What has been the outcome of the Christmas holidays?

The results are good. Occupation rates reached 100% at resorts like Courchevel, Meribel and Val d’Isere between 29 December and 5 January 2019. Christmas week is always a popular time, but New Year is by far the busiest time of the year. In Courchevel, Val d’Isere and Meribel, everything is fully booked before the start of the holidays! This period is traditionally one of the busiest, and this season has been no exception. Especially given that in the market for spacious chalets and superb apartments, many clients anticipate and reserve their stays many months in advance, even come spring for the largest chalets. We have seen a few cancellations, for medical, personal or professional reasons, but the owners have been able to quickly find other renters due to the high pressure on demand. Although there is some availability at Christmas, as many people celebrate with their families, booking a chalet for the New Year after late November requires a miracle! It’s all about the right property at the right price.

What’s on the cards for this season?

An increase in bookings has been observed over all periods at all resorts, be it Val d’Isere, Meribel, Courchevel, Megeve or Saint-Martin-de-Belleville. The week of 16 February is particularly in demand due to the school holidays in many countries. But the weeks outside the holidays are also in demand among the more ‘opportunist’ clientèle who are looking to ski in the best conditions and to find accommodation at lower prices than those offered during the school holidays, particularly in early February and March. Val d’Isere, for example, is particularly busy in the last weeks of March and the first weeks of April. We think that this increase in demand is due to the exceptional snow cover over the winter 2017-18 period. The exceptional snow conditions last year have been engraved in people’s memories, as demonstrated by the bookings for the entire autumn season. Snowfall is rare between November and January, meaning that bookings are more timid. Although it is possible to ski at the resorts and despite the generally good conditions, the clientèle prefers to wait for the more substantial snowfalls in February and March. We are therefore expecting a spike in bookings as soon as the snow returns!

Clientèle, choice criteria… is the market changing?

In terms of nationality, French, British, Belgians and Russians remain in the majority, although a greater diversity is being observed with the arrival of American, Ukrainian and Brazilian clients, as well as those from the Middle East. Another trend is the high expectations when it comes to services. Today, it is possible to rent an independent chalet or apartment, but also hotel services! The hotel trade is still a major factor in accommodation at our resorts. Even more so given the exceptional establishments at our sites, both in terms of their services and their infrastructure. Renting chalets or apartments is a complementary activity as it concerns a clientele looking to feel at home, able to sit down to a family meal or lounge around in the living room, or better yet enjoy the spa! And the cherry on top - privacy. Our clients are increasingly aware of the privacy afforded by the properties we promote: location, ambiance, distance from the village centre and the slopes, views, exposure, decoration, bed format, audio and TV equipment - these are all factors that a good Ski Chalet Advisor should be aware of when talking to holiday-goers. Then there is the ‘added soul’ that a property can offer and that needs to be brought into alignment with holiday plans. The market is moving towards greater requirements. Meeting search criteria is no longer sufficient. Nowadays it’s all about finding the inherent snags in a holiday plan. “I thought this chalet would be ideal for an annual get together for all the gang!” “or this apartment with its functional layout and proximity to the slopes, perfect for ski addicts!” “or this chalet in the centre for a family with grandparents who don't ski and prefer shopping”. This detective work is what makes our job so interesting!

Are you seeing new consumer trends?

Our job as Ski Holiday Advisors places us on the front line of one clear trend: the Uber effect. Because we are the sole agents managing our chalets, we are the one and only contact for bookings. However, many Internet users contact us about prices before attempting to find the property online. We know this because our properties are advertised on hundreds of platforms and distributors worldwide, so all requests - often identical - come back to us. This global trend is entirely understandable and is being led by exceptional players in the online and tourism sectors: Airbnb, Homeaway, etc. But our products are now automatically advertised with real-time availabilities. Isn't technology a wonderful thing! Our aim is therefore to provide highly specialised expert advice that no website or algorithm can provide. That being said, Internet users are very knowledgeable, and the information is often available online. At the end of the day the important thing is that each person finds the best accommodation for their holiday!