Key findings from SASTEX Online June 2020

SASTEX Online began on June 23 with the latest research from MTN into the ‘State of the Mountain Market’. Findings were drawn from the large piece of research undertaken by MTN (in partnerships with Sport Pursuit) the survey gathered responses from almost 600 regular visitors to the mountains in summer, completing a range of questions to gain insights into their wants, needs and behaviours and the impact of the pandemic on their current and future actions.

Barriers to booking

Over a third of the sample surveyed were regular visits to the mountains in winter, but had never visited in summer. Top reasons given for this were

‘Lack of information’ , ‘Prefer the beach’ and ‘Been there done that’. It suggests there is an opportunity for the industry to communicate the attractions of the mountains in summer further, and to consider how to make a summer mountain holiday more habit forming, as we see with winter sport.

Social media not a significant source of information and inspiration

Mirroring the findings for skiers, the survey found that social media was not a heavily utilised resource for summer mountain holidaymakers, with only 10% citing Facebook and 12% Instagram as sources of ideas, information and inspiration. In comparison over 30% cite tour operator and destination websites as a sources, and magazines outperform social media with almost double the respondents citing them as important. This demonstrates the importance of using multiple channels to communicate withe the market and may to some extent explain the lack of information sentiment expressed previously. The information is being produced, but not shared via the channels most of the market use.

Independent bookings much more popular

Only 13% of respondents use a tour operator to book a summer holiday to the mountains, this compares with over 31% of those same respondents using tour operators to book a winter sports holiday. This suggests an opportunity for tour operators, but they must ensure their offering matches the market’s needs and wants.

French Alps most popular, with Pyrenees in a close second

59% of respondents have visited the French Alps in summer, with the Swiss Alps in second place with 37%. However 38% have visited the Pyrenees (France, Spain and Andorra) with Austria and Switzerland both attracting around 30%

Online booking dominant, but not the only way

92% of respondents prefer to book their summer mountain holiday online, an even higher percentage than for winter sports. Perhaps surprisingly though 29% still indicated their preference to book in-person, a method that had dipped recently but seems to be recovering now.

15% of consumers still considering an overseas summer mountain holiday in 2020

A small segment of the market would still consider an overseas mountain holiday in 2020. The majority though are planning to travel in UK this summer.

Whilst almost 90% will consider a summer mountain holiday in the next 3 years

Encouragingly the vast majority of respondents will still consider a summer mountain holiday in the near future. Many cited the fact that they perceive the mountains as being less busy in the summer than other destinations.

Only 1% of respondents feel it will be not at all safe to visit the mountains next summer

Bike sales have surged by almost 200% since lockdown

Cycle retailers have experienced an unprecedented period of demand, with some models not available until 2021. Over 1.3 million bikes have been sold in the UK since lockdown and bike sales set to top £1.3 billion by 2023.  Could this ignite a surge in demand for cycle related holidays?

Consumers becoming more interested in health and well-being

It seems consumers are using those bikes too, with 68% reporting an increased interest in health and wellbeing since the pandemic , 61%  increasing their participation in regular exercise and 51% citing an increased interest in fitness.

Looking at biking specific activity, 53% have taken up or increased their participation in road biking, 29% mountain biking and 37% running and hiking.

Conclusion  – can we convert interest to travel?

Whilst the market right now for international summer mountain travel is extremely challenging, there are pointers that the near future is much more promising if the increased interest in fitness, sport and especially cycling can be sustained post pandemic, and crucially if this interest can be converted into an interest in participating in these activities on a holiday. Consumers seem ready to travel in the near future, and are actively seeking more information, so if we can deliver on that interest as an industry the future may well be much brighter than it seemed just a short time ago..

Watch a snippet from this presentation at SASTEX Online June 23 20200


Want to watch the whole presentation and view the slide deck? Register for SASTEX 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 SASTEX Online until July 22, as well as viewing and posting opportunities in the MTN Marketplace.