Whistler Blackcomb (WB) followed up its record-setting second quarter revenue with a 16-per-cent increase for the three months ending June 30, compared to the same period last year.
Total revenue for the third quarter was $34.5 million, and $223.2 million for the first nine months of the fiscal year, a five-per-cent jump from the comparable period last year despite “challenging early season conditions,” according to WB president and CEO Dave Brownlie.
“We’ve worked hard to protect Whistler against variable weather conditions through state-of-the-art snowmaking, grooming investments and the development of our pre-committed sales strategy,” he added.
Total visits for the quarter were 393,000, up 13 per cent from Q3 last year, primarily attributable to the timing of the Easter holiday this year. Total visits for the first nine months of the fiscal year, however, saw a slight drop of three per cent, or 69,000, to 2.13 million.
Skier visits for the entire ski season were five per cent below last year “due mainly to lower visitation in the first quarter of this year, which is attributable to below average early season snowfall,” said Brownlie. Ski visits for the quarter jumped 10 per cent. Other visits for Q3 and the nine-month period ending June 30 increased by 20 per cent and 16 per cent, respectively, “as summer business continued to gain traction with both regional and destination visits,” Brownlie noted.
Destination visitors made up 41 per cent of total skier visits for the 2013/14 ski season, up from 38 per cent last year. The increased proportion contributed to a rise in average revenue per visit, “mainly because these guests are more inclined to participate in higher-yielding snow school lessons and rent equipment,” Brownlie said.
Revenue per visit for the quarter was up three per cent, to $87.81, while the first three quarters of the fiscal year saw close to a nine-per-cent jump, to $104.77. The rise also reflects increased pricing and guest spending in WB’s retail, rental and snow school businesses, as well as the impact of the September 2013 acquisition of Affinity Sports.
Whistler Blackcomb’s effective ticket price, or ETP, made up 53-per-cent of revenue per visit for the 2013/14 ski season, and increased eight per cent to $55.77 per skier visit compared to last year. The ETP for the quarter increased two per cent, to $47.58.
“The growth was mainly as a result of pricing increases across all of our lift products, the mix of products sold and reduced utilization of pass and card products, which drove a higher yield per visit for each guest for the nine months ended June 30,” said WB’s senior VP and CFO, Jeremy Black.
An adjusted EBITDA of $90.5 million for the nine months ended June 30, increased five per cent over the same period in the prior year as a result of strong revenue per visit and effective ticket price growth.
Operating expenses for the first three quarter, meanwhile, rose six per cent to $111 million, attributable primarily to a higher volume of snow school lessons and increased retail activity, as well as the costs associated with the Affinity acquisition.
Season’s pass and frequency card sales from this year’s spring campaign increased 21 per cent, to $14.6 million, compared to 2013.
“The results of our spring campaign are also a positive early indicator for the upcoming ski season,” said Brownlie, who also reported that the Whistler Village Gondola project is proceeding on schedule and on budget.