Liftopia is an innovative ticketing system for ski resorts that brings the variable pricing structure of online airline tickets to the ski slopes. Using the system, resorts can adjust the prices of their ski lift tickets to suit demand, with customers getting an average 33% discount. It’s a great idea, but one that had largely failed to take off until this year.
Liftopia launched back in October 2006 but was met with widespread skepticism from the industry, and had a hard time finding resorts that were willing to sign up. The company’s initial plan was to concentrate on the Tahoe market (given that it was closest to Silicon Valley the company hoped it would perhaps be more willing to try out the new system). But after the major resorts rejected the idea, Liftopia instead partnered with a handful of smaller ski lodges scattered across the country.
Since then, Liftopia has gradually been gaining momentum, growing to 35 resorts last season and reaching 85 partners this year. Resorts are drawn to the system because they can adjust their prices in real time to ensure a maximum yield, without impacting the standard prices they offer to customers who purchase tickets on the slope. Liftopia has seen 4x growth year over year in terms of gross bookings and has done nearly $2 million in sales this season (which still has around six weeks left to go).
Now some of the larger resorts are beginning to take notice: Liftopia recently announced that a number of major Tahoe resorts, including Alpine, Sierra-at-Tahoe, Mt. Rose, and Boreal, have signed on to participate. To entice these larger resorts, Co-founder Ron Schneidermann says that the company makes joining Liftopia as easy as possible, with no contract lock-in and the ability to discontinue the service whenever they’d like
Schneidermann acknowledges that Liftopia is still relatively small, with only around 5,000 visitors a day. But he’s optimistic about the company’s future, and it certainly seems on its way up. The obstacle now is to make ordering lift-tickets online as common as it is with airline tickets – and for 33% off, I doubt it will be too hard to convince people.
Here’s a more comprehensive list of the site’s largest resorts:
Park City, Utah
The Canyons, Utah
Copper Mountain, CO
Winter Park, CO
Sierra-at-Tahoe, Lake Tahoe
Alpine Meadows, Lake Tahoe
Mt. Rose, Lake Tahoe
Sunday River, ME