b'SMART OPERATIONSSkiing and Camping: The Evolution of Two IndustriesI have been working with the family camping industry since 1982, although I started my business in the New England ski industry back in 1980. With an intimate under-standing of both industries, I believe that there are parallels between the downhill skiingPeterand family camping industries, and the corporatization that is taking place within both. PellandBack in 2015 I wrote about the corpo- mate understanding of both industries, Ithe expenses of the improvements that$1,000 per acre per inch, with a monthly ratization that had taken place within thebelieve that there are parallels betweencustomers have grown to expect.electric bill of $300,000 to $400,000. For all U.S. ski industry, with a not-so-subtlethe downhill skiing and family campingThe costs of operations and improve- of this money, whether skiers and snow-warning that the same thing could occurindustries, and the corporatization that isments in the ski industry are simply as- boarders actually demanded the industry within the family campground industry.taking place within both.tounding. Back in the year 2000, a Pomaimprovements, or whether they simply My article was inspired by my reading ofThe golden age of skiing took place indetachable quad chairlift would cost justgot caught up in the competitive one-up-Downhill Slide: Why the Corporate Ski In- the 1950s. In New England alone, there areunder $3 million to install, plus anothermanship of corporate skiing, the industry dustry Is Bad for Skiing, Ski Towns and the605 defunct ski areas (most operating in15% for site preparation. Then it wouldhas changed. Environment, a highly compelling 2003the 1950s) that are documented by thecost about $14,000 per month for theIn the ski industry, the profit center is expos written by Hal Clifford, a formerNew England Lost Ski Areas Project. Mostelectricity to turn the lift. At the samenow real estate development, with million editor of Ski Magazine. In the book, Clif- of these were mom and pop operationstime,aneight-placegondolacarryingdollar building lots for second homes, ford documents the evolution of skiingrun on snowy hills, with rudimentary ropepassengers only 2,200 feet would costcondominiumsforeverymiddle-to-from its roots in Scandinavia, through atows run by the likes of tractors or oldabout $6 million, with a monthly electricupper income level, fractional ownership, growth spurt following the 1932 WinterPackard automobile engines. In some in- bill of approximately $20,000. The newestabsentee homeowners and artificial ski OlympicsinLakePlacid(NewYork),stances, former ski areas went on to bestate-of-the-art chairlift is the eight-per- villages that are designed to keep all of the through the development of Sun Valleyreinvented as family campgrounds. OversonKancamagus8chairliftthatjustdollars spent in the resorts pockets. Peo-(Idaho) as the first destination ski resortthe next two decades, destination resortsopened at Loon Mountain (New Hamp- ple who were once attracted to authentic back in 1935-1938, through the return ofmade it more and more difficult for momshire). Although its cost has not been dis- ski towns and their ambiance have found World War IIs 10th Mountain Divisionand pop ski areas to remain competitive.closed, it is certain to have far surpassedthose towns displaced by the new manu-veterans, through another growth spurtBy 1975, there were only 745 ski areas op- the $8 million cost of the six-person Blue- factured village concept, with bars, restau-following the 1960 Winter Olympics inerating in the entire United States, a num- birdExpresswhenitwasinstalledatrants, shops and hotels all designed to Squaw Valley (California) and through theber that would drop to 509 by the year 2000Mount Snow (Vermont) a decade ago.capitalize on that now lost romantic no-industrial tourism that it became in theand leveling off to 470 by the year 2020.Then there are snowmaking costs. Thetion of the ski towns of yesteryear. 1990swhenthreemajorcompaniesLift Tickets Equate to Campsitesair compressors to run a bank of snowYes, there are many parallels between controlled 24% of ticket sales from coastIt is hard to believe, but it is a well-doc- guns cost at least $250,000 each, and basicwhat is happening in the ski industry and to coast. umented fact that most of the ski industrysnow guns cost about $5,000 each. NewerthefamilycampingindustryinNorth Accordingtothelatest(Decemberis no longer in the business of selling liftfan-drivensnowmachinescostaboutAmerica, both based upon classic outdoor 2021) report from the National Ski Areastickets. Currently, the price of a single$35,000 each and have built-in air com- experiences. Any campground owner is Association, there are today 10 owners ofpeak-day lift ticket purchased at the ticketpressors.Eitherway,theelectricitytointimately familiar with the costs of im-the bulk of the ski resorts in the Unitedwindow at Steamboat (Colorado), one ofmake the snow might cost a large resortprovements, repairs and maintenance, States. The largest of those, Vail Resorts14 resorts owned and operated by Alterra$1 million per season. It is no wonder thatutilities, mortgage interest, insurance, ad-Inc. is traded on the New York Stock Ex- Mountain Company, is now $279. Thatmany ski resorts have been investing invertising, wages, licensing and entertain-change and operates 37 ski resorts in 14tickets counterpart at Big Sky (Montana),the installation of mountain-top windment. When your campers are expecting states, plus Canada and Australia.one of 10 resorts owned by Boyne USAturbines to offset their energy consump- something new and exciting, a new spray I have been working with the familyInc., is $225 plus another $45 if you wanttion. In Downhill Slide, Clifford cites anpark might cost $1 million, and a full-sized camping industry since 1982, although Itoridetheaerialtram.Evenattheseinterview with the general manager ofwaterpark might cost $10 million or more. started my business in the New Englandprices that only the super-rich can affordSugarbush Resort (Vermont), who said atIt takes a lot of camper nights and other ski industry back in 1980. With an inti- to pay, those tickets do not begin to coverthe time that his snowmaking costs weresources of revenue to recoup those costs, even when amortized over the expected lifespan of the improvements. The bottom line is that there are forces that are driving up the price of camping and that profits cannot be based solely upon campsite fees. There is a strong de-mand for campgrounds as investment properties these days, with parks being bought and sold at a lightning pace, and most of those sales going from mom and pop operations to corporate ownership groups. One such group identifies itself as an investment firm that generates long term wealth and cash flow while protect-ing investor capital, a bit of a departure from friendly camping with mom and pop. Based upon what has taken place in the ski industry, the overall experience for camping consumers might improve, at the expense of losing its personal appeal and affordability. Is it a good evolution for the industry? I doubt it, but time will tell.PeterPellandistheCEOof Pelland Advertising, a company that he founded in 1980 that has been serving the family camping industry for nearly 40 years. His company spe-cializes in building fully responsive websites, along with producing a full rangeoffour-colorprocessprint advertising, for clients from coast to coast.LearnmoreaboutPelland Advertising at https://pelland.com or see their ad in this issue. WCM10 February 2022Woodalls Campground Magazine'