It was feared that Brexit could spell disaster for ski holidays, with operators going bust and rumours that the cost of a trip to the Alps would sky-rocket – but when the industry’s leaders urged the public not to panic following the vote in 2016, they were right.
Bucking the doom and gloom headlines, all-inclusive operator Club Med has seen a 35 per cent increase in bookings in 2017 compared to last year – and says it has Brexit to thank.
In its annual Mapping Ski Trends report the operator says that the all-inclusive ski holiday industry is benefiting from Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, with the market proving healthy and stable as UK customers are drawn to the protection from currency fluctuations that all-inclusive packages offer.
"As customers hedge against the uncertainties of Brexit, paying upfront and in sterling for a holiday is a strong consideration for many Brits," Club Med says in the report, and also quotes figures from ABTA (the Association of British Travel Agents) to back up its findings. The ABTA Travel Trends Report 2017 shows that the overall market share of all-inclusive is up, from 18 per cent in 2016 to 25 per cent in 2017.
The news comes from Club Med’s fifth annual ski report, which explores key trends emerging in the ski holiday industry from its customers' point of view, following a comprehensive survey covering everything from what they want to eat to what tech they take with them on the slopes.
The operator, which originated in France in 1950, has properties in 22 ski resorts around the world, including Val Thorens, France, Cervinia, Italy and Hokkaido, Japan. This season sees the opening of a new four-trident (the brand’s own star-rating system) 420-room property in Samoëns, France, part of the Grand Massif ski area, plus it has also been announced that a new development in Canada, the company’s first, will open in 2020.
“Our customers see the value in all-inclusive ski holidays where everything is included and paid for upfront. This protects customers against ever-fluctuating exchange rates and hidden costs with the simple security of a low deposit,” said Estelle Giraudeau, managing director of Club Med in the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia.
Drawing on the insight gained from its research, the company has launched the Club Med How Much App, which allows customers to compare the prices they pay for a Club Med holiday, which includes accommodation, flights, transfers, lift passes, lessons, full board, unlimited drinks, entertainment and non-ski activities), to the cost of chalet and hotel packages, with bolt-on extras such as lessons and lift passes.
The report also suggests that Brexit has done little to deter Brits from heading to the slopes, including those who’ve never being skiing or snowboarding before. Club Med’s packages are popular with first-time skiers and snowboarders, who make up almost half (47 per cent) of its customers.
The Club Med deal is mostly popular with families, who account for 33 per cent of its guests, followed by groups of friends (21 per cent) and couples (20 per cent).
The survey also asked customers what they like to do when on holiday in a ski resort, apart from hitting the slopes, and how they like to relax in the evenings. There has been an increased emphasis on non-ski activities throughout the ski industry in recent years, with many resorts investing in infrastructure such as swimming pools, spas, impressive restaurants and new adrenalin-fuelled activities to broaden their appeal. The Club Med survey showed that the range of activities on offer on a ski holiday is becoming increasingly important to its customers and two thirds of respondents agreed that après is their favourite part of the day, when included activities are part of the Club Med package.
Unsurprisingly the bar, where Club Med guests can have unlimited drinks, is the most popular après destination, with 67 per cent of holidaymakers voting it top. However 37 per cent can be found enjoying spa facilities, such as a sauna or steam room, while 30 per cent head for the swimming pool.
It appears that skiers and snowboarders are also a gourmet bunch, with 36 per cent choosing a resort based on the range of local restaurants and bars available, and 68 per cent admitting to eating more on a ski holiday than they do at home. Did someone say fondue?
The report also revealed that skiers and snowboarders are a dedicated bunch, with 41 per cent saying they prefer their winter-sports holiday to any other type of trip.
The consumer research was conducted by YouGov between January and August – sampling 1,000 adults online.