Lifting the Vail: Largest U.S. Snow Sports Resort Operator Takes on Climate Change

by: Christopher I. Rider, Joni Bertrand

Publication Date: July 20, 2023
Length: 20 pages
Product ID#: 1-245-836

Core Disciplines: International Business, Social Impact, Strategy & Management, Sustainability

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Teaching Note

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Vail Resorts, one of the world’s largest snow sports resort management companies, faces serious climate change issues. For years, the organization tried to deal with rising temperatures and less snowfall by growing its resort network and diversifying its product portfolio to extend its season. Alicia Campero, Vail Resorts’ Vice President of Sustainability Strategy, was leading the corporate effort to contain the company’s environmental footprint while also limiting its business exposure to poor snow conditions. How should she handle negative press coverage or the intense competition from their rivals? Will she be able to provide significant value to millions of skiers and snowboarders during their resort visits? Can she manage the weather-related revenue risk and improve the company’s profitability with strategic global expansion? Can she overcome the challenges of managing differences when expanding abroad in 2023?

Using publicly available ski industry statistics, climate data, and country-level cultural indices, readers of this case assume the role of Campero and her team. Students must make strategic decisions about what the organization will do regarding climate change. The case provides facts on Vail Resorts’ multitude of property acquisitions, stock performance, finances, and competitors, which will help readers make strategic recommendations on where the company should focus its next major geographic expansion.

Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Understand the dynamics of the mountain resort industry, including climate change effects on skiing and snowboarding.
  • Calculate producer and consumer surplus.
  • Apply a value creation framework to analyze a business.
  • Analyze country-level indices to effectively operate a business abroad.
  • Understand horizontal diversification options for service industry organizations.