Broomfield, Colorado- If Vail Resorts’ season metrics are any indication, the North American ski industry had a disappointing winter.

Last week, Vail Resorts reported some of their 2023-24 season metrics. Skier visits were down 7.8% compared to the prior year’s season-to-date period (2022-23). Another bummer was retail and rental revenue, which was 7.1%. However, it wasn’t all bad news for Vail Resorts, as lift ticket revenue was up 3.2%, ski school revenue increased 7%, and dining revenue grew 2.4% over the prior year. The results show the power of Epic Pass products, which helped Vail navigate some disappointing season metrics. It should be noted that these numbers don’t include Australian ski resorts, where their season occurs during our summer, and Andermatt-Sedrun in Switzerland.

Overall, Vail’s properties saw inconsistent weather this season. The Northeast saw a slow start to its season, with storms in the spring helping to bring in visitors. The Midwest saw abnormally warm weather, leading to mountains like Paoli Peaks closing early. The Western United States had a dry start to its winter, but storm cycles improved conditions later in the season. Whistler Blackcomb struggled mightily until March, especially in the lower elevations.

Kirsten Lynch, who’s the CEO of Vail Resorts, said the following in the press release about the season metrics:

“Given the unfavorable conditions across our North American resorts for a large portion of the season, we are pleased with our overall results as the 2023/2024 North American ski season nears completion, highlighting the stability provided by our season pass program and the investments we have made in our resorts and employees. While visitation declined, our lift revenue increased driven by the growth in pass sales committed ahead of the season, and our ancillary businesses performed well, with particularly strong growth in spending per visit in our ski and ride school, dining, and rental businesses compared to the same period in the prior year. The results throughout the 2023/2024 North American ski season demonstrate the resiliency of our strategic business model and our network of resorts and loyal guests...

As expected, results in March and April improved compared to the season-to-date period through March 3, 2024, with March and April visitation across our western North American resorts exceeding prior year record levels supported by the improved conditions. Pass product visitation returned as expected to normal historical guest behavior for the spring. However, lift ticket visitation did not return to normal historical guest behavior, primarily at Whistler Blackcomb, which was down significantly relative to the prior year period. As noted in the March earnings release, the challenging early season conditions at Whistler Blackcomb and our Tahoe resorts persisted through early March. When conditions improved, visitation at our Tahoe resorts responded as expected, however visitation at Whistler Blackcomb remained below expectations...

While late season results improved, we now expect to finish the year at or around the low end of our Resort Reported EBITDA guidance range issued on March 11, 2024, primarily driven by Whistler Blackcomb performance in the March and April period. Our strong season pass sales results, prior to the start of this season, greatly mitigated the impact of the unfavorable conditions that existed across our North American resorts for a large portion of the season, highlighting the stability created by our advance commitment strategy…

Our attention is already turning to the 2024/2025 season, with spring pass sales underway. To date, through the April deadline, we have seen a modest decline in pass product units and growth in sales dollars. The April sales deadline only impacts a portion of our renewing pass holders that are eligible for buddy ticket benefits, and we will have more to share in our third quarter earnings release in June 2024.”

You can read Vail Resorts’ full press release here.

Image Credits: Vail Resorts

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