Author: Christian Ross
After February, a typically strong month for ski areas in non-pandemic times, the winter season is slowly coming to an end. Some ski areas in Switzerland will get away with small negative financial impacts this winter, while many other lift companies will end the season with big losses or even without any revenue as a result of closures from COVID-19. These days are certainly financially challenging for everyone.
While generating revenue in advance of winter is always beneficial for ski areas, it is especially important after the challenging season we’ve just experienced to generate cash flow. In prior seasons, we’ve seen many of our partners earn significant revenue during the summer months into the upcoming season, particularly those who attract multi-day visitors. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the progression of online sales at Val Cenis (France) and Arosa Lenzerheide (Switzerland) over the past two summers. First, let’s look at the French resort, Val Cenis.
As depicted in the chart above, Val Cenis earned almost 700,000 EUR online for winter 19/20 by October 2019 (6- to 14-day tickets). Earning 2.5M EUR online over the course of the whole 19/20 season, revenue generated by October 2019 represented almost 30% of total bookings.
The total lift ticket revenue in 2019/20 was around EUR 12.5 million, so the share of tickets sold online was 20%.
In advance of the 2020/21 season, Val Cenis sold over EUR 900,000 in tickets by the end of October. Despite the uncertainty about COVID-19 (cash-back guarantee in the event of official closure or entry ban), this meant increased demand and an increase in sales of 34% compared to the previous season. Due to the complete closure of the ski resorts in France, Val Cenis offered its guests a refund of the ticket price.
Now let’s take a look at Arosa Lenzerheide, the Swiss resort:
For context, Arosa Lenzerheide already sells a significant percentage of its total sales online. In winter 2019/20, 58% of the 1- to 14-day tickets (plus 4-hour and afternoon tickets) were sold online, amounting to 13.7 million CHF.
The graphic here shows that by the end of October 2019, Arosa Lenzerheide had already sold over CHF 1.4 million online into the 19/20 season. This accounts for more than 10% of all online sales throughout the season.
Due to the uncertainty regarding the COVID-19, Arosa Lenzerheide started selling tickets a little later than in 2019. But nevertheless, CHF 900,000 of tickets sales for winter of 20/21 were sold by the end of October 2020.
Besides a data-based pricing strategy and an effective ecommerce solution, successful marketing and communication is crucial when you launch your online ticket sale early. This includes choosing the right message like ”Book in advance and save” and picking the right channels to reach and attract your customers. In times of uncertainty regarding COVID it might also be providing clear refund information. Find out more about Val Cenis’ communication strategy for their online sales launch in 2020 here.
Additional ways to generate revenue for the coming winter early on are the sale of season tickets, which reward early purchase, and the sale of dateless tickets at a slightly reduced price up to a certain point in time. Dateless products, that can be used on any day during the season, can be exciting for customers who want to make a purchase for the upcoming season, but aren’t ready to commit to a specific date. Therefore the price should be slightly less attractive than for a date-specific ticket.
The examples of Val Cenis and Arosa show that it can be worthwhile to start advance sales early for the coming winter in order to generate early bookings. We would be happy to help you with the implementation. Contact us if you are interested in finding out more.