Felicity Long
Felicity Long

*INSIGHTLOGO200x115It stands to reason that the more you know about a specific market, the more targeted you can be in your efforts to sell travel to that group. This is especially true of skiers and snowboarders, who can be a tricky bunch to pin down in terms of travel habits.

The conventional wisdom is that they don’t use travel agents, they only want bargains and they will choose great terrain over luxurious accommodations every time.

But is this really true? This year, the Ski Traveler Snapshot, from PhoCusWright’s U.S. Skier and Ski Traveler Report sponsored by Mountain Travel Symposium, paints a different picture. The report gives a profile of the travel behavior of winter sports enthusiasts — specifically, how they are shopping for travel and what they are buying.FelicityLong

According to the report, two-thirds of U.S. ski travelers are male — which means that, unlike the general U.S. traveler population, women aren’t taking the lead in travel planning — and they are also younger and more affluent. In fact, 63% of ski travelers are between 18 and 44, and nearly half report an annual income of at least $100,000.

And while snowboarding has revitalized the industry from the perspective of overall winter visits, snowboarders, who represent about 25% of the market, skew even younger and tend to travel less and spend less money.

That said, respondents who consider themselves both skiers and snowboarders take more ski trips with paid lodging and see themselves as luxury travelers. In fact, one in five in this group usually stays in four- or five-star accommodations, compared with 5% to 7% in the other skier groups, and they generally spend more.

Another surprising finding is that while East Coast residents ski less often than their West coast counterparts, they do more overnights with paid lodging, stay longer and spend more.

Less surprisingly, ski conditions are key to serious ski travelers, as is distance between lodging and the slopes.

Finally, ski travelers tend to be tech-savvy, and are likely to both research and buy travel online. Online travel agencies do attract bookings, but so do ski resort websites and other online sites. On the plus side, because younger skiers and snowboarders are prone to sharing travel experiences through their smartphones and tablets, they are ripe for social media marketing.

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