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Can the (French) Alps satisfy demand this winter?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
It seems many people are predicting bumper bookings this winter, referencing pent-up demand, easing of restrictions, un-spent salaries etc. I can't help wondering if the industry (and the policy makers) can deliver?

Presumably the airlines and airports can ramp-up capacity, the continentals and some brits will self-drive, and the accommodation is still there, but what happens in-resort? The shut-down last winter masked two big changes to the seasonal worker supply - for French residents the social security rules changed making seasonal work less attractive, and in certain resorts (those with substantial brit clientele) Brexit may also have a significant impact. Covid is also likely to have disrupted the labour pool, with some deciding to retire or return to their country of origin, and other skilled or experienced people having moved on to pastures new.

Talking to business owners around here (Morzine), French owned hotels, restaurants, ski-shops etc. are struggling to find staff, positions are being advertised which previously have been routinely filled behind the scenes. Brit owned businesses (chalet-companies, ski-schools, transfer-companies) are likewise concerned; the locally resident owners will be working, but the uk based seasonal workers they have relied on (particularly for high season) have in the most part been excluded by Brexit.

Perhaps the market will work, Irish and Eastern and Southern European workers will pick up the slack, and it will be business as usual. I can't help thinking it might take a season of chaos before commercial pressure forces through some changes to the rules. It would be interesting to hear others' thoughts, and of any supply problems being encountered Shocked.
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What is your perception of how the business people are shouting and balling at officials- warning them of the sitch, and if there is any sign of a positive response?
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shep wrote:
I can't help thinking it might take a season of chaos before commercial pressure forces through some changes to the rules. It would be interesting to hear others' thoughts, and of any supply problems being encountered Shocked.


I'm really holding out hope for this.

Presumably if positions aren't being able to be filled, then there's hope for UK passport holders that roles will be able to be offered and the firms will go through the visa process?
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@shep, good questions. Not entirely sure airlines can ramp up very quickly beyond planned slots? bigger planes maybe? Standing room?

Certainly in Chamonix even at height of summer some bars weren't opening e.g. Mondays due lack of staff and the couple of managers I've spoken to of anglophile inclination are struggling with "Anglais Imperative".

Looking on Pole Emploi, as my niece fancies a gap season, very experienced behind a bar, etc. there are lots of open jobs locally, and with english as she is spoke required.

Will be very interesting to see how it all shakes out.
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@Charliegolf, There are others on here far more knowledgable than I on the french politics side. The government showed last winter that the "elitist" ski industry is a very low priority. Re. pressure from the brits, that's kind of difficult, being that it's a self-inflicted injury!

@swskier, I wouldn't hold your breath, I can't see making it easier for non-EU ski instructors to work in France being a vote winner. Surely their priority would be to fiddle with social security to give back french jobs to french saisonniers. The authorities really don't understand why brit tourists want a brit instructor, or get why the transfer companies will struggle without brit drivers. If they are even aware that some of these policies cost them market share (tour-op ski-guide ban for instance), they don't care. Looking good to the electorate and pandering to the domestic lobby is far more important. Now that the British people have choses to do the lobbyists' jobs for them, there is even less will to compromise.

@under a new name, I had in mind flights back to pre-covid levels, but maybe they've lost the slots in the meantime? Yes, it will be an interesting winter, now the gloves are off. I just hope everyone gets the ski holiday they want. Blush
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@shep, I reckon cleaners, chefs and Nannies can name their price in Morzine this winter, and anyone letting seasonal accommodation so it would seem.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Are brits even going to be skiing in France this winter? There is major concern that the UK is Covid central at the moment and whether the UK should be moved back to the Red list to avoid kicking off a new wave in France.

As for staff shortages, they are everywhere in France, I doubt the ski business is high priority in that regard.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@davidof, depends on the outcome of the battle of Trafalgar Part II (Channel Island Fish Wars)
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Nadenoodlee wrote:
@davidof, depends on the outcome of the battle of Trafalgar Part II (Channel Island Fish Wars)


Just to say I'm not concerned that the UK is covid central but this is the message the French authorities are pushing: Covid is out of control, Astra Zeneca is a dud vaccine that doesn't work etc. I assume it is all politics.

https://www.lci.fr/international/video-reprise-de-l-epidemie-de-covid-19-au-royaume-uni-le-relachement-des-gestes-barriere-fait-des-ravages-2199241.html

Quote:
"Un modèle à éviter"

Comme en France, les plus de douze ans sont vaccinés à 80% au Royaume-Uni, mais essentiellement avec de l'AstraZeneca, moins efficace contre les contaminations que les sérums Pfizer ou Moderna


This appears to be a #fakenews, according to France's own experts AstraZeneca is more effective after 4 months than Pfizer.


Last edited by You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net. on Mon 18-10-21 8:40; edited 2 times in total
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davidof wrote:
Nadenoodlee wrote:
@davidof, depends on the outcome of the battle of Trafalgar Part II (Channel Island Fish Wars)


Just to say I'm not concerned that the UK is covid central but this is the message the French authorities are pushing: Covid is out of control, Astra Zeneca is a dud vaccine that doesn't work etc. I assume it is all politics.



If that is true then its not just the UK that is in soapy bubble.
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France is open now. Why not stop the anticipated new wave now, if it needs stopping? Would be much more sensible if France feels it's going to happen (the nth wave)...
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Charliegolf wrote:
France is open now. Why not stop the anticipated new wave now, if it needs stopping? Would be much more sensible if France feels it's going to happen (the nth wave)...


I've no idea, for some reason January is being talked about for a new wave. Everyone in Paris seems to be sick with colds and flu at the mo - "Lille 'Flu" it's been dubbed. Seems like being locked down for some months has had side effects.
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@Nadenoodlee, It's a bit more nuanced than this.
A lot of the changeover clean work is for SME that "manage" multiple chalets.
The ones I have seen are offering ZERO hours contracts, by requiring that the people they "hire" are registered as Micro (Auto) Entrepreneur, so just are just subbing out the work they can't manage themselves. It's also not unknown on busy weekends in February for "friends and family to help out" (work illegally).
As for chefs, only the head chef makes more than SMIC, and not always officially. Sometimes its SMIC plus brown envelope.

I think the issue is much deeper, and it is that French seasonaires come to work, and try and fit in a bit a skiing, whereas Brit seasonaires come to ski, and will do whatever work facilitates this, so would sometimes accept less than legal work conditions ( lift passes and accommodation in lieu of wages).
Seasoned French workers know that accommodation and meals (if provided) come on top of the SMIC, which is as well - the bare minimum wage.

Nannies again a different kettle of fish, but to work in a Halte Garderie / Creche you should have the CAP Accompagnant Educatif Petite Enfance qualification. I have no idea what percentage of the nannies in Morzine had this in recent seasons, but when we had our restaurant, our male waiting staff were shall we say "well acquainted" with many on the Morzine nannies who worked in creches for chalet companies, and they would often come to the restaurant. Very few spoke French, so I doubt they had the Cap Petite Enfance, although that's not to say they did not have some English equivalent (BTEC / NVQ etc... which may no longer be recognised).

The paradigm shift of needing multiple qualified professionals to perform the duties previously just undertaken by one "MBO / Generalist / Host" means that more specialist people are required, and that the pool of people from whom that can be drawn has shrunk considerably, as @shep pointed out seasonal work for French is less appealing now as the ability to clim benefit between contracts is more difficult than in days of yore.

You only need to look across the Portes Du Soleil into Switzerland though fo some of the answers.
Since my first season in Morgins in 1988, you needed a work permit to work in Switzerland.
I was amazed at how easy it was. You are allowed to enter the country to find work (it took me 6 days).
Once you have found work you return to the UK, and your employer sends your contract and work permit.
You have a medical and get your work permit validated on entering Switzerland, and off you go.

How is that dramatically different for requiring a work visa for a job in Morzine?
If people use some of their 90 days now to come and speak to employers, and find work I believe that employers would be able to get the work visa for their prospective staff.

To obtain a VLS-TS these are the 2 criteria:
Employers HAVE advertised the jobs on Pole Emploi (minimum 3 weeks)
Employers have not had any suitable candidates ( language proficiency etc..)

So they fulfil the basic tests for being able to get work visa VLS-TS for their staff.
They fire this form off into the ether...:
https://administration-etrangers-en-france.interieur.gouv.fr/immiprousager/#/information

I think that until the new normal is established over the next dew seasons, then it will not be possible to provide many of the previously available services:
Cheap Transfers, A big pool of Childcare providers, Catered chalet etc..

The model may move towards the French ways: Self-drive (fly-drive), Self catered, clean the chalet yourself at the end of your stay, look after your own children etc..
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
davidof wrote:


Just to say I'm not concerned that the UK is covid central but this is the message the French authorities are pushing: Covid is out of control.


To be fair to the French, that's also the message of an article in the FT - by relaxing its Covid restrictions all in one go and not vaccinating its school children, the UK currently has by far the highest Covid infection rate in western Europe.
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under a new name wrote:
@shep, good questions. Not entirely sure airlines can ramp up very quickly beyond planned slots? bigger planes maybe? Standing room?

Certainly in Chamonix even at height of summer some bars weren't opening e.g. Mondays due lack of staff and the couple of managers I've spoken to of anglophile inclination are struggling with "Anglais Imperative".

Looking on Pole Emploi, as my niece fancies a gap season, very experienced behind a bar, etc. there are lots of open jobs locally, and with english as she is spoke required.

Will be very interesting to see how it all shakes out.
A neighbour is employed at a British airline and is in the know about their needs. They NEED the ski season to happen and will throw whatever they can at it.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Unfortunately it seems that a fair amount of airline scheduling is still being cancelled or consolidated. One wonders whether popular routes e.g. GVA weren't shored up by business travel of which there has yet to be evidence of it reemerging at scale.
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@WindOfChange, very informative

@john2, yes it appears to be 10x the infection rate but if people are not getting that ill maybe less of a worry than last season? Still I can see the narrative for some kind of restrictions if necessary.

I also wonder if the local demand will be as high - some people have moved on from skiing, others don't have the money this winter due to cost of living.
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Quote:

It seems many people are predicting bumper bookings this winter, referencing pent-up demand, easing of restrictions, un-spent salaries etc


The reasoning is good, but I'm still skeptical that there will be a massive increase in bookings than normal. Of course some of the more hardcore skiers will try and catch up on missed days, although for most people with jobs and/or kids time is the limiting factor regardless of how much pent up demand they have.

Also IME travel has always been one of the things people talk about wanting to do more, but then never actually follow through with. Perhaps covid and missing out on trips will finally push them over the edge, but I've seen too many examples of significant events that didn't (e.g. I know someone that died just before retirement, a lot of mutual friends were talking about how it shows you have to live your life and can't put things off and how they were going to travel more and do x,y,z now, 99% of it didn't materialise and they went back to their old mindset within a week).

Can the industry deliver? If there is money to be made I dont see why not. I suspect those that want to ski enough can make it work regardless of the industry (e.g. drive down, Airbnb etc).
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shep wrote:


Presumably the airlines and airports can ramp-up capacity


On top of slots, crew and fleet availability, It will also depend on the automatic vaccination status/test status checks roll out - If they need to do it all manually, 'ramping up' may not be an option.

In other words, better book your shuttle or ferry and prepare to drive snowHead
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@davidof, The UK is also doing a lot more testing than other EU countries. Germany have now even stopped (or about it) free mass population testing. Meanwhile we're still throwing millions of them at school children twice a week. As of end of August, the UK had done 17 million-France 5.6 million. No wonder our positive rate is high.
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Germany might have just stopped the free tests, but the test places are still there. Just costs €20 a go.
And you have to show proof of vaccination or a test less than 24hours old to do nearly anything more than going to the pharmacy or supermarket. Shops other than essentials have the option of excluding anyone without proof, although I think they will prefer masks and in-store restrictions.
Want or need to go in to the office... you'll have to show evidence of vaccination status or test less than 24hrs old too.

Also don't forget that Germany only reports PCR tests performed by a nurse and analysed in a lab in its numbers. And self tests have no legal meaning, and are about as valid as one of those self breath-test kits sold at the counter in Halfords to see if you're fit to drive after a heavy session the night before.
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snowhound wrote:
@davidof, The UK is also doing a lot more testing than other EU countries. Germany have now even stopped (or about it) free mass population testing. Meanwhile we're still throwing millions of them at school children twice a week. As of end of August, the UK had done 17 million-France 5.6 million. No wonder our positive rate is high.


This is the biggest challenge. Comparing numbers from 1 country looks to be simple but actually is a very complex thing as there are so many different factors that can affect the rates that you would see. I don't think the UK delaying vaccines for kids has helped and will be one of the factors that overall we do appear to be higher. School testing is a huge area though because given the way it can spread it can mean that you will find a much higher percentage than normal random testing will.
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@snowhound, Burn-Murdoch and the FT did an analysis last few days and testing rates are adjusted for.
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Had my French niece and her daughter staying this weekend here in the UK, she run's a business out of London.

And we started talking about skiing, she wants to do a selfish week on her own combining that with a work trip to Marseilles staying with us in Serre, so she was searching like mad best options, train, flights, Gatwick, Heathrow, Stanstead etc

And think it was Jan 22 Grenoble £27, so she'll travel with my daughter out, rent a car in Grenoble (where her Mother lives anyway), do a week with us then she'll drive down to Marseilles.

She then looked at prices for half term with her 7 yr old daughter's first ski-trip and as she can't take kid out of school she was looking at top $ and the pricing was crazy and that's before she looks at the accommodation, though she'll do some tiny resort in the Vercours etc

I then looked at Crystal, and what they have for Serre Che, and it's all hotels and apartments, so zero classic Chalets or Chalet Hotels, but what was really interesting was that they were flying to Geneva and Chambery, rather than Turin, Grenoble or even Lyon, so that really tells you something about flight capacity etc whether they'll be able to add additional flights I don't know but I certainly wouldn't fancy a transfer from Geneva! Chambery is not too bad, but then there are other issues and if it's a snowmageddon transfer day Shocked
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Interesting @Weathercam. If Crystal is typical it looks as if tour operators are being very cautious this year and not investing upfront in things. Charter flights only to places with access to lots of alternative resorts, and quite likely in restricted numbers, and accommodation that can be released back on to the market fairly quickly.

I guess they sunk quite a bit of money they couldn't recover in the last couple of seasons so they have less financial resilience - but also they have the Brexit problem of staffing the holidays. Presumably they will work out from the coming season what sorts of offer are deliverable for 22-23 onwards.

So the answer to the OP may be that there won't be many last-minute deals with tour operators, or at least in popular weeks. But the resort capacity will still be there so there might be good deals for DIYers. The longer term worry is the resorts not getting the custom, and future capacity (and investment in capacity) being reduced.

[Edit: re-reading I realise I confused which thread I was replying to, but capacity and last-minute deals are ovelapping topics]
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