Grab your skis and goggles 'cause it's ski season! With crisp air everywhere, thoughts of schussing down the slopes are crossing the minds of skiers, and while the season doesn't really get under way until November, skiers are making plans now.
Part of the gear they may need to pack when they head for the slopes is the proceeds from the second mortgage they refinanced. With the airlines currently nickel and diming passengers just for pillows, not to mention extra bags, the ticket price for that ski season getaway may end up getting doubled.
A mountain of fees
That could cause ski resorts like Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation Vail Mountain (NYSE: MTN ) to take a powder. Despite some record snowfalls last year, ticket sales only inched up 2.5%. It was only able to book increased revenues in the prime second and third quarters (that's winter for you non-skiers) because of higher ticket prices. While pass prices will be higher again this year, added fees can begin to take a toll after awhile.
Yet it's not just skiers that are facing higher costs to enjoy their favored sports: bikers, golfers, and even surfers, dude, are getting pinched. Lugging your bicycle onto American Airlines (NYSE: AMR ) for instance will cost you $100 extra, and $125 on United (Nasdaq: UAUA ) . American will ding you for an additional $15 to $25 depending on whether it's considered a first or second bag. A better bet would be to fly Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV ) , where bikes are still free.
While golfers tend to get their bags to fly free, surfers aren't so lucky, and they're getting wiped out by the soaring costs. Some surfers bring as many as four boards with them and can see their fees rise as high as $1200. British Airways, on the other hand, has banned surfboards altogether. On American you can actually bring a hang glider on board for the same $100 cost of a surfboard.
Yet resorts may not be left out in the cold completely. Vail, for example, has seen euro-spending international travelers frequent its hotels more to take advantage of the weak dollar. Such additional costs would probably not interfere as much with their travel plans since itineraries are usually set months in advance. Marriott (NYSE: MAR ) and Starwood Hotels & Resorts (NYSE: HOT ) would find themselves similarly benefitting from an international clientele.
Moreover, Vail operates an equipment rental business, Specialty Sports, that may see its revenues increase as a result of skiers leaving their equipment at home and renting from the resort.
It can't be denied, though, that tourism has been hurting as fees and expenses for airlines have risen. Now the airlines may find themselves even more dependent on those extra bag fees since, with oil prices declining, they're actually stuck with higher costs due to hedging activities. They locked themselves into what seemed like below-market prices at the time only to witness a 30% decrease in those costs.
With airlines struggling, the tourism industry in turmoil, and travelers facing rising costs, it may just be too much to expect the resorts themselves to be able to post decent numbers this year. Even luxury goods eventually get buried in the avalanche of bad tidings, and any investor considering putting some money into the snow industry would probably do well to wait for the financial markets to thaw.