I always look forward to this annual event – an early opportunity to catch up with everyone from the industry.

This year was fortunate enough to be asked to present and to join the afternoon’s marketing panel. Hopefully that was as useful for everyone attending, as the morning session was for me.   Here are my key takeaways from the day:

1. Avoriaz’s recent developments are working

Cathy Rankin from Pierre & Vacances reported that Avoriaz has welcomed 22% more visitor since 2011. Their French share of visitors has also decreased from 60% to 45%, so the international market has clearly picked up on the changes to the resort (see the Amara, Aquariaz etc).  All of this will be boosted further by the new lift from Prodains, which has a capacity of 2500 skier per hour and takes just four minutes. 

AvoriazGondola-400x300

2. Crystal Ski value social media highly

Ian Davis from Crystal Ski revealed that online mentions of the brand have more than doubled pre-season. They are very active on social media: 600 photos are uploaded by their in-resort teams to Flickr each month and they have over 23,000 Twitter followers to their different resort accounts.

3. Bienvenue mes Russes!

No visitor to the French Alps in recent years will have failed to notice the increasing number of mountain restaurant menus that are in French, English…and Russian.  Jean Marc Silva of Frances Montagnes revealed that over the last five years Russian visitors to the French Alps has increased by 43%.  That compares to a decrease from the UK market of 19%.

Change in visitors to French Alps, since 2008

UK -19%
Netherlands -7%
Belgium +1%
Russia +43%
Germany +8%
Sweden/Norway -20%

4. Guaranteed snow is more important than price when choosing a holiday

A surprising revelation from the new Ski Club of Great Britain industry report, compiled in conjunction with Spike Marketing, was that ‘guaranteed snow’ is a more important factor than the price on holiday choice – a result that has clear implications for ski resorts, if not tour operators. The new survey, which takes into account 21,000 responses, including 13,000 from active skiers and snowboarders, also revealed that 17% of non-skiers are ‘likely’ to go on a ski holiday in the next three years.

Top 5 Factors that affect choice of ski holidays

1. Guaranteed snow
2. Size of ski area
3. Price
4. Quality of accommodation
5. How busy slopes are

5. The French are taking action to bring young people into snowsports…

There has been much talk in recent years about the need to bring new people into the sport, particularly the young.  The Crystal Industry Report flagged the continuing fall in the number of school ski trips.  In France, the French Skiss campaign offers free lift passes and tuition for 3 days, if 6 nights of accommodation is booked – but only to those aged 16-25.   Their website couldn’t put it any better:  ‘Construisons maintenant, le marché du ski de demain’ (Building the ski market of tomorrow, today).

logo_frenchskiss_fr

6. …and Snowsport England’s new GO SKI GO BOARD initiative could do that as well

While ALL THE CAPS seems very shouty, this new campaign, if given the support of the industry and promoted widely, could well be the catalyst we need to bring more people into the sport.   The prices are very attractive and the website is pretty easy to use – so come on ski industry, let’s give this one a massive push and try and build our market together for a change!  (Oops, just fell off my soapbox!)

Go-Ski-Go-Board

By Iain Martin