Those folks at Vail are pretty tricky. And they’re making rival resort aggregator Alterra seem a bit flat-footed.
The latest … Vail has differentiated itself in two distinct ways from Alterra in how it’s handling the pandemic – particularly from a customer relations vantage point.
1. Vail is offering 20% to 80% credits for 2020-2021 Epic passes dpending upon how much passholders skied in 2019-2020. 20% discount for next year (~same as Ikon) if you skied 5 days or more. but 80% if you had never used your pass before the shutdown.
2. “New for the 2020/21 season, Epic Coverage is included FREE for all passholders, and provides refunds associated with certain personal events, including illness, job loss, and injury. It also expands coverage to protect you from certain resort closures, such as any due to COVID-19 … If any of the following happens over the course of the next season, you will get a full or prorated refund. We are giving you the protection FREE because it allows you to look past today’s uncertainty and toward a new season.”
By contrast, Alterra pass insurance costs extra.
Further, one reader pointed out this fine print regarding Alterra’s Ikon offer which states that a buyer can defer a 2020-2021 pass for any reason between Sept. 10 and December 10 for use in 2021-2022.
“If there is a price difference between the credit amount issued for the 20/21 Ikon Pass product and the Ikon Pass product purchased for the 21/22 winter season for whatever reason, including price increases, passholder age or eligibility for certain discounts, the purchaser will be required to pay the price difference.”
Translation: Even though you might pay in 2020 dollars and defer the pass for a year, the deferral won’t work like one of those USPS “Forever” stamps. They’ll hold your money, and it’s virtually guaranteed that while they hold your money, it will lose value – in the form of potential price increases that dilute your initial investment.
Onto the coronavirus thoughts of the week.
Well … the more you know, the less you know.
Which is why people who don’t know much try to avoid knowing anything. It’s too demoralizing.
What has struck me this week …
Frank Bruni’s column in the New York Times on Monday where he interviewed Laurie Garrett, who wrote the 1994 bestseller “The Coming Plague” and has been predicting a pandemic like the current one for the past quarter century.
A few of her observations:
36 months is her best-case scenario in terms of event horizon. She can’t see a vaccine coming anytime in the next year.
That a whole ‘new normal’ will be created. “Did we go ‘back to normal’ after 9/11? No. We created a whole new normal. We securitized the United States. We turned into an anti-terror state. And it affected everything. We couldn’t go into a building without showing ID and walking through a metal detector, and couldn’t get on airplanes the same way ever again. That’s what’s going to happen with this.”
That if the wealthy come through this just as wealthy, if not more, while the vast majority struggle, massive political disruption is possible. “Just as we come out of our holes and see what 25% unemployment looks like,” she said, “we may also see what collective rage looks like.”
And what America needs most right now, she said, isn’t this drumbeat of testing, testing, testing, because there will never be enough super-fast, super-reliable tests to determine on the spot who can safely enter a crowded workplace or venue. America needs good information, from many rigorously designed studies, about the prevalence and deadliness of coronavirus infections in given subsets of people so that governors and mayors can develop rules for social distancing and reopening that are sensible, sustainable and tailored to the situation at hand.
A second article that intrigued me appeared in the latest issue of the Economist and talked about China’s public policy approach.
Notably, China is hard-core in initiating lockdowns and restrictions at any hint of outbreak.
The article talks about Harbin, a city of 10 million. A recent outbreak was traced to a student who flew back from America in March. The lockdown is
notable because it was triggered by a relatively tiny cluster of cases.
“The Chinese authorities are deeply alarmed by imported cases. The country’s borders are closed to almost all foreigners and only about 20 international flights land in all of China each day. Domestically, however, travel bans are being lifted, and businesses and schools urged to resume work. Not in Harbin. Travelers reaching the city from abroad must spend 14 days in government-arranged quarantine, then another 14 in isolation at home. School reopening have been postponed. A single case in a housing compound condemns every resident there to a fortnight’s quarantine. When those unfortunate neighbors emerge from isolation they may not leave Harbin. That ban is enforced via smartphone apps.”
The article suggests that China’s approach may be influenced by the fact that it collectively has 1/10th the ICU beds America does.
Alarm at case importation, limited ICU beds … sounds familiar. And the Chinese saw the worst and first of Covid.
I cite this because … I sat in a meeting this week to talk about alternative 4th of July activities and no one in the meeting could really define for me what the strategy is.
The goal was elucidated pretty clearly. We want to invite people to town, but not too many and sort of on the down-low. We want them to obey all the rules. We want them to spend money at all our businesses but not expect too much.
And we’re not going to hold fireworks because policing social distancing etiquette among carfuls of families parked all over Crowley would be too challenging.
This arms-length approach pretty much describes my high school dating career. A person only has so much patience for that.
If you invite people to visit, you have to mean it. That doesn’t mean there aren’t house rules to follow. But you have to mean it (the invite) and you have to trust your guests. I think canceling the fireworks at Crowley represents a significant, symbolic mistake.
By the way, I applaud everyone who’s trying to brainstorm a way to salvage July 4th. It’s a thankless task. Made more thankless because there’s no promise of a sonic and visual and patriotic payoff.
From MLT’s board meeting Wednesday:
“Our Measure A checking account has $1,069,017.89. Savings has $5013.97. And the TBID checking right now has $755,449.30. We do have a check for $750 and that is going in, in the next couple of days here. And then the savings account for TBID is $5,009.41. We still have the $2.8 million in the cash reserves. Those are dedicated to our recovery here and those will be the dollars that we spend once we get out of this. One thing I caution is, it looks like we have a fair amount of money in reserves, we won’t see any revenue coming from TOT/TBID until later on in the year or so. We are going to really have to watch that $3 million and make sure that we get the biggest bang for the buck that we can … On the bank balances, it is important to note that we will have the winter air subsidy payments coming through here, probably in the next month or so. And that is about $1.5 million. So right now, we probably have $2.5 million in the bank, $1.5 (million) of that will be dedicated to the air subsidy and that will go right out of the account.”