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How might the pandemic change skiing in the long term??

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I thought it might be interesting to think about whether there might be any long term changes to skiing and ski resorts as a result of the pandemic. Obviously "how might my skiing holidays be affected" is rather trivial compared to some of the bigger consequences of Covid, both health and economic, but since this is a skiing forum...

Here are some possibilities:

- higher prices for flights, accommodation, lift tickets etc. as businesses seek to recoup their losses from 2020-21
- a more cautious approach to big investments, and perhaps a shift away from non-enclosed lifts towards chairs
- quicker diversification into other winter activities apart from alpine skiing, for resorts that haven't been able to open their lifts
- a boom in ski touring / nordic skiing after people "get a taste" this winter
- a decline in chalets and increase in self catered accommodation
- greater focus on domestic rather than international markets (e.g. new regional lift passes)

For smaller resorts:
- accelerated decline of the financially vulnerable ones
- a quicker move to hands free / online ticket sales (this has happened in Scotland for example)

All speculation, and I don't believe all of these will necessarily happen!
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Quote:

- higher prices for flights, accommodation, lift tickets etc. as businesses seek to recoup their losses from 2020-21
- a shift away from non-enclosed lifts towards chairs
- quicker diversification into other winter activities apart from alpine skiing, for resorts that haven't been able to open their lifts
- a boom in ski touring / nordic skiing after people "get a taste" this winter
- a decline in chalets and increase in self catered accommodation
- greater focus on domestic rather than international markets (e.g. new regional lift passes)

No to all (except the accommodation, which I have no idea).
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If resorts could charge more for stuff they'd be doing it already. Ski resorts are not charities. Prices are probably what the market could stand in 2019/20 - whether post covid people have as much spending money remains to be seen.

It is like landlords saying they'll have to jack up rent if x or y measure is taken.

That said, governments are pumping a lot of funny money into the system. When they did that in 2008 it caused revolutions in the Arab world. Who knows what will happen this time? The Great Reset dreamed of by Harry and Meg where the plebs are put back in their boxes?
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China's ski resorts today are open as normal and seeing unprecedented growth, approaching +100% or more.

The US is open mostly as normal.

Only Europe is the disaster zone.

The current season 20/21 is mostly a writeoff.

When the taps reopen big in 21/22 -- postvaccine -- expect flight and accommodation prices to rocket.

Lots of pentup demand.

Book early for next year.
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Supply and demand. I guess if the world is considerably covid safe next year, then I think there will demand for holidays. Hence, higher prices. Especially budget airlines. Easyjet already has the new baggage rules.
Been looking for xmas next year. I want to book, she wants to wait....


Last edited by Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do. on Sat 26-12-20 21:05; edited 1 time in total
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I would guess you are right about prices in the short to medium term. Ultimately though success needs numbers, and prices should reduce even if not to the old real level. The reason is your second, lift operators and airlines alike are likely to be more cautious about investments and want a clear path to benefiting from them - which means no oversupply and really low prices.

My guess is that the non-ski activities, or touring/cross-country that don't require lifts operating, are not going to be sufficient to support most resorts so while doing diverse things might be encouraged it won't be massively different. I don't quite buy your chalet self-catered shift, those who don't want to cook for themselves will still exist and it won't matter whether they eat in restaurants, hotels or chalets, the industry will adapt to cater for them, And I suspect, but don't know, that in most places the domestic market has long been saturated and that they depend on attracting a good proportion of international visitors.

Smaller resorts have been vulnerable for quite a while, while they will probably all have a small loyal clientele they will need to find the right niche market to survive.

In the longer term climate change (see separate thread) is a bigger threat. Shortening the season means more money needs to be earned when snow is sure; even with the big resorts the links between sectors will become vulnerable.
ski holidays
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I think it depends on whether you see corona as a long term problem, or a short term one. Economically, it may well be a long term problem, but otherwise I think there will be pent-up demand for everything we haven’t been able to do this year. From the perspective of a ski resort, climate change is a much longer term problem, and it is for this reason that I think the opposite of what is suggested – that resorts will invest *more* in gondolas because they can be used in summer too. Diversification is already happening, but it’s into summer sports like hiking and mountain biking rather than ski alternatives to try to maintain a year round attraction for tourists.

If there is a decline in chalets, it’s because the business model is not longer viable (it’s too expensive) rather than because people don’t want to share. They may not want to share right now, but I don’t think they will feel that way by next season. Same for travelling – the industry will take a while to recover, but once travel is easy again, then people will want to go, using whatever method is left! The local/regional economies of ski areas are not generally large enough to sustain ski resorts on their own without international tourists – local ski passes are just a way of boosting early revenue at a sustainable level.

I also suspect there will be a lot of lightly used touring setups on the market next year Toofy Grin
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Quote:

I also suspect there will be a lot of lightly used touring setups on the market next year

Definitely counting on that! Very Happy

And bicycles too. snowHead
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I think it'll be the end for catered chalets. Which is a shame, because we like them!
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Interesting question about airfares; which force will be more dominant:

1). Keep capacity limited, ie fewer planes, hence with high load factors, and ability to charge higher fares, to rebuild balance sheets.

2). Try to get the former travelling public flying again, and air crew re-certified, by getting as much of the fleet into the air as soon as possible. Implies low airfares as an enticement.

I think the answer is “it depends”. It depends on the current strength of that airline’s balance sheet and also their fixed vs variable cost structure.
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I was never a fan of the shared catered chalet anyway but I honestly can't see why anyone would want to share such a closed sealed in space with multiple strangers going forward.
I think there was already a move towards the smaller self catered apartment, fuelled by the ease of airbnb, I can only see that sector becoming more popular
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@Jonny996, why though? Some people don’t like sharing with strangers, and that’s fair enough, there are plenty of alternative options, but if you do enjoy that kind of experience, why would corona bother you once it’s under control? Yes, you can catch other viruses from other people, but that’s always been the case.
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@Scarlet, true, I may be blinkered by my own thoughts
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
8 strangers around a dining table in a chalet?
100 strangers barging in around the buffet table in the hotel dining room?
sounds like the end of hotel accommodation Wink
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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Quote:

buffet table in the hotel dining room?



Probably banned for a year. Thankfully.

Room service only, if they can get the staff.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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In my limited experience as soon as everything got back to near normality in Nz the ski fields were busier than I’ve ever seen them every day of the week. Lots of people learning. It was crazy.

Wouldn’t count on lots of cheap touring gear because most people will be using it to avoid the crowds.

Pricing here went up because there was more demand than supply - quite a few days of access closed due to crowds early in the morning.
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andy wrote:

100 strangers barging in around the buffet table in the hotel dining room?

Buffet? In a hotel? Sounds like a cheap hotel.

Yep, probably end of that kind.
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Most hotels that I've been to lately do buffet at breakfast time as standard.
Some you can order the cooked breakfast.
Can't say I do expensive hotels very often, but it's a long time since there was no buffet at breakfast.
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Fridge03 wrote:
I think it'll be the end for catered chalets. Which is a shame, because we like them!


Catered chalets - in an organised sense - have been on the way out for years. An inevitable decline.
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Jonny996 wrote:
I was never a fan of the shared catered chalet anyway but I honestly can't see why anyone would want to share such a closed sealed in space with multiple strangers going forward.
I think there was already a move towards the smaller self catered apartment, fuelled by the ease of airbnb, I can only see that sector becoming more popular


I hope you're right but I think the Brits are sticklers for what they know. A quick look on Chalets Direct request forums shows about 95% vs 5% looking for Catered Chalets. That said the Europeans are booking more and more apartments minus the cooking!


Last edited by Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do. on Sun 27-12-20 10:19; edited 1 time in total
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We’ve had other pandemics since the second war so I imagine we’ll get through this one too. But I imagine it will be a punctuation mark that will mean some groups stop skiing altogether. The much bigger issue remains climate change and there is no vaccine for that. Perhaps some ski areas will have a good look at their costs and see what savings they can make in the long term ?
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davidof wrote:
If resorts could charge more for stuff they'd be doing it already. Ski resorts are not charities. Prices are probably what the market could stand in 2019/20 - whether post covid people have as much spending money remains to be seen.


Reading today in the financial pages that savings are up by as much as 30% per household in the UK. Presumably those who work for the Government Sector or those not furloughed. Which would suggest that a lot of poeple may have an excess of cash to spend in the next couple of years. Hopefully a fair few will come skiing.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
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@Fridge03, There are some great solutions still out there. We did a trip a few years ago with Alpin-Chalet.com. They have an arrangement with local restaurants, bakeries et al to deliver ready made meals to your door. They were superb and I have a friend in Zermatt who offers the same service to their apartment guests. No more Spag Bol and crap puddings!!

Linky thing to Alpin-chalet for those interested. https://www.alpin-chalet.com/en/home/services/


Last edited by After all it is free Go on u know u want to! on Sun 27-12-20 13:30; edited 1 time in total
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I suspect the next year or two we will still see some effects, but not as major as some others seem to think. Long term I don't see why things wouldn't go back to normal. The vaccine should have things under control so no real reason in the long term things don't level out again.

I'm not sure why chalets get such a bashing on here. They seem pretty much the same deal as hotels - i.e. you get a private bedroom, and other spaces are communal. Chalets have helped provide cheap package skiing for many Brits and some people actually enjoy the social aspect of it. I can't see demand for catered chalets going down.
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@boarder2020, In parallel with the pandemic traditional chalet holidays are suffering the Brexit effect. From 1st January the normal chalet staffing model of seconding staff from the UK, (which while still paying French minimum wage allows many more deductions for board and lodgings etc, and avoids French social costs) is not possible unless some sort of additional deal is done. This will mean employing local staff who are much more expensive, or seconding staff from other cheap EU countries - this all costs more and is more difficult for operators, so the number of chalets will reduce, and the price will go up.
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Quote:

Reading today in the financial pages that savings are up by as much as 30% per household in the UK. Presumably those who work for the Government Sector or those not furloughed. Which would suggest that a lot of poeple may have an excess of cash to spend in the next couple of years.

Since no one can spend much money at the moment There is a lot of money in the banks and apparently a lot of notes floating about. About 16.5% of the UK workforce is in the government sector. Though that in itself can be hard to define. If you work for a civil engineering contractor building a new road are you in the government sector or not? Public sector employees are insufficient to account for all the increase in savings.

I suspect a lot of it is from pensioners. My sister, who because of her patchy employment record is not getting a full state pension, says she doesn't spend all of it. There is no going out, no travel, no buying unnecessay things (though she did replace the garden shed). I suspect, with very little evidence that older people are doing OK financially.

Of course the other side of the coin is that the people who worked in the hospitality sector or other closed down sectors of the ecconomy are really suffering. These tend to be younger people.

But back to the original post. Yes skiing is going to be different after the pandemic. It is always changing. Brexit will probably kill the UK staffed chalet model. AirBnB and more sophisticated computerised booking systems may kill the Saturday to Saturday model. The Climate Emergency may kill the lower less snow sure resorts. The Boeing 737 max may discouraged flying. Resorts in Georgia, Russia, Iran etc may expand - who knows. But change will happen.
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@johnE, Probably right. As pensioners are also getting the vaccine first, standby for those Grey Sliders come March. Very Happy

Not sure I buy your Saturday to Saturday comment for Airbnb. We like most of the owners on Airbnb pre-set the ski season to only allow 7 night stays to maximise revenue. Most people who need accommodation in the winter tend to come for a week anyway. Short stays in winter (3 nights or less) are not cost effective for retailer or customer. We simply wouldn't bother.
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Quote:

resorts will invest *more* in gondolas because they can be used in summer too.

No problem using chairlifts in summer - with special fitments to hang mountain bikes on. It's an interesting discussion. I wonder if the trend to high quality "take away" food will make apartments more popular? The catered chalet model will suffer from Brexit. The top end will probably survive better than the cheap-and-cheerful relying on low paid, low-skilled, kids. There will still be people for cost is no object.

Coronavirus is not going away. I suppose a lot will depend on how fast it can adapt to deal with vaccinations. But I suspect we will all adapt to being in crowded bars and restaurants again just as fast as we adapted to the unthinkable "lockdown". I remember watching reports about lockdown in Wuhan and thinking "that could never happen here". Wrong!
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Quote:

Short stays in winter (3 nights or less) are not cost effective for retailer or customer. We simply wouldn't bother.

There’s no such thing as not “cost effective” in hospitality. Your “cost” is very minimal: labour. You simply raise the price to cover that, to make it cost effective.

Whether there’s sufficient demand maybe a different matter.
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@RedandWhiteFlachau, we did short stays in winter outside of high season, it often worked very well ...
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Agree with the comments that brexit may have an effect on chalet model - think this is much more likely to cause change than due to covid in the long term. I still think the companies will find a way to make things work for chalets - perhaps seasonal visas, importing staff from other EU countries, outsourcing catering to local companies bringing in food as mentioned in the thread.

I've stayed in plenty of hostels the last few years that were staffed by volunteers, working in exchange for accomodation and food - no money. Throw in a lift pass and I think some people could be tempted by that alone. I'm not sure about the legalities of it all, but that didn't seem to stop the chalet model so far which didn't seem to correspond to French laws.
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Quote:

We like most of the owners on Airbnb pre-set the ski season to only allow 7 night stays to maximise revenue. Most people who need accommodation in the winter tend to come for a week anyway. Short stays in winter (3 nights or less) are not cost effective for retailer or customer. We simply wouldn't bother.

In the US shorter stays have long been very much the norm. In peak periods some European accommodation-providers have been able to dictate terms - particularly noticeable in French ski resorts (not elsewhere, where half-empty hotels don't turn their noses up at travellers wanting to stay for a night or two). That'll change. Providers who don't adapt to new demand will go to the wall. The Saturday/Saturday thing is really a bit mad.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Quote:

resorts will invest *more* in gondolas because they can be used in summer too.

Quote:

No problem using chairlifts in summer - with special fitments to hang mountain bikes on.

Faster throughput on chairlifts where riders self load bike on the back of the chair in front, compared to any other kind of bike uplift (IME). Needs more staff at the top to unload bikes though, whereas gondolas need fewer staff
I'd imagine that each resort would adapt each chair based on the typical traffic it's likely to see. Maybe some will be converted to gondolas (certainly happening in Dolomites a lot), and I'd guess many walkers, especially those with dogs or pushchairs would prefer gondolas, although I have seen dogs on chairlifts before.
Probably not that much financial investment, but more swapping what dangles from the cable whenever it's due for an upgrade, especially now that income is drastically reduced. And they'll weigh up whatever makes most sense based on winter and summer use.
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Dunno.

The sort of snow businesses I'm associated with have fairly flexible variable costs, so they ought to survive the negative blip the virus has caused. It's more like having a very long summer period than some sort of major financial trauma, to them. There's a loss of income, but not a serious business threat. Other businesses will no doubt crash and burn, but those types of businesses will likely be fairly easy to replace.

I'm sceptical of structural changes caused by the fact that pandemics happen; rather I think people will get vaccinated and forget all about it. As it happens mRNA may be flexible enough to minimise the effects of the next pandemic. Irrespective, I don't see anyone investing in pandemic-proof lift infrastructure. The concept makes no sense, or we'd all be out there using only chair lifts today.

The places I ride, you can't even get into the countries and I don't expect that'll change until you can prove you're vaccinated. At that point, all this other stuff - the difference in risk between a 5* hotel and self catering - is no longer relevant. Hence assuming businesses survive the down-turn, then I don't see the market affected much going forward.

Pam wrote:
In the US shorter stays have long been very much the norm. In peak periods some European accommodation-providers have been able to dictate terms ...
Yeah much US stuff isn't "destination tourism". Brits tend to be very destination focused maybe because they live a long way from the snow.
I think a country's relative economic performance may have more of an effect than pandemics.
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Quote:

Brits tend to be very destination focused

But the rest of the holiday industry had necessarily become more flexible (before it all came to a juddering halt). Plenty of short city breaks and flexible-length stays. In skiing, the trend towards independent (as opposed to packaged) travel was well established, and that trend will probably continue, regardless of pandemics. The idea that everyone piles onto the roads or planes on the same day will probably come to seem very quaint, especially with the greatly increased working-from-home, which will not disappear altogether after the pandemic. Many people might find themselves with the choice of more flexible working and holiday patterns in future. 10 days work on the trot, then 4 days off. etc.
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The pandemic will result in many changes to the society and the way we work and leisure choices. That will have a knock on effect on skiing.

That, will change skiing a lot more than any short term modification directly from the pandemic.

In short, I think skiers will entirely forget there's a pandemic 2 years on. Resorts will be silly to change base on the special circumstance of this year.
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Quote:

I remember watching reports about lockdown in Wuhan and thinking "that could never happen here". Wrong!

It worked in Wuhan, but having just visited a local shopping centre. It certainly hasn't happened here. About 20% of the people, particulaly teenagers were in groups and not wearing masks.
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abc wrote:
The pandemic will result in many changes to the society and the way we work and leisure choices. That will have a knock on effect on skiing.

That, will change skiing a lot more than any short term modification directly from the pandemic.

In short, I think skiers will entirely forget there's a pandemic 2 years on. Resorts will be silly to change base on the special circumstance of this year.



Yup.

Once everyone has the jab, they will forget the plague.

Go on a greedy blowout binge of spending and s*x.

Roaring 20s.
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Would be a shame if the chalet model were to disappear. Self catering is fine for short trips, families with children or large groups but not everyone wants to cook on holiday, or indeed eat out every night. Hotels can be a bit too formal if you are in a couple. As well as meeting and skiing with new people chalet holidays still off ‘social’ skiing and other guided packages in some countries and it would be a shame to lose that.

Personally I like ski holidays to be more than just ‘skiing’. Hopefully affordable chalet holidays will survive although it may be their target demographic of retired Baby boomers and Gen x that decides not to return to skiing, in the biggest numbers, post COVID?
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abc wrote:
Quote:

Short stays in winter (3 nights or less) are not cost effective for retailer or customer. We simply wouldn't bother.

There’s no such thing as not “cost effective” in hospitality. Your “cost” is very minimal: labour. You simply raise the price to cover that, to make it cost effective.

Whether there’s sufficient demand maybe a different matter.


Yes there is. When running costs, labour, laundry, local tourist taxes and Income tax exceeds what you get for a 3 night stay. With a glut of comeptition and digital searches there's little benifit in raising prices, punters will just go elsewhere. We are lucky in that 50% of our bookings, season on season, tend to be returners.

We have no problem filling 7 night stays in the ski season and take a hit on more flexibility with Summer Bookings. I agree with other posters that size helps, if you're running a hotel you have more sunk labour costs and can save on economies of scale when it comes to Laundry and other consumables. But, most hotels make their money on food and beverages. You'll find plenty of single apartment owners on here who will tell you they have given up renting as it doesn't make money.
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