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The Unstoppable Rise of the Independent Skier

By: Philip Teare

Last year Phil Teare, along with longtime friend Jim Barker, realised his dream of creating a ski chalet holiday company when he set up The Chalet Experience. They have now trebled in size after one year, despite a difficult snow season in their first year. How come when I thought the world said European skiing is dead?

There are 2 real sides to this story. Firstly there were the conditions last year. The public perception of last season is worse than the reality. Last year was down on previous, but still there was plenty of great skiing to be had all season long, we had plenty of powder days just the same as any other year. Also 2 years ago was a record snowfall year in our area. Les Gets attracts many repeat visitors who were there 2 years ago, so the perception is more of a weak year rather than the end of skiing in Europe!

The other side of it has been our ability to really tailor our holidays. The whole holiday market has been shifting for a good few years now. Since the arrival of Easyjet and all the other budget airlines, there has been an explosion in independent travel. These airlines not only opened up new routes at reduced costs, but also they inspired a confidence in travellers to book all the elements of their holiday themselves. Suddenly the package holiday model, everything done for you in a one size fits all idea, was not working. Now the newly confident travellers have become more discerning, looking for tailors holidays that fit their exact needs. This is where the small independent companies have been able to excel.

When people call me to enquire the level of detail they would like is very high indeed, to the stage that a large company can't provide as a person in a call centre cannot know all 50 resorts they use in first hand detail! The small independent companies know their own resorts, chalets, ski schools and everything else in real detail so people are more able to get all the information they need to find their ideal place. The holidays can also be tailored exactly to the client's needs. It always surprises me the amount of changes we make to each week to suit the particular guests, no two weeks are quite the same holiday!

There is still the old competing with a giant competitor problem. The internet solved that. No small independent company could very compete with the marketing budgets of the big tour operators by standard means of the press, tv, radio and alike. But we can compete in the land of the internet. We suddenly have access to guests at a reasonable cost and we can excel in our ability to promote a niche here.

This growth in the independent holiday makers is shown across all aspects of the ski industry. New specialist ski schools are popping up all over the place, no longer does on ski school do everything, now you can pick the right school to suit you. Ski hire, childcare the lot is changing as well.

A good thing? I think so. The land of the internet has provided the method of communication, so now maybe people do have the ability to find that perfect holiday. All we need now is to be able to pick the perfect snow we want before we arrive!

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