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NEW FOR NEXT WINTER - Katie Bamber, PlanetSKI
Monday September 12, 2016 - Email this article to a friend

The boss of Ski Famille, Chris Thompson, has been canvassing opinion among the British tour operators to see what next season has in store.

Ski Famille's managing director, Chris Thompson, is a veteran of the UK snowsports industry.

It may be hard to be a veteran at 43-years old but he has been in the industry for over 20 years and fell in love with skiing as an 11-year old boy.

He knows about booking patterns, sales levels and much else besides.

Earlier this month he was presenting his thoughts at Ski Launch, a snowsports industry event that sees the movers and shakers come together to look at the season ahead.

He collected his information from a variety of tour operators, regarding holiday bookings and trends & developments in the market.

For details of how to attend the 2017 event then e-mail

Chris Thompson, Ski LaunchChris Thompson, Ski Launch
















Here's what he says can be expected this coming season:

2015/16 season booking patterns

- Last winter saw a strong early booking period, which has tended to be the case for the last few seasons.

- Early and late bookings seem to dominate for smaller operators.

- Some firms have taken over half of their bookings by early Autumn, meaning that the summer months are becoming more important for holiday sales. This takes a lot of the action away from the traditional October-November period.

- December last year was, often quite literally, a rocky period and there was a dip in demand for many as skiers nervously checked webcams for signs of snow.

- When snow did arrive in significant quantities in the New Year, remaining availability sold fairly quickly and at good prices.

- The general consensus was that there was less discounting than the previous winter, particularly for March and April dates.

- This has fed through positive results for many firms that have in turn allowed reinvestment and growth.

The 2016/17 season

- Early bookings are again strong for this coming winter.

- The referendum outcome unquestionably had an impact on sales for the majority of firms, but the slump in bookings and enquiries largely appears to have been short lived.

- For the bulk of operators, sales in July and August have been on a par with previous years, with some reporting to be up by 10-20%.

- Larger operators give less away with comments such as "trading in line with expectations".

Market factors

- The real test will come as winter draws closer, but it does appear that the value and pricing certainty offered by tour operators is appealing in the current climate.

- The current exchange rate, and the speed with which the rate declined from 23rd June, will inevitably impact both operators and skiers.

- Not everyone will have hedged their currency needs in advance of the vote and, with uncertainty around levels of demand, will probably have to absorb the majority of additional costs.

- This will present a challenge, but there are lots of reasons to hope for an improved rate as we enter the season.

- Unsurprisingly, peak dates this season are under the usual pressure.

- February half term remains the most popular period of the season and, even with a late Easter, demand for late March and early April is strong.

- Christmas and New Year demand seems mixed. Some operators report bookings that are as strong as ever; others are finding these dates harder to sell.  

- There are already a number of offers out for the December weeks and there will certainly be more over the next few weeks.

- Mountain Heaven and Stanford Skiing have brought in flexible departures for this period with positive results, as have Pierre and Vacances.

Chris Thompson, Ski LaunchChris Thompson, Ski Launch
















Tour operator news

Ski Amis has undertaken a programme of extensive refurbishments and upgrades in its Premium Service chalets.

It has also introduced a range of "healthy start" breakfast options for those who realise that even the most energetic skiing doesn't always burn off a week's traditional chalet catering.

Click here to find out more about the Ski Amis catered chalet service and morning healthy options.

Consensio has expanded into the luxury apartment market with a new property in Val D'Isere (Chalet Calistoga).

Peak Retreats has added the charming resort of Praz de Lys to its programme.

Many skiers and snowboarders will have passed signs to it on their way to Portes du Soleil resorts, but have perhaps not realised it is there: a quiet and attractive option just a few of valleys away.

Le Ski has two new chalets in Courchevel Moriond - a four-person and a six-person residence.

For Christmas and New Year it is offering a free 3-day pass (worth over €100) to Aquamotion, the largest mountain based aquatic centre in the world, to guests booking before 31st October.

Ski Famille has added two new luxury chalets in Les Bruyeres (Chalets Corbeau and Aigrette), one of the satellite resorts of Les Menuires.

See here for Ski Famille's web site.

Chalet CorbeauSki Famille's Chalet Corbeau













The chalets have been adapted to the needs of families and each includes a cinema room, as well as the usual Ski Famille in-chalet childcare service.

Ski Famille's Chalet Nicole in Plagne 1800 has been updated with a new spa room.

Ski FamilleSki Famille













Mountain Heaven has added Courchevel 1650 to its chalet programme. It is also offering escorted trips to Iran.

Read more about Mountain Heaven's trips to Iran here in PlanetSKI's recent article.

Skiing in IranSkiing & snowboarding in Iran

















Iran beckonsIran beckons
















Ski Weekends has more than doubled the number resorts it has on offer with a new total of 63.

It also has a growing City-Ski programme. This is where holidayers can combine a city visit with some time on the slopes - popular options are Nice and Granada.

Ski Independence has launched an Italy product for the first time and is experiencing a boost in Utah sales due to the new non-stop flight to Salt Lake City.

See here for an earlier PlanetSKI article on the route that will be operated by Delta.

Direct to Salt Lake CityDirect to Salt Lake City















Meriski has added the refurbished Chalet Pousee-Callibou to its Prestige range and has a new massage room in Chalet Kashmir.

It is also also running "Ski Weeks" with a local instructor offering dedicated lessons on 5th Feb and 5th March.

And for the larger operators:

Skiworld has added over 20 chalets to its programme, including three luxurious additions in St. Anton.

A Ski World chalet, St. AntonSki World chalet, St. Anton















It has also expanded the short breaks programme and has some attractive "ski all in" offers.

Crystal Ski has changed its Swiss resort transfers to train transfers, a move that will certainly appeal to many.

Click here to visit Crystal's website and find out more about train transfers.

And from Neilson, a six day Dolomites Ski Safari has been launched.

The Dolomites, ItalyThe Dolomites, Italy










The Dolomites, ItalyThe Dolomites, Italy










See here for more details on the Dolomites Ski Safari from Neilson

"It's refreshing to see big tour operators offering things that are about experiences and innovation rather than hitting a price point," says Thompson about this news.

"It is refreshing to see new concepts in accommodation, such as the RockyPop Hotel in Chamonix and continued investment by resorts themselves in a wider variety of attractions to create a more varied in resort experience," he added.

"The Aquariaz development in Avoriaz, which this year celebrates 50 years, is one great example."

Here at PlanetSKI we will shortly be hearing from Andy Perrin from Hotelplan that owns Inghams, Esprit Ski and Ski Total.

He too has been looking into his crystal ball to see what the 2016/17 may hold.

Inghams 2016/17 launchInghams 2016/17 launch















See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

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