Sadly end of the 2020 ski season has come sooner than people had expect. COVID-19, the coronavirus, has quickly swept through China into Asia, Europe and the Americas in the early part of this year. Like most other service industries, the ski industry has also been gravely effected. Both big syndicated resorts like Vail and small resorts like Jay Peak have announced closures, resorts in Italy closed in early March. Japan was already having a slow snow season.
In many ways this year with the coronavirus is worse than a slow snow year, all mountain businesses are effected and of course their customers too.
What it means for the industry
The workers at the resorts are, for the most part, out of jobs for the rest of the 2019/2020. Ticket sellers, cooks, lift operators, instructors, bartenders, piste groomers, ski patrols in the tens of thousands have been been abruptly left go. Towns that were expecting 6 more weeks of happy ski visitors are now forced to close their doors and start social distancing. Bars and restaurants at resorts have either closed completely or are forced to just offer take aways.
Rental companies and ski stores have started their annual sales to move stock and now might be a great time to get some deals on new ski gear. Online retailers are also moving quickly to move their stock and big discounts.
What it means for smaller resorts
The smaller resorts, such as Mad River Glen, depend on full seasons to cover the upfront costs for opening the slopes for the season. The costs of running snow cannons and water to put down early piste bases is not insignificant, then taking into account lift repair and insurances adds to the pressure. Sadly we expect to hear of some sell offs of resorts or complete closures soon.
For the most part, people who had season passes are not being refunded, as per the terms and conditions of tickets. Unused day tickets or weekly passes are being refunded, some resorts are offering refunds, but this is still a developing story. It’s best to check directly with the resort and if that fails you can see if your credit company can help.
The two big rental companies, Airbnb & VRBO, have taken different approaches to refunds. Airbnb has offered to allow renters and hosts to cancel without fees, while VRBO have not been so accommodating.
Airlines have offered different options, from refunds or airline credit that can be used in the next year. Again best to check with your airline or travel agent for advice.
For sure you are going to see some businesses impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. We might also see some great innovationWe are optimistic that the 2020/2021 ski season will kick off with lots of eager skiers back on slopes with enthusiasm. This too shall pass.