Aspen Skiing Co. is now the sole owner and operator of the central reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass, the company announced this week.
On Nov. 1 the SAS board approved a plan dissolving the organization’s previous legal structure, with SkiCo becoming the sole owner and operator.
The shift has been in the works for two years and came in two phases. The first involved a joint operating agreement in fall 2016 between SkiCo and other SAS shareholders, which stipulated that SkiCo would become the sole owner in 2018 if all parties remained in agreement. SAS moved its offices and call center from Aspen to SkiCo’s offices at Riverside Plaza in Basalt at that time.
The second phase was realized with this month’s vote.
Stay Aspen Snowmass, which offers lodging at dozens of local properties as well as travel accommodations, was previously owned in equal parts by SkiCo and representatives of Aspen lodges and Snowmass Village lodging properties.
Bill Tomcich, the president of SAS since 1998, is leaving the organization after having helped the shareholders, board and staff to ensure a smooth transition, he said this week.
His contract with SAS ended Oct. 31 and in an email Thursday, Tomcich said, “Everything went exactly according to plan.”
He explained that the phased transition “was also about building trust between Aspen Skiing Co. and the other SAS shareholders to make certain that everyone was comfortable with the proposed transition and that ASC would truly operate SAS as proposed.” That means in a market where SkiCo owns multiple lodging properties, other operators must have confidence that there is a level playing field.
Tomcich’s future after SAS will include air service consulting work, as his role over the years has included acting as a liaison between the resort community and commercial airlines, working to increase air service into the Aspen airport. His current venture, Tomcich Travel Consulting, LLC, was initially created two years ago when the SAS transition first began.
“I am very proud to say that my SAS duties have come to an end at a time when the organization has never been healthier or better staffed with employees who have never felt better about their future,” Tomcich stated in the release.
According to a report in the Aspen Daily News from 2016, SkiCo and SAS officials said the move by SkiCo to bring central reservations in-house reflects the changing nature of the lodging business, which has made it harder for an independent central reservations service to stand on its own. Sharing resources such as phone and internet systems, as well as management and human resources support, makes the endeavor more viable.
“The business model has become obsolete for a lot of different reasons,” SkiCo’s then-vice president David Perry said at the time, referencing the growing market share of other online booking engines. “It’s hard to keep pace as a standalone company with 12 employees.” Perry now works for Alterra Mountain Co., which owns multiple ski resorts and is co-owned by SkiCo.
Lise Adams, who has worked for SAS for more than 18 years, remains the organization’s director.
“As for me, I’m not going anywhere, and my air service consulting work with the commercial airlines that fly into our community, with which I have been involved for more than 23 years, will continue,” Tomcich said.
In a statement, Kristi Kavanaugh, vice president of sales for SkiCo noted, “The transition has been a tremendous success in large part due to the amazing cooperation between the lodging community and ASC.
“SAS is set to succeed in the future and remain an integral part of our guests’ experience year-round to the Roaring Fork Valley,” she added.