Saturday, April 7, 2018

Strategic Alliances in the Ski Business: Season Passes in North America

"A strategy is a plan of action designed to achieve a vision… A strategy is all about gaining a position of advantage over adversaries".

The North American market is heavily fragmented; however, restructuring has taken place during recent years, with a shift taking place towards fewer, increasingly larger companies. From the 80s until the 2000-01 winter season we have seen a significant decline in the number of stations and ski resorts in the US, down from 735 in 1982 to 546 in 1991 and 489 in 2000. From that year onwards up to the present, we see a stabilization in the number of ski resorts in the US. The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) reports 481ski areas were in operation during the 2016/17 season, according to the Kottke National End ofSeason Survey.

Strategic alliances and partnerships are essential in the development of the modern tourism industry.
Ski resorts often use Strategic Alliances to improve their positioning and reputation or to benefit from better distribution or marketing channels.
As competition grows, small and midsize ski resorts need to be increasingly creative about how and with whom they align themselves to go to the market. Marketing efforts must be coordinated to maximize the overall sales of the partners.

"Over the past three years, the ski industry has had a paradigm shift in the way it sells lift tickets, especially season tickets, and has moved to a multi-mountain formula that allows skiers and snowboarders a lot more flexibility at prices far lower than they used to be (...) season passes used to be for people who could drive to a particular ski resort and thus get in a lot of days. This also locked skiers financially into almost exclusively favoring one resort at home and paying full retail when traveling elsewhere. In sharp contrast, today’s passes often make sense even for far-flung travelers who can’t drive to any resortLarry Olmsted, Forbes (March 2014).

Ski Area Management Magazine (SAM) took a look at five of the multi-resort season passes on the market for the 2018-2019 winter season:


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