Conos Asks “Are Swiss Ski Destinations In The Fast Lane?”

35 top tourism experts looked for possible answers to this question: from Austria and South Tyrol as part of the Conos Winter Trend Expedition 2024 to Graubünden, Switzerland.

The competitive situation in Alpine winter tourism remains very dynamic. Innovation in offerings, marketing and guest service, changed pricing strategies, challenges in staff and service quality, but also demands and expectations regarding the sustainability of developments lead to noticeable changes in guest and user behavior. In particular, price policy adjustments at the Austrian mountain railway and winter sports destinations in recent years have changed the existing competitive advantages in the price-performance ratio compared to other Alpine countries.

From January 16th to 19th, 35 top tourism experts from Austrian and South Tyrolean ski areas and winter destinations found out what the competitive situation is like compared to colleagues in Switzerland. The visits to the destinations Flims – Laax, Arosa – Lenzerheide and St. Moritz provided valuable insights and findings.

The tourism tour summary from organizer Arnold Oberacher (CEO of conos GmbH) mainly summarizes five key findings:

1. The Swiss colleges also offer an absolute top level in terms of winter sports and ski area infrastructure (facilities, circumcision, etc.). At the same time, courageous and innovative projects such as the world's first rope taxi concept by FlemExpress are revitalizing the dynamics in this area.

2. Awareness of the question of tomorrow's winter sports markets seems omnipresent. The doyen of the industry – Reto Gurtner from the Weisse Arena Laax – pointed out the international potential of the freestyle segment (in Asia and overseas) in a passionate fireside chat. Attractive offers for this segment include not only top infrastructure in the ski area, but also the world's first indoor kids freestyle academy opening this year and another facility for older children and young people will follow next year. By hosting the Freestyle World Cup in 2025, the traditional St. Moritz is also trying to appeal to a younger lifestyle segment in addition to the international jet set.

3. Offer more than just skiing – this is essential in order to continue to successfully serve the winter holiday market in particular. “Since the technical performance of many ski areas often exceeds the physical performance of weekly holiday guests, it becomes important to offer attractive alternatives within the ski area for one or two days of vacation,” summarizes Arnold Oberacher from conos. The Swiss colleagues, especially in Arosa-Lenzerheide and St. Moritz, are already investing intensively in attractive winter hiking trails and tobogganing and Nordic offerings on the mountain in order to motivate ski pausers and companions alike to go to the mountains as much as possible.

4. Sustainability in a holistic and integrated sense is now not only anchored organizationally in the areas and destinations visited, but is also supported by comprehensive project and action plans. Even if the focus differs from area to area, they are united by the vision of passing on the natural resources and the joy and passion of the people in the regions for winter sports to the next generations.

5. Adding value through competitive hotel offerings and attractive town and village quality are becoming increasingly important. At the same time, precisely these issues are becoming increasingly challenging due to the high proportion of apartments and second homes in many Swiss winter sports communities. Many Austrian winter destinations may still have a clear advantage here, but they should actively leverage this potential.

The constant striving for qualitative, innovative and sustainable development of the Alpine winter sports destinations creates a sport-motivating competition in the interests of customers, tourism professionals and the population in these regions, according to the conclusion of many participants. Market observation with an appreciative, collegial exchange of experiences such as the conos trend expeditions are enormously helpful in improving the professionalism and quality of one's own offering and thus sustainably expanding the attractiveness and future viability of the winter holiday as a whole in relation to alternative holiday formats.

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