After finishing winter season 21/22, planning for winter 22/23 has already begun. Similar to the previous season, this one is also characterized by great uncertainties:
- How will inflation develop? What impact will the Ukraine war have?
- To what extent will our operating and personnel costs increase?
- What does this mean for our pricing in 2022/23?
These are relevant questions that concern not only ropeways but the entire tourism sector. Susanne Kraus-Winkler, Chairwoman of the Hotel Industry Association of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKO), speaks at a press conference on April 26, 2022 of a general price increase of 10-15% as a basic strategy to counteract these factors.
In times of the pandemic, geopolitical crises and planning uncertainty, the trend to short-term bookings of hotel overnight stays becomes even stronger – whereby short-term is classified with 2-3 days before day of arrival. This confirms a study of the WKO with over 700 hotel enterprises in Austria, wherby this trend can also be interpreted as an additional chance in the future (Source)
Therefore, many customers are willing to accept a surcharge for this short-term booking behavior.
What does this mean for mountain ropeways and ski resorts?
This core statement is also of great importance for the mountain ropeway industry. We conducted interviews with 38 ski resorts on the subject of pricing strategy and were able to derive two essential questions for the coming winter season 22/23 from these discussions:
1. What is the appropriate price adjustment for ski passes – due to inflation and rising operating costs?
2. What price strategy options are there to maintain flexibility and control – despite growing uncertainties?
The surveyed mountain ropeways are planning to increase the prices of ski passes by an average of +7%
Due to the consequences of the Corona crisis and rising energy prices, war and inflation rates between +6 to +11 percent in various European markets (as of April 2022), the price adjustment for ski passes for the upcoming season is a sensitive issue of strategic importance. From our discussions with 38 mountain railroads, we can deduce planned price increases in the range of +5 to +12 percent. Accordingly, the average price adjustment based on our calculation is +7 percent.
However, the effects or after-effects of the pandemic, the war and also the rising costs in all areas make it difficult to estimate and cannot be quantified 100 percent. This makes the early fixation of prices for the coming winter season, as often pushed by tour operators and other partners, another additional challenge.
Ski resorts deal with uncertainty in three different ways when it comes to pricing
With regard to the 22/23 season, three basic strategies can be identified regarding to the input of the 38 surveyed ski resorts / mountain ropeways:
1. Fix prices later (approx. 20 ski resorts)
2. Prices under reserve (approx. 5 ski resorts)
3. Dynamize prices / introduction of dynamic pricing (approx. 10 ski resorts)
We have summarized the three strategies in the following graphic:
The degree of flexibility increases from left to right. As you can see, the surveyed ski resorts / mountain ropeways are basically divided into 2 camps:
1. Those who continue to price statically, but fix their prices later than before.
2. On the other hand those, who use dynamic pricing to give themselves the flexibility to adjust the number of tickets according to the booking situation, changing personnel and operating costs – even during season
In addition to the possibility to react to changing circumstances on a daily basis, further advantages such as sales increases of +5-15%, increase of online store shares to 30% and increased control of visitor flows, offer an additional opportunity for mountain ropeways.
In view of the current situation, the topic of pricing is an essential decision with many question marks for every ski resort / mountain ropeway. The dynamization of ski pass prices currently offers the possibility of an additional, proactive reaction to given uncertainties and enables more flexibility with regard to pricing strategy.
In times of not guaranteed planning security, this is a decisive plus point regarding one of your most effective control instruments – which makes us think it is time to rethink the topic of pricing!
If you have further questions to this topic and want to get specific information about smart pricing for your business >> contact us now for a free consultation appointment