Global Ski Industry Trends – a guest post by Louise and Simon Hudson
With so much new development planned and underway, SkiArena Andermatt Sedrun is certainly trending right now. But where does it fit into the global ski industry landscape?
The ski and snowboard industry has experienced remarkable growth in the last fifty years. It is estimated that today there are some 120 million skiers and snowboarders worldwide, with around 2,000 ski resorts in 80 countries catering to this important market. While established destinations in North America, Western Europe, Japan, New Zealand and Australia are experiencing maturity, new resorts in Asia and Eastern Europe are competing for budding generations of skiers from countries such as China and Russia. Along with these demographic shifts, technology is also having a huge impact on skiing products and services, and how they are experienced. .
Although SkiArena Andermatt Sedrun is growing, this is not typically the case elsewhere. In North America, for example, there has been a fall in the number of resorts from 516 to 478 in the last two decades, and according to experts, new realities for success have to include sufficient hospitality infrastructure, a re-invigoration of winter sports culture, resort alliances and partnerships, and continued capital investment in snowmaking and other infrastructure. Diversification is another essential element in ski resort survival. A recent report found that one in five people who take a ski vacation do not actually ski or snowboard. Those travelers are looking for alternative activities to enjoy from dining and shopping to other unique mountain experiences like dogsledding, winter ziplining, snowshoeing, etc.
While overall skier/rider visits have not changed much in 20 years, the composition of those on the slopes has. The amount of downhill skiers on the slopes has dropped, while the number of snowboarders has more than doubled. More females are participating in both activities, and participants tend to be older than they were 20 years ago. Perhaps of concern is a substantial drop in the number of lessons being taken today compared to 20 years ago, implying there might be fewer beginners taking to the slopes. Certainly, in the U.K. there are concerns that the poor performance of the schools market will have a negative impact on the number of new entrants to the sport.
However, some experts suggest that the greatest opportunity for ski resorts lies in persuading people who have already adopted skiing/snowboarding to do it more – or convincing those who are lapsed skiers/boarders to take it up again – rather than targeting those who have never skied/boarded before. In America, for example, there are 10.5 million people who consider themselves skiers or snowboarders but have lapsed due to increased family obligations, nobody to ski or ride with, lack of fitness, and other issues that keep them from participating.
Although the ethnic diversity of participants is improving, it still doesn’t match the diversity found in the general population. Income and education levels are more predictive of snow sports participation than ethnicity. Certainly more could be done to attract a more diverse participant base to snow sports.
The wintersport industry in general could also do more in courting the accessible tourism market (those with disabilities). The potential size of the accessible tourism sector is estimated at between 600 and 900 million people worldwide, suggesting that roughly 10 per cent of travelers are looking for barrier-free or accessible travel. With an ageing population this percentage will continue to grow, and there is an increasing recognition that this is no longer a niche market. In the U.S. alone, adults with impairments spend $13.6 billion on travel every year. While SkiArena Andermatt Sedrun is in the development phase, attention should be given to providing access and facilities for disabled skiers. Much could be learnt from Sun Peaks (also designed by Ecosign) in British Columbia, Canada which is a good example of an accessible ski resort.
Social Media Marketing
With social media taking over from traditional marketing, every resort needs to upgrade its Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Instagram and Snapchat presence to attract new skiers, lapsed skiers, ethnic minorities, etc. Skiers and snowboarders often only participate in their wintersports for a week or two per year – but they are happy to talk about it for much longer than that back at home. The rise in social media provides an ideal opportunity for resorts to engage with potential and past guests and create excitement in between visits and off-season. Some of the chief things SkiArena Andermatt Sedrun needs to communicate in this way are its new role as the biggest ski development in Switzerland, the largest ski area in central Switzerland, and also the fact that foreigners can invest in property there. Another contemporary marketing ploy is to attract filmmaking which in turn results in film tourism. Watch what happens in Solden when the new 007 film, Spectre debuts in November.
Bring back the Brits
Due to the some changes in Swiss employment laws, thousands of young British skiers (the lifeblood of low season!) have been lost to Swiss resorts. British chalet companies, which traditionally employ young British staff to run their operations cheaply, don’t want to afford to match Swiss minimum wages. This is an opportunity for SkiArena Andermatt Sedrun. One way to woo back the British skiers would be to advocate hospitality jobs as internships or apprenticeships, offering the staff free skiing, bed and board, and expenses rather than an actual wage. This is just one idea – there must be others. Andermatt needs to be creative to get ahead of other resorts and corner this lucrative market.
Ski journalist, Louise Hudson and tourism professor, Dr. Simon Hudson are the authors of the groundbreaking ski book Winter Sport Tourism: Working in Winter Wonderlands, available through “Goodfellow UK publishers”. Read it to learn more about Andermatt, Verbier, Solden, Sun Peaks, and many other global resorts as well as trends and innovations throughout the wintersport industry. Check out Louise’s ski journalism Blog and join her on Twitter.
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