Vail Resorts announces $15 minimum wage |

Vail Resorts announces $15 minimum wage

Scott N. Miller
Vail Daily
Vail Resorts announced Monday, June 7, strong results in the third quarter of its 2021 fiscal year. The firm also announced it will raise its entry level wage this winter to $15 per hour for full-time, seasonal employees.
Photo from Vail Resorts

EAGLE — Vail Resorts on Monday, June 7, announced a better-than-expected end to ski season, increased pass sales and a new starting wage of $15 per hour.

The news came during an earnings call by Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz and Michael Barkin, the company’s chief financial officer.

“Given the continued challenging operating environment as a result of COVID-19, we are very pleased with our overall results for the quarter and for the full 2020-21 North American ski season,” Katz said. “Results continued to improve as the season progressed, primarily as a result of stronger destination visitation at our Colorado and Utah resorts, including improved lift ticket purchases relative to fiscal 2021 second quarter results. Excluding Peak Resorts, total visitation at our U.S. destination mountain resorts and regional ski areas for the third quarter was only down 3% compared to the third quarter of fiscal 2019.”

Vail Resorts’ fiscal year begins Aug. 1, which puts the third quarter in February, March and April, with March generally being the busiest month of the season.

Wages set to increase

In addition to the new entry-level wage in Colorado and other western states, which was previously set at $12.50 per hour, a company memo from Katz states that employees working just above the firm’s minimum will have their wages adjusted upward.

The company will also return to its previous practice of providing annual merit raises of up to 3%, depending on performance.

“The cost of these wage changes will be the largest single investment we make as we head into next season,” the memo states.

In addition to wages, Vail Resorts also announced Monday that the company will provide paid sick leave beginning this coming ski season to all full-time, seasonal employees not already eligible for sick time. That means full-time, seasonal employees will have the same sick time benefits as year-round employees.

Epic Pass sales are up

Also Monday, the company announced strong gains in pass sales.

Pass sales for the 2021-22 season are up from 2019 in both units sold and dollar volume. Sales from 2020 weren’t used for the comparison due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pass sales for the 2021-22 ski season have been strong, Katz said, adding that “guests showing strong enthusiasm for the enhanced value proposition of our pass products, driven in part by the 20% reduction in all pass prices for the upcoming season.”

Katz added that the decrease in pass prices seems to have driven buyers into higher-level passes. That accounted for a roughly 33% increase in sales revenue despite a 10% decline in per-unit prices compared with 2019.

While pass sales are strong, Katz said Vail Resorts doesn’t plan to return to last season’s reservation system. But he said the reservation system did provide “a lot of insights” into more efficiently operating the company’s resorts.

By the numbers

$15: New hourly wage for Vail Resorts employees in Colorado, California, Utah and Washington.

80%: Increase in net income in Vail Resorts’ third quarter compared with the previous year.

50%: Increase in pass sales through June 4, compared with the similar period in 2019.

33%: Increase in pass sales volume through June 4, compared with the same period in 2019.

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