Mobile devices more common with ski travelers, study shows

Jill Beathard

Snowmass Sun
Fleet White, of Boulder, sends a photo via his phone from the Sundeck on Aspen Mountain Friday. Four out of five ski travelers own a smartphone, according to a national survey conducted in February.

SNOWMASS VILLAGE — Four out of five ski travelers own a smartphone, and more than half own a tablet, according to a recent survey. Most of them are using the Internet when planning a ski trip.

That’s what Douglas Quinby, a principal analyst with research company PhoCusWright, told ski industry leaders in a presentation at the Mountain Travel Symposium in Snowmass Village on Thursday. The percentage of ski travelers who own a smartphone or tablet is much higher than in travelers overall, which could be related to the average income of the demographic, Quinby said.

“This is a very digitally engaged segment of the traveler population,” Quinby said.

The findings Quinby presented came from a national survey his company conducted in February, which Liftopia and VacationRoost sponsored.

This is a very digitally engaged segment of the traveler population

Seventy percent of ski travelers said in the survey that they used websites on a computer as sources of information to plan their last ski trip. About a third said they relied on personal recommendations from people they know. Twenty-five percent used smartphones to get information, 24 percent used tablets, and the next- biggest source was online advertising.

“Four out of the top five sources of information that ski travelers use are digital,” Quinby said. “And by the way, the smartphone, the tablet piece here … that’s basically twice the incidence of the typical U.S. traveler. So mobile, tablet engagement (is) really important for engaging with ski travelers. And without a doubt, if we do this survey next year, I’m sure that those numbers are going to look very different from how they do today.”

For half of all ski trips, 100 percent of the trip’s components were booked online, according to the survey. Seventy percent of all ski trips involve some online purchasing.

“For lift tickets, the incidence isn’t quite as high,” Quinby said.

One specific group Quinby talked at length about was the 16 percent of the American population that skis and snowboards. That group takes the most trips, is more advanced, is more likely to stay in upscale lodging and to spend more on average during a ski trip. Also, 60 percent of that group is younger than 35.

Quinby had demonstrated earlier in his presentation that younger travelers tend to spend and travel less.

“This group is an anomaly,” Quinby said. “They ski more. They travel more. This is your most passionate, your most engaged, your most advanced segment of the ski traveler population.”

They’re also more likely to own mobile devices and, because of their age, to use social media more than other ski tourists. Twenty-nine percent of those who ski and snowboard use social media.

A group of industry experts joined Quinby in a panel, and he started by asking them how to market to the skier/snowboarder set.

Maile Keone, chief marketing officer of online rental company VacationRoost, suggested that marketers could reach them the same way they reach all other groups. However, Evan Reece, co-founder of Liftopia, pointed out that it might be more important to find people not currently in that group who would like to be.

“That customer exists, and they will be that customer their entire lives,” Reece said. “On the one hand, we do want to target them. On the other hand, we want to create more of them.”

Thursday was the last day of educational sessions at the Mountain Travel Symposium. The event continued through Saturday.