Between overcrowding and sweeping closures due to the coronavirus outbreak, the 2019-2020 ski season was a bust for skiers who bought season passes only to use them a handful of times — if they were used at all.
Now, Vail Resorts, the parent company of Stevens Pass, among other ski areas, is addressing that situation, crediting 2019-2020 season pass holders according to a tiered system based on skiers and snowboarders’ actual pass usage for the season. The company is also implementing a new pass insurance program for the upcoming ski season that will refund passes in the event of closures like the ones seen this year.
The new policies were shared Monday on the company’s website in a statement and letter to pass-holders from Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Kirsten Lynch.
Lynch said that after Vail’s staff had “spent weeks” reading emails and social media posts from pass holders, the company came up with a tiered approach to crediting customers for lost ski time, basing credit amounts on the number of days each pass was used.
Skiers who purchased Vail’s Epic Day Pass, Whistler Blackcomb Edge Card or Multi-Pack Pass products for the 2019-2020 season will be credited for each day that wasn’t used, with a maximum payout of 80%. All season pass holders will receive a 20% minimum credit, with higher credits available to those who used their pass on fewer than five days. If it wasn’t used at all, a maximum credit of 80% will be available. The credits can be applied toward the cost of a pass for the 2020-2021 ski season that’s equal or greater in value than the one purchased for this past season.
Customers will be emailed credit details and promotion codes for these purchases, which can be made from May 13 through Labor Day (Sept. 7).
Vail Resorts is also instating across-the-board pass insurance — once an optional add-on — at no added cost to consumers. Branded as “Epic Coverage,” the policy guarantees pass holders refunds in the event of a job loss, injury or “other personal events that prevent you from using your pass.” It also provides refunds in the event of resort closures like the ones seen in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
This is a deviation from the company’s previous pass insurance program, which did not refund customers, and will not provide refunds for the 2019-2020 season.
“We recognize that some people may ask why we did not provide 100% credits or cash refunds for last season,” Lynch said of the decision to provide credits instead of refunds. “We capped our credits at 80% because our mountains were open and operating for the majority of the season and our passes could be used during that time.”
Other local ski areas have adopted similar policies. Crystal Mountain will honor unused vouchers, access cards and single lift tickets purchased for 2019-2020 in the 2020-2021 ski season. Crystal Passes can be exchanged for up to four gondola tickets for the 2020-2021 ski season. The value of existing Ikon Passes, which Crystal also honors, can be deferred as a credit toward purchasing an Ikon Pass for the 2020-2021 season. At Snoqualmie Pass, unused lift tickets purchased in advance online will be automatically refunded.