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Mar 5, 2020 10:15:02 AM

Foot Traffic Analysis of Vermont Ski Resorts

Posted by Isolde Decker-Lucke

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For those of us who live on the east coast and are looking to ski without getting on a plane, Vermont’s ski resorts offer many options for untouched glades, fresh corduroy slopes, and even the ‘Longest Season in the East’ at Killington Resort. Since Skyhook’s headquarters are located in Boston, we were curious about skiing in Vermont - which resorts were considered a ‘local spot’, where our own Bostonians were favoring, and what else people were interested in. We were also interested in looking at our database and seeing if we could learn anything about the type of people who visit Vermont resorts, and what might draw them to a specific resort. This information can help resorts better understand their customers, where and how to advertise, and drive conversations about potential partnerships, events and offerings to drive traffic and ticket sales. 

We analyzed foot traffic over a 23 day period of nine ski resorts in Vermont around the holidays. We then compared the anonymized Mobile Advertising IDs seen at these resorts to our database of location intelligence to learn more about these visitors’ preferences. This analysis is a very basic example of the type of insight that can be found by working with Skyhook


  • Skyhook analyzed location data from December 27, 2019 through January 19, 2020. This timeframe includes common dates when people take or have vacation time, including the days after Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Many companies observe Martin Luther King Day as well. 
  • This data could be skewed by people who might normally ski in Vermont but may travel out west while they have time off of work, and their kids’ schools are closed. 
  • The analysis separates visitors from Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New York. Visitors from any other states are grouped together in ‘Other’.
    • We followed the assumption that residents of states that directly share a border with Vermont may be more likely to choose Vermont for a ski trip, compared to people who would have to travel through multiple states to reach the ski resorts in the state.
    • In addition, a Vermont resort would likely have more effective advertising results in these states that are accessible by car. 

Location Intelligence Methodology

At Skyhook, our location network and partners provide us with access to massive amounts of anonymous, precise mobile device location data. This data allows us to generate valuable insights into the behaviors of anonymized mobile users as they move throughout their day.

For this analysis, Skyhook initially looked at mobile detection in the mapped out areas of Vermont ski resorts that are larger that 300 acres. We looked at the following resorts’ traffic from December 27, 2019 through January 19, 2020:

Here’s What We Found About Vermont Ski Resorts: 

Regular Skiers vs. One Time Visits

  • Smugglers’ Notch had the highest percentage of visitors who stayed more than five days (13%).
  • Almost half of the people observed at these Vermont ski resorts were only there for one day, indicating a large number of day trips. 
  • Data showed that about 26% of people observed skied between three and five days. 
  • Sugarbush, Stratton and Bolton Valley had the highest rate of returns. For Sugarbush this number was 30.5%.

The Impact of the Ikon Pass: 

  • The Ikon pass is an increasingly popular option for those who love to ski. This option could influence traffic to these resorts, or visitors splitting their time between multiple resorts. The pass includes 41 destinations, including these Vermont resorts: 
    • Stratton
    • Killington - Pico 
    • Sugarbush Resort 

Which Ski Resorts Were the Most Popular by State Residents? 

The map below shows the homes states of the visitors detected in Vermont's ski resorts. The darker blue indicates a higher percentage of visitors to the resorts. 

Visualization of where skiers are coming from

Vermont Ski Resort Attendance by State Residents

The graphic below breaks down by resort. The percentages indicate the amount of visitors detected at that resort from a certain home state. We can see which resorts saw the highest traffic from local Vermont skiers during the holiday weeks, for example.

Screen Shot 2020-03-05 at 10.11.30 AM

Most Popular Vermont Ski Resorts by Home State:

  • Vermont: Bolton Valley
  • Massachusetts: Sugarbush
  • New York: Mount Snow and Stratton
  • New Hampshire: Sugarbush and Jay Peak Resort
  • Other States: Okemo


Massachusetts Skiers:

  • 23% of the skiers detected at Sugarbush were from Massachusetts, making Sugarbush the resort with the highest percentage of visitors from Massachusetts. 
  • The least popular resort for Massachusetts skiers was Bolton Valley. 
  • The percentage of Massachusetts residents visiting resorts in Vermont was lower than those from Vermont or New York. This may be because they choose to travel to New Hampshire mountains instead but we need to do further analysis to explore this hypothesis further.

New Hampshire Skiers: 

  • There were very low numbers of New Hampshire residents at Vermont ski resorts. 
  • The resorts with the highest percentage of visitors from New Hampshire were Sugarbush and Jay Peak Resort, but both percentages were under 5%.

New York Skiers:

  • New Yorkers prefer to visit Mount Snow and Stratton Resort. These two mountains are 14 minutes apart from each other. 
  • Okemo was not far behind though, and these three resorts are physically the closest to the New York and Vermont border. 
  • Stratton advertises itself as ‘The Best Vermont Ski Resort Near NYC’ and Mount Snow advertises itself as ‘Vermont’s Closest Big Mountain Ski Resort.’
  • New York residents were seen in lower percentages at Bolton Valley and Jay Peak Resort. Bolton Valley is a relatively small mountain, and Jay Peak Resort is close to the Canadian border - making it a long trek for those who live in the city. 

Vermont Skiers :

  • While Vermont is known as a destination for a variety of East Coast skiers and snowboarders, Bolton Valley is a locals’ mountain. Over 57% of visitors to Bolton Valley during our analyzed period are from Vermont. 
  • Jay Peak Resort (~37%) saw the second highest numbers of Vermont natives visiting, followed closely by Smuggler’s Notch (32%).
  • Mount Snow saw the lowest numbers of Vermonters, with 9.56% of visitors actually coming from Vermont. 

New England Skiers: 

  • Around 52% of the total visitors observed were from New England.

Holiday Celebrations

  • Out of everyone who celebrated the New Year at the resorts (12/31-1/1) 23% of those people were seen skiing again on the weekend of 1/11-1/12 or on 1/18-1/19. This implies most people who went that weekend weren’t regular skiers at those resorts.
  • There were higher numbers of visitors from outside New England during the holidays.
    • 12/28/2019 & 12/29/2019 - 54%  of visitors came from outside of New England.

Other States: 

  • The most popular resort for visitors from outside of Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and New York was Okemo at 50.5%. 
  • Mount Snow and Killington were close behind though, implying that larger resorts with more après-ski options are a draw for those from farther away. 

Packed Slopes vs. Empty Hills: 



Overall Device Traffic at Vermont Ski Resorts

The days that the combined resorts saw the highest traffic are listed below, starting with the busiest day from the observed time frame: 

      • January 19, 2020 
      • December 29, 2019
      • January 18, 2020 
      • December 28, 2020
      • December 31, 2019 (New Year’s Eve) 
      • December 30, 2019 
      • December 27, 2019 
      • January 1, 2020

  • The day with the lowest number of skiers at any resort was Wednesday, January 15, 2020. Good day to go skiing if you don’t have to work!
  • The weekend of January 11 - 12, 2019 saw much less traffic than the other two weekends observed. This makes sense, as the other two dates are holidays. 
  • It was interesting that the busiest day overall was the Sunday of Martin Luther King Day weekend, as not all companies have that Monday off of work. 

Each resort offers unique attractions that will draw different types of visitors. Some mountains pride themselves on the number of trails and skiable acres, while others are focused on backcountry skiing or night skiing. We’ve just touched on the information our location data can provide. A company could dive deeper into foot traffic at resorts across the US and identify if billboards in Boston actually drive skiers to a resort, if night skiing drives a different clientele compared to normal hours, or how multi-mountain passes influence the number of people at a certain resort. Skyhook can provide the location data to help resorts answer those hypothesis. 

Find out more about Skyhook’s Geospatial Insights offering!