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Trends Webinar Recap: Yield Management in the Era of COVID-19

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photo of the author Gregg Blanchard

Miss our recent webinar about yield management tips for the 2020/21 season? We’ve got you covered. Either watch the recording or glance over a quick summary below.


We started with some quick Q&A with our guest panelist and yield management partner, Scott Guyette of Specific Gravity.

Q: When you look at the 2020/21 season, what are you seeing when it comes to capacity and supply/demand?
Scott: The new normal looks more spacious. Skiers, guests, and employees need to plan on having a reduced ability to pack the slopes. While demand is likely to increase to outdoor recreational activities, the capacity for the ski industry isn’t going to increase in the same time frame. Many resorts are asking now how to reduce the total number of people in close proximity while remaining a sustainable business. Passes already sold prior to the pandemic will still have to live up to their promises putting the strain onto ticketed access. Window rates could increase in price or be “blacked out” for peak visitation dates. Advanced purchase products will have to reflect similar changes. We may be seeing a move more akin to the airline industry where you simply do not arrive at the counter unannounced.

Q: What about the data sets behind some resort’s yield management efforts?
Scott: The data is what really drives a price models formation. Identifying trends and forecasting demand is where everyone needs to start. This season knowing what your markets are experiencing is also going to be important as school and work schedules may not be as predictable. The historical data is the foundation for a price model but this year the in-season trends will be as important as ever as we see how things unfold. Shifts to midweek and less historically demanded times will reveal themselves as travelers have new flexibility and greater desire to avoid crowding.

Q: How does that impact the strategy resorts relied on in recent years?
Scott: This season having the ability to actively measure and manage demand trends in season will be as important as ever. Keeping the price model flexible and capable of changing with the business demand will be required to maximize profits and address changes in demand we can’t currently forecast.

Q: What happens when a resort going into a totally unique season with capacity constraints, etc. What should that strategy be?
Scott: I predict resorts with hard capacity issues will have no choice but to reevaluate what a window ticket is. Historically an unscheduled transaction made at the front counter was welcomed with open arms, ideally at a fair price and maximum profit to the resort. As efforts are made to drive volume away from peak times and dates the window ticket becomes less realistic where online price can more accurately reflect the cost per day and show savings for flexibility in travel plans. Inventory levels will reflect more of a true capacity and even advanced purchases may reach the point of selling out. There may be benefits in the idea of partial day tickets making a resurgence, there may be scenarios where advanced tickets sell at window rate or even higher to keep on slope crowds in check. Most of all having measurement tools in place and staying nimble on the price model will be of most value.

Four Tips

We asked Scott to share a few quick tips to summarize his advice going into next season.

  • Take a hard look at window products, rates and availability.
  • Plan on needing to adjust to unpredictable demand changes.
  • Advanced booking are the new normal and will continue to increase.
  • Dynamically pricing tickets will help both control visitation numbers and protect revenue.

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