Firstly, let me clarify – I’m not suggesting the deaths of thousands of people is something to be cheerful about.

This blog post is purely about looking for signs of positivity while the UK remains in lockdown and ski bookings are at the bottom of a disastrous trough.

The good news…

Some people are booking ski holidays

Austria is coming out of lockdown

Not only are shops reopening across Austria, but from 01 May activities such as ski touring will be allowed again. Plus there’s optimism that glacier skiing may open up too.

There’s positive news from France as well

While the lockdown will continue in France, ‘normal’ life will begin its return from 11 May when schools start to be opened again.

Les 2 Alpes has (perhaps over-optimistically) suggested the resort will open for summer, including skiing on the glacier, from 04 June, with lifts all offered free of charge.

And the Tour de France also added to the feeling of positivity when they confirmed that the 2020 event would not be cancelled (as many had expected), but will instead still start, just later than planned on 29 August, with the same stages and course.

Flight prices are likely to fall significantly (at first)

Once freedom of movement (try to forget the Brexit-related irony) returns, flights are likely to become cheaper in the short-term as airlines desperately try to sell tickets.

Aviation consultation Andrew Charlton believes that this will lead to the failure of some airlines and a subsequent increase in fares as capacity falls:

“In the short term, the Ryanairs of this world are going to bomb the market with cheap seats to get revenues to survive. Others will try to match that and will collapse.”

Yes, we’re in recession now, but there’s going to be a big bounce-back

Economists seem to be in agreement that although 2020 is going to be nasty, all that pent-up demand (notwithstanding my caveat for travel below) is going to lead to a boom in 2021:

Prediction is difficult, especially about the future

On the other side of our metaphorical Covid coin are the question marks over the ‘pent up demand’ that we all hope will see people booking holidays non-stop as soon as restrictions are lifted.

Experts (and bloggers like me) can sit here and make as many predictions as they like, but no one knows what will happen in the future.

Travel bookings may not spike

If there’s a switch to be flipped before consumers start booking holidays again, then it’s not as simple as an on/off binary decision.

Of course, the first step is that we need to be allowed to travel, but as airline analyst John Strickland has said: “Even if they have the money to fly, people will be apprehensive”.

No one will be booking trips until they feel it’s safe to do so

Consumer doubts might be overcome by ideas such as leaving the middle seat vacant, as easyJet have recently suggested, or by making antibody tests compulsory for passengers, as Emirates are currently trialling.

More likely it will be governments who decide for us what is ‘safe’ and which nationalities are allowed access. For some countries, any visit may start with a quarantine period longer than the normal holiday.

Opportunities for new product

Ski resorts have been pinned with a super-spreader tag (some more than others), so that’s another obstacle to be overcome.

However, this could be the opportunity to innovate with product.

How do you get away from the crowds? This could be the winter above all others to be promoting ski touring trips and cross-country ski holidays. Or why not feature Norway and Finland, which are already opening low-density ski areas?

Scotland is a gamble, with its unpredictable snow and weather conditions, but a ski holiday within the UK means no bio-passport (probably) or risk of meeting ‘foreign nationals’.

We weren't the only ones heading for the 2748m Pazolastock from the Oberalpass station.

Posted by on Saturday, 14 March 2020

Why not change your T&Cs?

I mentioned this in my last Covid-19 blog post, but if you want to overcome uncertainty and help consumers over the line to make their booking, then why not offer a full refund?

Many skiers had difficulties in obtaining refunds after cancelled holidays in March and April and that may be preventing them from making bookings for next winter.

You can overcome that ‘what if?’ concern by offering a ‘Coronavirus Guarantee’, even if that simply means extending your usual cancellation dates.

I’ve already seen this email from Bramble Ski and this offer from Snowskool:

Help the NHS

Finally, I noticed the #MyTravelPledge hashtag has gained momentum this week.

This is a collection of travel businesses who are pledging to offer free accommodation or holidays to key workers from the NHS.

It may not be realistic for your business, but whether you’re motivated by pure altruism or the associated PR it may return, it’s a great idea.

I was delighted to see that it has already been taken up in the ski industry: