Aspen Skico: Few cash in Premier Passes
ASPEN – Full-season pass holders in Aspen and Snowmass don’t appear to be panicking about the below-average snowfall so far this winter.
Thirty-four Premier Pass buyers downgraded to a Flex Pass and pocketed the cash difference by the Jan. 8 deadline, Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle said Wednesday.
On the other hand, 99 skiers and riders who purchased the one-day-per-week Flex Pass at the start of the season have upgraded to a Premier Pass so far. There is no deadline for the upgrade, which requires a $50 fee.
“Three times as many people said, ‘Hey, I’m going to ski more,'” Hanle said.
The number of upgrades and downgrades were estimates by the accounting department, he said.
The upgrade and downgrade options were offered by the Skico in response to criticism over a new pass system this season. The company essentially offered two options: the Premier Pass and the Flex Pass. Fans of the two-day-per-week pass cried foul because they wanted to ski more than one day but didn’t feel they could make the Premier Pass pay off.
So the Skico brass created the “season pass choice guarantee.” Customers who bought the Premier Pass but found they weren’t using it could trade it in, downgrade to a Flex Pass and receive the cash difference with no penalty. The Flex Pass sold for $699 if purchased by the first deadline.
The downgrade option was a possible way to save $600 or so if there wasn’t a lot of snow or a customer couldn’t hit the slopes as often as planned, for some reason.
Viewed from another perspective, the pass-guarantee program created an interest-free financing option for people who couldn’t cough up the $1,299 to $1,499 early bird price for a Premier Pass. They could purchase extra days on the Flex Pass for $49 per day and apply the additional expenses to a Premier Pass.
Hanle said the Skico ticket offices don’t collect information on why customers upgrade or downgrade their passes. It’s unknown if a relatively dry season so far contributed to the decision of the 34 people to downgrade from the Premier Pass to the Flex Pass.
Hanle said the Skico sold “many, many more Premier” passes than Flex Passes.
The Skico also announced that Aspen-Snowmass Classic Pass holders can add days for use between Jan. 14 and 27 for just $59 for adults and $35 for youth and college students. They can save their remaining original days for powder or sunshine in spring. The discounted extension days can be added before the original days are used, but the extension days can only be used for the January window. They will be invalid after Jan. 27. Extension days must be purchased by phone or at a ticket office.
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Local fire officials in Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties are heightening their fire concerns, and starting this week Stage 1 fire restrictions will be enacted. Stage 1 means no campfires in undeveloped sites, no fireworks and no smoking outside unless it’s in an area cleared of all combustible materials.