Making sense of ‘spot’ burrito prices
“If you watch closely, the burrito prices change on the weekends,” Mammoth Mountain CEO Rusty Gregory told a packed room in Suite Z in November, when talking about Mammoth’s move to a system known as “dynamic pricing.”
“Dynamic,” also known as “surge” pricing, is the practice of pricing items based on market demand or a customer’s perceived ability to pay.
Bloomberg News reported last year that the ski industry has made an $11 billion shift toward this type of system, with some resorts using startups like LIftopia, which implements a dynamic pricing system to sell tickets on behalf of its resorts, and others, like Mammoth, going their own way. Guests at Mammoth, especially during the holiday season, have likely noticed the change—an adult lift ticket on Thursday, December 22 cost $147.90, according to the sales associate The Sheet called in the capacity of a customer. That’s up from, for instance, the “shoulder season” price of $99, which the associate said she believed was the lowest price Mammoth offered for an adult lift ticket.
“Our ski instructors used to be able to tell guests what they’d expect to pay for a lift ticket,” said a manager at Mammoth who declined to give their name. “Now, they’re instructed to be deliberately vague, so they say something along the lines of, ‘It’s dynamic pricing, so you’ll have to ask ticket sales for today’s current prices.’”
When The Sheet asked the associate on Thursday about the lowest possible pricing, she stuck with the story. “I don’t really know exactly, because [prices] do fluctuate from day to day,” she said. “It’s pretty much like airline pricing or hotel pricing…it fluctuates up and down a little depending on the demand.”