A survey conducted by the Mountain Trade Network in partnership with Skitude asked how Covid and Brexit impacted their businesses over the past year and also what they think about the return of British skiers during the next winter season and beyond.
- 84% of winter sports destinations and operators want to encourage British skiers back next winter
- 97% of businesses said they would be operating fully this winter and believe visitors to the mountains will increase following Covid
- 88% of destinations said they want to invest in new technology to increase sales and improve the customer experience
The findings include a confident outlook to the coming winter season and a strong increase in the use of technology to help customers improve their experience.
Only 60% of respondents were confident they would operate during the 2020-21 winter season when they were looking ahead during the autumn period, but for those that did manage to operate, the three biggest challenges were managing capacity, managing social distancing and implementing new technology.
Technology also seemed to feature heavily when asked about the key elements that are being put into place to help mitigate potential further crises in the future, with 88% of destinations and operators stating they would be investing in technology, with the number one benefit being an increase in sales and the second, happier customers.
Online booking and contactless payments are two areas that will likely remain in place following the end of the Covid crisis.
But perhaps one of the most positive thoughts that winter sports businesses have for the future is the large increase in visitors to the mountains as interest grows. Key to this in the shorter term is the fact that 97% of respondents are confident they will be operating this winter.
Some of the questions also focused on the longer term and specifically the return of skiers from the UK to the ski slopes of the Alps and beyond, post Brexit and Covid. 84% of destinations and resort accommodation providers said they want to immediately encourage British skiers back to their resort. Out of the remainder, 13% said they are considering whether to target British skiers and 3% said they want them back but aren’t sure they will return.
When asked how confident they were that British skiers would return to European resorts, 74% said they confident or very confident that would happen, with the remaining 26% all saying they were at least hopeful. It was a slightly different picture for long haul travel though, with just 28% saying they were confident or very confident, 51% hopeful and 20% highly doubtful.
But as far as destinations and operators go, they believe Covid has had a far larger impact on their business than Brexit, with 90% saying Covid will have the largest impact and 10% saying it will be Brexit as well as Covid. Looking ahead to the future, 18% of respondents believe that Brexit will continue to have a negative impact on their business.
Héloïse Haake, Head of Marketing for Skitude, said: “It’s really interesting to see the huge increase in the use of technology which has been reflected in our own growth over the past 18 months. Destinations have been able to use technology in a positive way, to ensure they can operate and also to increase the safety of their guests during the Covid pandemic. We are seeing a big increase now in the use of technology in ski resorts, including contactless payments, online bookings and mobile apps to digitize the customer journey and offer a better user experience. The number one benefit that resorts are looking for with new technology is an increase in visitors which adds to higher revenue and that’s how Skitude is helping destinations across the world”.