The recent joint trade event for winter and summer mountain destinations, run by The Mountain Trade Network, was attended by record numbers (for the spring edition) since LISTEX was founded in 2012 (the autumn event attracts up to 250 people).
Over 120 people, including over 80 businesses, joined LISTEX (London International Snowsports Trade Exchange) and SASTEX (Summer Alpine Sports Trade Exchange) at The Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead on May 4 and 5, to hear from industry experts and participate in trade meetings and networking sessions.
Keynote speaker and skiing legend Dan Egan opened the conference with his inspirational talk focused on over 30 years in the world of extreme sports. General Manager of the Ski Club of Great Britain, James Gambrill, presented its consumer survey findings on the state of the market, in partnership with Snow + Rock.
Other highlights included a number of pitches from new and growing brands looking for support, hosted by Dominic Killinger from InTheSnow, a session on improving sustainability with Iain Martin from The Ski Podcast and a panel discussion on how to attract more people into winter sports led by James Gambrill.
The mood over the two days was very positive following a mixed winter season that ended up healthier for the industry than some had predicted early on. This was backed up by findings from the Ski Club of Great Britain’s survey that suggested winter holidays were back on track compared to pre-Covid levels for next season.
Highlights of the survey:
- 85% of UK skiers who skied in 2018/19 also went skiing in 2021/22
- 99% of those skiers plan to ski next season
- 64% of people who had a ski holiday cancelled this year (21/22) due to Covid-19 rebooked for an alternative date or destination
- The proportion of the market taking short breaks dipped by over 50%, compared to pre-Covid and the number of people taking two holidays dropped by 30%
- 70% of respondents felt that tour operators and resorts communicated "clearly" or "very clearly" about the impact of Covid-19 on their holiday
- One of the biggest concerns for skiers coming into 21/22 season was their ski ability
- Most important factors when choosing a resort were (in order)
- Size of ski area, altitude, price and quality of accommodation
- Compared to price having been number 1 pre Covid
- The most popular source of inspiration, information and advice for skiers when researching their ski holiday for 21/22 were
- Resort websites, tour operator websites, magazines, newspapers and ski shows all proving more popular than social media
- 50% of respondents think they will spend more on a ski holiday in future and over 40% say their ski holiday has become more important to them than pre-Covid times
- The country with the largest UK market share was France at 55% followed by Austria 26%, Italy on 18% and Switzerland on 13%
- The dream destination for skiers was Canada, 25%, followed by Japan 19% and US 17%
The final session of the conference was titled, ‘How do we get more people skiing and people skiing more?’ And the expert panel concluded with some concerns and also opportunities, these included:
- The significant reduction in seasonaire’s means less younger people telling their friends about the attractions of snowsports
- The increasing cost of living will impact all elements of a snowsports holiday, potentially driving the cost of ski holidays ever upwards
- Climate change represents a huge challenge for our industry, balancing growth whilst lowering environmental impact
- There is a potentially large, relatively untapped market of skiers who don’t see themselves reflected in the imagery we use to promote our sport - that can be changed
- A growing number of schemes and developments can cut the cost of skiing, from low cost/high quality hostels to re-used ski clothing. If we think creatively we can reduce the costs and barriers to entry
- A unified approach from the industry could stimulate growth from beyond our existing market. UK snow centres and dry slopes attract hundreds of thousands of skiers and snowboarders, many of whom have never been to the mountains. By working together and investing for the growth of the market we could change that
Babsi Lapwood CEO of The Mountain Trade Network, said: It was wonderful to see so many people at our event after the enormous challenges our industry faced over the last 2 years and in most cases having enjoyed a successful season. The UK ski market has shown how resilient it is and how eager the UK skier and snowboarder is to get back on the slopes next season. It was also great to see that innovation is alive and well within the sports industry, thanks to the companies taking part in our Pitch@LISTEX. I want to thank our team, attendees, MTN partners and sponsors who have all supported and contributed to connect us all”.