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Trends If someone uses their season pass X times, what’s the likelihood they’ll renew their pass?

photo of the author Gregg Blanchard

This is a tough question to answer. Right now, you may have a Gold, Silver, and Bronze pass with youth, senior, family, employee, and student pricing that all changes three times at price increase deadlines. Next year, any of those elements could be tweaked, creating dozens, if not hundreds, of varieties.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, we dug deep and found some pretty fascinating data along the way. Keep in mind, try as we might, this data is not perfect. Even though some resorts group things like 4-packs into their pass data, these insights still provide some fascinating insights.

The Theory(s)
The basic theory is this: the more I use my pass, the less each day “costs” and the better I feel about renewing my pass. At $1,000 a pass, if my seasonal tally was 100 days, a cost of $10 a day (Effective Ticket Price, or ETP) makes a season pass seem like a steal. If I only skied 5 days, a $200 ETP is hard to swallow. What we don’t know is how this rate changes. Is it a straight line? A steady curve?

The Data
Not every resort scans passes. Even fewer had a sample size and pass structure that could be analyzed. In the end, we pulled from 5 resorts and over 65,000 season pass holders. The resorts are spread out geographically on the East and West coasts as well as in the Rockies.

Averaged across these resorts, it would take just under 13 pass uses to make a season pass more cost effective than buying day passes. As mentioned, some of the pass groupings included 4-pack type bundles, so we’ve rounded down to 12 for the number to use in this analysis.

The Results
Below is the graph of renewal rates from scan 1 through scan 12. Counts from 0-2 showed sporadic data so a gray line illustrates the trend with outliers removed.

Above 30 scans, the renewal rates didn’t appear to be majorly affected so for the second half of the analysis, we’ll look at renewal rates from 13-30.

Putting it all together, here’s the graph.

Takeaways & Lessons
There are a few key segments from this graph that are worth noting:

First, from 0 uses to 4 uses, the slope is minimal. In other words, if you have pass holders this year that used their pass anywhere from 0-4 times, somewhere in the ballpark of 35% of them are going to renew.

Second, from 5 uses to 9 uses, the rate of renewal increases quickly. Somewhere in this zone is a tipping point where skiers suddenly become more likely to renew their pass than not.

Third, about 16 uses and above, the slope of the graph starts to level out. Once someone has used their pass 15-16 times, about 80-90% of them will renew no matter how many more times they use their pass.

With such a dramatic increase in renewal rates with just 4-5 more uses, perhaps focused marketing efforts should be in place during the year to get pass holders to use their passes. If you can get skiers to that point during the season, less effort will be required in the Spring.

EpicMix comes to mind for motivating skiers to get on the mountain as much as possible. Full of game-like rewards for getting on the hill, the Epic Pass only needs to be used 6-7 times to bring the ETP below day pass prices: a pretty powerful combination.

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