Today, Club Med is sharing findings from their eighth annual ski report, A season like no other: Winter sports holidays in a pandemic, which seeks to examine the impacts of a year which no one could have predicted and what this means for the winter 2020 / 2021 ski season.
The global pandemic and its ongoing aftermath have shaken the travel industry on an unparalleled scale. Not only were the impacts of this felt during the 2019 / 2020 ski season, but Covid-19 is still significantly impacting the way in which people travel, what people are booking for the upcoming season and how eco and sustainability credentials play an important part in the overall booking process.
Following the early closure of ski resorts around the world earlier in the year, more than half (51%) of frequent skiers (defined as taking a ski / snowboarding holiday in the past two years) didn’t go on a winter sports holiday last season owing to it being cancelled due to Covid-19. Encouragingly, the study found that 52% of those who were unable to go last winter have already rebooked for the upcoming season, with 80% of Club Med clients having already rebooked for their ski holiday spanning between December 2020 and April 2021.
While Brits are still intending to get away wherever possible, there are a number of in-resort measures which are now increasingly important factors when they are considering their next holiday. The number one priority for Brits is that the resort has social distancing measures with 60% saying this is vital, followed by regular cleaning in the resort (50%), accessible hand sanitiser (47%), Covid-19 testing on site (46%) and compulsory use of masks in public places (45%). Understandably, more than half of all holidaymakers said that they would want the guarantee of a refundable stay (50%) and a Covid-19 insurance policy (57%) before booking future holidays.
Estelle Giraudeau, Managing Director, UK & Northern Europe at Club Med comments: “Reassurance will be key this year and all-inclusive operators have also been at the forefront of Covid-19 protection schemes. In order to ensure our guests still have an enjoyable experience this ski season, we have undertaken a number of stringent health and safety measures which are designed to protect everyone while retaining facilities and activities that are faithful to the Club Med experience. We are also pleased to say that our Cristal International Standards rating is 96% and 100% of our resorts opened during the summer season were certified with the POSI-Check distinction.”
Club Med’s ‘Travel with Confidence’ and complimentary Covid-19 insurance policy ensures that guests are able to book their holiday with the peace of mind that they can amend it at the last minute and that their medical expenses will be covered if they fell ill with Covid-19 while traveling.
Covid-19 has changed booking habits of travellers around the world and the effects will be felt for many years. Brits’ latent desire to travel is still strong, but holidaymakers are having to adapt to ever-changing measures such as quarantine, travel corridors and complicated policies. This is impacting booking behaviours as we approach the 2020 / 2021 ski season.
Traditionally Brits are a nation of planners, but this year half (50%) are booking their winter holiday later with 69% planning on booking less than a month in advance and over a third (35%) less than two weeks before departing. This is in stark contrast to 2019 when only 5% of people booked their winter sports holiday less than three months in advance.
The research revealed that over three quarters (77%) are considering breaks shorter than a week this year and this is further demonstrated by Club Med ski bookings for five days stays, which are up 100% year-on-year - versus only 16% last year. To make up for the shorter breaks, people are spending more money to ensure they have the trip they were dreaming of in recent times. The research supports this finding with 43% being prepared to spend more on this year’s winter sports holiday trip compared to previous years.
Almost two in five (38%) said they are planning to take a winter holiday this ski season because they missed out on a summer holiday, with more than one in ten (13%) saying they would be booking a winter sports holiday instead of their usual cruise holiday and almost one in four (24%) mentioning they would be booking a winter sports holiday instead of a long-haul winter sun holiday in 2021.
Estelle Giraudeau, Managing Director, UK & Northern Europe at Club Med comments: “With some tour operators reducing their chalet offering this year, we want to ensure our customers that they can get the extra space and level of privacy they desire with our Exclusive Collection Resorts, Spaces and Chalets. Reflecting this, we have seen the average order value (AOV) online at Club Med up by 10% year-on-year as more customers are demanding privacy and space in the current climate, and still have money to spend on holidays that may have been previously allocated elsewhere in 2020.
We also believe the all-inclusive ski holiday model will be more attractive than ever, with customers safe in the knowledge that their holidays are ATOL-protected guaranteeing our customers are not going to be hit with lots of additional costs after booking. With prices and currencies fluctuating in these uncertain times coupled with Brexit due to take place during the upcoming season, locking in a price in advance is more important than ever and will help to provide peace of mind for our customers.”
Following the introduction of the travel corridor and quarantine restrictions, potential holiday destinations were among the hot topics of the summer.
As people look ahead to their winter sports holidays in 2021, traditional destinations such as Switzerland (24%), France (23%), Austria (19%) and Italy (18%) top the table of places Brits intend to go on holiday to. The continued popularity of these destinations reflects the fact that over half (52%) said they would still go on a winter sports holiday even if they had to quarantine on arrival back in the UK. A further 60% also said that the newly proposed ‘test and release’ scheme, which would reduce quarantine on return to one week, would make them more likely to book a winter holiday regardless of a country’s Air Bridge status.
Estelle Giraudeau, Managing Director, UK & Northern Europe at Club Med comments: “2020 has been an unprecedented year in the industry but we are seeing that skiers and snowboarders are a passionate and committed group who are desperate to get back on the slopes. While people are understandably cautious in the current context, we know they will bounce back as soon as they are able, which is why we have such an ambitious roadmap of new 4-Trident and 5-Trident resorts over the coming years, including our brand new resort in La Rosière opening this December and our first ever Canadian resort, Québec Charlevoix.”
More than one in ten (12%) said they would consider Scotland in the future. Similar numbers said they would consider a winter sports holiday to Norway (11%) and Sweden (11%), which are perhaps more attractive due to the relatively low Covid-19 case numbers in those countries, if and when visiting restrictions are lifted.
Covid-19 has also led people to think about alternative means of transportation. The Channel Tunnel and driving has become an increasingly popular choice for winter sports enthusiasts looking for more flexibility. Research has shown that nearly half (44%) are now considering destinations that are easier to drive to avoid flying.
Climate change, animal welfare and nature preservation are just some of the reasons why sustainability has begun to shape the way we travel. We now have more information and knowledge on this topic than ever before and there is an increasing expectation that travel brands have systems in place to protect the future. Everything from implementing widespread energy saving and recycling programmes, to giving back and supporting local communities and the removal single use plastics are now just a given, and this latent desire to travel more sustainably is becoming more apparent, with 14% of people citing that eco credentials are a deciding factor when booking a holiday.
Specific issues which are important for people when considering what sustainability credentials a resort holds is whether they source their food sustainably, with 39% of people saying this was an important decision maker for them. Other items cited as being important were if the resort had a dedicated food recycling program (29%).
Over half (52%) of those polled consider a resort’s sustainability credentials before making a booking, with this being the greatest concern for those aged between 16-29 years (61%) followed by 30-44-year-olds (59%).
Reviewing the travel industry’s contribution to climate change and addressing the impact of carbon footprints from construction through to sustaining the day-to-day running of resorts is of paramount importance. Collectively the industry needs to safeguard nature and the environment in which travel brands operate, as well as tackling waste pollution across the board and empower local communities from a social and economic standpoint.
The use of single use plastic is still one of the most examined factors when booking a holiday, with two in five (43%) agreeing that they would investigate if a resort had a policy banning this before booking a holiday.
Estelle Giraudeau, Managing Director, UK & Northern Europe at Club Med comments: “We understand that as part of the travel industry it is our job to help stop the negative effects of tourism on the environment, which is why we have introduced a number of programs such as our ‘Happy to Care’ initiative, which has seen almost 80% of our resorts receive a Green Globe certification with the aim to reach 100% by 2021. The importance of acting and implementing sustainable practice in everything we do is of paramount importance, not only for our guests, but also for the local communities in which our Club Med resorts are located. 75% of all jobs at Club Med resorts are created locally and more than 400 local producers are supported in agro-ecology globally. We encourage all our guests to adopt an eco-friendly mindset so we can work together as one travel community and protect our planet.”
To view the full Club Med report please visit: https://clubmed-skireport.realise.com