Friday, October 21, 2011

Greetings,

We all have heard the old adage, "time changes everything." Well, that is also true at Okemo this coming season. Okemo has decided to change our “First Hour Free” program to “Take 60.”  We have been hearing from our guests that they are unable to use the First Hour Free due to many different reasons.  Getting to the slopes early just doesn’t work for everyone.  We wanted to continue providing great guest service to our skier and riders, so we have changed the program to fit the needs of all.

We are so confident in our ability to offer consistent surface conditions, that we are providing skiers and riders with a flexible alternative to our Try-Before-You-Buy, First Hour Free program, with Take 60.  Rather than limiting you to sampling our conditions during the first hour of lift operations, we intend to accommodate your schedule by inviting you to take the entire first hour after you purchase your lift ticket – no matter what time you start your ski day – to decide if you are completely satisfied with your on-mountain experience.  There is a time stamp on every lift ticket, so the clock starts ticking when you purchase your ticket. If you choose not to continue your day with us, just stop by the Resort Services Desk for a return-visit coupon.  It is as simple as that.  Now, as always, there is some fine print:

·       Guests must return within one hour of time stamped on their ticket to be eligible for a return visit
·       Coupons will be issued for a comparable product.
·       Coupons will be for the designated guest’s use only and will require ID for redemption.
·       Coupons will be non-transferrable and carry no cash value.
·       No rollovers please! Coupons will not be issued against tickets originally generated by this program. 

As always, guests can stop by our Resort Services Desk with any questions.  We remain committed to making this easy for you, as a guest, to ski and ride and enjoy Okemo.

As you know, Okemo typically receives nearly 200 inches of natural snow annually. We have spent over 30 years building our reputation for snow and surface conditions through our grooming and snowmaking.

So the bottom line is that the new program is better for those who purchase a ticket, and for some reason, just don’t like the skiing. We want you to be able to enjoy the intended flexibility by taking 60 minutes, on your schedule, and not be rushed to check out the conditions during our first hour to make your determination of value.

Please continue to check out the blog site for future postings.  Next week we will be talking about what we did on our summer vacation.

Think Snow!

Bruce Schmidt
Vice-President and General Manager

11 comments:

ERG Job Seeker Tips said...

As an owner at Jackson Gore, I like the first hour free better. We just happen to be the type that always did our best to get on the lift by 8:00am on the weekends and 9:00am on the weekdays, especially with getting our boys into lessons by 10:00am. The first hour free just worked better for us.

Mary said...

This does not address the homeowners and renters that live off Sachem and want to get one lift ride up in order to get a ticket from the Sugar House. This is VERY popular and people don't want to have to go to the base.

Okemo - B said...

Bruce,
I have been returning to Okemo since the 80's and enjoyed the mountain and it's employee's so much that we bought a slopeside property. I have a 4 year old and a 1 year old that will grow up to know Okemo. The try before you buy is crucial to the homeowners on the mountain. I simply ski out and take a run or two before returning to buy my ticket at the Sugar Shack.
Now you expect me to stand on line to purchase a ticket - what time will I be able to do this at the Sugar Shack? ( I hope it's open by 7am) Then, if conditions are unfavorable I have to return to the sugar shack, stand on line and do a return?

Consider what your team has decided for the 2011-12 season:

1.Lift tickets are now $84
2.You have eliminated the ability to purchase bulk mountain coaster tickets for the season (they now have an expiration date 1 week after date of purchase)
3.The flex card has changed (for some it may be better - for those of us who enjoy weekday benefits we now need to ski 6 times until we receive 40% - where we had 50% on the first day!)
4.You pull the free hour

I begin to question where Okemo is headed.

This mountain has typically had a customer first attitude. In an economic climate such as this I find it discouraging to see all of this change in just 1 season. I sincerely hope that you and your team take the comments on face book, blogs and personal notes to heart. This simple management change creates a significant shift - as many have said - this program had been a failure in the past to eliminate - why choose to do this along with the other 3 this year?

adidasGirl8 said...

So can we still use the free 1st hour without a lift ticket?

AddictedRider said...

If this is a replacement plan for the "First Hour Free" plan, then it is very sad news. Hopefully, where you wrote "...we are providing skiers and riders with a flexible alternative to our first-hour-free program, with Take 60.", you meant alternative, not replacement.

Okemo Mountain Resort said...

thanks everyone for your comments. we do take feedback to heart, and consider each and every opinion. take 60 does replace try before you buy. we understand this is a huge change, and that is not always easy. it was made to appeal
to a broader audience and to offer more flexibility for families and individuals by removing the limitation of the first hour. as with try before you buy, our basic premise for take 60 is to stand behind our conditions. we feel that take 60 accomplishes that, plus expands its availability throughout the day.

Goodnight Irene said...

I do not understand how replacing Try Before You Buy is Okemo appealing to a broader audience. If you want to please your customers, you should just ADD "Take 60" as another perk for those that are complaining that they cannot get out for the 1st hour; why punish the rest of your clients?

Locals have supported and referred friends and family to Okemo for years, it is not often that a small community such as the one surrounding Okemo would support such a large corporation without animosity, but Okemo had always been careful to support the local economy and keep the relationship symbiotic. It appears that Corporate Greed is winning out once again and it is a real shame that this is all happening in VT on the heels of the Irene disaster. Local business in Ludlow and the surrounding area really pulled together. They stayed open (around the clock in some cases) and donated time and supplies to the cause. Now you are taking away from that very community. WHY?

What did “Try Before You Buy” cost the mountain really? It seems to me this program cost the mountain NOTHING. It was a great Public Relations tool, something that was a great way to promote the mountain and to encourage people to get out there and “see for themselves”. Word of mouth is so important for the skiing community and this was really a great program to promote and advertise….and it was essentially FREE. Having to buy a ticket 1st….get to that 1st lift…get to the top of the mtn…take a run…maybe 2…then get back down to the bottom…take your skis off (and have your family all together)…and wait in line for a coupon is in no way IMPROVING your customer service.

I have 1st hand experience of walking into a ski shop at around 9:30am and the employee told me he was up on Okemo that morning and the conditions were superb. He had been over at Solitude and recommended that we head over there 1st thing and that we get up on the slopes. We weren’t even sure we were going to ski that day…but because he had just gotten back and was so excited about the skiing, we headed right up the hill. How can you argue with that?

We told many about this program over the years and I know many families that came to Okemo for their week-long ski vacations because of this program, especially families with children. If they skied for a couple of runs and decided they didn't want to purchase a ticket that day, they already had a condo rented there at the mtn. Don't you think their money stayed there for the tube park, and lunch and dinner, etc. This program just doesn't work for those that are at the mountain a few days a year and it is a huge waste of their vacation time.

I’ll ask again, WHY can’t you ADD “Take 60” to the list of benefits that Okemo offers? Why do you have to replace “Try Before You Buy”? You state “We wanted to continue providing great guest service to our skier and riders, so we have changed the program to fit the needs of all.”

You have heard from many how this DOES NOT “fit the needs of all”. ADDING this program would.

Don’t be another company showing that “CORPORATE GREED” is ruling the world. Listen to your customers and do the right thing. Stay the family mountain that the Mueller’s worked so hard to cultivate. PLEASE show the other corporate wolves of the world that Okemo is different, that your ears really are open and you do care about your customers, your community, and your local economy.

johnnysaw said...

This really hurts the local community. Last season was great for me because I was able to re-arrange my work schedule to start at 11:00 so I could get in an hour at Okemo before starting my work day. I was able to really learn the mountain and came back on several weekends (usually with a few friends in tow) to enjoy a few full days. The current price of lift tickets and season passes is cost prohibitive for many locals who embrace the "Try before you buy/First hour free" program. And in my case I can't justify the expense of an all-day pass when an hour is really all the time I have available on most days.

Have you considered offering a First Hour Only or Early AM season pass for locals?

Ryan K. said...

While maybe on paper you are appealing to a broader audience, the reality is that you are simply destroying your rapport with your loyal customers. You make this move and not only do you loose what I see as the most innovative feature Okemo offers but also the impeccable and extremely rare business-consumer trust you guys have worked so hard to build up.

You raise the ticket prices every year and you don't hear that much of an outcry because people understand that's how the world works. Okemo has made some very incredible expansions in the past few years and we all understand that it costs money.

To say you are improving the customer experience with this plan is literally an outright lie. Anyone with the ability to synthesize some thought can read right through your 'fine print.'

You say:
"Hey, now you don't need to be out there in the first hour of the day to get that free hour, everyone wins!"

What that means?
Yeah, now everyone can get that hour of "free" skiing...with an $84 deposit.
Don't like the conditions? Better make it back to the base, through the lines to get that deposit back.
Oh and that deposit? Psych! Not getting it back, you really just bought your next ticket.
Not coming back this season? Oh well, thanks for the $84. See you next season.

johnnysaw said...

I think the recent weather pattern is Karma from this recent policy change.

tropheus_guy said...

I am pretty disappointed to hear this. I drove 9 hrs from Toronto with Family of four, staying at Winterplace. First time skiing in Vermont - we go to Whiteface alot but wanted skiin out. Ok so when I heard abotu first hr free, I planned that on checkout day, I coudl get an hr skiing in while my wife packed things up to prep for the checkout. We've bought daily lifts for 4 each day, all week, and the 1 hrs free on checkout was a great bonus. I've been freezing my butt off all week - cold snap in Jan 2 week, and Thursday cold snap broke, so was hoping to get an hr in before we headed back for our long drive home. Thsi woudl have left a good feeling and we'd be sure to return, but now we leave with a confused state of mind - from the perspective of out of town vistors' losing that hr skiing on day of checkout, this is really bad PR. I have yet to make it out at 9am any day so far this week so its prob a moot point, but Okemo, you cant be serious this appeals to broader population. Its a corp money grab it feels to me, sorry.