31 Oct

Think local to attract skiers and snowboarders

New research reveals skiers and snowboarders value destinations with a sustainable ethos

ABTA and Responsible Skiing today revealed the results of new research* into consumer booking trends for winter sports holidays at the Responsible Skiing Conference. The research shows that factors such as local food, local architecture and landscape, play a key role in attracting skiers and snowboarders to resorts.

When it comes to booking a ski holiday practical factors such as the snow record, and convenience of the location score highest with travellers. Significantly, however, once the practical factors have been covered, the factors having the most influence over booking are those associated with responsible tourism, such as the availability of local food, employing local people and preserving natural beauty.

Ten most important factors for choosing a ski resort

Factor Percentage of respondents who consider it important or nice to have
Good historical snow record 99%
Closeness to ski runs 98%
Beauty and scenery of resort 97%
Good mountain restaurants 93%
Artificial snow coverage 89%
A range of village restaurants with local specialities 81%
Lively après ski 4-7pm 77%
Supermarkets and shops selling local produce 72%
Local people living and working in resort 67%
Spa and relaxation facilities 64%

Natural beauty

97% of respondents said that natural beauty was an important factor in helping them choose their ski resort. Skiers are also keen that overdevelopment does not spoil the natural beauty of a resort with over half (53%) strongly preferring that resorts do not become any bigger, highlighting the importance of resorts focusing on maximising occupancies of existing developments. While skiers are also keen for more ski terrain in resort, 85% of respondents agree that they only want it if new pistes and lifts do not impact the landscape.

Thinking local

An overwhelming 81% of respondents said that when choosing a resort they value a range of village restaurants serving local specialities and one in seven (72%) said that they value a local supermarket in resort that sells local produce. Nearly eight in ten (77%) also said they don’t want an English feel to the place, highlighting the importance of employing local people and embracing local culture.

Nikki White, ABTA Head of Destinations and Sustainability said: “It’s clear that when it comes to choosing a ski resort, once the basics are covered such as convenience and a good historical snow record, consumers are swung by factors such as the look and feel of the resort. In many respects, this is good news for travel companies as these are the factors that they are most able to influence.  It is also good news for sustainable tourism as it means consumers’ preferences naturally lean towards resorts that have more responsible practices.”

Veronica Tonge, Founder, Responsible Skiing said: “These findings reveal the features of resorts that really matter to consumers besides the ski terrain. The real win-win is that not only do these features make for distinctive and memorable holiday experiences, they can also make a big difference to local communities.  The ski industry can benefit from this insight to understand the best way to communicate with our skiers and snowboarders.”  

* Consumer research was conducted on behalf of ABTA and tourism consultancy Responsible Skiing by Arkenford Ltd (www.arkenford.co.uk) who specialise in tourism and leisure market research. The distribution targeted people with a known-vested interest in skiing – through ski show databases, popular winter-holiday related ski brand Facebook pages and winter-sports market and travel related consumer mailing lists. Thus, the data reflects people with a good base knowledge of winter-sports holidays and generally with a good deal of past-experience to reflect on in the answers provided. Research was conducted between 19th September and 14th October 2012.

About Responsible Skiing

Responsible Skiing is a tourism consultancy helping tourism businesses and destinations manage their winter sports responsibly, ensuring tourists have a great time, communities benefit and the mountains are protected. Find out more by visiting: http://www.responsibleskiing.com