This ski season I’m using the Mountain Collective pass, which gets me to days of skiing at four great resorts, 50% off lift tickets thereafter and lodging discounts. Eight ski days for only $349—awesome. The beauty of this pass is that it includes a diverse selection of resorts under different ownership including Aspen/Snowmass, Jackson Hole, Alta and Alpine/Squaw Valley. For people like me who don’t like to commit to a pass limiting you to just one resort, this is the perfect pass. Redemption of the pass is fairly straight forward in that you bring in a printed ticket to the ski area ticket office where you are issued a lift ticket.
With the precedent for this type of cross-resort pass, I see an opportunity for a similar type of pass, only driven by the Starwood hotel chain, which has several resort properties in ski areas across North America. In particular potential resorts include: Whistler, Steamboat, Vail, Aspen, Deer Valley, and Mammoth. While this may be less attractive to Aspen and Vail in that it’s competitive with the Mountain Collective and Vail’s Epic Pass, it still opens up a huge marketing opportunity for the resorts in that it would access SPG’s huge national customer base. The revenue split to the pass itself could be modeled after the Mountain Collective pass.
So what’s in it for Starwood? Hotel bookings. There are typically a ton of options when it comes to ski lodging from independent rentals by owners to hotels. A pass with an SPG lodging discount and perhaps some add-ons such as a free breakfast or a spa credit could lure skiers to resorts where Starwood is present.
Now imagine bringing in another existing SPG marketing partner, American Express, which offers an SPG credit card. The partnership would give Amex an opportunity to market the SPG card to pass holders and would further extend the marketing reach for the pass.
The structure for an offering like this is in place. Many of the hotels already offer packages including lift tickets, so it then becomes a matter of taking the relationships to the next level.