Ski sales are up 18% compared to this time last year across Hotelplan’s three brands – Inghams, Ski Total and Esprit.
Inghams chief executive Andy Perrin said 30% of the overall ski market had fallen away in the last three years, but it had now reached a turning point.
He said: “We are down to a hardcore of skiers now – people for whom a winter without skiing is unthinkable.
“The beginners’ market is weak. People who have never skied before aren’t happy spending the money when they don’t really know if they love skiing.”
This drop-off in first time skiers has prompted the operator to drop Bulgaria from its range. Perrin said the destination had “had its time” but would return when the economy improved.
Perrin said he would not go down the route of trying to seduce beginners with huge discounts.
“We will offer good value but we won’t sell a holiday that costs £500 for £200. It has to be sustainable.”
Inghams has added seven new resorts, four new chalet hotels and 24 new chalets for this season. Other additions are more all-inclusive options, free Wifi for the first time and the introduction of Skoki Lodge in Lake Louise, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited last year.
Ski Total, the chalet specialist brand, has seven new chalets and an extended Platinum range. Perrin said the aim was to introduce more agents to selling Ski Total.
“We are speaking to agents who sell Inghams and encouraging them to think of Ski Total when it comes to upmarket chalets or platinum service.”
The unexpectedly heavy snowfall in Europe last season, which left many skiers trapped in resorts, proved a reminder of the benefits of booking with a tour operator, said Perrin.
“Our customers were looked after, in contrast to those who booked independently who didn’t have anywhere to turn. This really reminded customers what an operator can do for them when the going gets tough.”
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