Carnes: Skiing like flying, sort of
Airlines routinely overbook flights on purpose.
Why, might you ask?
Because a small percentage of customers routinely miss their flight due to illness, accidents, poor planning, unforeseen circumstances, etc.
By overbooking a flight, the airline operator is more than likely able to fill every seat, thus maximizing gross profit.
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Last March, Vail Resorts lowered the price of a season pass and reported a 76% increase in pass sales from the 2019-20 season, and they did so in spite of all the painfully obvious signs pointing to anticipated extreme staffing shortages.
Airlines have a limited number of seats available on each plane, thus limiting the potential fallout from unhappy paying customers; VR has no limit for the number of season passes it sells, thus the sky’s the limit for potential fallout from unhappy paying customers.
In effect, VR oversold passes to maximize gross profit while simultaneously minimizing costs thanks to the extreme staffing shortages.
Welcome to capitalism.
While airlines can provide vouchers for free flights, hotel rooms, etc., the obvious downside, of course, is that VR cannot possibly manage to satisfy the wants and needs of paying customers, and that goes double for Vail and Beaver Creek customers — if you know what I mean.
The Epic experience now means paying Epic prices to stand in Epic lines during those brief times of Epic snow. The recently ended holiday season is all the proof one needs.
Complaints are rampant throughout social media, from the usual whining about lift ticket prices to wages and rent to the empty threats of boycotting and the childish “Fail Resorts needs to do something!”
Really, a livable wage and reasonable rent? Some of you people want to live, ski AND eat?
But reality is a fickle mistress, and those threatening to ski elsewhere are but a single snowflake in a blizzard of potential skiers.
Want to ski Copper or Ski Cooper, fine, have fun, but realize they are having the same staffing shortages as everyone else, so the “bang per buck” will be similar, and know that employees are working their collective tails at this very moment in spite of the way some guests have been treating them.
For the workers constantly complaining about wages, while I certainly agree they could be paid much more than the current hourly rate (around $15 to start), realize everyone is replaceable no matter the level. Is it fair? No – but reality shows on an annual basis there will always be someone to take your place, just like there will always be more skiers willing to wait in line regardless of the price or inconvenience.
This is all post-pandemic, of course, and I actually applaud VR officials for at least admitting to their recent failures (they refer to them as “challenges,” but whatever …), and last week’s announcement of a $2 per hour worked as a season-ending bonus is certainly a positive step.
But either way, like airline workers, VR workers are doing the best they can with the poop show they’ve been handed and deserve our gratitude and support; not our scorn.
At least no one loses luggage while waiting in a lift line.
Richard Carnes of Avon writes weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.