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March 2023

Mountain Spy :: March 2023

"Can I come just to ride the lift?"

Written by Dave Meeker | 0 comment


While scenic chairlift rides have long been a staple summer activity at mountain resorts, the same option doesn’t exist at many operations during the winter season—for good reason. Still, the growing popularity of no skill/low skill outdoor experiences has led to an increase in guest inquiries about winter scenic lift rides.  

Whether you offer a winter walk-on lift experience or not, queries about such activities (often from non-core, prospective customers) are an opportunity to bring someone into the winter sports world and into your resort community. Resort staffers should give this person another reason to visit by telling them about other low-barrier-to-entry activities, or just let them know they’re welcome. 

The bottom line is: every guest interaction matters, so be nice. Even if the answer to a guest (or Mountain Spy) inquiry is “yes,” being snippy or disinterested lands poorly with most people, and they’ll associate that interaction with your resort. In this case, some resort staffers were eager to invite the Spy in while others were decidedly not. 

Have a burning guest service question? Send it to for the Spy to pose to other mountains. We won’t tell anyone the question came from you. Plus, if we use it, your resort will be immune for that issue.



First contact: Male.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: So, are you planning to just walk the mountain?

SAM: My family is planning on going, but I don’t ski. So, I didn’t know if I could just ride up, watch them ski, look at the views, and go back down.

Staff: Let me take a look real quick. I will be right back.

On hold for 5 minutes.

Staff: Are you still there?

SAM: Yep.

Staff: Thank you so much for holding. Unfortunately, you cannot use the lift if you do not plan on skiing or snowboarding, even if you do have a lift ticket.

SAM: OK, dang. 

Staff: Yes, sorry.

SAM: Are there any other activities that I could do that are not skiing?

Staff: There is snow tubing as well. [Lists other activities] and those tickets can be purchased online.

SAM: OK, great. Thank you for your help.

Staff: Yep, have a great day.

Score: 6

Comment: I appreciate that he took the time to find the right answer instead of taking a guess. It would have been great if he mentioned the other activities unprompted. 



First contact: Female.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Um, no, we don’t allow that.

SAM: OK. I am not skiing but my family wants to so I wasn’t sure what I would be doing while they ski.

Staff: OK, well, there is a snow tubing hill. 

SAM: Oh, great. Is there anything else I could do?

Staff: There are bars and restaurants that you can hang out in. Sometimes there is live music.

SAM: OK, thank you.

Staff: Yep, have a good day.

SAM: Thank you, goodbye. 

Score: 4

Comment: She seemed less than thrilled to be on the phone with me, but at least she provided me with alternatives. Still, looking at the resort website, it’s clear there are even more activities she could have mentioned at the mountain and around town.  



First contact: Female.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: No, unfortunately it is required that you have ski equipment on, and they would not let you on without a lift ticket.

SAM: OK. I just don’t ski but my family does, so I wasn’t sure what I would be doing while they ski.

Staff: Well, we do have cross country and snowshoeing trails that aren’t downhill that you could go on while you are waiting.

SAM: OK. Is there anything else we could do as a family?

Staff: It depends on the day. What day are you going to come up?

SAM: We weren’t sure yet, but it would definitely be a weekend.

Staff: Um, I would definitely look at the [resort website] under the activities tab. It will show you a bunch of guided snowshoe hikes, sleigh rides, and a bunch of other stuff like that that you can do as a family.

SAM: Oh, great. Do you have snow tubing?

Staff: Yes, we have [describes the snow tubing situation].

SAM: And is that open anytime?

Staff: Um, the hours are a bit tricky, but on a weekend they would be open all day. 

SAM: OK, great. Thank you for your help.

Staff: No problem. I am here ‘til 4 p.m. today, so if you have any other questions, feel free to give me a call.

SAM: Great, thank you.

Staff: Yep, goodbye.

Score: 8

Comment: Nicely done! She was clear, friendly, offered alternative activities unprompted, and pointed me to the website (with guidance) for more info. Take note: letting people know they’re welcome to call back if they have more questions is a meaningful gesture. 



First contact: Female.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: No, unfortunately you can’t ride the lift unless you are planning to ski and have a lift ticket.

SAM: Dang, I was hoping for something to do while my family is out skiing.

Staff: Well, we do have a tubing hill on site. There is also night tubing as well. 

SAM: Nice.

Staff: We are close to some snowshoe and cross country ski trails that are really pretty.

SAM: Oh, great. Do you rent snowshoes or cross country skis?

Staff: No, but quite a few of the area outfitters rent them.

SAM: OK, thank you.

Staff: Yeah, and if you need ideas on where to snowshoe there is [lists several places], and there is more information at the front desk here, too.

SAM: Perfect, thank you for the information.

Staff: Yep, have a great day.

SAM: Thank you. Goodbye.

Score: 7

Comment: Good stuff, right here. She provided helpful alternatives without prompting and included off-site activities to round out the area’s limited offerings, which was a nice touch. 



First contact: Female.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Um, yes, just the gondola. No other lifts.

SAM: OK. And I would still need to buy a lift ticket, right?

Staff: Yes, it is $XX.

SAM: Just to ride the gondola?

Staff: Yes, that is correct, and you can’t get off at the top.

SAM: OK. I can just ride it around?

Staff: Yes.

SAM: OK. Do you have any other activities?

Staff: No, just snowboarding and skiing.

SAM: OK, thank you.

Staff: Yep, goodbye.

Score: 2

thumbs downComment: She knew her scenic lift ride information, but why so short with me? Because I don’t ski? Don’t hate. And for her information, there is more to do at her mountain and in the area than just skiing and snowboarding. 



First contact: Female.

SAM: Stated question.

Staff: Yes, you definitely can. We charge $XX for adults and $XX for kids under 4 to ride the gondola. You can ride as many times—it’s a day pass. You can ride up and down or round and round (chuckles). And there is a restaurant at the top called [name] if you want to take a look at that on our website. But yeah, that is our deal.

SAM: Oh, great. And are there any other activities that we could do as a family?

Staff: Yes, there are a bunch. We have tours that are guided by [company name]. If you take a look at our website, under the menu tab there are a lot of options. There is also tubing, snowcat tours that explain the history of the mountain and go to the top of the mountain, and there are also snowshoes for a nice hike. 

SAM: Wow, you have a lot of activities.

Staff: Yes, there are also ice fishing guides that will take you through the whole process.

SAM: OK, well, thank you for all that information. That will be great.

Staff: Yeah, just take a look at the website. At the top left corner there will be a menu tab and click “Things to Do.” We have over a hundred activities to do. It goes through the planning, how to get here, where they are located. Just make sure you reserve ahead of time, as they sometimes go fast.

SAM: OK, perfect. Thank you again.

Staff: Yep, have a great day!

Score: 10

thumbs upComment: It’s great to talk to someone who smiles when they speak. She was a smile speaker, and was clearly prepared for visitors looking for a non-ski experience. And this was just the right amount of detail while still pointing me to the website as a resource. 

Identity revealed: Winter Park Resort