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As baby boomers leave ski slopes, millennials fail to fill gap
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Updated 2 days ago
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8 days ago

Low ski visits from young adults force resorts to change outreach methods

http://www.summitdaily.com/news/regional/as-baby-boomers-leave-ski-slopes-millennials-fail-to-fill-gap/

8 days ago

Certainly not surprising as prices have continued to go up much higher than incomes have where most younger skiers have trouble justifying the cost of a day of skiing much less multiple days.   You see the same thing with golf among that group I would suspect.   The other big issue is the continued warming trends so many parts of the country and seeing year after year in the Winter which is shortening the season, though not always from a lack of snow issue, but more from the desire to go skiing when it’s sunny and warm where one lives in Feb/March (esp in the mid-Atlantic area).   I remember in the 90s and early 2000’s going often to WV resorts in mid to late March and having great ski conditions and lots of people there still, but anymore resorts like Timberline and CV close by early March usually even when they have plenty of snow left because there just aren’t the skiers to justify remaining open.

7 days ago

I think the industry overall has done a poor job of marketing our sport and related lifestyle. For example:

- most people I know who don’t ski are not enticed to ski because they view it as an extreme sport probably from seeing commercials with free riders or perhaps the Olympics. 

- most people I know who don’t ski simply don’t like cold weather and do not own technical clothing so cold weather is unpleasant to them.

- lack of marketing to minorities. How many African Americans or Hispanics do you see on th slopes?

- the high cost. $160 for a weekend lift ticket at Vail? $87 at Seven Springs? It cost nothing to go to a beach, which is the preferred vacation activity in the Mid Atlantic.

- what do millenials like to do? They don’t go to concerts, they don’t go to museums, but they do text and tweet a lot. So that must be the key. Wifi on the chairlift?

7 days ago

Hard for me to take an article about Park City and generalize to the entire ski industry.  There are an awful lot of new lifts that were built or are planned for the next few years at destination resorts as well as some smaller ski areas.  The article mentions a natural generational gap when people are starting careers and/or their kids are a bit young to justify flying to for a ski vacation.

The Mid-Altantic and New England ski resorts are packed every weekend.  Parking is as much an issue as lift lines in some popular places.

As for minorities, it depends on location as well.  Not so many to be found in Park City.  Although more than when I started skiing Alta more regularly ten years ago.  I assume there are plenty of Asian-Americans around Tahoe.  At Massanutten, I think the new immigrant and African-American families may out number white travelers on holiday weekends.  Most are driving from the DC metro area.  What’s changing is that more parents are getting on the slopes with their kids, instead of just hanging out at the lodge.  In noticed a lot of Asian-American families at Wachusetts (near Boston).  Most had their own gear, and the parents were pretty good skiers.

7 days ago

COST

Problem is the cost to get a family on the slopes. Most of the people know in their 20s that hit the slopes regularly own their own equipment (which has a pretty low break even point if you go regularly), but more importantly were exposed to the sport at a younger age and were hooked.

Look at how much it cost to take a family skiing even for a day at liberty or whitetail. All mountain midweek package (all day Lift, Rental, Lesson)  at whitetail is $122 for ages 8+. For a family of 4 that is $488 for a SINGLE DAY plus food and gas. For those of us that get passes, own gear, do research our $$$ per day are much less, but the current structure is not set up for a casual day trip. There are nice “Learn To Ski” programs and discount cards, but that usually requires planning and multiple trips and generally only helps to cost on one season. Now, take that same family and have them plan a snowshoe or a west trip, and they are looking at something noticably more expensive than the beach vacation they took over summer.

 

Now things that resorts have found that do work…

Take a look at Liberty on college night. Millenials will be out in force for the $40 dollar nights, in most cases more than the baby boomers. Even if they didn’t learn at a young age college students in many cases are willing to go out when the cost is reasonable. 

No reason for wifi on the lifts…. snowshoe seems to be doing just fine brining in millenials (even through mid march, I have pictures of 10-15 min lines at Ballhooter on March 18th 2017) and they barely have cell reception. Just look at the events and price specials they offer in March. (Ballhooter Spring break for example is usually pretty booked). 

7 days ago

Not having ski clothing is definitely a deterrent.  A few companies have found quite a demand for rental jackets and ski pants that are shipped to destination resorts both in the northeast and the Rockies.  More destination resorts have ski shops that rent outerware.  That certainly would make a difference in the Mid-Atlantic people knew that is an option.  Although at the same time, don’t really need as much clothing just to try out skiing.

Ski schools seem to be trying hard to offer a multi-lesson package deal of at least three lessons.  Have seen offers of a season pass after the third lesson is completed.  Free skis after several lessons have been around for several years at Killington and Cataloochee.  Makes sense to me that one lesson is not enough to really have fun for a full day on the slopes.  Even more so for snowboarding from what I’ve heard.

7 days ago

In the midwest, some ski areas are open until midnight or later on weekends.  Presumably most of those who are on the slopes after 10pm or so are over 18 and under 50. ;-)

7 days ago

Despite what some of you are saying, the DATA from the article seems to clearly indicate that as boomers stop skiing, others ARE NOT stepping up to take their places.

 

I can assure you that cost is a big factor. 4 day trip to Breckenridge (with three other poeple):

lift tickets: $640/day

Condo: $250-400/night (depending on season) $600/night at XMAS

SUV: min $75/day

 

Airfare: ????

7 days ago

bob wrote:

Airfare: ????

I happen to be peeking at fares for a potential trip.   

BWI to DEN non stop flights on SW

Depart Sat Jan 27 - Return Wed Jan 31 

$257.95

Back on topic - I tend to agree with those who cite cost.  But I also think life gets in the way in your 20’s and 30’s. 

I have 4 kids in their 20’s.  2 are married with kids, 1 single and - all with good middle class jobs - and one in college.  The older 3 barely have time to clean their bathroom let alone plan a ski trip.  They are saving to buy houses, cars and spend too much money on toys for our grandkids.   

If it were not for the Ridic Pass, my college son would only ski once or twice a year versus the 10 - 12 days he gets in with me.   

 

7 days ago

Blue Don 1982 wrote:

 

Back on topic - I tend to agree with those who cite cost.  But I also think life gets in the way in your 20’s and 30’s. 

I have 4 kids in their 20’s.  2 are married with kids, 1 single and - all with good middle class jobs - and one in college.  The older 3 barely have time to clean their bathroom let alone plan a ski trip.  They are saving to buy houses, cars and spend too much money on toys for our grandkids.   

If it were not for the Ridic Pass, my college son would only ski once or twice a year versus the 10 - 12 days he gets in with me.   

That reminds me of a grandfather from the midwest I talked to on a chairlift ride at Alta several years ago.  He and his wife spend a couple months living at the base of the canyon so he can ski.  She’s not a skier but likes SLC.  He was lamenting that none of his adult children (2 or 3) were going to bring their grandkids for a ski vacation that winter.  I didn’t get the sense that plane fare was the issue.

For my friend with two tweens, the main reason they don’t ski more is that the kids have too many other activities on weekends.  When they join me for a holiday weekend at Massanutten, the kids are skipping at least one other weekly activity.  Their mother really likes to ski after learning at the same time as her kids.  So for her, it’s worth it.

For that matter, I didn’t ski much in my 20s and 30s.  Money was part of it, but mostly I had other stuff I liked to do with my limited vacation time when I was working, and I lived in NC, not near the Rockies or in New England.  Marrying a non-skier was also a factor.  Had I been living in NYC or Boston or any city with non-stop flights to SLC … :-)

7 days ago

Always a great topic.  I have four adult “millennial” children who ski at varying degrees of frequency.  One skis 70+ days per year, the other three maybe only a handful of days every other winter.  There are a lot of factors, but in the case of the infrequent skiers it’s mostly about the limits of their precious few vacation days, secondly the cost factors for gear/travel/lodging, and third that they have many other competing interests.  If it’s cheap and easy for them to ski (such as thru intervention by a sugar daddy like me), they will ski.  On the other hand, the very frequent skier is into skiing big time and has made life decisions based on a top priority of living in close proximity to world class skiing.   

 

I don’t totally buy the excuse that skiing is too expensive for millennials.  The millennials in the DC area are pretty strong financially esp. if they have partnered-up with a spouse and both make close to triple digits.   They just want houses, cars and other things more than they want to ski.  And they expend their precious vacation time on those things including alternate travel destinations, rather than on skiing and ski trips.

 

When I was in my 20s I had access to my parents second home at Blue Knob and skied about 30 days per winter.  But as I became a parent of four in my 30s my days dwindled to about 10 per season for about two decades, then I began ramping up again.  As the article mentions this sort of child-rearing dip even among avid types is pretty normal.  I guess my dip was just slightly delayed because my parenting days were slightly late.  I think the key for the ski biz is to make sure kids and teens get a taste of the fun of skiing before they hit the child rearing age, so they return to skiing when they have the time and money and hopefully bring their children to continue the cycle.  What remains a timeless truth is that skiing is a fantastic family activity that can be shared by young, old, and everyone in between.  Smart enthusiasts will always appreciate that.

7 days ago

Since it’s been mentioned in this thread (and was mentioned in others), SouthWest is running their fare sale now, with lots of RTs from Dulles to Denver (direct) around $180.  Availability throughout January and February, but not around the two holiday weekends.  

I just booked a 5 night trip in late Jan, with the outbound on SW, and the return on United (better times).  Wound up spending $240 each RT for my wife and me, but could have dropped that significantly if I wasn’t so picky on flight times (we have to coordinate with her parents to watch the kids, so can’t leave super early or get back super late).  If I was willing to fly basic economy on United (I would get everything but seat selection due to my status), I could have flown RT for $158.

That said, I strongly agree with those earlier who mentioned cost (I have posted about this in the past).  We aren’t bringing the kids (7 and 3) because of the added cost.  They went to Whistler last season and will go to Snowshoe and Whitetail a few times each, but something had to give.  

7 days ago

But new 50 year olds might be starting to ski again? I skied total of 3 days during my 20s. Then picked up after kids were in elementary school and gradually worked up to 10 days a year when they were in middle school. Up to 20 days when they were in high school. Now that I am almost empty nested, I am trying to hit 30+ this year. The gradual uptick of Gen X ski days is interesting. Perhaps some of them are now empty nested (late 40s and early 50s) and are skiing more and bringing up the average days for Gen X.

7 days ago

The graph says ski is an old people sport. :-)

7 days ago

A couple of other things to add to the discussion:

- I agree with JimK on much of what he writes.  We’re at the edge of millenials (I’m technically a millenial, but turn 38 in January), and have a lot of competing interests.  A big mortgage on the 5 BR house with the big yard and garage in Fairfax County.  Domestic and international travel, for work and pleasure.  I’m not from the DC region, and have one surviving grandparent in her 90’s.  If I want her to see her great grandkids, I have to pony up $2,000+ to fly four people to the west coast, and have to schedule it around FFXCo school schedules. My wife enjoys skiing, but likes the beach even better, so I have to split time and money between the two.  I’ve been pushing to start skiing at spring break, but she always wants to go somewhere warm after a long winter.  The last couple of years I’ve finally given in and stretched the budget to include ski trips out west in Dec through early march, but then the Riviera Maya in April.  We’re able to do that through hotel/airline/credit card points, and saving money on stuff like cars (my BMW is 16 years old and I do all the maintenance on it myself) and DIYing home repairs / improvement.

- I think the older generation can do a lot for skiing for their kids.  Certainly paying for it / exposing them to it when they are young, but many of the most avid skiers I know have parents with mountain vacation homes.  My parents were huge skiers in their 30’s and 40’s, but did not age well after 50, and no longer ski.  My wife’s parents were not skiers, but sprang for a large house last season at snowshoe for 3 nights for her entire family, which I was very grateful for.  

- I’ve gone through the same thing Jim went through; a big dip in my ski days (particularly out west) as we had our two children.  Trying to get on the other side of that…

7 days ago

As a gen X’er, I was off the skiing map in my 20s. I was poor, and in school, and got maybe 3 ski days a year. Growing up, my family did not ski, and I was exposed to it through scouts. The yearly ski trip was literally the only reason I stayed in it.

Once I had a family, we made skiing with them a priority, and now my Gen Z’ers are lucky - they get about 15 ski days a year, mostly at Snowshoe and Liberty/Whitetail, but we made it out to CO with them over spring break last year too. 

I am shocked to see on the graph that kids under 19 have more skiing days than Millenials the past couple of years. Although it looks like Gen X was the same way when we were young; millenials out-skied us, but they are a much bigger group, outnumbering Baby Boomers IIRC. 

6 days ago

Destination resorts now charge what it costs to go to Disney World for a day.  You can pretty much take all of Disney World in over 2 days and be good for another ten.  Skiing takes a lot of repition and practice to make the most of so it’s actually quite a bit more expensive to be a destination resort skier.  Add in feeder hills are going belly up if they can’t invest in better snow making infrastructure.  Fewer options, less competition, higher prices, fewer skiers.

5 days ago

No respect for us GenXers! We follow the Boomers. It is GenX dollars on the slopes today. 

3 days ago

Denis wrote:

The bubble grows.

https://www.enotes.com/topics/short-history-financial-euphoria 

I thought Amazon was an over-valued one trick pony in the late 90s. Never thought a “bookstore” could be worth so much. Was waiting for bricks and mortar to jump in and eat their lunch.

If I was smarter then, I’d be treating ya to heli rides Denis.

3 days ago

Cost is an issue for skiing, but I think knowledge is a bigger barrier to entry. You can ski for cheap (compared to other activities), but knowing how to do so while having fun/being comfortable requires insight/skill. Without spending a lot of coin, this is not a “turn key” sport.

3 days ago

I think it is very misleading to look at lift ticket prices and skier visits at Vail Resort areas in CO and extrapolate to the state of to the rest of the industry. They are not suffering from lack of crowds and may be at total skier saturation for capacity during prime season. Hence, price is not an issue for them. They’ll charge whatever, and people will still go there. The overall skier visits will still be the same, unless they significantly expand the size of the areas. Or offer better deals off Peak for marginal improvement.

There are a few other areas in the same category as CO VR, several which have been bought by VR recently: Stowe, Killington, W/B, Squaw?, Heavenly.

3 days ago

From my recollection total skier visits has not really increase much since the 1970’s so I think we are wrong in assuming it’s all cost related. The ski industry is not doing a very good job of marketing to new skiers including minorities. I think a lot of it is general perception. We cannot look at this from our narrow skier fanatic view point. It took us many years to get that way. Many non-skiers I know look at skiing as a dangerous and uncomfortable(cold) activity. Beach vacation real estate is selling like hot cakes; ski real estate is selling like frozen waffles. Hundreds of ski areas have closed shop since the seventies. The industry is not growing.it’s not just cost, it’s a marketing issue, in my opinion. Golf is experiencing a similar contraction since it is viewed as an old white guys sport.  

3 days ago

Actually my statement above about skier visits not increasing is not factual but the visits fluctuate based on the economy which certainly indicates cost is involved. However, the perspective in this blog indicates something deeper:

http://www.mrablog.com/explaining-ski-industry-demographics/

3 days ago

Number of Skiers vs. Skier Visits. Did I miss factor #3: resort income? I.e, I’m 1 skier skiing 75 days but all on 1 $250 season pass vs. 50 skiers skiing 1 day on 50 $100 lift tickets. Notice late season its mostly all season ticket holders, hence no more income. So isn’t another measure the resorts income?

2 days ago

snowsmith wrote:

Actually my statement above about skier visits not increasing is not factual but the visits fluctuate based on the economy which certainly indicates cost is involved. However, the perspective in this blog indicates something deeper:

http://www.mrablog.com/explaining-ski-industry-demographics/

While the basic premise of the article may still be valid, has me thinking about what has changed since 2010.  The MCP and MAX Pass came after 2010.  Vail’s expansion, the recent creation of a new multi-resort company combining Squaw/Alpine, Mammoth, Deer Valley, and the former Intrawest resort are bound to make a difference in some way.  New lift construction has increased since 2014 after a major slow down.  What else?

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