If you are in your TWENTIES… now is when you are most likely to learn to ski or snowboard, according to the 2014 Consumer Research from the Ski Club of Great Britain.
This unique survey that represents a cross section of skiers and non skiers from a mix of tour operators (large and small) retailers, travel agents, airlines, resorts and hotels is the largest piece of snowsports analysis to date within the travel industry. Compiled from14,600 respondents this year’s survey focused on trying to understand the consumer experience across multiple points of the customer journey.
Potential new skiers
Of the 14,600 respondents, 2,800 were non-skiers; this offers a useful insight into customers not already engaged in the ski industry. Of the 2,800 non-skiers 16.5% said they would like to try their hand at skiing within three years. But how can those potential skiers and snowboarders be picked up?
The decline of the school ski trip has affected how skiers and snowboarders are introduced into the world of snowsports. Under 30s now rely mainly on travelling with their family to ski for the first time. The most likely age to learn skiing is currently between 21-29 years – the age that people become earners and take control of their own spending, interests, free-time and holidays. Just 30% of current skiers and snowboarders took up the sport after their 30th birthday or later in life.
For most of these ‘non-skiing young adults’ their first experience on snow is with friends.
20% of current skiers and snowboarders want to ski more. This is encouraging, but not in itself adding to the number of skiers and snowboarders in the UK. In fact the ski population is an ageing one. What can be done to inspire more young people to take up the sport and travel to the mountains?
The internet is involved in almost 90% of ski and snowboard holiday bookings, with 56% of skiers – the majority share of the market – now booking their entire holiday online. Without the chance to speak with their customers directly prior to arriving in resort, the resort service forms the most important opportunity to provide excellent service and foster loyalty.
Independent travellers are a significant sector of the market, with 55% of respondents booking their travel independently and 30% booking accommodation directly with providers. This proportion can only increase, making an estimate of the overall size of the market even more challenging.
With most holidays now booked online and just 12% booked entirely over the telephone, what can be done by holiday providers to differentiate between package holidays and the independent online booking experience?
Skiers tend to see ‘travel’ as a means to an end, opting for airlines that give them the most convenient times to get the maximum ski experience. As such this part of their travel experience is not reported as being in the main part the most pleasurable. Despite being accused of poor service, delays, cramped travel conditions, and excessive luggage charges, the plane is still the dominant method of transportation to the continent. No matter the airline the challenges are the same. It is how they deal with the ‘problems’ that differentiates them.
It’s no surprise that skiers and snowboarders are after guaranteed snow and large ski areas. But they also like to avoid the crowds if they can: 62% of skiers actively avoid the peak seasons of Christmas, New Year, Easter and the half-term holiday.
Which do you prefer?
The best ski resorts
This research made use of Net Promoter Scores (NPS)1, a metric that measures customer loyalty, and revealed that the North American resorts of Whistler, Breckenridge, Aspen, and Park City provided skiers with the best all-round customer experience.
Canada and the USA came out on top for quality of skiing, efficiency of lift systems, accommodation and eating out.
The most contented holiday makers in Europe last year were those who had travelled to Ischgl, Lech, St Moritz, Zermatt and Livigno.
For winter activities other than skiing, Scandinavian resorts ranked highly.
Andorra has received consistently high NPS scores for its lift systems, ski schools, bars and nightlife and once again came top for value for money. Andorra showing that investment can pay off.
Frank McCusker, Chief Executive of the Ski Club of Great Britain today said “ The NPS scores that these ‘top’ resorts and organisations are producing are comparable with the very in best in industry seen from companies such as Apple, whilst the lowest performing resorts are comparable with some of the poorest performers which include many UK banks..”
“An integrated approach between the countries, regions and tour operators can pay dividends and this can be seen in Austria’s increase in market share.” he added.
France still remains the largest market for UK skiers and has a good following, but becoming less loyal, with Austria close behind and Switzerland in third place. The NPS scores for Switzerland reflect that it is easy to get to and to transfer around, has good quality accommodation and food, and plenty of non-skiing activities. Its visitors are not too bothered by exchange rates and are becoming increasingly loyal.
Can’t decide whether to learn to ski or snowboard? Read my guide on how to decide whether to ski or snowboard.