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*Please note that this is a pre-COVID article. It does not currently cover individual resorts current protocols.
Booking a ski vacation can be an intimidating task—choosing which resort the family should visit this year, when to purchase lift tickets and for how many days, whether to send the kids to ski school, etc.—that’s why we’ve put together tips and tricks to make planning your next ski vacation a breeze.
Enter Kate Fenwick, vice president of Partner Strategy at Liftopia and the skier’s ticket to discounted skiing. Each season, Fenwick oversees Liftopia’s work and collaborations with over 250 ski resorts worldwide. She implements everything from pricing strategies to online marketing best practices. We caught up with her to provide you with the best insight on purchasing lift tickets for your upcoming winter ski vacation so you can stop worrying and get prepared to have fun.
On a macro level, lift ticket prices at the resort window increase around five to nine percent year over year, dependent on the region and resort-type. At the same resorts, online pricing goes up only about three percent year to year. Your first step to booking lift tickets? Book online. The majority of resorts have their lift tickets online early, around Labor Day or for some even earlier, so that you have the opportunity lock in great rates. We’re talking up to 55 percent off. You got it, the earlier you book the better rate you can lock in. On most occasions, lift ticket prices increase as dates get closer, which means there are little to no last minute deals.
Where and when you go skiing will also affect lift ticket rates. For example, if you are planning on hitting Vail, Aspen or Deer Valley this winter, you are going to be paying more than if you ski at resorts like Powderhorn, Wolf Creek or Arapahoe Basin. Likewise, if you can manage to ski during the week, your lift ticket prices will be much less than if you ski over the weekend, especially holiday weekends. This is something all skiers should use to their advantage. Try new resorts and ski during the week when crowds are limited. We bet it will increase your user experience and who knows, you could fall in love with a new mountain. In line with the previous two tips, the more days you can tack on, the better rate per day you will receive. A multi-day lift ticket is always the way to go.
Liftopia works with resorts to let the market drive lift ticket prices. According to Fenwick, there is no other industry where the variation of demand for ticket prices varies as much as it does in the ski industry. Each calendar date has a set number of tickets at a range of prices. As tickets sell through, the price automatically rises, which is called demand-driven pricing. What does this mean for you, the consumer? It means you should be the first person to purchase tickets to the resort you want to ski this winter.
Ready to commit? Here are a few more things you should know to get the most out of your purchase. Most online ski ticket hubs allow you to package lift tickets with rentals, ski school lessons and activities. If you plan to purchase any of these for your vacation, bundle them upfront during your lift ticket purchase to lock in the best rates for all of your “extras” (you can even bundle a bacon Bloody Mary at Arapahoe Basin with your lift ticket purchase online).
On average, you can save 30 percent on lift tickets by purchasing in advance of your trip online through wholesalers, or even ski resort websites direct. You can take advantage of bundling packages to include a combination of lift tickets, rentals, lessons, lunch vouchers and even tasty beverages. At Liftopia, Kate Fenwick has been instrumental in helping usher in a movement towards dynamic pricing to help resorts (and the industry) price ski tickets in a way that balances affordability for the customer with predictability for the ski area. This model of pricing will help the ski industry (and your winter vacation) thrive into the future.
Simply put, the time is now. Happy shopping.
Need more help booking the perfect ski vacation? Check out our guide on how to execute the perfect ski vacation here.