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What we can learn from Vail Resorts’ new “Epic” pricing strategy | Perfect Price

Vail Resort’s “Epic Pass” changed the ski industry when it was first released a decade ago–I would argue, for the better–even though it was directly coupled with massively more expensive day passes (sometimes 2x prior prices). Since it first launched in 2008, the pass has grown, and as a result, the pricing structure became more convoluted, with too many options to choose from. However, their latest update to pricing features a streamlined pricing structure and demonstrates how a well-crafted pricing strategy can evolve over the years.

How does ski pricing work?

You can think of ski pricing like baseball tickets–you can walk up to the window and buy a ticket before the game, or buy a season. The mechanics are quite different, for obvious reasons, and ski resorts rarely sell out. That said the pricing impact is largely similar. However, unlike baseball where buying a season in advance means paying face value for 81 home games, a season ski pass gives you a massive discount. Traditionally, they used to break-even in around 10-12 days of skiing, but Vail changed that concept forever.

Why launch the Epic Day Pass?

In this most recent change, Vail launched an Epic Day Pass and consolidated their many season pass options into just 2 simple choices, Epic or Epic Local. In their original pricing strategy, raising daily prices froze out a segment. I will admit to being one of the people who can’t stand spending $140 for a day of skiing. The freedom to spend a few days at this resort, and a few days at that resort, was simply becoming too expensive. In fact,I stopped skiing for a number of years (for my family of 4, a day of walk-up skiing was pushing $500). Even wealthy tourists waking up in their $400 a night condo would think, “Am I really going to do $140 worth of skiing today?” and decide to do something else instead.

The Epic Day pass fixes that. Now you can pay for skiing by the day–in advance, still–at a much more affordable price point. It’s not an inexpensive family activity, but the price dropped from $500/day for that family of 4 to around $300.

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What we can learn from Vail Resorts’ new “Epic” pricing strategy.