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Vail Resorts provides update on COVID-19 season pass plans for 2020-21 ski season

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April 27, 2020, 7:31 am

Vail Resorts on Monday offered a minimum 20% discount on 2020-21 season ski passes as compensation for closing all of its North American ski areas at least a month early this past season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vail Mountain shut down after operations on Saturday, March 14. It had been scheduled to close Sunday, April 19 — scrubbing more than a month of the peak ski season for pass holders. Beaver Creek also closed on Sunday, March 15, and had been scheduled to close on Sunday, April 12.

Vail Resorts is still facing litigation over the cancellation of last ski season.

The discount for the 2020-21 ski season on a $949 Epic Pass would amount to around $188. The ski company is also offering free pass insurance in case next ski season is impacted by the COVID-19 virus.

There is still a great deal of uncertainty over whether there will be another big spike in COVID-19 infections in the fall, whether that will require more stay-at-home orders and how the virus will impact the ski industry.

Vail Resorts’ Chief Marketing Officer Kirsten Lynch provided the following statement to media and the company also sent a letter to pass holders:

“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.”

Vail Resorts on Monday put out the following press release on its season pass plans for the upcoming 2020-21 ski season given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic:

Vail Resorts logo

BROOMFIELD, Colo., April 27, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Vail Resorts, Inc. (NYSE: MTN) today announced updates to its season pass program for the 2020/2021 North American ski season.

Rob Katz, Chief Executive Officer, said, “Following the difficult decision to close our North American mountain resorts as a result of the unprecedented circumstances surrounding COVID-19, we have been developing a comprehensive plan to address our pass holders’ concerns about the early closure this past season and provide improved coverage for the future. We are committed to providing the best passes in the ski industry and are focused on both honoring the loyalty of our guests and providing peace of mind for next season.

“To address last season, we are providing credits to 2019/2020 season pass holders to apply toward the purchase of a 2020/2021 season pass. Season pass holders will receive a minimum credit of 20% toward next season’s pass. For season pass holders who used their pass less than five days, they will be eligible for higher credits up to a maximum of 80% for season pass holders who did not use their season pass at all. For Epic Day Pass, Edge Card and other frequency based products with unused days remaining, we will be offering credits for each unused day up to a maximum of an 80% credit. The credits will be available for our pass holders who purchase 2020/2021 passes by September 7, 2020. 

“Looking ahead to the 2020/2021 North American ski season, we fully expect that we will all be enjoying a great ski and ride season, but we also understand that many pass holders are nervous about the future given the current uncertainty. As a result, we are redefining how we will protect season passes through the launch of ‘Epic Coverage.’ Epic Coverage is free for all pass holders and completely replaces the need to purchase pass insurance. Epic Coverage provides refunds in the unlikely event of certain resort closures (i.e. for COVID-19), giving pass holders a refund for any portion of the season that is lost. Additionally, Epic Coverage provides a refund for personal circumstances covered by our pass insurance for eligible injuries, job losses and many other personal events. In addition to these changes, in order to give our pass holders the time they need to make decisions regarding next season, we are extending the deadline for pass holders to receive spring benefits (including Buddy Tickets) until September 7, 2020, and we are extending the period for pass holders to lock in their purchase with only $49 down for the next few months.

“As a result of the early closure this season and the meaningful credits we are offering to 2019/2020 season pass holders, we will be delaying the recognition of approximately $118 million of our deferred season pass revenue, as well as approximately $3 million of related deferred costs, that would have been recognized in the remainder of fiscal 2020 and will now be recognized in the second and third quarters of fiscal 2021. This will result in a reduction in lift revenue and Resort Reported EBITDA in fiscal 2020 of approximately $118 million and approximately $115 million, respectively, which is incremental to the negative impact previously disclosed on March 18, 2020. Fiscal 2021 lift revenue will increase by approximately $118 million, partially or fully offsetting the negative impact of the credits being offered to pass holders, depending upon the final usage of such credits towards the purchase of 2020/2021 season passes, and fiscal 2021 Resort Reported EBITDA will increase by approximately $115 million.   

“Our advanced commitment products continue to be our primary focus by delivering value to our guests, resulting in increased guest return rates and guest satisfaction to drive the long-term stability and growth of our business. As we look further into the future, we are well positioned to navigate these challenging times and emerge with significant strength due to our outstanding owned and operated network of destination, regional and local resorts, the stability, loyalty and value offered through our advanced commitment pass products, and our new Epic Coverage and Epic Mountain Rewards programs. We are grateful for the continued commitment of our employees, our community partners and our guests in this challenging environment and look forward to safely getting back to the mountains next season.”

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