What is the outlook for groups this winter, and why do we all have an issue with data?

How does this season look for groups?

It looks like challenging times for the groups market for a number of reason:

Suppliers are unable to offer the same flexibility to groups as to individual bookings, as given the uncertainty around the group booking a hotel or other provider could be left with a large hole due to a group cancelling at short notice.

Group trips also often depend on every member of the group being willing to commit. Again with so much uncertainty this is difficult – the market research tells us this is one of the biggest barriers to booking even for those ready to book now – the fact the other people they usually travel with are not ready yet.

Companies and other organisations are considering their public face, and with a coming recession and job losses, a corporate trip to the mountains is considered by many to be bad PR. In addition undertaking a company organised trip extends the duty of care employers have to employees, an added complication if flying abroad as a company.

Room shares are less likely to be accepted by members of a group, leading to a larger demand for single occupancy rooms which in turn leads to higher prices, just as budgets are being squeezed.

Improving accessibility for first time skiers

A key finding from our ‘feeding the market’ panel discussion was how snowsports is perceived by the first time skier. Aside from the issues of focusing on narrow demographics, the other point raised by the panel was the dominance in the media of the ‘big name’ resorts – and the fact they often represent more challenging terrain, and have higher prices. So the initial impression for those considering skiing for the first time is that the destinations they see are big, expensive and populated mostly by experienced skiers.

The panel were keen to extol the virtues of smaller resorts, which are less expensive both to visit and to travel too, have more limited terrain – less intimidating and more accessible, often will have a range of non-skiing activities to further increase the inclusivity of visitors and overall represent arguably a better experience for the first time skier.

Finding information

Wenona of Mount Noire explained her first hand experience of this, the first Mount Noire trip was to Chamonix, and the next is to Val Thorens. Her perspective was that finding information on smaller resorts was very difficult, and as a group organiser she couldn’t take the risk to organise a group trip somewhere where too much was unknown. Part of the Mount Noire project is to build that database of resort information to be aid those from the BAME communities to access reliable and relevant resources.

Data, data data

All panelists agreed that it’s not just consumers that can struggle to find the information they’re looking for. As an industry, the quality of the data we can access that allows us to measure the effectiveness of campaigns designed to grow the market. To an extent this data is simply not yet being gathered fully, but it’s also an issue that data isn’t being shared, and so where it exists it’s not easily accessible to organisations tasked with formulating strategies to move forward for the good of the industry. We would implore for every organisation involved in snowsports to consider what more data they can share to help the industry to grow and benefit all.

View the webinar from MOTEX: Routes to Recovery – Feeding the Market