Browse Our Archives

May 2021

Mountain Spy :: May 2021

Are you dropping pass prices like Epic did?

Written by Dave Meeker | 0 comment



Vail Resorts made waves when it discounted 2021-22 Epic Pass prices a whopping 20 percent in a bid to increase volume. The resort market watches what VR does, and sometimes needs to react. We wanted to see how ski area staffers handled a call from a guest asking if there were plans to follow or otherwise respond to the Epic discount news.

Of course, we didn’t expect any material pricing changes as a result of VR’s move. Would the staffers bad-mouth Epic Pass? Would they take the high road and inform the Spy about their current products? The answer to both questions is yes.

How many Spy questions do you need to send us so we won’t call your resort? One! That’s it. Send a question for the Spy to ask to, and your resort will be immune for that issue. Thanks for reading this part. Now, take action and send us a question.



Answering phone: Automated system. Chose season passes.
First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Well, our season passes are in pretty high demand right now, so we don’t plan to discount them. In fact, there’s a chance we may sell out of them.
SAM: Whoa. Really? Has that ever happened before?
Staff: Not during a normal season! (laughs) But our passes offer a good value, and have some good benefits (lists passholder benefits and describes pricing). I mean, Epic is going to get you on more mountains for cheap, so if you’re after variety it’s a good option. Lots of people are after that variety, too.
SAM: Yeah, those lift lines aren’t pretty.
Staff: Mm hmm. We want to provide a different experience than that. You pay a few dollars more for a pass here, but you’ll get shorter lift lines and less hassle. It comes down to what you’re after for the experience you wanna have.
SAM: Good point. I have some thinking to do.
Staff: Yeah. You have options!
SAM: True! Thanks for the info.
Staff: You’re welcome!

Rating: 8
Comment: Very helpful overall. She didn’t quite bad-mouth Epic, but subtly pointed out some differences I may find in the experience at this resort compared to a resort on Epic, which was diplomatic of her.


First contact: Male.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Um ... (long pause) To my knowledge, no. We ummm, I don’t quite know the pricing plans yet on the early season pass that will go on sale in September. They might do additional deals with it, however, as of right now I don’t think they have any set pricing plans for that, as it’s still quite a ways out.
SAM: OK, when do you think I can get that information?
Staff: Sigh…I can ask, but it’s likely not for quite a while. Like, maybe late August, but probably more like September.
SAM: Where can I find that?
Staff: Just on the website. You can purchase them there.
SAM: OK, thanks.
Staff: You’re welcome.

Rating: 3
Comment: Even if passes aren’t on sale yet, this is still a good opportunity to tell me a little bit about what passes are usually offered. That’s good info for anyone in a call center to be armed with, regardless of timing. He wasn’t unfriendly, but it didn’t seem like he was excited to help me.


Answering phone: Automated system. Chose sales.
First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: So, as far as our pricing goes, you can do an X pass for (price). A resort-only pass is (price) and that has no blackout dates for weekends or holidays. As far as perks go, I can only tell you what we have available at this point in time that’s definite. So right now, season passes include (lists benefits). We typically do some perks with the local community in terms of lodging and restaurant discounts, and we also typically offer benefits in terms of lesson discounts and bring-a-friend packages. We’re in the process of updating our perks for the upcoming season, but as they’re finalized they’ll be added to our website (provides website address).
SAM: Sounds good! So, do you think there may be any price reductions because of the Epic pass price?
Staff: Probably not. But I know you’re deciding, so know that you have until X to get the best price on our passes, plus all the perks.
SAM: Great, thanks so much.

Rating: 7
Comment: It’s tough to describe all the benefits when perks are still in the works, even as passes are on sale, but considering the year we’re coming off of, it’s OK. Overall, she was helpful and stuck to selling the products the resort offers. Nice job.


First contact: Male.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Um, well, our season passes haven’t gone on sale yet. I saw that news about the discount on Epic, but I doubt it’ll be a factor in our pricing, since our passes are already pretty affordable. Even if prices go up a little, passes will still be a good deal. Did you have a pass here this season?
SAM: I didn’t. We’re new to the area.
Staff: Well, welcome! We had a good season this year. It was weird with Covid, but the snow was good and it was busy, so we’re hoping next season will be busy, too.
SAM: I’m glad to hear that.
Staff: Yeah, it was good. I think you’ll find (resort) is a good spot, especially if you have kids. It’s not big, but we have fun and it’s super affordable. Check the website here and there for when passes will go on sale.
SAM: Sounds good! I’ll do that.
Staff: Alright. Anything else I can help you with?
SAM: That should do it. Thanks!

Rating: 8
Comment: I didn’t expect the Epic news to impact this area’s pricing, but he handled the question really well. And it’s worth noting that he clearly embraces, and is proud of, what the area is: not big, but fun and affordable. Nicely done.


Answering phone: Automated system. Chose season passes.
First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: We’re two separate companies, so our prices are already set, currently… (silence)
SAM: OK. Gotcha. What pass options do you have? Are you on the Ikon Pass?
Staff: Ah, yeah. But each pass, um, certain resorts only allow each pass, not all resorts allow both, so make sure of where you’re going and which pass that resort in particular accepts.
SAM: For the (resort) pass? I’m sorry, I don’t understand.
Staff: (sounding impatient) For any of the resorts you want to go to, you need to contact them directly and find out what pass they accept. Not all resorts accept both. (silence)
SAM: Both?
Staff: (raises voice a little) Epic and Ikon.
SAM: Oooohhh. Roger that.
Staff: (laughs)
SAM: Alright. Thanks.
Staff: Ummm. Thanks for calling.
SAM: Yup. Bye.

thumbs downRating: 1
Comment: I could sense her eyeroll through the phone after asking the question. Strike one. Then, her pass discussion was befuddling. Strike two. And there aren’t any resorts that accept both Epic and Ikon. Strike three. How about trying to sell me on the resort-only pass? Or trying to sell me on, like, anything at all? Yer out.


Answering phone: Automated system. Chose season pass.
First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Are you a New Hampshire resident?
SAM: Yes.
Staff: OK, so it’s (price) right now for a X season pass. No blackout dates, nothing crazy, just a standard pass. If you purchase by April 30, you get that lowest rate, plus (discounted tickets) so your friends can come skiing with you.
SAM: Are those guest tickets good any day?
Staff: Yep, no blackout dates on those. Chances are, though, that they’ll have to make a reservation to use them, just like this season. I don’t know what the Epic Pass is going for.
SAM: The locals pass is going for $583.
Staff: Gotcha. Well, the only other pass we have is the X pass, which is (price) and that gives you access to (lists resorts). If you can ski midweek, we also offer the XY pass, which is Monday-Friday non-holiday at (lists resorts). There are blackout dates on that pass for the Christmas holiday week, MLK weekend, and the February break week. So, it depends on what would work best for you and your schedule.
SAM: Great, I’ll check those passes out.
Staff: Just so you know, we are limiting sales on our season passes, so there is a chance we could sell out, even before the April deadline. We want to keep the crowds down since we don’t know how long the pandemic will last, and honestly, it’s just more fun with shorter lines.
SAM: Oh, I totally agree.
Staff: If you don’t go with a pass from us, you could also get an Indy Pass, which gives you two days at a bunch of different resorts which should include ours and (lists other resorts). I think that one is priced at like $200 to get two tickets at a bunch of independent ski areas.
SAM: Great, I’ll check that out, too.
Staff: Have a great day!

thumbs upRating: 10
Comment: Just a wealth of helpful info about this resort’s season passes, delivered in a friendly and confident way. Lots of options here in a similar price point to the Epic Pass, including some with multi-mountain access. Good point on the shorter lines too. ;) That’s a home run call.
Identity revealed: Cannon Mountain