Labor shortages last season led to significant complaints against Vail Resorts and pushed the ski-resort operator to boost worker pay by $175 million this season. Season-pass sales, which rose by record amounts last summer after the company lowered the price of its Epic Pass products for the first time in 13 years, are up 6% again this year in both volume and revenues.
Kirsten Lynch, CEO of Vail Resorts, said Dec. 9 that the company is “on track” to reach full staffing levels this year after labor shortages last season led to significant complaints against the company, the Denver Business Journal reported. Those same issues pushed the ski-resort operator to boost worker pay by $175 million this season.
That pronouncement by Lynch came as the operator of 41 national and international resorts — including Vail Mountain, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Crested Butte in Colorado — prepares for its first Christmas season without Covid-19 restrictions since 2019, the Business Journal reported. And it comes as season-pass sales, which rose by record amounts last summer after the company lowered the price of its Epic Pass products for the first time in 13 years — are up 6% again this year in both volume and revenues.
Last year’s staffing shortages, which were most apparent around Christmas and exacerbated by coronavirus sidelining large numbers of resort workers at a time, led to limits on opening certain lifts and long lines building up at others, the Business Journal reported.
After weathering criticism that one analyst called among the worst he’d seen directed at a company, the Broomfield, Colo.-based corporation boosted pay for workers who stayed through the end of the 2021-22 season, then announced minimum wages of $20/hour to attract and retain seasonal workers this season, the Business Journal reported.
Though Lynch didn’t disclose percentages of jobs that are filled during the company’s quarterly earnings call and noted that there are still some on-mountain positions that need workers, she emphasized that labor shortage should not be an issue this season, the Business Journal reported.
“While our mountain resorts have not yet completed hiring for the winter season, we are on track to have the staff needed to achieve full operation of lifts and mountain terrain and deliver normal operations of important guest experiences such as our restaurants, lodging, ski-and-ride school and rental and retail locations,” Lynch told analysts on the call. “Hiring is still ongoing and a top priority as our mountain resort teams focus on hiring for specific roles and continue hiring to manage staffing needs that occur throughout the season.”
Full staffing appears to be needed, as Vail Resorts shows no slowdown in the number of people wanting to come to its ski hills, the Business Journal reported. This year’s 6% boost in passholders means that the company has increased pass sales by 86% in volume since the start of the 2019-20 season. About 2.3 million people will arrive at its slopes across the U.S., Canada and Australia this fiscal year on advanced-commitment products, representing an expected 70% of all customers and a near doubling of the number that paid in advance for lift tickets versus the 1.2 million who did in 2019-20, Lynch said.