December 2019 - January 2020 Best Cities for Work in B.C.

With a mission to inform, empower, celebrate and advocate for British Columbia's current and aspiring business leaders, BCBusiness go behind the headlines and bring readers face to face with the key issues and people driving business in B.C.

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46 BCBUSINESS DECEMBER/JANUARY 2020 Les 3 Vallées, Italy's Dolomiti Superski and Hakuba Valley in Japan. "The reality is that the Epic Pass is now the brand," says former resort executive Diamond. "You seldom see individual resorts aggressively promoted," he notes of Vail. "That said, they are very sophisticated, and if a particular resort or product is see- ing low levels of awareness, you can be sure they will invest appropriately. They were the first resort group to fully exploit data as a business tool. They know all of their cus- tomers and continuously feed them product offerings, discounts and pricing plans— whatever it takes to prime the pump." The Epic Pass does have its critics. Gregg Blanchard, a Vermont-based digital marketing expert who specializes in winter recreation, agrees that it gives great value to people who ski often. But "when Vail introduced its first Epic Pass, a day ticket was $125, and now it's $210," he notes. It's also well known that skiing has a growth and a retention problem. The num- ber of skiers who stick around after taking basic lessons hovers at a dismal 5 percent or so, according to the U.S.-based National Ski Areas Association, and the sport has failed to make significant inroads into His- panic, Asian and black communities. Epic returns While keen skiers have been handsomely rewarded by Vail's Epic Pass strategy, so have investors. Vail, Breckenridge and Beaver Creek had 40,000 season's pass holders—most living in the Vail Valley and nearby Denver—when the company introduced the program. In 2019-20, Vail expects to sell more than a million Epic passes to skiers from all over the world. Had you done the smart thing and pur- chased a mittful of Vail Resorts stock for just north of US$20 in 2008, you would have seen your investment grow to almost US$300 by August 2018—a shocking 15-fold increase in share price, excluding dividend— that not only outperformed the Nasdaq Stock Market but also many tech stocks As of late October, here's what skiers and riders were paying to enjoy Whistler–and how it stacked up against B.C. and U.S. rivals $156 Pre-purchase online price (by November 15) for a one-day pass to Whistler Blackcomb during the Christmas holidays. Not included: $7.80 in tax and a steep $5.15 mailing fee $699 Early bird price (now expired) for the Epic Local pass, which restricts skiing during peak periods (known as blackout days) such as the Christmas–New Year period, B.C. Family Day, U.S. Thanksgiving and Martin Luther King Day weekend $519 Price of an Unlimited 5-Day Edge Card, minus GST and mailing costs

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