Last week the Ski Club of Great Britain announced details of their new instructor-led guiding service which they have developed as a response to the ban on ski leading imposed by French authorities in 2014. The legal battles behind the French ban have been well documented elsewhere so we don't want to go into that here. The Ski Club provides a great service and we hope that the leading service will be reinstated in France at some point in the future. In the meantime the instructor-led service offers a great opportunity to get some tips and pointers from an instructor without the cost or commitment required for private lessons or ski school - so members get the chance to explore and to get some tips to improve their technique.
It's not just a disappointment for Ski Club members that the free leading service in France is on hold however - it's a shame for the whole industry. It's no secret that the total number of skiers (and snowboarders) in the UK has shrunk over the last few years. This can be attributed to the economic downturn to a large extent - there simply hasn't been as much cash around for ski holidays. There are of course other factors - below average snow depths last winter, a stronger euro until relatively recently etc.
It's also true that skiing and snowboarding are not quick-fix past-times. Getting to the stage where you feel that you are getting to grips with the sport and really enjoying it, will usually take more than one holiday. True, after one week many people will say that it was the best holiday they've ever had and are hooked for life. But for many they may need a few more weeks to say that they are really convinced.
And this is what ski resorts, lift pass companies, ski schools, ski holiday companies and everybody involved in the ski industry should be looking at - not just how to get the customer but how to keep that customer coming back. How to turn a beginner into a keen skier/snowboarder who wants to discover and learn everything that the sport and the environment has to offer? How to make their experience enjoyable, fun and meaningful? This is something that the Ski Club is good at - not just with the leading service but with the holidays they offer and the opportunities they provide to learn and improve.
We also know that there are hundreds of great ski holiday companies out there who do their utmost to provide a good experience - you can find them on Chalets Direct. Most of them are passionate about the sport and their love for the mountains - and their knowledge and passion is infectious.
So rather than fight over who has the right to show people around the ski area, rather than legislate to keep your piece of the pie, we encourage authorities, ski schools, lift pass companies and all of those businesses who rely on skiers and snowboarders coming back, to look at how to make the pie bigger, tastier and more appetising.