Skipedia went along today to the launch of the Ski Club of Great Britain Industry Report 2013.

Billed as the ‘largest piece of consumer research ever in the UK snowsports market’, Ski Club CEO Frank McCusker, said he was ‘cautiously optimistic’ about the data it revealed.

Vicky Norman speaks at today's launch

The report has been compiled using data from eleven participating organisations, including tour operators and airlines, during June and July 2013.  A full copy of the report is available from the Ski Club of Great Britain for £750, but some of the key points revealed today are summarised below:

1. New Entrants – the opportunity is there
  • 17% of those who have never skied before say there is a good chance they will go on a skiing holidays in next three years
  • Women aged 18-30 are disproportionately represented in this group and ski companies may want to consider that in their marketing
2. Lapsed skiers should be targetted
  • 75% of lapsed skiers are likely to ski again, with 22% planning to go this season
  • 50% of non-skiers are under the age of 40
3. There is a strong intention to ski more often
  • When asked if they plan to ski more, less or stay the same, the data showed a net increase of 21%
4. The market is larger than thought
  • 54% book their ski holidays independently and 44% book package holidays
  • This is a higher proportion travelling independently than previous studies have suggested – The Ski Club believes the overall size of the snowsports market is 50% greater than the 900,000 proposed by Crystal Ski in their own report.
5. The experienced skier is driving the market
  • Of those who had skied before, the Ski Club data showed that 49% have skied for more than 20 weeks
  • 60% of this group are male [although we couldn’t help wondering if testosterone might have inflated their reported numbers]
6. Short breaks are a key part of the market
7. Booking lead times are tending to the margins
  • 29% of bookings were made 6 months or more before departure
  • 30% of bookings were made 3-6 months before departure
  • 25% of bookings were made 1-3 months or more before departure
  • 16% of bookings were made less than 1 month before departure

So, 45% of bookings were made either early (>6 mths)  or late (<1 mth), compared to 34% last year.

This trend was put down to good snow encouraging late bookings, but we feel this is a longer-term trend in the industry.

Consumers now understand that there is value in booking early to secure special offers and accommodation in peak periods, and late for discounted holidays, but it’s proving harder to convince them to book outside this period.

8. France retain customers best

Despite the common stereotype of poor French service and expensive prices, France has the best ‘retention rate’ of any destination i.e. Are you planning to return to this country for your next holiday?

  1. France – 78
  2. Austria – 62
  3. Bulgaria/Romania – 57
  4. Italy – 52
  5. USA/Canada – 49
  6. Switzerland – 48
  7. Andorra – 45

This also perhaps suggests that the ski guide/ski escort issue may not affect France as much as some have suggested.

It should also be remembered that the additional cost and time of travelling to North America means it is rarely a country that consumers go to in consecutive seasons.

9. North America is the most recommended

The NPS or Net Promoter Scores revealed in the report were fascinating.  Based on surveys where users were asked to rate how likely are you to recommend a destination to a friend or colleague, giving a value between 1 and 10, showed the following results:

  1. USA/Canada -56
  2. France – 42
  3. Austria – 38
  4. Switzerland – 37
  5. Italy – 34
  6. Scandinavia – 32
  7. Andorra -29
  8. Bulgaria/Romania – 7

North America product clearly has the best ratings by some distance, and there is a sense of ‘what you pay for is what you get’, with the least expensive destinations ranking lower.

10. Whistler is the most recommended ski resort

Whistler Blackcomb stands alone at the top of this notional league table by some distance, almost 30 points clear of Obergurgl – the top European resort.  [Note to self – must ski at Whistler]

  1. Whistler – 89
  2. Obergurgl – 60
  3. Banff – 58
  4. La Tania – 56
  5. Les Gets -55

The bottom ten resorts included Arinsal, Pasa de la Casa and Borovets, but surprisingly (to us) also Courmayeur and Les 2 Alpes.

11. No surprises in the airline ratings…
  • The scheduled airlines of Swiss and BA both had positive ratings with Swiss top (+60)
  • Ryanair was rated the worst at -70
12. Erna Low is top of the tour operator list
  • The Ski Club were keen to be diplomatic and did not reveal names in their tour operator data, noting that the list covers small niche companies as well as large companies
  • They did concede that the highest score (+73) was recorded by Erna Low
  • They also admitted that the largest three operators – Crystal Ski, Inghams and Neilson – ranged between -5 and +9

 

Of course, if you buy the report, you can find out for yourself exactly what each company scored.

Overall, this report looks like being an excellent tool for the industry, with valuable data that tells us more about our current and potential customers.

 

By Iain Martin