Price war `cannibalizing’ Aspen’s Front Range skiers | AspenTimes.com
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Price war `cannibalizing’ Aspen’s Front Range skiers

A price war waged among Colorado resorts for Denver-area customersis apparently hitting Aspen and the Aspen Skiing Co. in the pocketbooks.Fewer Front Range residents are making it over the mountains toAspen and Snowmass so far this season. Local tourism officialsfigure fewer skiers and riders are making it past Summit County,where vicious competition brought pass prices down to the lowestlevel in 20 years.”Something has cost us big in the state of Colorado this year,”said Bill Tomcich, president of Aspen Central Reservations.At the end of January, the central reservations office was down372 reservations from the same point last season. Tomcich saida sizable chunk of that loss, 85 reservations, was from in-stateresidents.”We’re down more significantly in-state than with any other factor,”Tomcich said.And fewer lodge reservations translates into fewer visits to theslopes.”I don’t think there’s any doubt that we’ve lost in-state skiers,”said Kitty Boone, Skico vice president of marketing.Boone attributes the drop not only to lower pass prices amongFront Range-oriented resorts, but also to early-season perceptionsthat snow conditions weren’t any good.Fortunately for Aspen and the Skico, Front Rangers don’t accountfor an overwhelming part of their business. However, in a lacklusterseason like this year, every market share is particularly important.After the important Christmas holiday period, the Skico estimatedbusiness was off about 11 percent.Colorado residents accounted last season for about 7 percent ofthe Skico’s destination business – or those customers who stayovernight, said Boone. She said figures aren’t in yet to documenta decline in that market this season.Skico Senior Vice President John Norton said if the company endsthe season with fewer Front Rangers, that would reverse the trendof recent seasons. Though it’s a humble market segment, it’s onethat had been growing.Boone noted that the Colorado resorts embroiled in the price warthis season depend much more heavily on in-state skiers and riders- sometimes for as much as 40 percent of their business.They went after the growing Front Range market with a vengeance.Business had dropped sharply from that segment the season before.Winter Park opened the price war last fall by charging $795 fora four-person season ski pass. Copper Mountain responded witha family pass for $695 and a four-person Buddy Pass for $795.Vail Resorts responded by offering four-person passes for $795,good at Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapaho Basin.Not only has Aspen lost a share of Front Rangers so far this season,but fewer Front Rangers are taking overnight trips to any resort,according to Joy Spring, vice president of Leisure Trends Group,a marketing and consulting firm from Boulder.”That’s a double whammy for Aspen,” Spring said. “I think theseBuddy Passes have cannibalized skiers going into the mountains.”About 46 percent of Front Range residents who ski or ride spentan overnight trip at some resort last season, according to Spring.That number had dropped to 34 percent as of mid-January.


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