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BBC article on the state of the ski industry.

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@intermediate, Glad you agree. Earlier today I had an enquiry for February 2019! My perception is that competition for the February peak season is getting ever more intense, to the extent that people feel they have to book a year or more in advance, whereas there are other times of the season when the resorts are relatively quiet, either because of a perception (often inaccurate) that it's too early or too late for decent skiing, or because of the afore-mentioned, much-publicised education policy in relation to taking kids out of school for a week. The prices and congestion during the peak season is a double whammy that may well be a turn-off for some people - bad enough in summer (to the usual summer destinations), but some years (especially when Easter is late and snow conditions around Christmas are disappointing), there is literally only one week that many families may well feel is available (not only to them, but the rest of their country or region) for their annual ski holiday. Even schools frequently arrange skiing trips during the half term holiday in order to avoid staffing problems. I don't know how much of an impact this has, and I may be entirely wrong, but it just seems logical. If numbers are indeed static or decreasing, I would be interested in a more detailed analysis of trends, according to nationality, and whether families with school-age children.
(Incidentally it is somewhat paradoxical that the slopes in our neck of the Alps are currently practically deserted, even though there is more snow that at any time during most of last season and conditions are fantastic! Of course, in Austria at least, the winter tourism industry is primarily reliant on visitors from other countries, and the UK is a primary contributor. In general people like to book well ahead and at a time of the season that suits their preferences; those who are able and willing to defer their holidays and go when conditions beckon are relatively few.)
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Bigtipper wrote:
... The big problem is how many skiers have children in that 43-65 bracket ...

Probably not that many, certainly at the upper end of the range. Very Happy
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@tatmanstours, I don't disagree with any of your points above, although I wonder if you overstate some of their significance. Skier visits to the main European skiing destinations have been static or declining for nearly 10 years, so it's hard to attribute too much of the drop to education policy in the UK. Just looking at flights from London to GVA, Sat to Sat, during half-term week there seem to be plenty of fares for under £100. That seems reasonable and far from extortionate. I still maintain that the root causes of the problem are more likely to be, in order of importance, more winter holiday options than previously, limited increases in disposable income and poor early season snow. From a personal perspective, holidays are precious and expensive. Why take the risk of going at Christmas unless you have to?
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^^ I agree completely. As a family of 4 who get one ski family trip a year, I would rather deal with February crowds than a lack of snow at Christmas. This year we might do a last minute Christmas trip for a few days if the conditions are excellent and we can find a good airbnb deal.
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It's going to be a combination of factors, the zero-tolerance approach to out of termtime holidays is just one factor compressing the number of people into an ever smaller window. The perception of a series of 'Bad Snow' seasons has added to the pressure by closing that window further as people want to avoid the risk of a snowless trip at either Christmas or Easter. Likewise, the expectation of poor exchange rates isn't helping peoples confidence when booking in advance and as people are ever driven into that smaller window, operators are raising prices to make their profits while the can.

Even so (and combined with half a dozen other factors probably) this probably won't affect those who've been raised on a diet of snowsports, but its one heck of a barrier to entry to newbies.
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@foxtrotzulu, would be very interested to see where you are finding flights to Geneva 10 & 17 February for under £100 - quick search on Skyscanner on those dates and from all London airports and cheapest is £481 not including hold luggage or skis! Puzzled
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
interesting article. One of the key things in my view to get the (or keep the) younger generation in to skiing is the lack cheap accommodation. Its expensive at the best of times to head to the alps but if for example, you are on your own and fancy a few days away there are nuff all options for cheap accommodation like hostels in Europe. Try and google hostels at ski resorts and there is next to nothing. Chamonix has a few but that's about it. Not everyone wants a fancy hotel or apt and half board. And if you are on your own you meet people in hostels (normally) and don't need to ski on your own either which makes it more appealing. No idea why there is a lack of hostels in Europe compared to Canada and US. Most Canadian resort towns have at least one hostel with good prices.

Also to be fair it is a real pain in the A to get ski resorts from the UK, no matter how "close" it seems. Oh, its only a 1.5 hr flight.......but don't forget about all the other travel involved. I bet if the UK had good mountains with snow that you could drive to easily (not way up in Scotland) ski participation would be much higher. Couple that with the recent unreliable snow conditions people think, it is really worth the risk to drop a grand on a ski holiday that could suck. Why not go to Greece in the summer and be guaranteed good weather or go surfing where you don't need to spend £250 on a lift pass.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@Richard_Sideways, The Half term “compression” issue is a bubble that needs bursting ASAP. Why it’s been allowed to continue is a mystery as it should’ve been sorted decades ago.

That combined with @BMG’s suggestion of cheaper accommodation (with a ski pass family deal), would lead to a deluge of young families and students at the lower price point.

We’re seeing similar issues in the golf sector. As usual, IMHO, short termism is ultimately the disease that needs curing.
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@BMG, I can be on my skis in the PDS before noon having left Edinburgh the same morning. I'd be struggling to get on a Greek beach much quicker.
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Snowsartre wrote:
@foxtrotzulu, would be very interested to see where you are finding flights to Geneva 10 & 17 February for under £100 - quick search on Skyscanner on those dates and from all London airports and cheapest is £481 not including hold luggage or skis! Puzzled
I was looking at the following week which is the dates I got from the internet. That may be the difference. I think the week I picked is also a half-term week in some areas but 10-17 is more common.
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Really interesting thread. While we are talking about the British market, domestic French, Swiss and Austrian markets are also seeing declines. This is a common theme across Europe and as @whitegold put it, one of the key issues is 'more vacation and leisure choices elsewhere'.

Remember when people used to go on a stag weekend to Dublin or Brighton? How prosaic...now Europe (the world?) is your oyster. I'm not saying a ski holiday is a stag weekend, the point is that for the same price as a ski holiday you can travel in luxury across the world. When money (and time) are limited, the Millennials are choosing the most 'Instagrammable' options. Which is why so many resorts are adding features such as zip wires, luges, ice diving etc

Another valid point I noticed was the time required to gain mastery - I wonder if there is any truth to the nasty suggestion that the 'snowflake' generation are not prepared to put in the effort to get the returns required. Instant gratification is the modern way. Something that takes weeks to become competent at is not going to deliver shareable content quickly enough.

Finally, a few have mentioned Brexit, but no one has noted the likely 20-30% increase in costs for a chalet holiday that is likely to occur (unless by chance freedom of movement is retained). British staff will no longer be allowed to be 'seconded' to work on the continent and UK tour operators will have to employ staff on local payrolls, paying the full welfare contributions. There is a very small minority of companies who do this already, but for most the increase in cost will be unavoidable. Brits will still be able to go skiing, but companies like Club Med, or those smart thinking operators who are already diversifying into self-catered accommodation will be the ones best placed to increase market share.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@iainm, with regards to your point about brexit and chalet holidays, i wonder if that market has not been in decline for years anyway?

when i first worked for silverski 20 odd years ago, when the internet did not exist (not like today anyway) they had over 50 chalets in verbier/la clusaz/Meribel/la Tania/courchevel/val d'isere and la plagne.

now they have 22 in la plagne/courchevel and la Tania, and this reduction has been going on for several years and cannot be blamed on brexit. silver ski are my only point of reference, so i don't know if this has been the only company reducing their capacity through the years, i am sure there are other snowheads on here who have worked for other T/O's and will be able to confirm either way.


how many people on this forum go on chalet holidays, or even use T/O's?


the majority of holidaymakers can D.I.Y he whole shebang nowadays, there will always be a market for the top end clientele (time poor/cash rich) where everything is tailor made to their personal requirements. so there will always be places for british workers, for companies that can afford to pay the French labour costs (i signed a French contract 20 years ago saying i worked 2 hours a day!!), but i wonder if the recruits they can attract will be more the hooray henry type, compared to a working class oik like myself!!

The family we are going skiing with in feb, have paid over £2k more than us (self catering in les menuires, they have a 1 bed apt, we have a 2 bed apt!!!) to a T/O, but back home he travels everywhere by train (his company pays first class travel/taxis/hotels etc), and he barely drives in the uk, let alone self driving to the alps.
whereas, i actually enjoy trawling the internet for the various options, booking everything independently and self driving to the alps!!
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
I've never been on a chalet holiday. I've recently been on a non-skiing holiday where I shared a house with people I didn't previously know. Amongst other things I learned was that when someone says "I don't usually drink" you don't want to be around to find out how they behave when they do. All in all, I'm not necessarily rushing to repeat the experience.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@dogwatch, hahah. A friend brought a remote acquaintance on a weekend once, who “didn’t drink”, queue a very interesting weekend involving police, CCTV, distraught hotel owners with a room door on the floor, bolivian marching powder and the protagonist claiming he remembered nothing!
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
There are happy drunks, amorous drunks, manic drunks, morose drunks and as you get older, sleepy drunks. The gentleman in question turned out to be a fighting drunk. At least events appeared to be heading in that direction when I decided to call the evening a night.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
English Drunks are the No1
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Also never been on a chalet holiday, and can't see that changing.
ski holidays     
 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
We shouldn’t confuse the idea of a chalet holiday where you, and family/friends, take the entire chalet, with the situation where you book a place in a chalet of strangers.
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UK Drunks

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-42590781
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@iainm,@terrygasson, very interesting insights from both of you IMO. You both agree the traditional catered chalet break has been in steady decline for over a decade. I think the impact of Brexit will be to accelerate that decline.
The operating model for most (not all) UK chalet TOs is based on relatively low staffing costs, on what has become to be known as the gig economy. If required to comply with local employment law, eg in France, staffing costs could easily increase by around 40%. If so, chalet package holiday prices could rise by around 20% on average. A rise of that order could divert a large % of regular chalet fans into other snow holiday options. or away from the mountains in winter altogether. Adventure travel, cruises,iconic city breaks, all direct competitors to snowsport holidays.

The 'instant gratification' culture suggested is fascinating.Could believe this from casual observation but wonder if any sound research-based facts around? Or would that take too long and not be Instagrammable enough?

Feels to me like the snowsport business is on the cusp of a fundamental change. I'd liken it to the state of the UK pub market about 20 years ago. Pubs have had to specialise and up their game to prosper. A large proportion have closed. A small % are real goldmines. Deciding what your business is, isn't and slick target marketing will be key. Attracting and retaining the custom of the Under 40s seems the biggest challenge.
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@PeakyB, I agree about the threat to the catered chalet business model, although I strongly suspect that many changes could be made to mitigate the impact of increased staff costs. More generally, I don’t think this is particularly significant to the key point that the article is making. U.K. holidaymakers in catered chalets constitute a tiny proportion of the overall market and most countries are seeing the same limited growth despite not having any catered chalets at all.
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@foxtrotzulu, interesting observation. I guess as a fairly frequent chalet / chalet hotel client, I have a slightly biased view.
Any idea of the proportion of UK based snowsporters who take a chalet / chalet hotel catered package? I've never seen any data.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
We're going for the first time in years as our kids are now old enough to stay home for a few days with granny (and as above, she's a classic entitled boomer!). No way could we afford a school holiday trip for 4, you'd be talking 3 grand!

The industry is still geared around a Saturday to Saturday pattern for accommodation, flights etc. understandably. It's how the fill their places efficiently.

But that doesn't suit the way many people take holidays now, pick and mix flights, transfers, Airbnb. The money is now going to these small scale providers. Whether they contribute to the resort infrastructure that provides the draw for customers is a different matter.
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Csb123 wrote:
We're going for the first time in years as our kids are now old enough to stay home for a few days with granny (and as above, she's a classic entitled boomer!). No way could we afford a school holiday trip for 4, you'd be talking 3 grand!



3 Grand? For just accommodation?
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@snowymum, Re the Grim Reaper, I have always loved the Mint Sauce cartoon, which I wil describe rather than copy into here, since I can't find a copy anywhere.

Those MTBers of a certain age will remember Mint Sauce the mtb sheep and the occasional appearance of the grim reaper.

Scene:

Mint Sauce is sitting on the grass of the South Downs looking across to the Weald; something which all of us did during the gorgeous Summer evenings.

The Grim Reaper appears behind Mint S and he flinches '...is it...time?....' he stumbles.

'Nope' ... says the Grim Reaper... '...I'm just off to a job in Worthing...'

Time:

In my 20s - not enough time on the hill. Couldn't afford it.
In my 30s - a partner not interested in skiing.
In my 40s - widowed and then new partner very interested in the hills.
In my 50s - really improved technique to a point where I was content.
At 59 - creaking like an unoiled hinge.

But....

Two years ago I saw some guys come off the top lift in Picture gear - male and female - but weather was so closed-in I couldn't see who they were. Grief their technique was good, so I hunkered down and matched their turns, maybe 60 metres behind them. They short-turned all the way from 3000m to 2000m, without a break, on twin-tips. Excellent stuff. And when they stopped and turned around, they couldn't have been a day under 75. Excellent.
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
PeakyB wrote:
@foxtrotzulu, interesting observation. I guess as a fairly frequent chalet / chalet hotel client, I have a slightly biased view.
Any idea of the proportion of UK based snowsporters who take a chalet / chalet hotel catered package? I've never seen any data.


It’s really hard to find any meaningful data, but here are a few points:

AFAIK, the catered chalet concept is almost exclusively a French phonemonon.
C.33% of skiers in France are foreign, and 1/4 of those are British. That equates to c. 8% of people skiing in France. (Data from the report)
My wild guess is that no more than about 20% of UK skiers will stay in a catered chalet. That would equate to 100,000 Brits and my gut feel is that it may well be much less than that figure.

If you put that into context of the total skier market in those countries where skier numbers are stagnant, then I doubt the Brexit effect is meaningful. Especially, when you consider that only a small proportion of chalet visitors are likely to quit skiing. Most will simply pay the extra or switch to another accommodation type.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Csb123 wrote:
We're going for the first time in years as our kids are now old enough to stay home for a few days with granny (and as above, she's a classic entitled boomer!). No way could we afford a school holiday trip for 4, you'd be talking 3 grand!

The industry is still geared around a Saturday to Saturday pattern for accommodation, flights etc. understandably. It's how the fill their places efficiently.

But that doesn't suit the way many people take holidays now, pick and mix flights, transfers, Airbnb. The money is now going to these small scale providers. Whether they contribute to the resort infrastructure that provides the draw for customers is a different matter.


There are all sorts of reasons why weekend to weekend makes good sense for both the industry and the punters. There will always be demand for non-standard holidays, but is there any evidence that either provision or demand for these is increasing?

Didn’t understand your point about contributing to resort infrastructure. Surely they all contribute in the same way regardless of whether it’s a 200 room hotel going Sat to Sat, or a one room AirbnB doing odd days? Have I missed your point?
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
DanFuller wrote:
Csb123 wrote:
We're going for the first time in years as our kids are now old enough to stay home for a few days with granny (and as above, she's a classic entitled boomer!). No way could we afford a school holiday trip for 4, you'd be talking 3 grand!



3 Grand? For just accommodation?


2 parents, 2 kids learning. Maybe I've underestimated.

I'd think return easyjet flights, transfers, tiny Airbnb place, passes and ski hire. Somewhere low that needs a gondola up.
snow conditions     
 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
My point on the industry and infrastructure, is that until the 90s skiing was pretty packaged, much municipally owned. There was a clearer relationship between hotels, operators and the mountain access side. Nowadays there is much more private ownership of appartments, more transfer companies, independents.

independent customers will be paying local taxes and the lift infrastructure is still a monopoly, but the transport, food and accommodation monies are being spread to more pockets. Much of it leaving the locality and the country (with increased foreign ownership of accommodation).
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
DanFuller wrote:
Csb123 wrote:
We're going for the first time in years as our kids are now old enough to stay home for a few days with granny (and as above, she's a classic entitled boomer!). No way could we afford a school holiday trip for 4, you'd be talking 3 grand!



3 Grand? For just accommodation?


3000 euros is the minimum we can do a week for four in the Alps, including accommodation, food, tickets, rentals and lessons. (eating almost every meal in or picnicking) Without gear/lessons we could get by with 2400 euros. (900 for just big enough accommodations, 700 lift tickets, 300 food/drinks, 500 car rental.

We do live in Paris, but car rental/gas/tolls for a car big enough for our stuff is around 5-600 euros. That's about the same as flying EJ.

It's honestly not too much more than a summer beach holiday or mountain holiday. So I don't think cost is really the barrier unless you feel entitled to stay in Meribel or Zermatt.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
We can probably do 3 Grand all in with 2 adults, one 5 year old (with lessons) and a toddler and have done chalet holidays in France for the last 10+ years.

My eldest is not yet at school (we're in Scotland so he starts in August) but we are likely to take him out of school for a week from next year onwards until exams/important years.

My experience has been that when you are looking for an easy option including ski school/other childcare/nursery, food and eating times which are kid friendly and flights and transfers organised for you a TO is the way to go.

Pre kids we organised trips with friends doing everything independently and booking out a whole chalet but even when we've filled spaces in a chalet we've been lucky with the people we're shared with......but if I've never shared a chalet with a weirdo then perhaps I'm the weirdo!!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
foxtrotzulu wrote:


Didn’t understand your point about contributing to resort infrastructure. Surely they all contribute in the same way regardless of whether it’s a 200 room hotel going Sat to Sat, or a one room AirbnB doing odd days? Have I missed your point?


Well Air BnB is kinda known for property owners not necessarily paying full tax, property tax and tourist tax (though a lot are now being caught by local authorities).

On the core topic though I agree - the European sat-sat model is incredibly frustrating and probably puts off a number of putative short breakers when they find out the hassle involved in finding accomodation at a sensible price. It's also REALLY difficult for Americans to understand who think they can flit from resort to resort over a week or 2.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
In Ireland the ski industry is still thriving, but the major airlines have cut off our convenient routes to Zurich, Geneva etc and we don't have a direct flight to Innsbruck...so basically we're tied to charters.

You lot have Brexit, we've a Cartel.
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@valais2, I have absolutely no idea why you have referred to my username above as I certainly did not mention the subject you are talking about?!! Did you mean to use someone elses?!
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
DanFuller wrote:
Csb123 wrote:
We're going for the first time in years as our kids are now old enough to stay home for a few days with granny (and as above, she's a classic entitled boomer!). No way could we afford a school holiday trip for 4, you'd be talking 3 grand!



3 Grand? For just accommodation?


Agreed - we are self catering and it will top £7k this year for 5 of us; £1.5k flights; £1.6k Accom in Meribel; £1k family lift pass; £0.5k Transfer from Geneva; Lessons (New GEn) £1k; Nanny £1k

That though is comparatively better compared to MW/Ski Esprit or Chalet Company's - we were getting quotes of £10k +

The difficulty with smaller children is childcare - we don't have a Nanny in the UK, but have one on ski holiday, because they just aren't old enough to ski all day. Hopefully as they get older this will be less of a requirement.

This year there literally are 5 weeks in which we could go skiing and not fall foul of our local authority - its nuts!
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