Vail Resorts to limit lift ticket sales during peak holidays to prioritize passholders |

Vail Resorts to limit lift ticket sales during peak holidays to prioritize passholders

Company announces guest experience enhancements for winter season

Snowboarders and skiers ride Mountain Top Express Lift on Friday during Vail’s Opening Day. The resort opened with 80 acres of terrain.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

Vail Resorts announced Tuesday that it is limiting lift ticket sales during the three most popular holiday periods across its 34 North American resorts this season to prioritize passholders.

Dates where ticket sales will be limited include: Dec. 25-Jan. 2, Jan. 14-17 and February 18-27.

In a release, the company said it is deploying a new operating plan that includes a significant improvement of how efficiently the company loads lifts and gondolas to reduce wait times.

This includes launching a new daily forecast of lift line wait times in the EpicMix app at 12 of the its most popular resorts to help guests better plan their ski-and-ride day.

The company is investing in new lifts and expanded terrain to reduce wait times and improve circulation around the mountains. New lifts are unveiling at five resorts, and expanded terrain is opening at Beaver Creek this season, plus 19 new lift projects are planned ahead of next season as a part of the company’s Epic Lift Upgrade initiative.

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“Based on years of data collected from EpicMix, we know that even on peak visitation days, more than 90% of lift line wait times across our resorts are under 5 minutes,” said Kirsten Lynch, Vail Resorts’ new CEO, in a statement. “Even so, we remain dedicated to continuing to improve the guest experience, reduce wait times and communicate transparently with guests, especially given the excitement and demand for travel this coming season. All of our announcements today represent a collaboration between our operations, analytics, digital and technology teams to prioritize our passholders and ensure skiers and riders have an Experience of a Lifetime at our resorts this season.”

Prioritizing passholders

In announcing it will limit lift ticket sales during busy holiday periods, Vail Resorts said guests planning to visit the resorts during those dates are strongly encouraged to purchase their lift access in advance.

Benefit tickets for passholders will not be impacted during the three holiday periods. Additionally, there is no impact to guests who enroll in ski-and-ride school lessons that include lift access or to employee and dependent pass access.

Lift ticket availability is accessible on resort websites. If tickets are sold out online, guests will not be able to purchase them at ticket windows unless they’re purchased with a pass benefit ticket or as part of a ski-and-ride school lesson. Pass products, including the Epic Day Pass, are currently on sale, with prices set to increase Sunday.

Improving the mountain experience

Vail Resorts said it has significant data about operational effectiveness through its EpicMix application and lift line wait time technology. By leveraging this historical data, the company has developed a new operating plan to maximize lift loading within each lift’s design capacity, which is expected to reduce lift line wait times.

Updated lift maze layouts and new signage will improve flow and better inform guests, while optimizing the lift load and unload experience will safely reduce operational slows and stops on lifts. These improvements are further supported by new staffing plans, including dedicated lift maze coordinators at the company’s busiest lifts and elevated training focused on maze management, lift loading and unloading.

In addition to the optimization of lift and gondola operations, the company has leveraged the collective insights of its network of resorts to reimagine many other areas of how the company’s resorts operate. For instance, it is implementing a new online rental process across 18 of the company’s Eastern locations to significantly cut down on how long it takes to rent equipment.

Additionally, new parking best practices are being incorporated across resorts to increase parking efficiency. The company has also re-imagined indoor and outdoor spaces at key food and beverage outlets to expand seating for guests and its prearrival processes for ski and ride school to expedite the guest check-in process.

Improved communications will also provide guests with important information to guide their overall experience, such as on-mountain signage, real-time alerts within the EpicMix app and customized email and SRS notifications.

Vail Resorts has spent more than a decade investing in technology, data science and analytics to improve the guest experience, according to Tuesday’s release. Coming to 12 resorts in December is a new version of EpicMix Time within the company’s EpicMix app, which will provide a full-day forecast of lift line wait times in 15-minute increments to help guests plan their day in advance, navigate their time on the mountain in real-time and make the most out of their skiing and riding experience.

With EpicMix Time, historic and actual wait time data for a specific lift is combined with both resort and lift guest counts, wait times at other lifts, current snowfall, the day of the week and period of the season to create a predictive lift line wait time model for all lifts, at all times of day. This new technology leverages machine learning, so its forecast will continue to improve in accuracy throughout the season. The information within EpicMix Time is transparently provided at the guests’ fingertips, allowing them to make informed decisions so they can spend more time carving a path down.

The feature will be available at Vail Mountain and Beaver Creek Resort, along with Breckenridge Ski Resort, Keystone Resort and Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado; Park City Mountain in Utah; Heavenly Ski Resort Northstar California and Kirkwood Mountain Resort in Lake Tahoe; Stowe Mountain Resort and Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont; and Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia.

Additionally, the EpicMix app will be integrated and available at all 34 of the company’s North American resorts in time for the 2021-22 season. EpicMix features guest favorites, such as on-mountain stats, weather updates and snow cams, as well as new tools such as interactive trail maps with GPS location tracking, real-time grooming updates and real-time Mountain Alerts that share important operational and safety updates.

Lift upgrades planned for this winter, next winter

For the upcoming 2021-22 North American ski-and-ride season, Vail Resorts is unveiling several new on-mountain projects across five resorts to enhance the guest experience. This includes new high-speed lifts at Breckenridge, Keystone and Okemo, a 250-acre terrain expansion at Beaver Creek with the opening of McCoy Park, and a lift upgrade at Crested Butte.

Additionally, Vail Resorts recently announced an ambitious number of on-mountain projects planned for the 2022-23 North American ski and ride season designed to materially reduce wait times, increase uphill capacity and create more lift-served terrain. The sweeping set of 19 new chairlifts, including 12 high-speed lifts, a new eight-person high-speed gondola and six new fixed-grip lifts, is part of Vail Resorts’ $320 million capital investment plan in the company’s largest single-year investment in the guest experience.

The upcoming projects are part of a new initiative, Epic Lift Upgrade, and span 14 resorts coast to coast, including Whistler Blackcomb, Vail Mountain, Park City Mountain, Keystone, Breckenridge, Stowe, Mount Snow and more.

Epic Passe prices increase Sunday

Epic Pass products are still on sale with prices increasing on Sunday. Guests who traditionally buy lift tickets are encouraged to purchase an Epic Day Pass, which offers savings of up to 65% off lift ticket window prices.

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