Vail Resorts’ Rob Katz addresses Vail lift line concerns in call to investors |

Vail Resorts’ Rob Katz addresses Vail lift line concerns in call to investors

CEO says the company will improve guest communication next season

Vail Mountain COO Beth Howard issued a statement Feb. 12 apologizing for lengthy lift lines and other operational delays following a storm that dropped 38 inches of snow in 48 hours.

Negative press for Vail Resorts coming out of Vail Mountain in February was brought up during a call to investors on Monday. 

Vail made headlines across the country in February with both the chairlift asphyxia death of Jason Varnish and the long lift lines experienced by visitors during a large storm cycle. 

Patrick Scholes with SunTrust asked Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz if and what steps Vail would take steps in the future to prevent negative press like videos that went around showing what appeared to be excessive lift lines.

Katz described the events as two fold, with one situation at Gondola One and another at Chair 5, but pictures of long lines at Chair 7 and the Eagle Bahn Gondola were being shared over the Feb. 7-9 weekend, as well. The weekend storm delivered one of the top-five recorded snowfall events on record to the slopes, according to Vail Mountain stats. 

Katz said the Gondola One lines were not as concerning but it was “not a great guest experience” at Chair 5.

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“And that’s probably an understatement,” he added. “Obviously not something we want to have happen for any of our guests. At the same time, we had, again, this huge powder day, and unfortunately, didn’t have the opportunity to open more of our terrain, so we only had that area open.”

Guests were also sharing pictures of long lines in the Game Creek Bowl area at Chair 7.

Vail deployed guest service workers to the top of the slopes, “trying to alert those folks that the line was going to be pretty big when they got to the bottom” of Chair 5, Katz said.  

“Our takeaway from that, that was a very one-off situation, the snow cycle that created that was one of a handful over the last decade or more, in terms of the intensity of it, but I do think we take away from it guest communication. We have a responsibility to be out front with our guests,” Katz said. 

Katz said in the aftermath, the company has discussed undertaking an effort to ensure every guest knows exactly what to expect when and where on the mountain.

“That’s something that we’re going to absolutely be continuing to improve upon and we’ll make sure we’ll be more dialed in heading into next season,” he said. 

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