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Vail Resorts not planning to have a ski reservation system next season

Company will share “big news” on Tuesday

Kristin Stenerson, of Frisco, makes work of some fresh snow in Vail in February. In a message to passholders on Friday, Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz said the company is not planning to bring the reservation system back next season.
Chris Dillmann, cdillmann@vaildaily.com

Vail Resorts has big news to share when the company’s 2021-22 season passes go on sale Tuesday.

The company’s announcement that it would be making this announcement dropped two weeks ago, a vague statement saying “this changes everything.”

Some suspected the company’s big news would be its intention to do away with its reservations system, a new-for-this-year offering intended to limit crowd numbers during the pandemic. Others suspected the opposite.



On Friday, in a letter to passholders, Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz said the company is “not planning to have a reservation system next season.”

The announcement came as welcome news to many. Epic Pass users took to the Epic Pass Holders Facebook group to comment on the announcement.



“Vail Resorts did a great job this year. I got out 25 days and other than the snow being poor early in the year it was a great season,” said Facebook user Ken Scott.

Several commenters said they did not have an issue using the reservations system.

“60 days so far and not one problem making a reservation,” said Andrew Margolin.

“Even when I decide on a day that is booked up, I still get one,” said Collin Wilensky.

In a Vail Daily story which ran on March 15, two workers who spoke off the record suspected the reservation system would not be abandoned for next season.

By many counts, the reservation system by Vail Resorts this season was a success.
John LaConte, jlaconte@vaildaily.com

Vail Resorts workers, along with members of Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, did not have to use the reservations system to access the mountain for the 2020-21 season.

Despite the reservations system, Vail continued to see long lift lines and full parking structures this season as crowds flocked to the area on weekends and powder days.

“For anyone worried that the absence of a reservation system will lead to longer lift lines, we have extensive learnings from this season around lift loading efficiencies and are implementing new strategies to materially reduce wait times,” Katz said in the letter.

The complete letter reads as follows:

To our valued pass holders

On March 23, we will be releasing our 2021/22 season passes with some exciting changes we believe you will very much appreciate. But before we look forward, I want to address the challenges we faced during this incredibly difficult season and share our plans to grow from these experiences.

First, a follow up on our call center wait times. We are committed to a multi-year transformation to ensure we provide you the information you need, when you need it, and how you want to receive it. As a first step, we have spent the last few months overhauling the technical systems behind our guest service operations and are in the process of dramatically scaling the number of representatives available to provide you support. While we are still putting the fully expanded team into place, I’m pleased to share that we have doubled our staff of customer service representatives since December and plan to quadruple our staff by May. We will also be rolling out a much more robust chat offering. Our goal is to ensure that we can quickly answer your calls and messages and get you the information you need. While there may still be moments with longer hold times in the short term, I am confident you will see continuous improvement over the next couple of months and well before next season.

Second, an update on our pass holder reservation system. We designed the system to help safely manage on-mountain capacity during this pandemic. While we do not know exactly how COVID-19 will impact our industry next winter, we are not planning to have a reservation system next season. For anyone worried that the absence of a reservation system will lead to longer lift lines, we have extensive learnings from this season around lift loading efficiencies and are implementing new strategies to materially reduce wait times. And of course, we will also benefit from new lifts at Breckenridge, Keystone, Beaver Creek, Crested Butte and Okemo.

Our goal this season was to safely open – and stay open – all winter long as we worked to navigate the unique challenges of operating our resorts during this unprecedented pandemic. Because of your loyalty as a pass holder, our supportive communities and our hard-working employees, we will achieve that goal together. In fact, we are pleased to provide our guests with the opportunity to enjoy skiing and riding well into the spring as we recently announced extended operations at nearly a dozen of our resorts.

Amidst the hardships of this last year, we have come away with many lessons learned, a heightened sense of the importance of recreating on our mountains, and a renewed commitment to live up to our mission of providing you an Experience of a Lifetime. I am sincerely grateful for your patience and understanding, and I look forward to sharing our big news with you when passes drop on March 23.

Wishing you all the very best,

Rob Katz

CEO of Vail Resorts

 


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