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Largest consumer survey into UK snowsports published
Monday September 16, 2013 - Email this article to a friend

95% of people who skied last year intend to ski this season, there are more independent skiers than thought, the sector for women is under-exploited and people are booking both earlier and later.

The market is changing and the UK ski industry needs to adapt.

These are just some of the findings from new research published by the Ski Club of Great Britain.

It was produced in association with Spike Marketing and is sponsored by the Insurance provider, Perkins Slade. 

21,000 skiers and non-skiers took part in the market research that was carried out between June and July 2013.

95% of the people that skied last season intend to ski in 2013-14, and 75% of lapsed skiers intend to go again in the next 3 years.

These trends are likely to have been triggered by an improvement in the economy and the good snowfall in the last two seasons, according to the research.

Perhaps the most surprising figure is that 54% of UK skiers and snowboarders go independently. 

Previously the market was thought to be about 30% and this means many people are simply not being counted. 

However the definition of independent for the survey was those skiers and snowboarders that did not take an all-inclusive package holiday.

So people that booked a holiday with an operator, but then drove or booked their own flight, were classified as independent - even though their time in resort was with a tour operator.

The new report claimed there are 1.4m active skiers and snowboarders in the UK, but the figure from the Crystal Ski Industry report is 900,000.

The annual Crystal Ski Industry report is judged to be the most accurate set of statistics publicly available.

The new research also showed that there is a growing number of people booking their holiday both earlier and later.

The ski holiday booking period is thus being spread over the year and less people seem to book at the traditional time in the autumn and early season.

In 2011/12 22% of the market had booked 6-months before their holiday. In 2012/13 that rose to 29% according to the new report.

While last season 16% booked last-minute. The previous winter it was 12%.

"There are more early bookers than last year but also more last minute ones and we believe people are more driven by snow than the price," said the CEO of the Ski Club of Great Britain, Frank McCusker.

McCusker presents findingsMcCusker presents findings














The report also isolated women as a market that is under-developed by resorts and tour operators.

Looking at gender and age together the current non-skiers keen to try the sport unveiled a potentially untapped niche of 21-29 year old females as the most likely to want to go skiing in the next 3 years.

Other key findings:

- 65% of holidays are booked online.

- 17% of non-skiers are also keen to go skiing in the next three years, with 4% saying they are extremely likely to go.

- Whistler in Canada is the resort most people would recommend to a friend. In Europe it is Obergurgl.

- 50% of UK skiers have been skiing for more than 20 weeks in total.

- 77.6% of British skiers who skied in France last winter intend to return this coming season.

The Ski Club says it is "cautiously optimistic" about the future.

The specialists operator, Erna Low, had the highest customer satisfaction ranking while the larger operators had low scores.

"It is good to see any new research and comparing these new figures with our customer research is interesting and we will be studying it carefully" said Ian Davis the Product & Multi Channel Distribution Director for Crystal SKI, the UK's largest tour operator.  "There is certainly much to read and digest in the report."

Other tour operators had a similar reaction.

"Anything that gives information from the consummer is very, very interesting but I put it in the context of other pieces of research.  Here at Skiworld we won't be basing our business decisions on it but we will take it into account," said Diane Palumbo from Ski World.

Others were more sceptical of the findings.

"Well they lost me when they claimed more than half of UK skiers and snowboarders go independently.  In my experiece the vast number go with tour operators," said one seasoned observer to PlanetSKI after the information was delivered.  "I am just a bit sceptical about all this market research as it depends on the questions asked. What people say and what they do are often very different."

The Ski Club put the report in context to the critics.

"This is consumer research and the report simply says what people are saying. It is fine to pick holes in it but this is what people are saying," said Frank McCusker when questioned after the presentation.

There was an interesting slide on why people chose to go where they do. There are the obvious reasons and a few surprises.

Reasons for choosingReasons for choosing











The full report costs £750 to purchase.

Largest UK ski consummer researchLargest UK ski consumer research












If you want a copy of the presentation by the Ski Club of Great Britain then please send an email to and we can send one on.

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