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Quota Ski Resort

"Cap and trade" lift passes
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Predictably, ski resorts want to make as much money as possible. The more lift passes they sell the better for them. However, overcrowding is detrimental to the costumer, as anyone who has tried to ski in the Alps in the busy week between Christmas and New Year can testify.

In the old days, when ski resorts became overcrowded one had to queue for up to 30 minutes to get a chance to go on the lift. Which meant that pleasurable skiing was still possible (albeit much less of it for the same money, and it involved hours of uncomfortable queuing).

Modern ski resorts have "solved" the problem by increasing lift capacity (8-seater express chairlifts are no longer a rarity these days). Queuing may no longer be an issue on busy weekends, but the congestion has simply been shifted to the pistes. It has actually made things worse. The pistes are often so overcrowded and in such an appalling condition that skiing is no longer pleasurable.

When demand exceeds supply there are two possibilities: a) a shortage b) an increase in price. The first, Soviet-style system is more inefficient than the second, because in a shortage situation *everyone* loses.

So I suggest applying model b) to a ski resort. It would work a bit like this:

Issue a limited set of transferable one-day lift passes every day (eg. 5000 for a medium sized ski resort). Auction them off at 9am when the lifts open. Daily demand would determine the price. People who arrive later would purchase their tickets from private agents who buy a number of tickets at 9am. The more demand the agents predict, the more are they likely to push the price up, so the ski resort wouldn't lose out on late arrivals.

Everyone would be happy: People with lots of cash and no time (eg. professionals who only have that one weekend after christmas free for skiing), who would still be able to enjoy skiable pistes. People with no cash and lots of time (eg. students), who would be able to ski at super cheap rates. The ski resorts themselves, who would develop a reputation for a better skiing experience and attract more demand.

kinemojo, Oct 06 2005

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       I foresee problems at the planning stages of one's ski holiday. Planning read: budgeting. Always a problem with the auction model, and in this case the issue is worsened by the high sunk cost of arriving at the slopes to participate in the auction.   

       Maybe if you could buy tickets for certain days many weeks in advance...
Texticle, Oct 06 2005
  

       Actually, in the Alps the majority of skiers on the slopes on the very busy weekends (and the ones who contribute most to overcrowding) are the day-trippers. The ski resorts arleady have a natural quota system for package tourists because the number of beds in most ski resorts is quite limited due to strict planning regulations.   

       So yes, I agree, an auction system should be used for day passes only while weekly or season passes should be sold through the normal channels.
kinemojo, Oct 06 2005
  

       I think this could work if it operated like a commodity futures market or options market. The speculators trade Buy/Sell contracts and come between suppliers and distributors. Distributors can buy advanced future obligation for sale to consumers willing to take a long range risk in exchange to definite planning. Last minute consumers will pay a fair price based on actual conditions. The suppliers can lock in sales far in advance, if willing to sell at a discount or can engage in futures trading themselves for hedging risk.
CecilL, Oct 06 2005
  
      
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