NEW: How is Brexit impacting the Snowsports Industry in 2019?

Brexit continues to dominate the news headlines in the UK and around the world. Whilst the only certainty remains ‘uncertainty’ with the date for the UK set to leave the European Union (March 29 2019)  just 8 weeks away and falling toward the end of the European ski season, how is this uncertainty impacting on UK snowsports consumers plans and actions right now?

On February 1 2019 we asked a representative sample of 2500 active UK snowsports consumers how they felt Brexit currently impacts and will impact their snowsports holiday plans.

Previous surveys

Club Med’s ‘The Changing Landscape of the Ski Market’ report was published in November 2018. They found:

84% of British skiers and snowboarders still intended to go on a snowsports holiday in 2018/19 despite Brexit

34% said they might rethink their holiday choice including destinations outside of the EU.29% won’t be making holiday arrangements until Brexit is finalized

67% said Brexit would change their booking behavior in some way

76% of people expressed concerns about currency fluctuations

60% believed they will spend more on holidays in light of Brexit

So what’s changed since November? Our findings are detailed below, but the headlines compared to the above are:

40% of active British skiers and snowboarders have already booked a snowsports holiday for 2018/19

60% intend to take the same number or more snowsports holidays in 2018/19

35% think Brexit will impact on the number of snowsports holidays they take in 2019/20 and beyond

29% think Brexit will impact their choice of resort and accommodation choices in the future

Personal finances, snow and fitness/injury worries are the most important factors determining UK consumers decision whether to book a snowsports holiday still in 2018/19, but concerns over job security, exchange rates, post Brexit travel regulation changes and Brexit in general are all significant factors.

Views on the overall impact of Brexit on their snowsport holiday plans range from none to considerable, but most agree uncertainty is the biggest issue right now.

About the sample

97% of the respondents booked at least one snowsports holiday in 2017/18, so they are active skiers and snowboarders.

When asked ‘how many snowsports holidays do you plan to take in 2018/19, respondents answered:

16% more 

18% less

44% the same

22% undecided

So the 22% undecided will determine how successful this season will be for UK operators and some destinations

Who has booked a snowsports holiday already?

We asked if respondents if they had booked a snow sports holiday yet for 2018/19.Whilst we don’t have comparative data for previous years, we would expect a figure of over 50% to have already booked at least one holiday for this season by Feb 1.

Have you booked a snowsports holiday for 2018/19 yet?

In fact, only 40% said they have booked a snow sports holiday for this season, surprising – especially given the excellent snow conditions and given January is typically the busiest booking month of the year for snowsports holidays.

But how many still intend to book for 2018/19? Interestingly 100% of those who hadn’t yet booked a snow sports holiday for 2018/19 did book a snowsports holiday in 2017/18) We asked those respondents to score the following question out of 10, with 0 meaning no likelihood of booking, and 10 meaning almost certain to book.

If you haven’t yet booked a snow sports holiday, what is the likelihood you will book a snowsports holiday for this season (2018/19)? 

 

0 – very unlikely to book              10 – almost certain to book

25% of respondents answered 0, so they are very unlikely to book for 2018/19. 20% answered 9 or 10, almost certain to book.

Interestingly the peak at 5/10 reflects the uncertainty shown in question 1, but to try and predict the remaining market opportunity we took a score of 5 or less to mean very unlikely to book, for those who answered 6 or more we weighted their answers according to their score, and in summary we found around 39% of the total available market is still likely to book a snowsports holiday in 2018/19. That’s versus 40% who have already booked, so around half the available market is still looking to book for this winter.

We then asked those who have already booked for this winter their thoughts about booking a second snowsports holiday for this winter. Again we asked respondents to score the following question out of 10, with 0 meaning no likelihood of booking, and 10 meaning almost certain to book.

If you have already booked a snowsports holiday, what is the likelihood you will book another snowsports holiday for this season (2018/19)? 

0 – very unlikely to book again   10 – almost certain to book again

Once more its the undecided group at 5/10 that dominate, but with a similar weighting approach (answers of 5 or less dismissed as unlikely to book) we found 29% of those how have already booked a snowsports holiday this winter are likely to book another. Encouraging news.

So a mixed picture, but one that does seemingly show a shift in booking patterns this winter, and with all still to play for in terms of many skiers and snowboarders still considering whether to book their first or additional holiday this winter. So of those that are still actively considering booking for this season, what are the factors they are weighing up, and which are most important? We asked them to rank 15 factors from 1 – 15, 1 being the most important factor.

If you are still considering booking a snowsports holiday for this season (2018/19) what are the factors that are affecting your decision, in order of importance (lowest number being the most important)

Factors influencing those looking to book a snowsports holiday for the 2018/19, in order of importance

Reflecting every previous study which has found price to be the most important consideration for the majority of snowsports consumers choosing a holiday, personal finances lead the chart as most important factor.

Snow is second, higher than found in previous studies, but snow conditions have been generally very good this winter so unlikely to be a barrier to sales

Injury/fitness. Not Brexit related as far as we can tell! Somewhat surprising to see this so high.

Job security and exchange rates come next, both could be argued to be ‘Brexit factors’ but the next 3 factors are expressly Brexit related – concerns about travel regulations, airline operations and Brexit in general.

The robustness of tour operators sits mid-table, and all other potentially Brexit related factors seems of little influence.

So with fitness and snow conditions beyond the control of anyone,  there is a financial trinity of cost/job security/exchange rates weighting heavily on many consumers minds and which the industry must look to address to ensure this winter is a successful one.

The future…

And what of beyond this winter? Once the Brexit uncertainty has been resolved one way or another, will behaviour return to ‘normal. We also asked respondents what impact they thought Brexit would have on the number of snowsports holidays they will take in the future.

Do you think Brexit will affect the number of ski holidays you take in 2019/20?

Over a third, 35% said yes vs 65% no

But would the impact lessen in following years, as we may expect?

Do you think Brexit will affect the number of ski holidays you take in 2020/21?

So almost exactly the same, 36%, said yes Brexit will impact the number of ski holidays they take in 2021. The Brexit impact is not seemingly going to be short term.

And what of other impacts of Brexit, will the destinations or type of holiday chosen change?

Do you think you are more likely to visit a non European resort post Brexit?

29% answered yes, vs 36% no and 35% don’t know, pointing to a possible opportunity for destinations outside  Canada, the US and Japan

Do you think Brexit will affect your choice of accommodation in coming seasons?

A very similar number, 29%, said that Brexit was likely to affect their choice of accommodation in the future, with self-catering looking to undergo further growth.

Overall?

We asked respondents to score the following from 0-10, 0 being no impact, 10 being very significant impact.

Overall, what impact do you think Brexit will have on your snowsports holidays in the next few years?

As we would expect, a big range of opinion. The average response was just under 5 overall. But the peak at 8 shows a significant proportion of the market do expect to consider and choose their snowsports holiday differently post Brexit.

And what of consumer perceptions of the impact of Brexit on snowsports in general?

Overall, what impact do you think Brexit will have on the snowsports industry in general?

Again a range of responses, with a slightly higher average of 5.5. Consumers do expect the industry to be changed by Brexit, they just don’t yet know how…

Conclusions

Comments were as diverse as you would expect given how the Brexit issue has polarised debate. But the consensus is that uncertainty is not good for anyone, and there is an expectation prices may well rise for UK skiers and snowboarders post Brexit (mainly due to exchange rates in the view of consumers though many operators will point to significant structural and operating cost increases as well). With price being established in recent surveys as the dominant factor in skiers and snowboarders decision making, finding innovative ways to address the threat of further prices rises is a real challenge for the industry to overcome.

What lies behind the numbers given above? Here’s a few of the comments from survey respondents;

‘It’s scary not knowing, but not enough to stop me booking holidays.’

‘Any initial travel issues will be sorted out quickly and there is a lot of scaremongering going on which won’t materialise in reality.’

‘All the uncertainty seems to be another reason for everyone to raise their prices!’

‘It’s scary not knowing, but not enough to stop me booking holidays.’

‘Don’t think brexit will make much of a difference to any of my choices regarding holidays.’

‘I am old enough to have been travelling abroad since before UK joined EEC. It is in all parties interests for trade and travel to continue. I do not think matters will change.’

‘Scaremongering is not helping anyone. Get on with it and book to go skiing as normal.’

‘When I go to Switzerland which is not in EU I have no worries, why worrying about Brexit?’

‘Brexit may slow entry but access won’t be as difficult as the US.’

‘Brexit has nothing to do with my decision for booking a holiday.’

‘I will still use Europe and Brexit won’t change anything.’

Your thoughts?

What do you think? Do the responses above reflect your experience this winter? Please tell us at info@listex.co.uk, or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook and Linked In.

Want more answers?

Join us for the LISTEX Summer Exchange on May 1 2019 and the LISTEX Winter Exchange where our expert speakers, analysts and industry leaders will unpick the fallout (or not) from Brexit and explore what opportunities lie ahead. Earlybird prices are available until February 28th 2019.