Key findings from LISTEX Luxury Online June 2020

LISTEX Luxury Online began on June 24 with the latest research from MTN into the ‘State of the Luxury Snowsports Market’ The largest piece of research undertaken by MTN (in partnerships with Sport Pursuit) so far, the survey gathered responses from almost 900 skiers completing 60 questions to gain insights into their wants, needs and behaviours and the impact of the pandemic on their current and future actions.

How big is the luxury snowsports market?

Of course to answer this question we must first define what we mean by a ‘luxury’ snowsports holiday. We used 3 overlapping criteria:

Self identified as booking ‘luxury’ 47%

Spend of over £1500pp on a typical ski holiday 22%

We considered filtering on accommodation, but surprisingly there was a significant number of respondents self-identifying as luxury consumers and spending in excess of our £1500pp criteria, but booking 3* hotels and Airbnb properties. For the purpose of this analysis we kept the criteria to spend only.

22% of the UK market suggests around 450,000 skiers annually travelling on a luxury snowsports holiday

Over 10% of respondents revealed they spend more than £2500pp on a snowsports holiday.

Current bookings

The survey found 13% of respondents have booked a luxury ski holiday for 2020/21, slightly lower than the overall market figure of 17%, of those 35% have booked with a tour operator and 67% booked online. 49% of those booked said it was to secure accommodation, whilst only 12% said it was due to an offer or other incentive

Returning confidence lagging amongst luxury skiers?

27% of respondents said they were very likely to book a snowsports holiday for 2020/21, with 27% likely. 29% remain undecided. This is a slightly lower level of confidence than the market average, perhaps due to a somewhat increased uncertainty about their personal finances.

44% of respondents felt the pandemic would have a significant impact on their snowsports holiday plans for 2020/21, again slightly higher than the market average, and just 3% think there will be no impact at all compared to 10% for the overall market.

Booking triggers centre on financial security

Booking triggers for the luxury sector are distinguished by the importance of financial factors. Availability still leads as no 1, but is closely followed by discounts, other offers and refund guarantee. This mirrors other findings in the survey which suggests financial pressures are perhaps more not less front of mind for luxury skiers.

At least 10% of the luxury market very unlikely to travel for skiing this winter

The proportion of respondents saying they are very unlikely to go on a snowsports holiday has remained consistent at 10% across the April, May and June surveys, and the luxury market matches this exactly with 10% also reporting they are very unlikely to travel.. With around 27% still undecided   we see the luxury market overall being between 10 and 20% down in 2020/21 compared to the 2018/19, depending on the industry response and wider impact of the pandemic.

Bonding paramount for consumers when choosing a tour operator

ATOL/ABTA bonding has emerged as a key factor in how consumers choose a tour operator, now cemented as the second most important factor after price, and followed by availability, overall reputation and support. In 2019 ABTA/ATOL bonding didn’t feature in the top 10 factors in consumers choice of tour operator.

Self-catering showing strong growth

When asked what type of accommodation they are likely to book catered chalets, 4* hotels and apartments are all very level at around 40%, but self-catering chalets were the leading choice with 46%.

35 – 60 is the key demographic

Whilst the under 35 demographic is a small segment of the overall market it holds the same market share of the luxury sector. But the research clearly shows that the 35 – 60 demographic accounts for almost 75% of this sector.

Consumers looking for more information

Overall only 25% of luxury consumers think resorts are communicating clearly about operations for the coming winter, and only 23% say tour operators are communicating clearly also. Consumers are clearly being held back from booking due to uncertainty about what to expect for the coming winter.

And action…what can the industry do?

Luxury skiers and snowboarders are looking for action from the industry, and this sentiment has increased significantly since May 2020 with ‘nothing’ dropping down to the very bottom of the list when asked ‘what can the industry do’ ? Flexibility and cancellation insurance top the list but are closely followed with operational actions including accommodation procedures (e.g. more regular cleaning) and to infrastructure (limiting numbers in lifts)

Watch a snippet from this presentation at LISTEX Luxury Online June 24 2020

Want to watch the whole presentation and view the slide deck? Register for LISTEX Luxury Online and you’ll be able to access all the webinar recordings and resources. You’ll also be able to schedule online meetings with other attendees of LISTEX Luxury Online until July 24, as well as viewing and posting opportunities in the MTN Marketplace.