Cosmos has moved into the ski market for the first time as part of its strategy to become a more ‘comprehensive travel provider’.
The traditional summer and winter sun mainstream operator has produced a dedicated programme of ski and snowboard packages in resorts in Austria, France and Italy for winter 2013-2014.
It decided to enter the ski market following the launch of sister airline Monarch’s first ski routes last winter.
Head of product Neil Garner said: “For 50-odd years we have been primarily a beach focused operator.
“In more recent years, with the expansion of Monarch’s programme into cities, we have offered more city-based product. The introduction of Monarch’s ski routes was a trigger for us to look at branching out into ski and fufils a strategic aim for us to be a more comprehensive travel provider.”
Garner is confident the Cosmos brand can “stretch” across new products such as ski.
“You don’t often get new entrants but the reception we’ve had so far has been very positive. We believe there is space in the market; we are a trusted brand and I don’t think people will think it’s strange we are moving into ski,” he added.
Its first brochure covers a “credible range” of around 25 resorts based on Monarch’s existing routes. Fam trips and competitions are likely to be offered to travel agents to boost bookings in its first year.
Garner hopes the programme will attract a mix of existing and new clients, as well as new-to-ski customers, with a “good percentage” of bookings coming via agents.
“To some extent we will be reliant on the trade to recommend this as we are new to this market,” he said. “We have tried to price quite keenly and want to encourage people to book early for the best deals.”
The operator is offering a broad range of accommodation from self-catering to all-inclusive. It has three five-star properties, branded ‘simply elite’, in Italy and Austria.
The inclusion of less well known resort Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy, accessed from Venice, is to offer a point of difference, said Garner.
“It’s a competitive market and there are some well-established players. Cortina is popular historically to the local market which has declined due to the economy. It is not widely featured in the UK so we are almost launching it the UK market.”
Garner said expansion was dependent on the programme’s success. “We have not covered Andorra but Monarch flies into Barcelona so there is potential to do that in future and there are well known resorts in Switzerland and the Dolomites in Italy that we are not offering at the moment. There is plenty of scope to expand should demand be there. For now it’s about raising awareness.”
Flights are offered from Manchester, Gatwick, Leeds Bradford, and Luton to Friedrichshafen, Munich, Innsbruck, Grenoble, Venice and Verona, with transfers to a popular resorts in Austria, France and Italy.
Cosmos is offering low deposits of £59 and half price ski or snowboard carriage, at £25, for bookings made before September 30, 2013.
Prices are based on seven night packages, starting at £349 at La Muzelle, Les Deux Alpes, based on four sharing, including flights from Gatwick to Grenoble on January 4, 2014. Short breaks are also available in Italy.
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