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SOAP BOX: Why Are Millennials Visiting Ski Resorts Less Often? I’ll Tell You Why

One reader is feeling the pinch

Is this what the future holds for the major resorts? Photo: Matt Georges

 

Soap Box is a chance for others to use the Whitelines platform to express their views, have a rant or just scream SNOWBOARDING into the eternal void of the internet. These opinions are not necessarily those of the WL editorial staff.

Author: Helena Guglielmino

This is the banner on top of the page I’m looking at. It’s the Squaw Alpine homepage warning me about the price increase – from insanity to robbery – that’s about to happen to their season passes.

It’s greatly contrasted with the tab open next to it, that shows my bank account. Those numbers aren’t increasing after one day, one hour, twenty-five minutes, and thirteen seconds. No, those dollars will be obliterated if I heed the threat currently counting at me.

“Executives all over the country are scratching their heads, trying to figure out why ‘Millennials’ wont ski as much as ‘Baby Boomers’”

 

Tahoe is rad - as Jeremy Jones Knows - but it doesn't come cheap. Photo: Seth Lightcap

This year’s current season pass options for Squaw start at $519, and shoot up to $949. Similarly, Vail offers four passes with Tahoe resort access starting at $479 and peaking at $879. Those prices are bargains compared to resorts like Jackson Hole and Aspen Snowmass that offer up their slice of heaven for almost $2000.

“Millennials are portrayed by the elder generation to be these evil, yet elusive creatures from the depths of the uncharted Amazon”

Meanwhile executives all over the country are scratching their heads, trying to figure out why ‘Millennials’ wont ski as much as ‘Baby Boomers’.

Jim Powell, Vice President of Marketing for Park City’s Chamber of Commerce, was featured in an article for the Park Record: “As Baby Boomers Leave Slopes, Millennials Fail To Fill Gap“. Powell “found that young adults between 20 and 36 are skiing less during the season and spending less money.” He attributes the ski industry’s loss to young people settling down and starting families or careers. But I think there is an explanation that people like Powell refuse to acknowledge.

Millennials are portrayed by the elder generation to be these evil, yet elusive creatures from the depths of the uncharted Amazon. A simple Google search of ‘millennial’ results in titles like Millennials in the Workforce, A Generation of Weakness and Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation. The stigma associated with us is so far from truth, there’s no wonder that those ski executives aged 45+ don’t know what to do with us.

A few suggestions from Google. We’re not sure what the deal is about lunch…

Hugh Reynolds, from NSAA Journal, tried to shed light to our elders, proclaiming millennials “aren’t all lazy, over-entitled, jobless college dropouts.” No, quite the opposite: “many millennials do in fact hold down fulltime jobs or careers.” Congratulations guys, we aren’t shitheads after all. So, what’s our problem with spending money to ski?

Maybe it has something to do with way we’re being paid. Half of all minimum wage jobs are held by those 25 and under (i.e. Millennials) and the minimum wage does not match inflation growth. Our purchasing power has been significantly diminished – in fact, a study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research estimated that minimum wage should be $10.52 across the country instead of the current $7.25. In the 1960s through the early 1980s (i.e. the Baby Boomers’ golden age), minimum wage exceeded our current wage when adjusted to the 2016 dollar.

Not only are we being paid less against rising prices, but we are also being paid less for our productivity: The Center for Economic and Policy Research claimed that $21.72 would be a fair increase in minimum wage in 2012 to keep up with worker productivity.

“Millennials face decreased purchasing power, unfairly paid productivity, and enough student debt to pay for 32.6 season passes to Squaw (before the deadine, of course)”

And more Millennials are getting college degrees than any previous generation. About 40% of Millennials, roughly 42 million, have a Bachelor’s degree or higher versus the 26% of Baby Boomers. College must be more accessible, right? Wrong. The cost of tuition is 500% higher than the cost Baby Boomers paid, according to Bloomberg. As of March 2017, $1.3 TRILLION was the amount owed on student loans. This roughly translates to $30,952.38 per degree.

Millennials face decreased purchasing power, unfairly paid productivity, and enough student debt to pay for 32.6 season passes to Squaw (before the deadine, of course).

With pass prices so high, is it any wonder that more snowboarders than ever are opting to live in their van for the winter? Photo: Sam McMahon

Squaw’s ultimatum devastates me because after working almost 65 hours every week, the money I bring in covers rent, utilities, and food. Not much else. In four months of this same routine, I’ve only saved one hundred bucks or less each month. And two of those months, I was living out of my car. In sharp contrast, Mr. Robert A. Katz, Vail Corps CEO, makes a pretty $1.57 million every year selling lift tickets.

Ski resorts are looking at different ways they can attract our generation. The boys making the big bucks are resorting to increased attraction of nightlife and other activates within the resort towns.  “Each individual area has (its) own strategy,” Powell said. “What kind of activities can you create that will draw (millennials) out in a way that will be beneficial and remind them what a wonderful sport and activity it really is?”

“After I ring up my credit card with almost $800, no way in hell am I going to stick around to buy a $13 beer or rent a fat tire bike… No fucking way”

Park City will now try to breach the gap by making the town, not just the resorts, look attractive for a vacation. After I ring up my credit card with almost $800, no way in hell am I going to stick around to buy a $13 beer or rent a fat tire bike, both activities Powell suggests. No fucking way.

Resorts haven’t yet looked at the very thing that is on the millennial’s mind: money. Money that we don’t have, money that society keeps demanding of us, money that allows us to do the things we love.

The Squaw clock now reads 12 hours, 54 minutes, and 23 seconds and I know that it will read something like 6 minutes, 17 seconds when I finally ignore the screaming panic in my head and buy a season pass.

Got something to say? Send your submissions to duthie@whitelines.com. We pay for anything that’s published, which can help with your next season pass…

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