Resorts prepare to cater to tomorrow’s skiers |

Resorts prepare to cater to tomorrow’s skiers

SUMMIT COUNTY – The ski industry in Colorado should brace itself for an onslaught of Gen- and baby boomer skiers and boarders in the next few years as the nation’s most populous groups plan more and more ski vacations.

That was what two analysts – Nick Fristoe of RRC Associates and Peter Wesawich of Wesawich, Pepperdine, Brown and Russell – told people in two different meetings Thursday morning.

Fristoe, speaking at the Breckenridge Resort Chamber’s annual meeting, said more in-state skiers are taking advantage of cheap ski passes, which in turn, entices them to ski locally.

Wesawich, the featured speaker on a Vail Resorts-sponsored conference call, said research his company compiled recently indicates 22 percent of leisure travelers have an interest in skiing and snowboarding – particularly those ages 25 to 54.

“That’s a large market,” he said. “That bodes very well for growth in the industry for years to come.”

Of that population, 70 percent plan to travel with spouses or other adults, but there is some interest in taking a ski vacation with family, as well – something toward which most resorts have redirected their marketing efforts.

People aren’t concerned about taking their kids out of school, either, meaning the traditional perception that the vacation season is over at the end of Labor Day weekend is no longer the norm.

“People feel vacation is a birthright,” he said. “Two-thirds of those people say they don’t have enough vacation time. If they’re offered a choice of two weeks of vacation or two weeks of pay, two-thirds said, “I’ve got enough money, thanks. What I really want is the vacation time.’ That’s a reflection of shifting social values. They have a different view of work than those 41 to 48 years old.”

His research also indicates people want to travel to the top mountain resorts of Colorado.

“That’s the epicenter of Vail Resorts,” Wesawich said. “The center of gravity is clearly shifting to the West and focusing in Colorado.”

His research also divulged information about people in the two demographic groups.

“They’re an eclectic and colorful clientele,” he said. “They want new experiences, they want to restore romance, they want more novelty and change in their lives. That’s interesting in the aftermath of 9-11. They’re free-spirited, with a remarkable zest for life and leisure.”

The typical ski travelers are techno-savvy, too, primarily because they make more money than the general population. When they seek information about companies, they head to the Internet, reiterating the premise that online services will play an important role in the growth of the ski industry. Those online services enable travelers to learn about a myriad of vacation spots, so they come to the booking table armed with a lot of information.

“This is a very robust market,” Wesawich said. “One of five active leisure travelers is interested in skiing – that’s a very substantial market in the current environment. They skew a little younger, they’re very focused on family, they’re very techno-savvy, they have discovered and embrace the Internet. They have a remarkable zest for life, and when they finally get to the destination resort, they have a hell of a good time.”

Tomorrow’s Skier

72 percent want a vacation that gives them something new

67 percent want to restore romance

66 percent want more novelty and change in their life

61 percent turn to the Internet to research vacation spots

51 percent of the general population that uses the Internet to do the same

40 percent say they will “do whatever I can do look as young as possible”

63 percent believe they get better vacation deals on the Internet

20 percent believe they get better deals if they call airlines, hotels, etc. directly

17 percent say travel agents offer the best deals.

66 percent say they stay out late, once at the resort

40 percent indulge when dining

33 percent say they imbibe too much

(Information: Wesawich, Pepperdine, Brown and Russell, marketing consultants)

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or

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