Key findings from LISTEX Online June 2020

LISTEX Online began on June 22 with the latest research from MTN into the ‘State of the 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.

Current bookings

The survey found 17% of respondents have booked a ski holiday for 2020/21 (up from 14% in May and just 5% in April), of those 35% have booked with a tour operator, 67% booked online and 26% booked a 4* hotel – the most popular accommodation option. 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?

39% of respondents said they were very likely to book a snowsports holiday for 2020/21, with 24% likely. 27% remain undecided. 36% of respondents felt the pandemic would have a significant impact on their snowsports holiday plans for 2020/21, though 10% think there will be no impact at all.

A shift towards normal

Previous surveys showed a peak of 79% of respondents saying they would book with a tour operator next winter, but by June this had come down to a figure of 61%, very similar to the level seen in 2019’s survey. Key sources of information remain resort websites, friends, tour operator websites and online review sites. Social media which had peaked in importance in April had returned to pre-pandemic levels, with only 14% of respondents citing Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as important sources of information and inspiration for their snowsports holidays.

At least 10% of the 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. With around 20-25% still saying they unlikely to travel we see the 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.

Under 35’s less than 7% of the market

Worryingly the proportion of the market under the age of 35 has shrunk by 50%, from 9% in 2019 to just 6% in June 2020. With schools skiing looking to be a very challenging market for the forthcoming winter.

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.

Quality of accommodation rising in importance

When choosing a snowsports holiday destination, quality of accommodation is now firmly established as a top 3 factor, edging out previously well established factors from the top 3 including resort altitude. How busy the slopes are has also entered the top 5 for the first time

Refunds and insurance cover more important than a vaccine

Interestingly when asked about what would trigger a final decision to book a snowsports holiday for 2020/21 consumers cite the availability of a coronavirus insurance policy of refund guarantee as more significant than a coronavirus vaccine, reflecting the numerous responses that suggest personal finances and financial concerns in general are becoming the dominant factor in snowsport consumer choices as we near the 20/21 season.

Consumers looking for more information

Only 25% of consumers think resorts are communicating clearly about operations for the coming winter, and only 23% say tour operators are communicating clearly also. Whilst this is a rise on the May survey findings there is clearly still much work to be done on increasing communication and clarity from the industry to skiers and snowboarders.

What can the industry do?

Skiers and snowboarders are looking for action from the industry, and this sentiment has increased significantly since May 2020 as can be seen from the list shown below:

Watch a snippet from this presentation at LISTEX Online June 22 2020

Want to watch the whole presentation and view the slide deck? Register for LISTEX 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 Online until July 21, as well as viewing and posting opportunities in the MTN Marketplace.