In an effort to reduce lift lines, Vail Resorts is going to introduce “Phone Free Zones,” and you’re absolutely right. It doesn’t make any sense to us either.
Look, it’s no secret that Vail Resorts shat the bed this season. Whether your last Sunday was ruined because you spent more time standing than skiing, or you’re an employee who can’t afford to live in the mountain town you work in, there’s no denying that a metaphorical pooch has been screwed here.
As Vail Daily put it, “While a compromised experience for skiers and living wages for employees have been cited as concerns, long lift lines have been the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back this season for guests wanting to express growing frustrations with Vail Resorts’ management of ski areas across the U.S.”
A new Instagram Page entitled “Epic Lift Lines'' quickly gained popularity after showcasing the gargantuan lift lines that plagued the company’s North America resorts. Meanwhile, 40,000 people in Washington signed a petition alleging that the lift lines at Steven’s Pass were, essentially, so bad that the day spent skiing was more like a day spent waiting.
So what’s the obvious solution?
If you said, “I’m not too sure, but I’d imagine it has to do with paying its employees more money to increase workforce numbers to open more terrain in the mountain and run its ski areas more effectively. It probably has nothing to do with how skiers are using their smartphones in the lift lines,” you’re in the exact same boat as the rest of us.
In November, Vail Resorts released a press release outlining a new operating plan that hoped to reduce lift lines at its resorts in North America.
The press release originally read that the company would be “deploying a new operating plan which includes a significant improvement of how efficiently the company loads lifts and gondolas to reduce wait times, among other operational enhancements.”
Which, as we all know, is essentially code for “We’re going to treat our lift lines like an elementary school cafeteria and hope that this changes something.”
Some skiers were a little shocked to be scolded for using a phone in a lift line at Vail, with one skier pointing out that the phone he was chastised for using was being utilized to fight the boredom brought on by Vail’s ungodly lift lines.
And What Of The Workers?
Earlier this year, Vail was in the headlines again after it narrowly avoided a strike with Park City Mountain Resort ski patrollers. An allegedly unauthorized email that went viral offered temporary ski patrollers $600 a day plus travel fees to work at PCMR.
Vail Resorts was quick to deny that the message was ever authorized, but the damage had been dealt as Vail Resorts employees everywhere began to have what’s known as an “Are You Fucking Kidding Me” moment.
This, in turn, caused Vail Resorts to breakout what many refer to as Ol’ Reliable: a $2-per-hour end of season bonus that’s contingent on employees sticking out the rest of the season.
Shortly after the new year, Vail Resorts CEO Kirsten Lynch released an email explaining, “It is unusual to take these actions in the middle of the season, but this is an unusual season.”
The bonus Is an absolutely phenomenal copout in the world of sneaky capitalism chess moves. For one thing, it keeps an entire workforce that was moments away from slamming the “fuck it” button on board for the rest of the 2022 ski season.
By doing this, Vail Resorts successfully kicks the can of one day paying its employees a sustainable wage down the road for another ski season. It’s a diabolical move that even our modern day Lex Luthor would be mighty proud of.
As the future of the North American ski industry continues to look grim, we can only really hope for what any basic human would want: to chug some kind of liquor on the chairlift, to have a season that’s more pow than crust, and to ride a mountain that pays its liftees enough money to actually buy the lift tickets that they’re scanning.