Friday, October 31, 2008

Bachelor's Pay More, Deliver Less Strategy

The Eye doesn't agree with Bulletin Editor John Costa about very many things, but one thing Costa says has always made a lot of sense

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2008 at 9:34 AM

The Eye doesn't agree with Bulletin Editor John Costa about very many things, but one thing Costa says has always made a lot of sense to us: You can't offer less and charge more and expect to get more customers.

So what's up with Mt. Bachelor's decision to raise Saturday lift ticket prices in the teeth of what promises to be a real bear of a recession?

The mountain announced today that the cost of an adult lift ticket on Saturdays will jump by $10, to $69. Teen lift tickets for Saturdays will jump by $12, to $59 from $47. And tickets for kids between age 6 and 12 will increase by eight bucks, to $42 from $34.

Naturally, Bachelor officials are trying to spin this as something positive: "In order to maintain an enjoyable on-mountain experience while accommodating a larger number of season passholders, starting this season the Saturday single day ticket will be 'peak' priced." They also describe the increase as "modest."

We don't see how a 23% price hike can be called "modest." "Hefty" is the adjective that first comes to mind. Under the new price schedule, it will cost a couple with a 10-year-old kid $180 to spend a Saturday at the mountain. A weekend (Saturday and Sunday) will cost $331.

That is a considerable chunk of change. It is more than one-third of the American median weekly household income. Who the hell does Bachelor think can or will pay that kind of money - especially at a resort that has been plagued with complaints of long lines, frequent lift breakdowns and poor trail grooming?

With the economy in the tank, stocks plunging, foreclosures rising and gas prices high, it appears to The Eye that Bachelor ought to be moving in the opposite direction price-wise.

Of course Powdr Corp., the Utah-based outfit that owns Bachelor, has the right to run its business as it sees fit - including running it into the ground, if that's what it really wants. But this decision could further cripple the already limping Bend economy by cutting down the flow of winter visitors from Portland, the Valley and points north, south and east.

It's looking more and more like a long, grim winter.

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