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Vail Resorts: Revenue Is Up Despite Fewer Skier Visits

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Despite a 2.8 percent drop in skier visits and a devastating drought in the west, Vail Resorts still reported modest increases in revenue compared to last year. The latest season metrics compared this season to the previous year through April 20, 2014. And while everyone knows that Vail Resorts' is king when it comes to breaking records and making money in the ski industry, this spring (especially March) was notoriously bad in many of Vail's nine mountain resorts. Tahoe's snowpack (home to Vail Resorts-operated Heavenly, Kirkwood, and Northstar) had the worst winter on record while Utah's (home to Vail-operated Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort) already meager snowpack melted away to nothing. So how is Vail making all this cash? Simply put, skiers are spending more money and buying season passes early.

Highlights of the latest report include:

· At Vail's nine mountain resorts, season-to-date lift revenue (including some season pass revenue) was up 8.5 percent compared to the prior year.

· When they are at one of Vail's properties, skiers are spending more money. Season-to-date ancillary spending outpaced skier visitation. Vail Resorts' ski school revenue is up 3.4 percent, dining revenue is up 3.3 percent, and retail/rental revenue is up 3.8 percent.

· Season-to-date total skier visits were down 2.8 percent.

The main reason Vail Resorts is able to weather the difficult snow conditions is that it secures much of its profits before the snow starts flying. As Rob Katz, Vail Resorts CEO points out, Vail's season pass program "secured significant revenue in advance of the season and mitigated the volatility of results and by expanding yields through increasingly sophisticated pricing, promotion and distribution strategies."

More on Vail Resorts:
10 Fast Facts On The Ski Industry's Biggest Player: Vail Resorts
Colorado Boosts Vail Resorts' Profits, Tahoe Lags Behind
Vail Resorts Plans to Focus on Mountains, Not Real Estate
What It Means To Ski in a Vail-Dominated World
CEO Admits that Vail Resorts Wants to Take Over World

Katz went on to explain Vail's path to success, "We were able to overcome these challenges through the strength of our season pass program and data-driven marketing efforts, by providing a comprehensive world-class destination experience, by attracting high-income guests from around the world and through growth in our ski school, dining and retail businesses."

Don't look for Vail Resorts to slow down anytime soon. The company just announced their first international purchase in Australia and is set to begin construction in Utah on a gondola that will create the biggest ski area in the United States. Our bet is that around this time next year, Vail Resorts will be putting up even bigger numbers.

· Revenue up, skier visits down for Vail Resorts [Vail Daily]
· Vail Resorts Gets Green Light to Create the Largest Ski Resort in the United States [Curbed Ski]
· The Ultimate Guide to Buying the Best Season Pass, March '15 [Curbed Ski]
· Vail Resorts Goes International With Purchase of Australia's Perisher Ski Resort [Curbed Ski]
· Vail Will Replace Avanti Express With New Six-Person Chairlift [Curbed Ski]