Third Summit Discussion Of The WKOO Cable Car Specialist Group Held

As part of the third summit discussion of the WKOÖ cable car specialist group at Linz's Pöstlingberg under the title “Up on the mountain - demands of Generation Z”, tourism researcher Klaus Grabler presented the latest findings on the demands of new target groups on what local Alpine tourism destinations have to offer. Both quantitative developments in the area of ​​winter sports enthusiasts were examined as well as the changing needs of the new generation for their time on the mountain.

Skiing as a continuing trend

Generation Z, also known as digital natives, describes the population group that was born between 1995 and 2010. Contrary to widespread predictions of doom that these young people would hardly go skiing anymore, recent data proves exactly the opposite.

“Generation Z in particular has the highest proportion of skiers. “One or two people enjoy having fun in the snow,” says Klaus Grabler, managing director of the market research company Manova. Skiing is already one of the most popular sports among digital natives, behind cycling and swimming - in various forms.

The focus is on fun, joy and time with the family

When asked about the motivation of what is important to people in their free time, many answer with fun, joy and spending time with family and friends. Apparently skiing succeeds better than other sports in promoting a shared experience - even at different skill levels. If you look at all the ski guests in recent winters, you can see that the number of families with children has increased significantly.

Upward trend in children's and youth tickets

This is proven by an analysis of guest cards, which shows a clear upward trend in children's and youth cards. More than every fourth day of skiing in Austria is for a child or youth ticket! And the surveys of guests on Austria's slopes (over 70,000 respondents last winter) also show an increase in families with children. This also confirms the industry's efforts to get young people skiing. “We, the cable car operators together with the state of Upper Austria, are committed to school ski courses, which are in high demand, just as we support local ski clubs,” says Helmut Holzinger, board member of Hinterstoder-Wurzeralm Bergbahnen AG.

Analyzes reveal new potential

In his evaluation, Klaus Grabler points to the diverse, new potential that Generation Z offers ski area operators. School ski courses in particular are getting new young people interested in skiing. “Children with a migrant background are very interested in skiing.

That’s why it’s important that they get access to skiing through school ski courses and that their enthusiasm can be triggered,” says Ing. Mag. Gerald Paschinger, Managing Director of Hochficht Bergbahnen and one of the initiators of the summit discussions. Last year, the state of Upper Austria and the Upper Austrian cable cars provided around 85,000 free tickets for Upper Austrian schoolchildren. This was the highest number since the campaign was introduced in 2009.

Trend towards fun and experience while skiing

What do these developments mean for local ski areas? Klaus Grabler recommends that operators focus on what makes Generation Z fun about skiing. “On the one hand, the new generation wants fun on the slopes in the form of snow parks and fun slopes, and on the other hand, off the slopes in the ski resorts,” says Klaus Grabler. As digital natives, everything has to happen quickly for them. For this reason, they find waiting times particularly annoying. “In addition, space must be created for shared experiences,” said the tourism researcher. “With new ideas on and off the slopes, the boys’ enthusiasm for skiing can be expanded even further.”

Generation Z as the future of skiing

The answer to the question of whether Gen Z is interesting as a target group is clearly “yes” for Rupert Schiefer, board member of the Dachstein West ski area, managing director of the Upper Austrian Cable Car Holding and also the initiator of the summit talks. “Gen Z is the future of skiing,” says Schiefer. “But only if we succeed in getting these young people excited about nature, mountains and sport, addressing them properly and retaining them in the long term, will we as mountain railway companies also be successful in the future.” To achieve this, it is important to offer innovative and sustainable concepts that oriented towards their values, needs and interests. These include environmental initiatives such as sustainable energy sources & travel options and vegetarian food options as well as digitalization initiatives such as online purchasing and reservation options and digital customer loyalty and communication via club apps.

“What is positive for us is that we as Bergbahnen Dachstein Salzkammergut are currently implementing many of the topics that are crucial for Gen Z very well. But what we want to focus more on is communicating our initiatives specifically to the young target group,” says Rupert Schiefer. “Because we know that young guests who have been with us once and enjoyed the experience also stayed with us.”

About the summit talks

The summit discussions are a new series of events organized by the Upper Austrian Cable Car Specialist Group and the snow&fun group, which examine current topics relating to tourism developments in the local mountains from the perspective of the cable car industry. After the topics “An optimistic view - top energy and climate balance of our ski areas” and “Skiing makes body and mind happy”, the third summit discussion took place with the topic “Up on the mountain - demands of Generation Z”.

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