Managing a winter ski event during an atypical season

As the tail-end of the winter continues to deliver fantastic powder skiing, those event planners who took a punt on a spring ski incentive are basking in the adoration and acclaim.

2022/23 winter planning has been akin to a round of pin tail on the donkey. New snow over the weekend provided another instalment of a winter in reverse, when French and Swiss resorts were closed over Christmas, yet the end of March and now mid-April are delivering epic snow conditions. The peak months for a corporate ski event are January or March, so why aren’t the event planners choosing dates to coincide with the optimal conditions?

Old habits

January and March have long been the peak months for corporate ski events - December is considered too early for reliable snow and both Christmas / New Year and February clash with school holidays. Event management companies and internal event planners are in the main, risk-averse entities and the idea of moving a corporate ski trip out of the traditional months is a leap too far for most planners. Event management is usually a delegated task and the thought of a CEO walking amongst the grass of a snow-free resort is an outcome the event planner will do everything to avoid. So, we stick with the status quo - whilst the weather patterns have other ideas. There is no merit in extrapolating long term weather trends from a single season, yet this winter has been like many in the most recent decades – highly unpredictable. Winter 2022/23 saw good early snow in December, poor conditions in the western alps over new year and superb snow conditions at the end of March and into April. The old certainties of January and March are less dependable than ever.

Gaps in the knowledge

Planners and event management companies can be forgiven for lacking a crystal ball onto the weather, but a lack of local knowledge is less forgivable. There are ski resorts which access glacier skiing, offering a snow guarantee right through to May and beyond. Resorts such as Val d’Isère, Zermatt, Sölden and Kaprun are prime examples of resorts which have immediate access to towering peaks providing incredible snow conditions outside of the January to March window. Kaprun has an elevation of 768m and on the face of it would be a serious role of the dice for a December or April corporate ski event. Yet the lift connection to the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier ensures Kaprun has one of the longest ski seasons in the region south of Salzburg.

As the flowers bloom

Minds soon adjust to the onset of spring, bikes are dusted off, café terraces fill across London, Dublin & beyond, and the thought of skiing is kicked forward to the following winter. There is no doubt that April is a month where winter feels behind us and yet this month can offer some of the very best skiing conditions of the winter – and not just this atypical winter. For those event planners wanting to access the most abundant accommodation options, best value ski tickets and long, sunny days, then April should be a definite consideration. For those event management companies looking for a twist on their annual Christmas party, a December corporate ski event offers a welcome far removed from an overbooked London venue, prices that are easily comparable with a city-centre solution, and an impact that will blow all previous Christmas parties out of the water.

It seems odd to be extolling the merits of ‘off-season’ skiing in a time of increasing weather unpredictability, yet based on recent experiences, it might well be the optimal solution.

Stubai Glacier with ski lifts and skiers on a sunny day
Stubai Glacier skier jumping off rock into snow
Stubai Glacier lift station and snowy forest
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