While the weather may be warming, late spring snows are keeping skiers and snowboarders on the mountain while lifts remain open. Last week ski industry insiders met at the Mountain Travel Symposium and travel research firm PhoCusWright offered a preview of its first-ever Skier and Ski Traveler Study revealing that this sub-category of travel is finally embracing online and mobile advance bookings – albeit at a lower rate than other travel components. According to PhoCusWright, 48% of ski travelers book their lift tickets online or via mobile device, compared to 36% who book via a walk-up window. For comparison, roughly 64% of other travel (air, car and hotel) components are booked online and through mobile channels.
Until just a few years ago, skiers could not book lift tickets online. Liftopia, the largest online and mobile marketplace for lift tickets, pioneered the technology for resorts to sell variable-priced, date-specific lift tickets through Liftopia.com, and last year they introduced Cloud Store by Liftopia that is allowing resorts to quickly turn their own website into a commerce engine. Some interesting data the PCW study confirms that Liftopia has helped facilitate over the past few years:
Better technology is changing consumer behavior. According to PCW, skiers have been quick to embrace online and advance purchase lift tickets for convenience and better deals: 50% of all lift tickets are purchased at least one week in advance for ski travelers and nearly 44% of day skiers purchased at least the day before. Interestingly, the average booking window for Liftopia is 10 days, but people are already booking now for next season!
Consumers who buy in advance save the most. According to PCW, lift tickets booked online are most likely to be booked through a resort website (57%) followed by a ski travel website such as Liftopia (27%). And, the average Liftopia customer during the 2012 / 2013 season saved 30% off ticket window prices when booking at least a week in advance.
Resorts that implement real-time dynamic pricing and snow conditions have been able to improve bookings and revenue. Liftopia debuted with just seven resorts in the 2006 season and today, 220 resorts in North America (46% of US resorts) use the Liftopia online channel (and 10% of U.S. Resorts now use Liftopia’s Saas-like Could Store e-commerce platform introduced last year). Participating resort revenue has grown on average 3X every year over the past five years, with the 2012 / 2013 season the biggest ever.
Ski is growing. People plan to ski more next year – and mobile will play an increasing role. According to PCW, more than 2 in 5 skiers plan to ski more in 2013 than in the past, and 1/3 plan to purchase lift tickets in the future from their smartphones.