Zermatt Wins 'Best Ski Resort' Award Based On Guest Surveys

As part of the 'Best Ski Resort Awards', the results of the current 'Best Ski Resort Study' were published on November 5th. Due to the corona, the event took place online this year. As the winner of customer satisfaction, Zermatt was able to virtually climb the podium in the overall ranking. 2nd place went to Val Gardena / Alpe di Siusi, followed by Arosa / Lenzerheide and Kronplatz, which share 3rd place. When it comes to choosing a holiday destination, the aspect of guaranteed snow has increased in importance. Saas Fee (1st place) is convincing in this category for the 4th time in a row, followed by Obertauern (2nd) and Zermatt (3rd place). In a country comparison, the Italian ski areas have grown significantly in recent years and are now ranked 1st in the satisfaction ranking by winter sports enthusiasts.
Fewer and fewer winter sports enthusiasts want to commit to their holiday destination and are happy to test new ski areas. That was not always the case: At the beginning of the study 8 years ago, 28.5% of the winter guests stated that they were there for the first time. Now it's 34% and only 20% of them want to come back in the near future. Better comparability of offers online, significantly shorter reaction times and climate change and the associated lack of snow in many places are increasingly saying goodbye to loyal regulars. This is a major challenge for ski areas, but it also opens up opportunities. This trend cannot be seen in families. If the youngsters like it, they like to stick to the tried and tested. 
Since 2012, the consulting firm Mountain Management Consulting, in cooperation with the University of Innsbruck, has been conducting guest surveys in 55 top ski regions in the Alpine region - on decision-making criteria and satisfaction in over 20 categories. The survey takes place every two years and takes place directly in the ski areas. 225,000 winter sports enthusiasts have been interviewed since then. The immediate feedback primarily serves the regions for further development. The results also help skiers to choose the most suitable winter sports location for them. 
But even before the decision “where to”, we will inquire about “whether at all and if so, how?” In this oh-so-strange year. The mood couldn't be more mixed. Despite rising corona numbers, many people are hoping for their winter vacation. The ski areas on the other hand do their utmost to ensure that the tourists do not stay away as soon as they are allowed to reopen: The time of the quieter Corona months in early summer was used, scenarios developed and measures planned based on the experiences from the summer. Build operation. After the sudden loss of the Easter business, for many players everything depends on this season and you can feel that. In addition to the usual rules, individual solutions to protect guests were sought. "With extended outdoor terraces, more distribution points and pop-up restaurants, the plan is to significantly expand the capacity of the restaurants, ”reports Berno Stoffel, Director of the Swiss Cable Car. In South Tyrol, apps provide information about the frequency of visitors to the lifts "in order to avoid queues and crowds even more efficiently," says Wolfgang Toechterle, Managing Director of IDM South Tyrol. Florian Phleps, managing director of Tirol Werbung, announced numerous test options and screening roads in the ski areas. Good regulations regarding the cancellation of mountain railway tickets and accommodation should also apply in winter and Corona task forces have been set up in the ski areas in the event of an emergency. One thing is certain to fail this year: the classic après-ski.
Best Ski Resort - Trend Analysis
Much has changed since data collection began. Even without Corona. In winter sports enthusiasts, a more demanding leisure time behavior and the new communication channels are noticeable. Anyone who has seen a lot can compare better. The guests become more critical and primarily pass on outstanding or negative experiences via social networks. The priorities are shifting, new selection criteria for choosing the holiday region come into focus. Although the size of the ski area still ranks first (66.3%), this criterion, such as the slope quality (43.1%) and the comfort of transport (27.3%), has become less important to guests - which is due to the growing self-image in these categories. The desire for guaranteed snow (57,
The winter sports resorts have massively expanded their offerings and have invested a lot in doing so. Mergers of ski areas, faster and more transport capacities, expansion of snowmaking and much more. It is striking that some regions focus particularly on selected target groups - thus successfully differentiating themselves from the strong competition and a clear brand profile is recognizable for the guest: Serfauss-Fiss-Ladis families with children consistently rate the best, Sulden has stood for price / performance since 2012, Ischgl for après ski and Laax is the Mecca for fun & snowboard parks. They all emerged as winners in their respective categories - over all 5 surveys over the past 8 years.
Up until 2018, there was a steady increase in overall satisfaction, which fell slightly for the first time in the last survey. One reason for this is the increasing degree of filling in the snow-sure regions. A trend that will continue to grow due to climate change. The associated high number of guests (the so-called “overtourism”) is viewed critically by 36.3%. An increase of 10% compared to 2018! The regions will have to find ways to keep visitor numbers at a balanced level and to better distribute skiers in the area.
An outlier of the negative trend from 2018 to 2020 is Italy. Only the test winner, in a country comparison across all criteria in terms of overall satisfaction, shows a slightly increased value. And over the 8 years the record value of + 5.8%. This is followed by Switzerland (+ 3.2%), France (+ 2.9%), Austria (+ 1.8%) and Germany (+ 0.3%). Here the final demand is that Italy has worked particularly hard to respond to the wishes of the guests over the years.
Zermatt is the big winner of the last 8 years
A lot is moving, but one thing remains: guest satisfaction is the measure of all things for the ski areas. A feeling that does not necessarily go hand in hand with a superlative competition between the destinations, but is guided to a considerable extent by impressions. And Zermatt seems to be doing everything right: with the highest average value over all 5 surveys (8.43 points; before Serfauss-Fiss-Ladis 8.3 and Kronplatz 8.25) and incidentally also the highest recommendation rate!
Madonna di Campiglio (+ 8.8%) has increased in popularity the most in the past 10 years, followed by Zermatt (+ 7.6%) and Les Arcs (+ 7.3%).
Best Ski Resort 2020 - Top 10
The last survey of a total of 39,795 guests was started at the end of December 2019 and, due to the closure by Covid-19, ended on March 15, 2020. First place in the overall customer satisfaction rating for 2020 went to Zermatt (8.63), followed by Val Gardena / Alpe di Siusi (8.36) and Arosa / Lenzerheide tied with Kronplatz (8.35) in third place. St. Moritz, Alta Badia and Saas Fee, Serfauss-Fiss-Ladis, Gurgl and Ischgl follow
The selection criteria are assessed in detail
Perfect slope conditions. With a tendency to decrease, but with 66.3% still the most important decision criterion when choosing a winter sports resort, is the size of the ski area. As in the previous year, Alta Badia (130 km of slopes / 53 lifts) in South Tyrol, known not least for its connection to the Sella Ronda (500 PK / 450 LA), was convincing. The following places include Zermatt (360 PK / 56 LA), Laax (around 230 PK / 28 LA), Serfauss-Fiss-Ladis (214 PK / 468 LA) and Tignes (300 PK / 78 LA). Except for Tignes, the real size of the area is reflected in the feeling of satisfaction. In a country comparison of the satisfaction values ​​in this category, Italy has overtaken France and was able to record by far the largest increase (+ 6.6%).
Snow reliability is increasingly important in the assessment. With 57.1% it climbed to second place in relevance. Families in particular make it clear: “Nothing works without a guarantee of snow!” The ranking of satisfaction in this category in 2020: Saas Fee (9.08 points), Obertauern (8.99), Zermatt (8.97), Stubai Glacier (8 , 95) and St. Moritz (8.94). According to the respondents, however, the best slope quality is achieved in St. Moritz - ahead of Alta Badia, Zermatt, Kronplatz and Verbier. In a country comparison, Italy grew strongly by + 6.8% and replaced Switzerland at the top. 
Switzerland remains unchallenged in first place in the ski schools category. The top 5 all come from Switzerland and are rewarded with very high levels of satisfaction. Zermatt (9.16), Laax (8.90), Adelboden-Lenk (8.81), Arosa-Lenzerheide (8.79), Aletsch Arena (8.75).
Among other things, Austria was able to look forward to first place in the category of comfort of transport: Ischgl was rewarded with 8.99 out of 10 points for its high investments in the area of ​​service quality - especially in transport.
And a destination from Austria shines particularly well in the wellness category: Bad Kleinkirchheim / St. Oswald in Carinthia is the wellness oasis among the ski areas in the Alpine region. 
In Italian ski resorts there is a desire for a high quality gastronomic offer on the mountain (22.9%) is particularly pronounced. The Kronplatz in South Tyrol  thanks to the highest levels of satisfaction in this category, is allowed to wear the “Golden Bonnet” again this year. In addition to the star chef Norbert Niederkofler, a large number of passionate hut hosts spoil winter guests with excellent, mostly regional food.
Price-performance ratio. The ski areas are forced to balance their investments in snow security and comfort with price increases. For many guests, however, they seem to have reached the limit of how much they are willing to invest in their winter holidays. Especially for families and the respondents in the age groups 12-19 and 20-34, the price-performance ratio is an important criterion when choosing a holiday destination. Compared to 2018, satisfaction in this category has decreased again (from 6.98 to 6.93 points). If you take a closer look at this value, the increased ticket price is particularly criticized here (only 6.60 pts). A development that could have serious consequences for the future of winter sports resorts, especially with regard to families: If skiing becomes too expensive for them, a generation with fewer skiers will grow up here. For the 5th time in a row, the guests in Sulden am Ortler had the best feeling in terms of price management. Behind them, in the latest survey, Gurgl are on a par with the 3 Zinnen (2nd place), followed by Livigno and Obereggen.
Happy kids - happy holidays. For families with children it is of crucial importance: bright children's eyes are the barometer for vacation. And here there is obviously a place where they shine particularly well. Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis has been the undisputed leader since the survey began! In the 2020 family satisfaction ranking, Kronplatz is second, Arosa Lenzerheide third, followed by the Aletsch Arena (fourth) and Val Gardena / Alpe di Siusi    In a country comparison, Italy is at the top of the favor of families - and was able to gain the most in this discipline across all surveys (+ 9.9%)!
Experience nature in peace. But it is not just data that can be measured in numbers that determine how our vacation will have an impact. A spectacular environment has a decisive influence on this perception, as does the degree of relaxation of such a journey through tranquility, comfort and authenticity. Factors that were also asked about in the study and for which Italy has climbed to the top again in a country comparison over the past 8 years.
For more and more people, the experience of nature is an important criterion when choosing their holiday destination, where the Matterhorn in Valais probably helped Zermatt to take first place and the Alta Badia Dolomites to second Alps, Val Gardena / Alpe di Siusi and Arosa / Lenzerheide. And the experience of nature also seems to have a direct effect on the perceived cosiness, because here, too, Zermatt is in first place, flanked by the other top places in this category: Sulden, Aletsch Arena, Val Gardena / Alpe di Siusi, Arosa Lenzerheide. 
The degree of rest and relaxation that winter guests expect from their trip is also becoming increasingly important. A factor that may become even more important this year with Corona and its new restrictions. The Aletsch Arena seems to be a place where there are no crowds and where you can recharge your batteries particularly well. As in the last survey, the car-free Valais region came in first place. This year, followed by Val Gardena / Seiser Alm, Zermatt, St. Moritz and Gurgl and the 3 Zinnen level.
Best Ski Resort: Background and Methodology 
  • Since winter 2012, around 225,000 skiers and snowboarders have been surveyed directly in the ski area as part of the Best Ski Resort Report. The survey takes place in a randomized manner by means of accompanied completion of the questionnaires. The specified categories can be rated using a point scale from 1 to 10. 
  • Selection criteria for the participation of the regions in the study are the level of awareness and size of the ski area, regional importance and the number of overnight stays. The total number of 55 ski resorts remains.
  • For the current study, 39,795 winter sports enthusiasts were surveyed in winter 2019/2020.

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