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Monday October 29, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

Winter holidays need to offer more than snowsports. That's the message going out to tour operators, travel agents and resorts. Why?



Because the traditional ski trip simply doesn't cut it especially with the younger generation.

Surprising as it may sound to those of us who can think of nothing better than spending all day, every day pounding the slopes on skis or snowboards, it's not everyone's idea of fun.

Now, the industry is being urged to freshen up its product to broaden the appeal of the winter holiday and draw in new customers.

"Ski tour operators are talking to the converted," says Paddy Griffith, the CEO of Huski, a company that delivers meals to holidaymakers in their ski chalets and apartments in France.

"They get great feedback talking to people like you, passionate skiers, but they're not very good at working out what to do about people who used to go skiing and don't anymore, or to those who have never done it."

Paddy Griffith, HuskiPaddy Griffith

















He says there's a need to innovate and change the way ski trips are promoted.

"Images of people going up and down the mountain with the wind in their face - that's just marketing to yourselves," he recently told a conference of industry professionals.

"Skiing looks mundane, bourgeois and middle aged... it offers this benign image: went up and down, had some glüwein, went to sleep....the up-and-downy bit is not that exciting to a lot of people."

Chairlift in AspenThe up bit

















Strong words but Griffith is by no means alone in his views.

Willy Fux has vast experience in the industry, having worked as a ski instructor,  tour operator and in resort tourist offices.

He now specialises in consumer and market research for the mountain tourism industry.

Willy FuxWilly Fux presenting his findings this autumn















He's been looking into the number of people who ski or snowboard in Europe and, in particular, in France or Austria.

What has he discovered?

"It seems that more people are going to ski resorts but they are not skiing as much as they used to," he says.

Willy Fux research graphicThe stats












If that's the case, then ski areas need to do something to get them back on the slopes or offer them something a bit different.

Many are well on their way.

Willy Fux points to some of the initiatives:

  • Austria - Learn To Ski In 3 Days offers. Beginners or returners to the sport do not necessarily want 6 days' of intensive skiing
  • Switzerland - Re-inventing Ski Camps. After a decline in traditional school ski camps, teachers are now being encouraged and assisted to organise day or overnight trips
  • Germany - Virtual reality. New video games and brands focusing on outdoor sports being used to lure young people outside to try it for real on day or overnight trips

Willy Fux says the mindset needs to change so the ski holiday becomes a 'lifestyle' holiday.

Younger holidaymakers - that's the under 40s - want an 'Instagrammable' experience.

Research suggests Instagrammability is the most important factor for millennials - (roughly those born in the 1980s and 1990s) in choosing their holiday destination.

It's a view backed up by a survey of 2,000 British holidaymakers just released by World Travel Market London.

It found that Instagram matters much more than getting drunk on holiday, with 78% of those aged 25 to 34, and 63% of 18 to 24-year-olds seeking to spur social media envy by posting on the photo-sharing app.

KonradBartelski.photographyPlanetSKI's millennial Katie Bamber on the zipwire in Ischgl - photo Konrad Bartelski




















WTM travel expert Paul Nelson says it represents a seismic shift. 

"It would appear that millennials, ‘Generation Sensible' or ‘sober socialites' - whatever you want to call them - are more health-conscious and mindful of their image when on holiday, and eager to share their photographs instead of handling a hangover," he says.

"However, while hangovers are no longer a hazard, it would seem there are dangers for those on the pistes - apparently 88% of smartphone users logged into their social media accounts during their last ski or snowboard holiday, and of those, almost half - 46% - admitted that they had wiped out on the slopes after looking at social media."

The all-inclusive tour operator Club Med is even designing its resorts with Instagram spots in mind, encouraging people to share their holiday experiences.

Club Med's Arcs Panorama resortClub Med's new Panorama resort opening this winter in Les Arcs











"Two thirds of millennials pick their next holiday destination based on what they see on Instagram, they scroll through endless amounts of pictures, and put them on their holiday hit list," says Anne Browaeys, Marketing, Digital and Technology Director of Club Med.

"Now designers and architects that work on many of our new and existing Club Med resorts are trained to ensure that the new resorts are Instagram worthy."

Resorts providing unique - or at least different - experiences certainly increase their social media profile....

Courchevel artSomething different - sculptures on the slopes, Courchevel, France














Panda art in CourchevelInstagrammable Panda?  Art on the mountain in Courchevel




















There's the new 007 Elements in Soelden....

... and Into The Void in Chamonix....

Chamonix is also about to welcome the famous après-ski brand, La Folie Douce, which will open a hotel there in December.

It's one of a series of Folie Douce "lifestyle resorts" which will cater for guests that want an active winter holiday but don't want it to be simply about skiing or snowboarding.

La Folie Douce, ChamonixOpening December 2018 - La Folie Douce, Chamonix




















One is scheduled to open in Serre Chevalier in 2020 or 2021 and is promising indoor play areas, a tricks academy to practice freestyle, a climbing wall, a cinema, a spa, as well as restaurants, shops and the Folie Douce legendary après.

La Folie DouceLa Folie Douce apres-ski




















"Millennials are taking days off skiing for another experience... it's not only about skiing," says Yotam Idan of WeSki, a new booking website for ski trips.

"It's about the mountains. Skiing was the main thing and it still is but now there are so many different things to do. We need to market these with the ski packages. We do need to react very fast today."

Paddy Griffith of Huski says it's not just the holiday companies and individual resorts that need to respond.

He's calling for more radical change.

"Let's break the tyranny of the lift pass," he suggests, "let's change the pricing structure and make the lift pass like an Oyster Card so it's pay-as-you-go."

Now there's an idea.....

We've had some interesting reaction to this story over on the PlanetSKI Facebook page:

PlanetSKI Facebook commentsTelling us what you think




















See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

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