Hotelplan, the parent company of Inghams, Ski Esprit and Ski Total, is aiming to be 10% up by the end of next winter, buoyed by achieving a flat performance over the 2012-13 season after three successive years of decline.
Speaking at the launch of the group’s 2013-2014 programmes, chief executive Andy Perrin said: “The decline over the last three years cumulatively was effectively a third of the ski market stopping travelling.
“So to hold a line with the previous year last year, was actually a very good result indeed and gives us a great platform to look ahead. We are approaching the 2013-14 launch with considerably more optimism than has been the case in recent years.”
Perrin said he was particularly impressed with both Inghams’ and Ski Esprit’s performances given the obstacles they faced.
A stark decline in the beginner market as families had increasingly less disposable income, prompted Inghams to remove classic family beginner resorts from the programme in Bulgaria, Andorra and parts of Italy.
“It effectively took 60,000 passengers out of the programme year over year, but the growth achieved elsewhere in France, Austria and other parts of Italy, meant we were actually up a couple of percentage points,” Perrin revealed.
Ski Esprit was also knocked sideways by the Chancellor’s decision to cut child benefit. It hit 1.2 million families, making them about £1,800 worse off.
“George Osborne’s decision, right in the middle of our peak selling period caused huge ripples through the family market so given that backdrop, many of whom would put child benefit towards discretionary spend, so we are really happy that Ski Esprit held its own in the last season.”
Perrin said the fact that last season was the second year in a row of fantastic ski conditions and the fact that customers were now ready to accept the exchange rate, would bode well for the coming winter.
“If you are a keen skier, you will find ways to make it happen but we need to ensure we still put excellent value in front of our customers,” he said.
Christmas and New Year falling “slap bang in the middle” of the week rather than over weekends was good news, and the only real potential spanner in the works was the “phenomenally late Easter”, which is falling on April 20 next year.
“Pulling the season right to the way through to Easter will be a challenge for everybody. It will be fine for the high resorts in terms of snow, but it’s whether there will be enough demand. If it does come through it will be really late.”
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