On Revelstoke: Grumbling over season pass rates

Revelstoke Mountain Resort's new season pass policy is confusing, annoying and unnecessary.

Instead of a set date

File this under #RevelstokeProblems.

I’ve heard a lot of grumbling lately about Revelstoke Mountain Resort’s new early-bird season pass policy.

The resort changed its policy, saying a limited quantity are available at a cost of $829 instead of just having a fixed date at the end of September by which to buy them at.

The issue is they don’t say how many passes are available at that price; instead, they have a “metre” on their site indicating the risk of them selling out.

After hearing several complaints and questions about the new policy, I contacted Peter Nielsen, RMR’s vice president of operations, for an explanation.

“The reason is to try to spread out the sales,” he said. “With a single date, we do 90 per cent of the sales within 72 hours.”

The way season pass sales will work is that there will be a certain number of tickets on sale for $829. Once those are sold out, the price will jump to $869, then $899, then to the full price of $1,199.

The resort is legally obligated to sell some season passes at a 30 per cent discount, but the master development agreement doesn’t specify how many or how long the deal should last for.

Nielsen said it was the industry trend to switch to this type of sales. In a cursory look at other major ski resorts, I couldn’t find any that used this system, though that’s not to say none do.

He wouldn’t say how many passes were available at each price level.

“We don’t share that number to avoid a high volume of contact,” he said. “We’ve implemented a metre on our website to show where we’re at as far as sales so you can gauge whether to make the decision to buy or not.”

He said they will send out an e-mail to previous passholders advising them when the price increase is imminent.

On the plus side, the resort has made it possible to pay off the pass over the course of eight months at a cost of $104 per month — just about the same total cost as paying for it all at once. That option is available until June 15.

My thought: Instead of this vague system, the resort could have implemented multiple early bird dates. There could have been one deadline at the end of June, and a second at the end of September. That would allow people to jump on board early, and give others the summer to save up money.

It wouldn’t resolve the problem of last-minute sales, but it would create certainty and remove that sense that our pass costs are at the whim of the resort. That’s what they did for the first few years of the resort when, it should be noted, an early bird pass went for as little as $612.

Here’s another idea: let early buyers ride the coaster for free. That might be enough of a perk to get people to not buy at the last minute, and would make up for the more than 30 per cent increase in pass prices since 2010.

As locals, we’re a captive market. Most of us that ski are going to buy a pass no matter what. At the same time, we’re the resort’s best ambassadors and this is one of things that annoys lots of people and turns them off the resort.