Season-to-date skier visits, lift revenue up for Vail Resorts’ North American properties 

Visitation rose 6.8%, lift revenue up 9.3% compared to same period last year

click to enlarge WWW.SHUTTERSTOCK.COM - Vail Resorts has seen increases in skier visits, lift-ticket revenue, and retail and dining revenue across its North American resorts so far this season.
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  • Vail Resorts has seen increases in skier visits, lift-ticket revenue, and retail and dining revenue across its North American resorts so far this season.

Even with lower-than-expected international visitation to Whistler Blackcomb (WB), Vail Resorts has posted increases in visitation and lift-ticket revenue across its North American resorts so far this season.

In an investors report released today, the Colorado-based company said that, through April 21, 2019, season-to-date skier visits were up 6.8 per cent while lift-ticket revenue rose 9.3 per cent compared to the same period last year. Retail and dining revenues were also up, by 6.2 and 7 per cent, respectively. The upwards trend continued with ski-school revenue, which climbed 6.5 per cent for the season.

The ski-season metrics exclude results from Vail Resorts’ Australian and urban ski areas.

"We are pleased with our overall results as the 2018/2019 North American ski season concludes, with strong growth in visitation and spending compared to the prior year,” said Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz in the release. “The results from the key holiday weeks through the spring were largely in line with our original expectations as we saw strong destination visitation following the challenging early season period.”

Katz attributed the season’s growth and stability to “our season pass, the benefit of our geographic diversification, the investments we make in our resorts and the success of our sophisticated, data-driven marketing efforts.”

Katz added that the company has seen “solid growth” in its non-military pass sales this season, in addition to the record pass sales posted last spring. “We are seeing particularly strong growth in pass sales among destination guests and seeing good enthusiasm for our Epic Day Pass, but expect the primary impact of this new product to be later in the fall.” Vail Resorts expects the number of season passholders to exceed 925,000 this year. Its Military Epic Pass, launched in 2018, added nearly 100,000 new passholders to the program.

It hasn’t all been good news for the ski-industry giant, however. In its most recent quarterly report last month, the company reported that destination-guest visitation to its U.S. resorts was “less than expected” during the pre-Christmas period, which was attributed to “guest concerns after two prior years of poor pre-holiday conditions.” Destination visitation for the key holiday weeks and into January picked up, however, falling "largely in line with expectations," the company reported.

As first announced in a mid-season report in January, Vail Resorts said it had lowered its guidance for fiscal 2019, “primarily due to the disappointing results from destination visitation in the pre-holiday period and also due to shortfalls from expectations at our Tahoe resorts and Whistler Blackcomb,” Katz said. The company’s shares plunged 13 per cent on the day of the news, part of a 38-per-cent drop from the company’s 52-week high of US$302.76. At press time, Vail Resorts’ stock price sat at US$220.98.

In today’s investors report, Katz touched on the fiscal outlook for 2019: "The strong finish to the season produced results that were in line with the Resort Reported EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amotization) guidance we issued on March 8, 2019, which included $12 million of acquisition and integration related expenses, including $2 million for the Falls Creek and Hotham acquisitions and excluded any operating results or stamp duty payments related to the Falls Creek and Hotham acquisition.”

The company plans to provide more details on its updated fiscal year in an earnings report slated for June.

To view the full report, visit investors.vailresorts.com.

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