Vail Resorts cash grab

Idoitmyway

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Jul 31, 2019
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It seems Vail Resorts are doing their best to make up this year's losses.

It seems Ski Patrollers are being asked to front up with the $49 deposit for an Epic Pass - Resort Management are apparently being required to pay for all passes for patrollers.

Whilst it's possibly quite commercially reasonable to require full payment for passes for all users of the Resort's assets, it seems to me to be quite staggeringly bloody minded and ignorant to do so.

That the RMB would even contemplate asking individuals to pay the deposit on a pass that is a requirement of their employment is another matter.
Wouldn't that be a laugh if patrollers simply didn't pay - RMB would be left either paying full price for passes or would have a lot of patrollers sitting at patrol base unable to enter the Vail Resorts leashold area!

So should we expect to see a price hike on Resort Entry or site fees to offset the increased cost of providing the safety services Vail Resorts require in order to operate their resort?

Greedy American corporate stupidity.
Part of USA Pty Ltd, CEO D. Trump.
Spare us!
 
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Idoitmyway

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No need for a pitchfork. I think they'll do it to themselves.

RMB is reimbursing the deposits for patrollers I believe.

That Vail Resorts think it's reasonable to treat the people who provide the safety and rescue services on their leasehold exactly as retail customers displays the ethical vacancy we've come to expect of so many US companies.
Staff who may or may not come back in 9 months time need to pay a deposit in their own name to get a discount for the organisation they work for, in order to provide a service that benefits the company requiring the payment. What?

I suppose it would be a technical impossibility to simply ask RMB to pay a deposit for X number of passes, with names to be provided when staff become re-employed? Or even more impossible to simply say, "You had X number of patrollers on the books this year, we'll let you have that number of discounted passes next year".
That's not even raising the issue of charging retail rates for the people who require access to Vail leashold and lifts in order to provide the services that Vail requires in order to operate!

Obviously they must work on the theory that the more something costs, the more it's valued. Knowing that Vail has charged full retail prices and full retail terms will no doubt give all those patrollers a warm and fuzzy feeling of the value Vail attribute to their efforts.
Or maybe they'll go, "That particular task isn't strictly in my job description, so you mercenary bastards can do it yourself".

Perhaps it's a calculated step toward getting patrol services moved out of RMB and into Vail Resorts - there are certainly arguments for that, although I've yet to be convinced any of them have to do with providing a better service.
 

emkae

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I don’t know anything about this situation at all, but it is possible there are other explanations

For example, I used to travel a lot for my employer and I would pay all the travel costs and make an expense claim and be reimbursed all the costs.

My employer had commercial arrangements with the airline to pay the special corporate fares for all employees (a lot of people did a lot of travel), even though all employees paid full retail up front and were reimbursed.

So while it seemed that, as employees, we were paying full retail for flights which seemed crazy, it wasn’t the case in reality due to the corporate fare arrangements with the airline
 
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Fandango

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Aren't the patrollers Vail employees, seems a no brainer to give them their passes? If employed by RMB then maybe a case for contractors to pay...seems strange to me
 

currawong

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Aren't the patrollers Vail employees, seems a no brainer to give them their passes? If employed by RMB then maybe a case for contractors to pay...seems strange to me
at Hotham and falls, ski patrol are RMB employees. lift co contributes to the cost.
 
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Idoitmyway

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Yes, there might be machinations going on in the background, and yes every job has it's costs.
I love that arrangement with the airline - staff pay full price, the company reimburses it, then presumably the airline reimburses the company - the circular economy;). No doubt there's a tax benefit for someone somewhere in that loop.

I'm not sure that Vail contributes anything extra to Patrol operations - as far as I'm aware it used to be and likely still is that patrol budget came out of resort entry and site fees - RMB's income stream. Yes Vail pay those fees, but so does everyone else in the resort. I could be wrong - I believe these sorts of agreements are part of the head lease which is not to my knowledge public.

RMB used to supply staff passes for resort entry at a reduced price, I assume they still do. Staff didn't have to sign up for their staff pass 9 months in advance and provide a non-refundable deposit to ensure they only had to pay the normal discounted, advance purchase retail cost. There was recognition that the resort needs staff, that there are costs involved and that a compromise could be reached that supported all parties.

We're talking something like 50 passes I'd guess, including volunteers (how's that, people who volunteer their time, pay fuel and often accommodation costs in order to provide safety and rescue services to Vail Resorts get asked to front up a deposit for the ticket that enables them to do that!). About the same number as a school group. I guess Vail don't ask for 9 month pre-deposits for schools in order to get a discount on full retail, although it wouldn't really surprise me.

In all this the nett outcome is that (assuming Vail have effectively increased the cost of patrol operations) RMB will be under more pressure to increase their income or reduce their expenses to cover it. So increased site fees or resort entry, a reduction in services or an increase in "efficiencies" (which is usually a metaphor for more work, reduced conditions or less staff). Either way it's the "guests" who will end up paying for Vail's added profit.

This simply looks like a company that cares about little other than their return. Little sense of community, little sense of cooperation for the sake of good relations - in short a standard example of corporate self interest.

That's life I guess.
 
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teleroo

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Sounds all a little wierd to me. Maybe "someone" needs to separate out "free" lift access at the place you are doing volunteer/paid ski patrol at (whilst you are doing ski patrol, and presumably other times at the same resort as a good will gesture) from all the other goodies that come with an EPIC pass. So ski patrol skis for free at the resort they volunteer/work at, but if they want to go to Japan or the US and use EPIC pass there, they need to pay for a regular EPIC pass (maybe discounted?).

I wouldn't have thought it was beyond possibility to hand ski patrol HQ a bunch of cards that only activate the local lifts and ski patrol members sign them in/out at the beginning of their shift (which could be all season for example).

Perhaps the issue is how to manage the "value" of an EPIC pass against someone who maybe volunteers a few days a year as ski patrol? Once people start to "volunteer" for personal gain (ie. to get an EPIC pass) it changes the vibe and arguments start about who deserves the freebee and who doesn't.

FWIW, I was contemplating doing volunteer ski patrol. Still interested for a range of reasons, just no yet, but I guess just remember you are volunteering in aid of a profit driven entity. Without volunteers, the resort would need to employ paid ski patrol.
 
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skichanger

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So ski patrol skis for free at the resort they volunteer/work at, but if they want to go to Japan or the US and use EPIC pass there, they need to pay for a regular EPIC pass (maybe discounted?).
FYI Instructors and lifites only get passes for the resort they work at for the season they are working.

And this season early in the piece they were not allowed to use the lifts unless they were working.
 

Idoitmyway

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Sounds all a little wierd to me. Maybe "someone" needs to separate out "free" lift access at the place you are doing volunteer/paid ski patrol at (whilst you are doing ski patrol, and presumably other times at the same resort as a good will gesture) from all the other goodies that come with an EPIC pass. So ski patrol skis for free at the resort they volunteer/work at, but if they want to go to Japan or the US and use EPIC pass there, they need to pay for a regular EPIC pass (maybe discounted?).

I wouldn't have thought it was beyond possibility to hand ski patrol HQ a bunch of cards that only activate the local lifts and ski patrol members sign them in/out at the beginning of their shift (which could be all season for example).

Perhaps the issue is how to manage the "value" of an EPIC pass against someone who maybe volunteers a few days a year as ski patrol? Once people start to "volunteer" for personal gain (ie. to get an EPIC pass) it changes the vibe and arguments start about who deserves the freebee and who doesn't.

FWIW, I was contemplating doing volunteer ski patrol. Still interested for a range of reasons, just no yet, but I guess just remember you are volunteering in aid of a profit driven entity. Without volunteers, the resort would need to employ paid ski patrol.

What you're suggesting is pretty much how things worked for some decades prior to this. However not anymore apparently.

Vail perhaps feel free to do this at Hotham and Falls because they don't directly pay patrollers.
I wonder if Perisher paid patrollers have to put down a deposit on their Epic pass only to have Vail refund it to them? That would be equitable with Hotham ... and surely accountancy gone mad.

People always volunteer for some sort of personal gain, most often that gain is a sense of value, being part of a community and so on. It's probably rare that the free lift ticket doesn't factor in there in some small way :), but in my experience the "free" lift ticket comes at great expense. At Hotham volunteers are required to do 15 days each season, 8:00am to 5:30pm - add up fuel, food, wear and tear on ski equipment, accommodation if you choose not to use the staff accom. etc. and that free ski pass starts to look not so cheap given that sometimes you spend the vast majority of the day sitting in a hut, filling out paperwork, de-icing ropes etc. It's not all beer and skittles.

I'm not totally averse to RMB having to pay for passes, although it does seem rather perverse to me. I can only assume that Vail will similarly now have to pay full retail (assuming that's the deal on the passes) for their preferential parking spots, resort entry etc.
Slapping it out there that patrollers suddenly need to sign up for a full EPIC pass just seems piss poor form.

Maybe it'll turn out to be a simple misunderstanding (then convince me that a US$9 billion company who's sole activity is running ski resorts just accidentally made this mistake. Yeah, right.)
 
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CarveMan

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I'm not totally averse to RMB having to pay for passes, although it does seem rather perverse to me. I can only assume that Vail will similarly now have to pay full retail (assuming that's the deal on the passes) for their preferential parking spots, resort entry etc.
Slapping it out there that patrollers suddenly need to sign up for a full EPIC pass just seems piss poor form.
RMB has plenty of avenues to get multiples of the SP costs back from Vail. If I was going to pick a fight that I wanted to win, I don’t think I’d do it with an unlelected statutory government authority.
 

Chaeron

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RMB has plenty of avenues to get multiples of the SP costs back from Vail. If I was going to pick a fight that I wanted to win, I don’t think I’d do it with an unlelected statutory government authority.

Ski patrollers may be collateral damage in a growing turf war between Vail and State government....

Victorian RMBs in 2020 would not be happy with Vail - who pulled the plug early - they’re still up for all the fixed costs, compounded by reduced revenues- including enforced refunds or rebates, with less capacity than Vail to lay off staff and reduce variable costs.

Equally, RMB charges on Vail would make up part of Vail’s non-negotiable fixed cost base, albeit as a lesser portion of overall variable costs. Vail would be looking to reduce outgoings and would be playing tit for tat.

I suspect the Victorian management model is less attractive to Vail than it has encountered in NSW with Perisher - the RMBs have more power & effective independence, it’s more difficult for Vail to monetise add-ons, and head lease issues Vail can negotiate directly in NSW are indirectly negotiated via the RMBs in Vic. Additionally, other commercial stakeholders in Vic (essentially Vail competition in the accomodation, rental & hospitality space) probably have a greater say in Vic than in Perisher, and the Vic RMBs have a more diverse set of stakeholders than what Vail encounters in negotiating head lease conditions at Perisher.

I expect we’ll be seeing lots more of this kind of stand-off in Vic....
 

Chaeron

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Arguably, if Vail doesn’t stay on the right side of the state government proxies - the RMBs, Vail will see increases on their operating costs - plus potential limitations on development, operations, increased surcharges, red tape, caps on visitor numbers, and a reduction of concessions, cross-promotional subsidies etcetera.

With State government operating Baw-Baw and Lake Mountain it is effectively a competitor in a market sub-segment, and with Buller also being closer to Melbourne ( more visitors) it is easy to envisage a situation where Vail gets leaned on under certain parameters...
 

Chaeron

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I suspect we could see a repeat of Vail’s 2020 gameplan in 2021 - it runs Perisher, and one or both of the Vail Vic resorts run on a shorter season, or not at all - in a cost-consolidation gameplan, with an eye on potential divestment.

That surely has to be one scenario among others being considered, especially if the Northern winter goes belly up and Vail has to restructure.

Any Vic zillionaires want to make Vail a reasonable offer?
 
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teleroo

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Yeh sounds like less to do with a cash grab, more to do with resort mgt structures and who pays for what. Ski patrol are the collateral (for now).
 
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