There is no doubt that selling skiing can be a lucrative
proposition for agents. Not only are the ski packages themselves
commissionable, but so are equipment rentals and nonski activities.
Despite this fact, many agents are less than comfortable venturing
into this arena. Here, three agents offer their tips on how to
become more confident and adept at selling this sport to your
Carole Williams, owner and executive vice president of Travel 15
in Roseland, N.J., has several tips for selling ski. The most
important for her, she says, is being a skier: "I am personally
involved in the sport and have knowledge of it."
She says it is critical to find out the exact ski level of your
clients. "If they are advanced, they know where they want to be,"
says Williams. "But if they aren't, or if they are traveling with
intermediate skiers, you have to find the right place."
This means being familiar with the various mountains. For
example, she says, agents booking a family must choose a place that
offers a great ski school and good terrain for kids, as well as
more advanced runs for the adults. The bottom line: A place with
something for everyone.
She recommends knowing the finer details about the hotels and
resorts as well, including how close they are to the base of the
mountain, and whether or not they are ski-in/ski-out.
"It makes no sense to offer a good hotel if the mountain doesn't
have the quality of skiing and the other amenities that your client
needs," she says.
Marion Closter, ski and sports specialist at Penthouse Travel in
North Merrick, N.Y., has been a skier for 25 years and, like
Williams, considers that to be her greatest asset when booking a
client. She also makes sure she knows her clients' ski level, as
well as the age of the group she is booking, and whether or not
they are a family or a group of singles.
Closter encourages agents to get a clear understanding of how
important ease of travel is to your clients. "Many ski resorts are
accessible via a nonstop flight and a quick transfer from the
airport, while others are more remote."
She also advises knowing how to save your clients money if they
are on a tight budget. "If they are willing to be further away from
the resort and take a shuttle bus, they can save half the price,"
she says. "Also, a place that is nice but doesn't have the hot tubs
and fireplaces can be a great find if the clients don't mind the
lack of amenities."
Marcella Rappoport, executive vice president of World Travel
Specialists in Harrison, N.Y., says being a skier is not always
necessary. She keeps abreast of the industry through her clients
who do ski, through hoteliers she has a relationship with, through
the ski areas' tourist bureaus and through tour operators.
In addition, she suggests becoming familiar with the
destinations themselves, given the different atmospheres at various
resorts. "Aspen is very social, while other areas are more
low-key," she notes. "You must qualify where your clients are
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SnowSports Industries America (SIA) is the national, nonprofit,
member-owned trade association of competing snow sports product
suppliers, working together for the development of the snow sports
It can be reached at (703) 556-9020, fax (703) 821-8276. It
offers a fax-on-demand service at (800) 730-3636, which allows
users to get immediate information on a host of ski products with
one phone call. The Web site is www.snowlink.com.