Vail Resorts just caved to pass holders and is offering credits on its 2019/20 passes. It’s not clear if this was in response to these lawsuits (see: “What These Lawsuits Mean For Ski Areas”) or to the growing number of resorts (ranging from Magic Mountain and Bolton Valley to all of Alterra Mountain Resorts) that are offering the option of deferring a 20/21 season pass purchased now to use in the 21/22 season (see: “Good News, Passes are Cheaper”, but either way, Epic Passes are going to look a lot different going forward.
Vail Resorts, which owns Mount Snow, Okemo and Stowe in Vermont as well as 34 other ski resorts, is providing its 2019/20 season Epic Pass holders credits of at least 20% and up to 80%, if they weren’t able to use their pass at all. Additionally, they introduced free ‘Epic Coverage’ for the 2020/21 season which will provide cash refunds to pass holders for certain resort closures, including for events like COVID-19, as well as refunds for job loss, illness and other eligible personal events. And finally, they are extending all spring deadlines until Labor Day, giving people more time when they need it most
“Our pass holders are our most loyal guests and we have spent weeks reading their emails and comments on social media to fully understand their concerns so we could respond thoughtfully and carefully,” said Kirsten Lynch, chief marketing officer at Vail Resorts.
“What became clear is that to address last season, a one-sized-fits-all approach would not work. That is why we are providing our season pass holders credits based on the number of days they were able to use their pass. Additionally, while we are confident we will have a great upcoming ski and ride season, we understand some people may be nervous about committing to a pass now in this current uncertainty. With that in mind, we are redefining pass protection with our new ‘Epic Coverage,’ free for all pass holders, and extending our spring deadlines to Labor Day to give them the time they need. We truly hope this plan honors our pass holders’ loyalty and provides them peace of mind for future.”
Here’s the letter that’s going out to pass holders.
Dear Pass Holders,
Thank you for your patience during this unprecedented time. We have been addressing the real-time challenges of COVID-19, focusing on the health and safety of our employees and communities. We have also been working on a comprehensive plan to address our pass holders’ concerns about this past season – and the future.
We have read all your emails and comments on social media. We have heard your two primary concerns: First, you are disappointed with last season’s closures. Second, you are worried about next season because of the current uncertainty.
To address these specific concerns, we are sharing a plan that I hope honors your loyalty and provides you with peace of mind about the future:
- To Address Last Season:
- Credits from 20% to 80% for Season Pass Holders
We are providing credits to 2019-20 season pass holders, based on the price of their pass, to apply toward the purchase of a 2020-21 season pass of equal or greater value:
- A minimum credit of 20% for season pass holders, based on the resort closures in mid-March impacting about 20% of the core season
- Higher credits for season pass holders who used their pass less than five days
- A maximum credit of 80% if you did not use your season pass at all, because we recognize that some of you were waiting until spring to use your pass
- Credits for Epic Day Pass, Whistler Blackcomb Edge Card and Multi-Pack Pass Holders
For guests with remaining days on their 2019-20 Epic Day Pass, Edge Card or one of our other multi-pack pass products, we are providing a credit for each unused day, up to 80% of the price paid for your pass to apply toward a pass of equal or greater value for next season.
- Your credit will be valid through Labor Day (Sept. 7, 2020) because we understand that you may need time to decide on your plans for next season.
This may seem complicated, but something simple would not address all the unique situations of our pass holders. We will email you personally in the coming weeks to share your specific credit details and your promotion code, which you can use online starting May 13. If you renew your pass prior to receiving your promotion code, we will retroactively provide the credit value back to you. In the meantime, you can click here to use the tables to find your pass credit, see our FAQs, and review the terms and conditions.
- Looking Ahead to the 2020-21 Season:
- New ‘Epic Coverage’ Protects You Next Season
We are confident we will be enjoying a great upcoming ski and ride season, but we also understand that many pass holders are nervous about the future given the current uncertainty. With this in mind, we are launching ‘Epic Coverage’:
- Epic Coverage is free for all pass holders and completely replaces the need to purchase pass insurance, which can cost up to $60 for other passes.
- Epic Coverage provides for a refund if you have an eligible injury, job loss, or experience other personal events that prevent you from using your pass.
- Epic Coverage also provides a refund for certain resort closures, including for events like COVID-19, giving you a refund for any portion of the season that is lost.
We understand that times have changed so Epic Coverage completely redefines your pass protection. We value your loyalty and we want you to enjoy your pass knowing that we are standing behind our commitment to your peace of mind. Click here to learn more about Epic Coverage, see our FAQs and review the terms and conditions.
- Savings All Season Long
In March, we announced our new Epic Mountain Rewards, providing pass holders 20% off all mountain food & beverage, owned and operated lodging, group ski and ride lessons, equipment rentals and more at our North American resorts. No sign up. No points tracking. No blackout days. Just savings. Learn more about Epic Mountain Rewards here.
- The Time You Need:
- Spring Deadlines Extended to Labor Day
We do not want to rush your decision. We are eliminating our traditional spring purchase deadlines, giving you through Labor Day (Sept. 7, 2020) to use your credit and to lock in 10 Buddy Tickets for next season. If uncertainty continues, we may reassess that deadline again as it gets closer.
- Lowest Up-Front Cost
If you want to lock in your pass, we want to provide you the lowest up-front cost during this challenging time. Right now the deposit for your pass for next season is only $49, significantly less than the deposit many other passes require. This offer will extend for the next few months.
My hope is that this plan demonstrates our commitment to honoring your loyalty, with credits of 20%-80% for last season, Epic Coverage for next season, and more time to make a decision. We recognize that some people may ask why we did not provide 100% credits or cash refunds for last season. We capped our credits at 80% because our mountains were open and operating for the majority of the season and our passes could be used during that time. Regarding refunds, we recognize that our passes, and pass insurance, historically have not provided for refunds in situations like this, which is why we are introducing the new Epic Coverage.
Thank you for your loyalty. I am confident that our collective passion for the mountains will prevail and we will get through this together. I hope to see you on the mountain next season. And most importantly, I hope you and your loved ones are healthy and safe.
EVP and Chief Marketing Officer
[Opening photo: Riding high at Okemo. Courtesy photo]