Sense or Nonsense? Northstar's Vertical Plus line ~ Brand Mix

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sense or Nonsense? Northstar's Vertical Plus line

Photo of Northstar: me

OK. This could be my English cultural background kicking in. (Rule #1: Stand in line and wait your turn.) Or perhaps it's me jumping in on the conspicuous consumption backlash. Or both.

But I don't like Northstar ski resort's Vertical Plus "Members Only" service or, as I prefer to call it, "Letting people with more money cut to the front of the line and rub everyone else's noses in it."

The advantage to the resort is clear. It's a revenue opportunity (and a good example of tiered pricing). The advantage to those who buy it is also clear. They get to cut the line. But for the rest of us, the 95% who are also on the slopes, we have to suck it up as our wait time is increased by the Vertical Plus crowd happily pushing us out of the way.

It's different from the business class/economy class tiering on airplanes and even different from the fact that Premier level passengers get to board first. Neither of these perks so directly impacts the quality of service that the economy, no status passengers get. The closest parallel is the new Clear service that lets people jump ahead in airport security clearance. (I don't like that either.)

So, help me here. Is this one where I should be told: "Look, Martin, you're in America now and this is American, so get over it" or am I right? Does it make sense for a ski resort to inconvenience the vast majority of its clientele for the extra revenue coming from a well-heeled minority?

Sources: Both from Grant McCracken
1) The anthropology of contemporary culture: Grant's comments on a new book: Watching the English
2) Eat the Rich: Conspicuous consumption


Anonymous said...

Martin - interesting observation. I'd feel your pain too if I ever had the inclination to ski or snowboard again. What's interesting to me as that skiing is already such an elitist activity when you look at who has enough wealth to participate. It's actually kind of funny that there is multiple tiered pricing for something that only impacts 2% of the population. I have a new idea - express lanes for people who spend $500 a month at the supermarket - thus, the firemen and the housewives/housedads with kids get to save time in exchange for their heavy grocery spending. Cheers.

Martin Bishop said...

Damn. Now I wish I'd tried harder to build in the line that I was working on: "The "haves" stand in line while the "have even mores" cut to the front." I couldn't quite get it right so I dropped it in the end. Thanks for the comment. It's a good point.

Nancy said...

Gee, and I used to think America was a classless society. Now I just think we lack class.

Glad I stuck to cross-country skiing.

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