Jerm wrote:
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>Mark is right - I don't think many people were using it for its intended

For the intended purpose of selling more tickets, then no. But you could make
the argument that it pulled in revenue from people who would otherwise never
buy a ticket. Some percentage of those people do spend money on the
mountain in the form of food, forgotten gear in the shop, whatever, at a time
of day when most of the skiing public is just getting out of bed.

It would be a weak argument, Jerm.  If I owned a ski area I'd far rather have the profit margin on a lift ticket than the profit margin on an overpriced cuppa joe.

When I moved to Sunday River in '87 to run the ski patrol there, we had the same policy.  We used to jokingly call that first hour "The Telemark Hour"  because roughly half of the people on the hill each weekday morning between 9 and 10 were over-wintering Outward Bound instructors from the base just up the road (not complaining about that - the school was a great source of rookie patrollers).  These guys would come in and if they did ANYTHING in the base lodge after 10 o'clock it was to grab some hot water for their own tea bag (they always brought their own re-usable sierra cups, so it's not like they were taking the serviceware).

We replaced the free hour with the ability to exchange your lift ticket for a voucher if you didn't like the snow conditions within an hour of purchase.  The only people who complained about the loss of the free hour were, to be blunt, people who rarely bought lift tickets (or anything else, for that matter).  Maybe Okemo's clientele is different, but that was our experience at Sunday River.

The snow quality guarantee created its own problems.  People would claim they didn't like the snow if it was really cold out, or raining.  It was a snow quality guarantee, not a weather guarantee.  Give 'em an inch... and of course, the real heartbreakers were legitimate snow condition guarantee demands during or just after major dumps.  There's nothing as depressing as being stuck behind a guest services desk when there's fresh powder out there getting tracked out by the minute, and you're looking at an hour's worth of comp writing to people who legitimately don't know how to enjoy the stuff but who lack the desire to try to figure it out.
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