Bienvenue - the dash to the Alps

Supply side bottlenecks are likely to play a big role in the remainder of a winter season that has been beset by changing restrictions. The news of the French opening has been extremely positive, now all that remains is for event agencies to shoehorn the relentless demand into an unworkably finite accommodation stock.

First winter event in 23 months

Over the weekend, as the bells of Kitzbühel chimed in the frigid, dusk air, the sense of escapism and reunion were palpable amongst our first winter clients in 23 months. Their return to the ski resorts of the Alps after 2 years was a truly meaningful moment. Our clients (all credit in the world to them) have stuck this one out. Their determination to return to the Alps began as soon as the impacts of vaccination began to be felt in 2021. Then came omicron and border restrictions in Germany and Austria. It has been head-spinning trying to keep up with all the developments, for both us and the client, but they touched down, past border control, crossed into a further country and got to marvel at the unique sensory experiences of central Kitzbühel in late afternoon. The tangible joy at being in this special town was further evidence that clients will endure the dramas of the event planning process to reach their destination. In short, teams are utterly determined to enjoy these moments again – demand for winter ski incentives is stronger than we have ever seen.

Restrictions lift

Last week the persistent rumours of a French opening-up were made official. What followed (and in some cases preceded) the announcement was a desperate dash to the reactivate cancelled bookings and enquire about spontaneous, last-minute events for winter 2022. In economics terminology, these winter destinations are subject to inelastic supply – the ability of small villages, bordered by rivers, fields & mountains to host guests is limited by scale and there is no easy way to increase this supply in the short term. This finite supply will likely lead to a great deal of unconverted leads - there simply won't be the capacity to accommodate the demand for late season events in the Alps.

Flexibility will be required

Yet, surprisingly, aspects of on the demand side are also part of the problem. Unlike traditional family and leisure ski trips, corporate ski trips don’t need to conform to the calendar – they could take place at all times outside of the school holidays. But the reality is that firms like to extend their trips over a weekend so that the working week isn’t overly disrupted. March 2022 is looking like the key month for corporate ski events given they take a good deal or organising, but it may be that for firms to have their staff on the snow in March 2022, they will have to consider mid-week events, in slots where hotel group bookings are still available. A further option would be to go later in the winter, yet this means that clients will have to confront the perceptions of snow security. There is zero doubt that glaciers are rapidly retreating, and average temperatures are rising. The reality is though that changing weather patterns are eroding our sense of winter season, and it’s not uncommon to have better conditions in April than early January. 

Important note: This website uses cookies. I UNDERSTAND, CONTINUE