We all have our Christmas wish lists this time of year, but at Midwest Ski Journal we have our own list of things you can’t find at Hoigaards, Pierce, Erik’s or the House and that definitely won’t fit under the tree.
Below is our Midwest Ski Industry Christmas List. It’s three things we’d like to see from our home hills that would improve the entire experience for everyone.
Almost every issue I’ve encountered at a Midwest ski area can be solved with more or better resort staff. It’s also probably the most expensive thing to fix.
Therefore it’s understandable that resorts have shied away from extra hiring and reallocated those dollars to snowmaking and other infrastructure amenities. However, when it comes to making a lasting impression on guests, helpful, punctual and informed staff make the biggest difference, I would argue.
Anecdotally, I’ve been frustrated when I show up for our rare Midwest powder days and the home hill doesn’t have enough staff on hand to spin the lifts. It’s equally frustrating when lines snake through the lodge and only two ticket windows are open.
I’ve also left reinvigorated after a fun exchange with a liftie or bartender and am always grateful when the lifts open on time.
For infrequent skiers, I’d imagine having helpful staff on hand would make an even bigger difference, especially if you have to drag a family through the ticket line, the rental line, the lift line and the lunch line. That’s a lot of exposure to your employees without even taking a turn.
Being a passholder is great in the Midwest. I can swing by the hill for an hour of turns, or spend the afternoon lapping in the sun and everything in between.
What I wish for this Christmas, however, were more passes with more benefits across the Midwest.
Of course Afton has its Epic ties and benefits, but at $1,000, it’s hardly an affordable season pass. Up north, Mt. Bohemia’s $100 season pass also gets you ski days at a variety of resorts in the west, but I wish this were the norm.
If a pass at Buck Hill, Hyland Hills, Welch Village or Trollhaugen got you free ski days at resorts out west, I think that would be a great selling point for locals, even if it means we pay a little bit more.
Another benefit I would love to see is early lift access. I saw Mt. Bohemia is doing this for its opening day Saturday, where passholders get access to the lifts at 8:30 a.m. while everyone else doesn’t go until 9:30 a.m. It’s a fantastic idea. Even if it’s just 30 minutes to make the passholder club feel a little more exclusive.
Also, could you shave a dollar or two off my burger and my beer? Get those parking lot drinkers to come into the warm bar with a good beer special.
Ditch the wicket ticket
My final Christmas wish is for our home hills to get rid of the wicket ticket system.
The clumsy, sticky and ugly wicket ticket is a relic. Let’s face it, Midwest skiers do not need anything else to make them look terrible on the hill. Your fatigue hoody and ski racing gear makes you look ridiculous enough. Having a ticket flapping alongside you only exacerbates the horridness of the whole ensemble.
Plus, having to check in at the lodge to get your ticket scanned is an annoying step. You could help keep lines shorter inside and avoid congestion at the ticket windows by letting your passholders go directly to the lift.
Like our first Christmas wish for more staffing, the season ticket scanning systems are expensive, but they aren’t crucial to ditching the wicket ticket.
Give passholders an armband with which to display their ticket, or give them a special sticker, bandana or pin to signify them. While they’re in line, check their pass once to ensure they aren’t passing around the special marker and then let them be on their way.
Down with the wicket ticket! That’s my Christmas wish.