The planning continues: Q&A with Evan Reece, Liftopia Co-founder

I just realized my adventure starts in exactly 100 days. The uncontrollable excitement just got even more out of control! Anyways…  as a follow-up to last week’s post on how to find ways to not go broke this winter, I wanted to prove that it really is possible. Therefore, I’m proud to announce that I have the first two days of the adventure booked. They are (drum roll please)…

  • Burke Mountain (Vermont) – Purchased lift ticket for $39.99 for December 23rd (Liftopia)
  • Bolton Valley (Vermont) – Purchased lift ticket for $19.99 for December 24th (Liftopia)

And for the first week in January, I’ve also scored a two-mountains-for-price-of-one deal with Attitash and Wildcat for $40.99, also through Liftopia. Attitash and Wildcat will let you use single day tickets interchangeably between the two mountains, even if you bought them through Liftopia or the like.

So that got me thinking, websites like Liftopia and I are going to be best buddies this winter (I don’t think they know that yet =D). But how did Liftopia come about and how do they manage to offer such amazing deals to snowboarders and skiers?

I got a chance to converse with Evan Reece, co-founder and CEO of Liftopia this past week. It was definitely enlightening, so read on!

Founded in 2005 by Evan Reece and Ron Schneiderman, Liftopia is what the ski industry calls a “yield management tool”. Now, I’m not a former business major (was engineering actually), so while this term doesn’t mean a whole lot to me – I know it means that it gives ski resorts a way to offer incentives to skiers and boarders to get them on their trails when they might not have been otherwise due to day of the week, conditions, etc. This is why you might notice the price of tickets constantly changing on there during the winter and early spring. Discount ticket prices increase the closer you get to the date, but they may drop if the weather or conditions were to possibly discourage consumers from hitting the slopes.

The part I was always a bit lost on though was how a consumer figures out when to check for deals. I learnt in the past that the day before obviously wasn’t the way to go about it, but my method of buying lift tickets 3 months in advance isn’t exactly normal winter consumer like either. So I asked Evan for some advice for both myself and others. Here’s what he had to say: “In general, the farther in advance customers buy, the better the savings customers will find. Right now resorts are finalizing their rates for the season and fine tuning their strategies. Basically, resorts reward customers who are willing to buy tickets in advance with greater savings. To illustrate this point, customers who bought more than 14 days in advance last season saved on average 18% more than those who bought less than 14 days in advance.”

Some of the current deals for Liftopia in New England

The other puzzling thing I was hoping to learn about was why some resorts always seem to have a deal available, while others rarely seem to be on Liftopia, if at all. When I asked Evan about it, he explained the following: “Liftopia has spent 5 seasons (this is our 6th season) building up trust and good partnerships in the industry. While not all resorts work with Liftopia, we have been consistently growing through the years, going from 7 to 35 to 75 to 90 to 120 partners the past 5 seasons. We expect 150 – 200 resorts to work with us this coming season. We are always working to add new resorts (even during the season) and we’ll have many more premium resorts working with us this year (like Aspen, Deer Valley, etc.)”

Since Evan is my first guest on the blog, I figured I should start some type of final question trend. So, here’s what he had to say to my closing questions:

  • Snowboarder or skier? “I am a skier!  I have tried snowboarding and telemark skiing but have always gravitated to alpine and alpine touring (backcountry) skiing. I do not discriminate, however, as I have learned a lot about my skiing from watching my snowboarding friends.”
  • Favorite ski area ever? “This is a tough one… Everyone has fond memories of where they learned to ski, in my case Bradford in MA, Sunday River in ME, and Attitash in NH. That said, I feel the two mountains I know the best and identify with the most are Sugarloaf in ME and Alpine Meadows in Lake Tahoe.”
  • Best chicken tenders? “I am somewhat of a food critic and have had my share of chicken tenders.  At their core chicken tenders are fine items oft marred by lesser examples of an otherwise wonderful piece of American cookery.  That said, the mini revolution we are having in food to elevate basic cuisines means the resurgence of quite tasty tenders of chicken.  In my case the best I have had were at Loula’s in Whitefish, MT on one of my many work trips.” I really hope all my future guests are this articulate when it comes to chicken tenders. Amazing answer, and Loula’s is now on the must visit list.

Thank you, Evan, for taking time to answer some questions. And the rest of you – check out Liftopia and join me on the slopes soon!

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About Jillian Bejtlich

Hey! I'm Jillian Bejtlich. I’m a lifelong New Englander with a serious love of the outdoors, adventure, and a pretty serious inability to sit still. I’m plagued by the travel bug, and it seems I’ll try any relatively sane and safe thing once. My big goal in life: Get people outside!