At Liftopia, we routinely look at how far in advance from a trip date a customer purchases a lift ticket, otherwise known as a booking window. For the last two seasons, we looked at how much revenue each resort partner earned in different booking windows, focusing on revenue generated in the last booking day. The average percentage of total revenue per booking window was found based on resort size and region.

By Resort Size
The stacked bar chart below shows the percentage of revenue attributed to each booking window by resort size.  It is evident that the larger resorts attribute more revenue to advance customer purchases.  Larger resorts tend to be destination resorts with higher window prices and attract more guests on vacation. These vacation skiers often plan their entire trip in advance and lock in a lower priced, longer duration ticket fifteen or more days out. Smaller resorts generally pull customers from the local population and have lower window prices. These lower window prices allow customers to wait longer to purchase their lift tickets.  This can be seen by the trend in the two bars on the right of the chart. Resorts with less than 150,000 skier visits attribute an average of 40% of their revenue to a 1-day booking window. Regardless of size, the saving percentage by booking early is usually the same for large and small resorts.

chart (1)By Region
The chart below shows the average percentage of revenue allocated to each booking window by region.

chart

The Pacific Northwest boasts the second highest percentage of revenue attributed to a 1-day booking window.  This is not surprising as this region contains many resorts that have a large population of local skiers.  Many of these resorts are accessible within a 3-hour drive from major cities in Washington and Oregon.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, Utah has the highest percentage of revenue attributed to a booking window of 15 days or more.  Utah is known for attracting skiers who want to embark on a ski safari. Typically, a ski safari is one ski trip that involves visiting multiple resorts in one region. Several resorts in Utah receive over 500,000 skier visits every year, showing that these resorts are extremely popular and very large.  These large resorts in Utah are so close in proximity that a skier on vacation can stay in Salt Lake City or Park City and visit many of these resorts in one trip. Even though Utah receives a large number of destination skiers, the region as a whole still attributes 35% of its revenue from a 1-day booking window.

Booking Window Analysis from the Rocky Mountain Region
Every year, the Rocky Mountains receive visits from both destination skiers and local skiers alike.  The line chart below shows the cumulative revenue per skier visit for four different resorts during the 2016-2017 ski season. Resort B (Orange) and Resort D (Red) both stopped selling tickets online two days before each ski date, whereas Resort A (Blue) and Resort C (Green) continued to sell tickets into the 1-day booking window.

chart (2)

Comparing Resort A to Resort B, it is evident that cumulative revenue per skier visit is almost identical up until the 2-Day booking window.  In the 1-day booking window, Resort B tickets were no longer sold on Liftopia, but Resort A continued to sell tickets and gained an additional revenue per skier visit of $1.14.  This allowed Resort A to end up with almost double the amount of revenue per skier visit than Resort B at the end of the season, $2.65 compared to $1.50.  This may seem like an outlier, so let’s look at the second example.  Resort C and Resort D had the same trend in revenue per skier visit until the 2-Day booking window, but Resort C was able to gain an additional $0.63 in revenue per skier visit during the 1-Day booking window, which accounted for 39% of their total revenue at the end of the year.

Added Revenue from Implementing 1-Day Advance Purchase Strategy
While analyzing a resort that changed their advance purchase strategy over two years, one can see the added value of having tickets available online for a longer period of time  The line chart below shows the cumulative revenue per skier visit from a very large resort in New England over the past two seasons. This resort prohibited tickets sold in the 1-day booking window during the 2015-2016 season.  The following year, this resort allowed customers to purchase tickets up to 1 day before a ski date.

chart (3)

The chart shows that, overall, this resort gained more revenue year over year. However, the chart also shows another trend.  By allowing tickets to be available online longer, the resort was able to achieve an additional $0.29 per skier visit in the 2016-2017 season.  If this resort were to implement this same 1-day advance purchase strategy in the 2015-2016 season, then this resort could have made an additional $0.23 per skier visit on average.  

Conclusion
For all resorts that implement a 1-day advance purchase strategy, the average percentage of revenue collected in the 1-day booking window accounts for 35% of total revenue. Revenue is disproportionately higher in this window as tickets are priced higher closer to the trip date to match a customer’s commitment level. It is important to always have tickets available at the right price for customers to purchase when they are ready to commit.  A ticket sold the day before a ski date or even at 6:00 AM the morning of a ski date is still committed revenue and protects a resort from downside risk of wild fluctuations in demand.  Regardless of size and location, resorts could be missing out on a large contribution of revenue from online customers if tickets are not available the day before a trip date,