Lauren Vanat “80% of new skiers will never come back.”

A conversation with Laurent Vanat starts saying that thousands of new skiers arrive to the ski resorts and have their very first new experience. When they think about skiing, they can imagine themselves skiing on powder, doing the best tricks or maybe going as fast as  Tina Maze on their Super-G competitions.

tina maze skiing super g

Tina Maze skiing super g

But, how it looks like on their first day? New material that makes them unconfortable, cold environment, ski lifts that go so fast and they could fall.. It’s all an experience, and for the majority of them, something that will make them never return.

These introductory text is a small part of the conversation I had the pleasure to have with Laurent Vanat (check his website), holding a Master Degree on Commercial & Industrial Sciences by the University of Geneva, that has spent all his carrer consulting PriceWaterHouse and 200 more companies and organizations and publisher of many editions on the analisis of the snow sports industry, like 2016 International Report on Snow & Mountain Tourism .

On the 19th of September, Laurent and I have met at the Novotel of Barcelona City. In this city I am actually studying Business Administration at the University of Barcelona. We could meet here, because 1 year and a half ago, I did send him an email, having some arguments on online learning. While on their snow report he was stating “there is no posibility to learn either teach using internet” I wanted to explain him my project Ski Time and what advances I have made in order to teach some skiing techniques. Furthermore, he has said to me, that one of the most important problems ski resorts have, is that they do not control the learning process of skiers. And for that reason, they could be loosing customers every day by just not showing ski as it is, a sexy sport, fun and in a beautiful environment.

 

Laurent Vanat on Ski learning

One of the points we have shared, is that there are at least two types of ski instructors; the conservatives, the ones that have teached ll their life, all style, their are, in some places “the gods of the ski resorts” and, as you would know, they can not be wrong and have any improvement whatsoever. Another option, are the newcomers, the ones who try to innovate, make people enjoy their first day on ski, but still a lot to learn on the process, being the last on the queue on having hours… Still, those are extreme cases that do need to be used, they are just an example to explain the model. Of course, there are so many combinations of them,

Using those two examples, we can see that there could be some ideas that confront both positions, old school and new school, where both can be right and wrong on the same time. But, interestingly, both fail on mantaining the new skiers an attraction to the ski resorts and for that reason, all of them do need to create new ways to entertain, teach and make people happy on their first and final minute at the ski resort.

Ski resorts and all the companies which are involved on the ski industry, could work a lot on CRM; Customer Relationship Management, where they could keep contact during the season with skiers, and, on the same time, having some information on their origins (asking for the postcode as supermarkets do) or even reading the accident statistics in order to have some data and adapt their strategies.

One option we were suggesting, is doing some preparation in order to preteach them; for example, some information on the internet, videos that explain basic things such are material, or even having “dry” classes, proving material and so on before going to the ski resort. That could break some of the initial problems. Another important problem is about comprehension and the undertanding of the movements and the dynamics of skiing; while, as stated on the introduction, beginners think on their first day they will be racers, they do need to set up expectations as real as they could be; learning how to reduce speed, and maybe doing some turns using wedge technique, is more than a succes on your first experience. So, why not doing some training before, using skating rollers or even mountain bike in order to learn movements that could transfer to this sport?

 

Laurent Vanat on international ski resorts:

Another point we have talked about is China. This market that is growing so fast, people is starting to be wealthy and middle class and for this reason, they will be able to ski and enjoy the ski resorts. There is a potential market of 500 million skiers there, for real, 120 million. One of their biggest problem, is that chinese for the moment, think they can learn how to ski in 2-4 hours, and they do need to understand that on their first day, as almost every sport, you can not master this technique.

South Korea, for example, did focus on Ski as a fun sport. But, after 4-5 years of this new position on the market, they have found that skiers are stopping their attendance on ski resorts, as it competes on the market with other fun activities such are nightclubs, paintball and others that could be done near the city.

There is one ski resort in Europe, that they call themselves as “The Ibiza of resorts” it’s Ischgl where, if you want to have fun, party, nightlife and powerful aprés-ski, there it is. But as they have positioned themselves as a party destination, and during summer they do compete with Mykonos, Malta, Ibiza and so on, this public is not coming to the ski resort so they would like to attract families. And can you see families going to a party resort?

Another country he has explained to me is Bulgaria, where english people is starting to find it an interesting location. The main reason it’s that this country, is selling himself as a skiing and mountains destination on World Travel Market or ITV Berlin. In comparison with Catalonia, which only shows beach on those fairs.

 

Laurent Vanat and Gerard Rosell at Barcelona Ski time

Laurent Vanat and Gerard Rosell at Barcelona Ski time

Skiing on Catalonia and Andorra

Andorra, the country of the Pyrinees, where most of their skiers come from Barcelona’s airport. Why they choose a ski resort that is 2 hours and a half from the airport, without public transport, instead of La Molina, Masella or even Port del Compte. One point he has mentioned, as sometimes I do say that one of my favourite resorts is Baqueira Beret, is that for him, Masella and Molina are competitive and attractive.

For example, it is an extra value having a train from Barcelona to Molina’s ski resort.  In different ways, and why they do not join forces and to offer a pack with both resorts playing together? I wanted to mention to him, that we do have an airport in Lleida. This airport could be sold as a base for Baqueira, Boi Taüll, Skipallars. Most of the skiers go to Andorra, sent by Thomas Cook, as I have said on the article Alguaire’s airport to the ski resorts of the Catalan Pyrinees?

Finally, he did show an interest to Boi Taüll. This resort almost fills all the conditions for being considered a destination resort. Number of commercial beds available, differents restaurants, shops, nightlife… But they still fail, for the moment, on creating a town with an ski lift from the main town.

I did learn a lot and have had a new perspective on the ski resorts understanding a little bit more the ski market on the world. Let’s see the annual report for the 2017’s season, that hopefully will be published on April.

Best Reggards Laurent and thank you very much!