Monday, July 16, 2012
2012 Crystal Ski Industry Report
Crystal is the largest UK ski tour operator and took 169,000 passengers last winter. Crystal is owned by TUI that also has Thomson and First Choice. Crystal Ski strengthened its market leadership last season by 1% to 33% partly due to its value-for-money Ski Plus packages. Thomson Ski saw a decrease of about 1,000 skiers. First Choice saw a fall in its customers from 10,000 to 7,000 as a result of strategic repositioning. However, TUI Ski remains the market leader with a 41% share, up from 40% last year.
The next biggest is Inghams with 100,000. Inghams is run by Hotelplan that also has Esprit Ski and Ski Total. Hotelplan's 3.7% reduction is mainly due to continued consolidation following the merger of Inghams with Ski Esprit and Ski Total.
Neilson, owned by Thomas Cook, remains in third place with a 6% decline in skiers.
Despite the fall there will be signs for optimism. "The ski market has been resilient despite challenging market conditions. Tour operators regained a marginal share of the overall market due to their ability to produce exceptionally good value ski holiday packages", said the Managing Director of Crystal, Simon Cross.
He predicts a growing increase in the internet both for booking holidays and keeping informed and up to date on what is on offer. "In 2011, an increasing number of skiers turned to online channels to research and book their holiday. We expect this trend to continue into the next season and beyond", he added.
France is still the most popular ski destination and is the choice of 34.6% of people though the gap is closing with Austria that now takes 27.9% of the UK market. France's share of the UK market has gone up after falls over the past three years.
Switzerland saw the biggest fall of any country and now has 4.9% of British skiers - it was down from 6% of the market in 2010/11. This is put down to the poor exchange rate that has pushed prices up.
Italy's share increased from 14.1% to 15.4%.
Andorra rose marginally to 6.5%. This is the principality's third year of growth, despite poor snow early in the season. Skiers are being lured back by the improving quality of hotels, combined with less expensive prices.
North America's 4.5% share has dropped slightly.
Bulgaria also saw a fall to 2.7% as did the smaller countries' sector that was down to 4.6%. The fall in Bulgaria is especially interesting as it shows the decline in the budget end of the market. Inghams has pulled out of Bulgaria for next winter.
Although the Crystal Ski Industry report does not specifically go into how each type of holiday sold, we have detected at the PlanetSKI that the top end market has held up well. It seems the bankers have still been getting their bonuses and are prepared to spend them on a ski holiday. "Interesting that Crystal hinted towards revival in 'premium' market - and that's certainly where we've seen the growth", said the managing director of Ski Solutions, Craig Burton.
The company has told us that it also saw a significant rise in short breaks last winter. It is expanding its capacity next winter. Short breaks are for the time poor and cash rich as a four day break can sometimes be not much less than a week long holiday.
Despite figures are in line with forecasts, with signs that the market may be stabilising, there is some concern in the fall in students and young people skiing and snowboarding. A recent survey revealed that 33% of people had their first experience of snowsports on a school trip. These trips have fallen with increasing pressures on family budgets.