Survey offers snapshot into skier travel habits |

Survey offers snapshot into skier travel habits

Leia Larsen

As the snow flies and ski areas like Winter Park and Ski Granby Ranch begin to gear up for the season, a national survey offers some insight into skier and snowboarder destination habits.

The survey, released earlier this month by travel researcher PhoCusWright, and sponsored by Mountain Travel Symposium, provides a snapshot of ski/snowboard travelers’ behavior. Researchers conducted a survey of 1,611 adult U.S. skiers. Of those surveyed, 392 ski travelers came from the West, 393 came from the East and 620 identified themselves as day skiers – skiers or snowboarders who didn’t stay in paid overnight accommodation.

“The biggest revelation in the survey was the participants who described themselves as both skiers and snowboarders are a pretty big ‘piece of the pie,’ and this group spends the most money on their vacation,” Bruce Rosard, of Mountain Travel Symposium, said in a press release.

About 58 percent of those surveyed identified as skiers and 25 percent said they were snowboarders. Around 16 percent said they were both skiers and snowboarders. The skier/snowboarder category are more likely to be “luxury travelers,” who more frequently stay in five-star accommodations — 20 percent compared to 5-7 percent for travelers who identified as skiers or snowboarders only. Travelers who both ski and snowboard also typically spend more than travelers who stick to one sport. The average skier/snowboarder spent $1,425 on travel, shopping and dining, compared to $1,218 for skiers and $1,120 for snowboarders.

“Participants who described themselves as both skiers and snowboarders are a pretty big ‘piece of the pie. This group spends the most money on their vacation.”
Bruce Rosard, Mountain Travel Symposium

In general, snowboarders are younger than skiers, less affluent and take fewer overnight or day trips.

Surveyed travelers called snow conditions their top consideration when selecting a winter resort destination, with 85 percent calling it very or extremely important.

Another 65 percent called the distance between slopes and lodging an influential factor. “They want to reach the ski area quickly with gear in hand to maximize their time on the slopes,” the study said. Winter travelers also ranked the number of advanced trails and number of lifts highly.

The study also explored travelers’ use of digital technology, including smartphones and tablets.

Skiers and snowboarders are much more likely to have these technologies than regular U.S. travelers. This high level of digital adoption reflects, at least in part, their higher level of income and spending, according to the study. And ski travelers are highly likely to use digital technologies in planning their trips. Around 70 percent utilized websites to research and plan their trips. Nearly half purchased on their travel components online.

“Since there appears to be a lag between current resort technology and skiers’ usage, that information is vital for mountain resorts to know and respond to,” Rosard said.

Leia Larsen can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603.

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