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WHAT DO THE NEXT 5 YEARS HOLD? - Katie Bamber, Hemel Hempstead
Friday May 5, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

Members of the UK snowspsorts industry gathered for the LISTEX Summer Session to look at the state of the industry and gaze into its collective crystal ball.

The London International Snowsports Trade Exchange (LISTEX) connects snowsports travel professionals.

Snowsports travel buyers, suppliers and trade members gather to network, negotiate and conduct business at an event with forum sessions, networking and trade exchange meetings.

Speaking on the forum's panel for its Summer Sessionwere five experts in their field - Welove2ski's Sean Newsom, Michael Pettifer from MPI Brokers, Colin Mathews from Meriski, In The Snow's Domnic Killinger and Scott Dobson from Dynastar.

The structure of our report below is very much as it was said - in a raw format with no added frills or analysis.

So, what did the five of them talk about?

The Snow CentreThe panel
















Session 1: Back to the Future

Five years ago the London Olympics had just taken place and LISTEX began - we reported on its birth at the time.

Now it's time to look forward to the next five years, or even closer to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February 2018 that is hoped will boost GB interest in snowsports.

Just a heads up - a no-Brexit clause was instated at the start of the session Wink

The Snow CentreThe audience
















The first topic: Investment in the past 5 years

Sean Newsom: Until 5 years ago it was all a bit stagnant. Though now resorts are spending money again. Courchevel's Aquamotion centre is a good example and adds huge appeal for families.

Val d'Isere also smartened up the Solaise - a big investment and see here for a PlanetSKI article on the development in Val d'Isere.

Michael Pettifer from MPI commented on a major change in the past 5 years: French banned GB ski guiding - not positive for the Brits.

And there was talk of the explosion in technology over the past few years has helped to attract people to the mountains and the sports, both within and from outside the industry. 

Fatmaps and apps help to attract people from outside the industry as well as within.

Scott Dobson from Dynastar spoke of the investment that has gone into artificial snowmaking in Europe.

And then there's the rapidly changing equipment and of course the investment that goes into this.

Helmet sales have boomed and resorts are putting in new infrastructures - lifts, funparks and hotels.

This leads on to people skiing on the right skis for their ability, to maximise enjoyment, which eventually lead to the question; "How do we make piste skiing sexy again?" said Scott.

The Snow CentreListening closely
















This season, versus 2012, have the barriers for entry to non skiers changed?

Barriers to entry from 5 years ago.

Michael: A big fear of new skiers is getting hurt.

There is a great amount of publicity to negative stories, such as avalanches, and it's bad news for the industry.

The mainstream media hones in on negative things and it bends minds.

Ski sites have a broader range but unfortunately the national newspapers have a great effect on the nation.

An example would be the headlines over snow drought in France in January... a day before it started snowing.

The mainstream media has tremendous impact.

Sean talked about the element of economic confidence. Everybody wants to try skiing.

The imagery published out there is amazing.

But is it off putting? Do people think: "I'll never be able to do that."

Do the promotions showing skiers and boarders in deep powder or doing backflips put off debutante snowsporters?

Then again, does social media help balance this? And isn't this the case in any sport? An 'aspiration' trip.

Then there's the fashion and trend of what sports are popular in the mountains.

The recent growth in ski touring is impressive - it's now a lot about the walking up, not the skiing down.

And then there's the ultra-fitness trend that has boomed over the past five years - back home with marathons, for example - and this is surely helping the snowsports industry.

Is the average skier five years older than five years ago?

"The problem we have with skiing is that it isn't cool any more," Sean overheard someone say, shocked.

Millenials don't think skiing is cool. We are in a bubble in the ski world and we feel young.

Touring is a whole new approach to this. But generally the idea of standing on a table in Austria is not very current.

Young farmers and university students ski, then afterwards - between the age of 26-30 - it drops off.

It might pick back up, but this is quite clear.

There is a growth in snowsports in the university market.

University operators reckon that there are around 50% first timers on uni trips.

Snowbox - a festival in the mountains this season in Avoriaz - had 70% of its attendees as first time skiers and boarders.

There is activitiy there.

It's fairly embryonic at the moment but there is growth in area.

It's not all doom and gloom...

Price, obviously, is the key feature.

Will skiing become more or less expensive in the next five years?

Will we be paying for the new investments that have been happening in last five years?

It's about range, Colin summarised.

We need to make people aware of the range of accommodation, transport, equipment etc.

We can surely expect a small rise in lift passes, as lift infrastructures improve.

It's not as bad as a single day pass in North America, but there's been a steady 5% rise in Europe in 10 years.

It's a steady rise, Sean said.

There will be a point when it will be 300 euros a week. It's going to have to be a psychological point to think about.

There might be a bump in the road ahead. People might have to change how they go skiing: Less bundled holidays? More term-time holidays?

But the value of the ski market will stay the same.

The Snow CentreSean & Michael
















Are you positive or negative about the next 5 years?

"I'm going skiing regardless," said Scott.

People want to walk up a mountain, stay somewhere different. Festivals are becoming more the thing to do for young people.

"It's a great time. We may not be best placed as Brits to take advantage of it, but its an exciting time. And once we've got through the hard part it will be a great thing to experience. And let's not forget the summer... Cycling, and let's run up the mountains."

There's amazing potential, we have to just shout about it!

The Snow CentreLISTEX
















Founded in 2012, LISTEX is the UK's first business-to-business event designed specifically for the snowsports industry, returning on the 27 & 28 September 2017.

Check out PlanetSKI's coverage of a previous LISTEX event.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

PlanetSKI: No1 for ski news

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