking to spend a fair few days here (in addition to other rad resorts!), Epic is your best bet!
Let us know if you have any other questions!
SAM (Thursday, 1:16 p.m.): Great! What’s a fair few days? I hope to be there a lot.
Staff (Thursday, 1:52 p.m.): On the Epic Pass, passholders receive up to 7 days of skiing at our family of resorts [names resorts]. Once those days have been used, the passholder receives 50% off at those resorts. On the Epic Day Pass, you can receive up to 7 days of skiing at our resorts as part of the total days purchased on your Epic Day Pass. Here are some FAQs [provides link to FAQs].

Rating: 5
Comment: A full day to respond isn’t ideal. And I said I wanted to be at this particular resort “a lot,” but still no mention of the resort’s own season passes.


SAM (Tuesday, 3:49 p.m.): Stated question.
Staff (Tuesday, 4:26 p.m.): Hi Kay, we are an independently owned and operated resort, and therefore aren’t a part of the multi mountain pass deals, which are administered by ownership groups that have many mountain properties under their umbrellas. If you want to buy one of those passes but still ski at [our resort] several times, I’d suggest keeping an eye out for our [ABC product] which typically goes on sale in [month]. It gets you X days at [our resort] and you can buy as many of them as you’d like.
SAM (Thursday, 1:18 p.m.): Thanks for the suggestion! If I plan to ski at [your resort] a lot this winter, like 10-20 days, is the [ABC product] the best option?
No reply was received to this last post.

Rating: 1
Comment: Well done on the initial speedy reply and the suggestion about your own product. But why did you ignore me after that? You make me feel like such a loser!


SAM (Tuesday, 3:44 p.m.): Stated question.
Staff (Thursday, 11:41 a.m.): Hi Kay, the Epic or Ikon is not valid at [our resort]. The [XYZ product] is valid here [provides link to product].
SAM (Thursday, 1:16 p.m.): What are my options?
Staff (Thursday, 2:45 p.m.): The [XYZ product] is a great option. Our season pass comes with several added days at partnering resorts. You can see our benefits here: [provides link to season pass info].
The [XYZ product] is a separate program than our season pass holders and does not come with our season pass perks.

Rating: 4
Comment: Options are great, for sure. But I left this exchange a tad confused.


SAM (Tuesday, 3:43 p.m.): Stated question.
Staff (Tuesday, 10:03 p.m.) : Kate. We are not part of the Epic Pass (Vail Resorts) or Ikon (Alterra Resorts). We are an independently owned resort. That said, we are part of a program called the [ABC group]. Unrestricted [our resort] passholders get X days at XX resorts around the country. You can find more info at [link to website with more info] I hope this helps. Please let us know if you have additional questions.
SAM (Thursday, 1:19 p.m.): That’s a pretty good option! You guys don’t own those other resorts? How does that work? Just curious.
Staff (Thursday, 1:38 p.m.): No. It’s just a partnership we have created with other independently owned resorts.

Score: 6
Comment: Pretty quick to respond—burning the midnight oil, even—and offered a good selling point for the resort’s unrestricted pass. However, no info about the unrestricted pass. You hooked me with the ABC group, now reel me in.


SAM (Tuesday, 3:44 p.m.): Stated question.
SAM (Thursday, 1:19 p.m.): Hey, there. Just following up to see if you can help me out. What are my options?

thumbs downRating: 0
Comment: This is the same as leaving a phone message at a resort and not getting a call back. Might be worse, actually.


SAM (Tuesday, 3:43 p.m.): Stated question.
Staff (Tuesday, 3:51 p.m.): Unfortunately we do not partner with the Ikon or Epic Pass. You would have to purchase those days separately from our [ABC pass]. A full [our resort] season pass gets you X free days at [partner resort names]. We have a variety of pass products on sale right now, until [deadline]. For instance a Midweek Pass is just $$$, if you only plan to ski midweek. Just in case, here’s the link to our passes and we look forward to seeing you on the hill! [Provides links to find info and to buy passes.]
SAM (Thursday, 1:16 p.m.): Wow! Thank you for the info. So you guys don’t own those other resorts? How does that work?
Staff (Thursday, 6:13 p.m.): Yes, we just partner as buddies, no strings attached really....just like-minded small independent resorts coming together to boost the experience for passholders.

thumbs upRating: 10
Comment: Timely response, polite and genuine tone, and thorough information. Makes me like this place.
Identity Revealed: Sunlight Mountain