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Fears for the future
Tuesday September 16, 2014 - Email this article to a friend

There is a falling number of young people taking a ski holiday and an urgent need to attract new blood. The findings come in a wide-ranging consumer report into snowsports published this week.

The concerns are revealed in the latest figures that come from the Ski Club of Great Britain.

It surveyed 14,600 people; 11,800 skiers and 2,800 non-skiers. It is one of the largest surveys of its kind with the research conducted by Spike Marketing.

It concluded that 42.3% of people are introduced to snowsports through a family holiday or a school trip while they are under 20-years old.

However with a fall in the number of children taking a school trip and recent legislation stopping parents taking their children out of school for a holiday then this is under threat.

Expense, plus alternative trips and holiday activities, are also seen as a major factor.

We have reported in the past on PlanetSKI about the concerns and an initiative to address the problem.

So, what can be done about it?

There is some talk in the industry at the moment of forming a joint body to promote snowsports to a wider public and deal with other common issues.  

The figures in the Ski Club's consumer research claim that of the 2,800 non-skiers in the survey 16.5% would like to try snowsports in the next three years.

Such a body would also act as a lobby group to negotiate with the government and other organisations such as national tourist offices. 

"We should collaborate and work together to drive the industry forward with the various stakeholders," said the CEO of the Ski Club of Great Britain, Frank McCusker, as he presented the report to senior figures from the UK snowsports industry at The Club's HQ in Wimbledon.

"As an industry we should work as a team to help grow the snowsports industry as a whole. It is not in decline, but it is stagnating," he added.

McCusker presents McCusker presents













There has been talk within industry circles for many years and most agree on the need for some sort body; but after that things rather fall apart.

The UK tour operators Inghams, Espirit Ski and Ski Total, all owned by the Swiss company Hotelplan, have teamed up with the Austrian National Tourist Office, ANTO, to attract latent skiers; those that want to go but are either beginners or have not skied for a while.

We reported on the partnership in this earlier story on PlanetSKI.

"The initiative between Hotelplan and ANTO is a good one and shows what can be done," said Frank McCusker.

"We are very excited by this joint effort for next winter and so far reaction has been very favourable," said the PR manager of Ski Total, Moira Clarke.

See here for details of the 'Ski Again' initiative.

Ski againSki again







Another initiative, GO SKI GO BOARD, is aimed at the beginner market and offers people the chance to visit an indoor or artificial slope in the UK and then head out to the Austrian Tirol to experience it in the mountains.

The campaign has been extended for the season of 2014/15 and starts people off at the indoor and artificial slopes of England.

Busy timesBusy indoors












Another idea for the body is to lobby the government to change legislation that prevents parents taking their children out of school for a term-time ski holiday. 

This limits the time available for learning to ski or snowboard to just a few weeks in the season.

Some regions are making extra efforts to attract children and families this coming season.

For example the largest ski area in Austria, Ski Welt, has a special offer this winter where children under-15 are given a free lift pass when an adult buys one.

It is available December 6th - 19th and March 14th - April 12th, but not half-term; see here for further details.

We reported on the huge Austrian ski area in this earlier PlanetSKI article.


The report also looked at what the UK tour operators need to do to improve the holiday experience of their customers. 

It said more and more people were shunning the tour operators and going it alone.

"The independent market is much bigger than most think making up around 40% of the market," said McCusker. Last year the report concluded it was 54%.

The Crystal Ski Industry Report puts the figure at just over 30%.

It was published last week and we reported on it in this PlanetSKI story.

Crystal also reported a sizeable drop in the independent sector in 2013/14. It said there was a drop of 5.8% from 269,000 to 253,400.

This is in contrast to the Ski Club's claim of 400,000 or so.

One of the other figures was the total size of the market. Crystal puts it at 867,700.

The Ski Club would not be drawn but Frank McCusker said it is "not far off the 1 million mark."

In the report last year from the Ski Club the figure was 1.4 million - see here for the PlanetSKI story on last year's report.

Some commentators thought this far too high and the figure of 1million is more accurate.

Bright future ahead?Bright future ahead?













People in the survey released this year placed high importance on service.

The figures suggested that people prefer the smaller and niche specialist operators for their levels of service and customer care.

They received Net Promoter Scores (NPS) of 43 whereas the large companies received just 8. NPS is a recognised metric that measures customer loyalty.

The larger companies such as Inghams and Crystal disputed the findings. 

Crystal has surveyed 50,000 of its customers and says its appreciation levels are significantly higher.

Inghams too did not agree with the research.

"I do not recognise what you portray as a pretty comprehensive slating of the service offered by the large tour operators and this is not what we find," said Andy Perrin from Inghams in the question and answer session at the end of the presentation.

Questions from the floorQuestions from the floor













Despite the discrepancies in the figures and the questioning of the sample size and accuracy of the figures there is one thing everyone in the UK snowsports industry agree upon; the market needs to be grown.

And the place to start is with young people and new skiers & snowboarders.

For full details of the Inghams initiative then follow this link.

Further details of the consumer research are available from the Ski Club of Great Britain.

For the spirit of the mountains

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