In a letter to passholders on Friday, Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz revealed that the company will not be requiring guests to make reservations next season. The much maligned system was introduced this season to improve mountain safety and manage crowding during the pandemic, Katz says, and (hopefully) these measures will no longer be required going forward.
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Vail Resorts announced towards the end of summer that they would be requiring passholders to reserve their ski days, a decision that was extremely unpopular. Their main competitor, the Ikon Pass, revealed that they would not (with some small exceptions) be requiring passholders to make reservations at their resorts.
Also in the letter, Katz addresssed the long call center lines experienced by many customers, claiming that the company have since doubled, and plan to quadruple, their call center staff. He ended the letter by teasing ‘big news’ when their passes drop tomorrow.
Full letter below:
On March 23, we will be releasing our 2021/22 season passes with some exciting changes we believe you will very much appreciate. But before we look forward, I want to address the challenges we faced during this incredibly difficult season and share our plans to grow from these experiences.
First, a follow up on our call center wait times. We are committed to a multi-year transformation to ensure we provide you the information you need, when you need it, and how you want to receive it. As a first step, we have spent the last few months overhauling the technical systems behind our guest service operations and are in the process of dramatically scaling the number of representatives available to provide you support. While we are still putting the fully expanded team into place, I’m pleased to share that we have doubled our staff of customer service representatives since December and plan to quadruple our staff by May. We will also be rolling out a much more robust chat offering. Our goal is to ensure that we can quickly answer your calls and messages and get you the information you need. While there may still be moments with longer hold times in the short term, I am confident you will see continuous improvement over the next couple of months and well before next season.
Second, an update on our pass holder reservation system. We designed the system to help safely manage on-mountain capacity during this pandemic. While we do not know exactly how COVID-19 will impact our industry next winter, we are not planning to have a reservation system next season. For anyone worried that the absence of a reservation system will lead to longer lift lines, we have extensive learnings from this season around lift loading efficiencies and are implementing new strategies to materially reduce wait times. And of course, we will also benefit from new lifts at Breckenridge, Keystone, Beaver Creek, Crested Butte and Okemo.
Our goal this season was to safely open – and stay open – all winter long as we worked to navigate the unique challenges of operating our resorts during this unprecedented pandemic. Because of your loyalty as a pass holder, our supportive communities and our hard-working employees, we will achieve that goal together. In fact, we are pleased to provide our guests with the opportunity to enjoy skiing and riding well into the spring as we recently announced extended operations at nearly a dozen of our resorts.
Amidst the hardships of this last year, we have come away with many lessons learned, a heightened sense of the importance of recreating on our mountains, and a renewed commitment to live up to our mission of providing you an Experience of a Lifetime. I am sincerely grateful for your patience and understanding, and I look forward to sharing our big news with you when passes drop on March 23.
Wishing you all the very best,
CEO of Vail Resorts