The 2023-24 season pass sale is underway with lots of new offerings and more multi-area passes than ever before. Ski areas continue to innovate with their season pass offerings, expand partnerships, and introduce new products. The goal is to lock in skiers and revenue early. So far, it seems to be working. Here’s a look at some new and interesting season pass products around the country. THREE’S COMPANY Two companies, each of which own three resorts, have created new pass products that include all three. But each of these passes has its own structure. Lengedary Pass: Midwest Family Ski Resorts, owner of Lutsen Mountains, Minn., Granite Peak, Wis., and Snowriver, Mich., put all three resorts on its new Legendary Pass, which went on sale March 4. “There aren’t too many Midwest areas within a few hours’ drive that have a multi-area pass,” said Greg Fisher, GM at Granite Peak and CMO of Midwest Family Ski Resorts. Snowriver and Granite Peak are about 2.5 hours apart. Lutsen is farther away, but larger with more lodging available. “Snowriver and Granite Peak have overlapping markets, and we knew we would have a good contingent of passholders interested in going to Lutsen,” continued Fisher, noting that Granite Peak and Lutsen are in the top 10 for redemptions on the Indy Pass. Unlike some other multi-area passes, there is no base pass option for individual resorts. It’s all three or none at all. “This is our pass offering,” Fisher said. “We don’t have individual passes for resorts, although we might do something around school programs.” However, the pass is available in Gold, Silver, Bronze (midweek), and Civic (age 65+, military, and college) varieties, with different price points and blackout dates, and with adult/child and family options. For example, Granite Peak and Lutsen will have 12 blackout days each on the Silver pass, while Snowriver will have unlimited access at that level. Customers who buy the Legendary Pass at their base resort will have direct-to-lift access at that resort, but will have to show their pass card at the other two. Prices will also depend on where guests buy the pass—those who make Snowriver their home mountain pay less—$450 for the all-access Gold Pass at Snowriver, for example, vs. $675 for the Gold Pass at Granite or Lutsen. Cali Pass: Last December, when Karl Kapuscinski and Invision Capital purchased China Peak, Calif., one of their goals was to put their three California resorts (Dodge Ridge, China Peak, and Mountain High) on a single pass to compete with Epic and Ikon for season pass market share in California. The new Cali Pass went on sale March 11. “People knew something was coming after the China Peak purchase,” said Kapuscinski, CEO. “There’s been a lot of interest.” The new Cali Pass is priced roughly $100 more than each resort’s base pass; Kapuscinski said sales of the new Cali Pass are running about 50/50 with base pass sales at Dodge Ridge and China Peak, and about 25 percent at Mountain High, which is farther away. “Our goal was to be somewhere in the 30 to 35 percent range. We’re running about 50 percent, so we’re happy with it,” he said. The snowiest winter ever has aided the marketing effort. Skiers who purchase a pass—either a base pass or the new Cali Pass—can ski the rest of the 2023 season, and all of next. And with this winter’s massive snowfall, all three resorts expected to remain open into late April, and possibly into May. As for competing against Epic and Ikon, Kapuscinski said, “We’re like the corner hardware store. People know your name, help you. There’s not the hassle and bustle of a Home Depot or Lowe’s. Epic and Ikon are amazing products. We’re offering something different and still an amazing ski experience.” New England Pass: The New England Pass, which bundles three Boyne Resorts properties—Loon, N.H., Sugarloaf and Sunday River, Maine—is not new, but its one-week “flash” sale March 8-14 was the first since 2019. “Sales were strong. We’re happy with the results thus far,” said Kevin Bell, VP of marketing at Loon. “An in-season deadline keeps season passes top of mind for both current and potential passholders during a time of the season that is among the favorite of passionate skiers,” Bell cotinued. “This, on top of the natural snow that New England has been receiving [in early March] and the capital projects underway at Loon, Sunday River, and Sugarloaf, was a great combination of messages to present.” ONE SIZE FITS ALL Ski Cooper, Colo., does not put its pass on sale until July 1. It doesn’t have to, said Cooper president Dan Torsell. “It seems like everybody knows when they can get the best deal from us,” he observed. And the resort’s fans know the wait is worth it. A Cooper pass comes with dozens of reciprocal partners. Sales, and the list of partners, have been growing steadily for the last decade. The 2023-24 pass will feature 65 partners from Alaska to North Carolina, California, Maine, and many points in between. The Cooper pass includes three days with no blackout dates at each of its small, medium, and large resort partners. The simplicity of the pass is “cool,” Torsell said. “You buy our pass and get everything with it at no extra cost, no processing fee. That’s the beauty of it. It’s like going to the buffet table and picking where you want to go. Get in your car and away you go.” Cooper also prices its pass in line with its goal of making skiing affordable. The July price for the 2022-23 season was $329, and Torsell said the 2023-24 pass “will not be crazy over that.” “Even if we didn’t have all our partners, we have a lot of market loyalty,” Torsell continued. “What it’s done is get the word out around the country about us. When you’re located amid a bunch of Vail resorts [as Cooper is], anything you can do to get your name in lights helps.” DIVIDE AND RE-DISTRIBUTE Bogus Basin, Idaho, also offers several reciprocal partners as a member of both the Powder Alliance and Freedom Pass. But it’s what it is doing with its own pass product that has gotten the attention of the market: offering passes for a variety of specific time periods. “We’re slowly increasing passholders, but shifting the distribution of passes away from peak times to off-peak periods where we have a lot of capacity but not much visitation,” said Austin Smith, director of marketing and innovation. Smith said Bogus used to have a “one size fits all” pass. In 2019, it began segmenting its season pass market, a process that accelerated during Covid with its distancing and crowd limitation requirements. Today, Bogus Basin offers passes valid for six different timeframes, from all-day, every day to nights-only and midweek-only. Speaking of nights: the area used to offer just a night pass (4-10 p.m.); now it offers a night pass (6-10 p.m.) and a twilight pass (3-10 p.m.). Those two evening passes have tripled the sales of the old night pass. Oh, and every pass product includes seven age categories. Smith said the metric for calculating sales limits for each time-period pass product is a 10-minute lift line. As a result, Bogus has reduced its “anytime” pass sales by 15 percent, but has grown overall pass sales 20 percent by moving customers to off-peak times. “We’re serving more people and having fewer headaches, less sustained lift lines, but growing visitation at night and midweek,” Smith said. He noted that Bogus sold 66 percent of its allotted passes for next season during its 10-day spring sale Feb. 24-March 5. Pricing helped with that. As a nonprofit, Bogus offers very competitive price points (e.g., the anytime winter season pass is $589). THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT Offering an inexpensive, or free, season pass for kindergarten-age kids is nothing new, but some resorts are now offering free passes for older kids. Mountain Capital Partners, for example, offers the Power Kids Pass, which is a free, unrestricted season pass to the company’s eight Western ski areas for kids ages 12 and under, with no purchase of an adult pass required. It was introduced in 2018 for kids ages 10 and under, and bumped to ages 12 and under in 2021. “We continue to see growth year-over-year with the Kids Pass as the word continues to get out that, yes, it is a free season pass with no strings attached,” said MCP marketer Stacey Glaser. Another offering aimed at the younger set is from Snowbird, Utah, which has introduced the new Kids Freeloader Pass for 2023-24. It does require the purchase of another pass, but it’s for kids up to age 18—every 2023-24 adult, military, or senior Snowbird Summit Pass purchaser has the option to add on one free Summit Pass for anyone 18 and under. The freeloading kid and purchasing adult don’t need to be related. “The product came about as a way to be more inclusive,” said communications manager Sarah Sherman. “Grandparents, uncles, close family friends and beyond can all play a pivotal role in giving children access to the mountains, and we want to support that.” OTHER PASS NEWS OF NOTE Indy Pass: The five-year-old Indy Pass will limit sales for the first time for the 2023-24 season, said Doug Fish, founder and CMO. “We are committed to restricting pass sales so as not to overwhelm resorts on peak days,” he explained. Fish said that more than 50 percent of Indy Pass sales and redemptions were by Eastern passholders, who use the pass locally and for destination trips. “People in the East and Midwest are primarily buying the pass to use in those regions, but also as a travel pass to come West,” he said, noting that 80 percent of the Indy visits to the 22 participating Rocky Mountain resorts came from out of state. The Indy Pass had 139 participating alpine and cross-country resorts in 2022-23, and Fish expects that number to increase for the 2023-24 season. The pass went on sale March 2 to current passholders for $279, and to the general public on April 1 for only 10 days before sales were halted due to high demand. Mountain Collective: New for the 2023-24 season, the Mountain Collective resorts will offer passholders direct-to-lift access, said Todd Burnette, CEO. Initially, Burnette said, direct-to-lift will be “focused on North American resorts who are able to ingest passholder data in their point-of-sale system in advance of any passholder’s visit to their resort.” Passholders will receive pass cards in the mail after uploading a photo and signed waiver. The pass went on sale March 14.