Dynamic Lab at Val Cenis

A Recap by Tony André, Account Director – Europe

On Monday, January 27th, more than 12 ski resorts from France and Switzerland met in Val Cenis’ brand new office, in the french Haute Maurienne region, for a day of skiing and networking among industry leaders  to discuss a hot question in the industry: Is dynamic pricing the next revolution in online ticketing?

Yves Dimier, General Manager of Val Cenis, was there to welcome an enthusiastic group of professionals excited to discover the ski area on a sunny day. After a group lunch on the slopes, the afternoon was dedicated to sharing initial feedback after six months of dynamic pricing sales on www.valcenis.ski.

Participants were from many ski areas looking to learn about Val Cenis and their experience with online selling/dynamic pricing/Liftopia partnership, often including the Director of Sales & Marketing coming from all types of resorts (Day skiers vs destination resorts, small size, big size) from the Northern Alps, Southern Alps, Swiss Wallis and also the Jura region.

As the first French resort to implement a full dynamic pricing strategy for online ticket sales, Val Cenis was happy to share their initial results and key trends of this new approach: What was the impact on revenue? On customer purchasing behavior? How did customers react? What about the locals? The Tourism Office? Hoteliers? Tour Operators?

Jérôme Estienne, the resort’s Sales Manager, explained why the resort decided to make such a dramatic change: “After analyzing our existing pricing and promotions, we wished to move away from one-off promotions and take back control of our pricing strategy. Dynamic pricing was the best way for us to achieve this.”

After discussing the details of their pricing strategy and sharing some results, Val Cenis highlighted some of the surprising benefits of this model: More skiing is consumed (for example,  7 day tickets sales increased by 25%), hotel rooms filled up earlier in the season, and more precise data was collected about customer purchasing habits (customer’s geographical origin is broader, customers are younger, purchases on mobile and tablets significantly increased)

After Evan Reece, CEO Liftopia, presented on the evolution of dynamic pricing across other industries and how it made its way into ski, he shared some interesting facts about the North American ski industry. Tony Andre, Account Director – Europe at Liftopia, explained the opportunities of this approach and the goals behind it. This model can be scary for French resorts as it involves a switch in mentality. Val Cenis’ team agrees: For this model to be implemented successfully, they had to make concessions and give up the way they used to consider pricing. On the buyers side, however, it’s been really easy to understand the change as this model is designed for the customer. In a few clicks, a skier should be able to search for a trip date and purchase lift tickets easily and without hassle. Cloud Store, used by more than 120 partners across the globe, was gamely designed for buyers.

After a studious afternoon where all participants could interact with Liftopia and Val Cenis’ teams, Jérôme concluded: “Our goal is to launch our winter sales before this summer to generate sales even earlier and encourage our resellers to do the same so that we sell lift tickets 12 months per year.”

The day ended up with an Après-ski at the Hôtel St Charles Bar, where interactions continued over drinks. Participants were thrilled to share their impressions about the day, what they learned, and made the promise to gather together more often.

The group was super engaged on the topic, and the format was great as it was a mix of ski, fun, social interactions as well as a high level of knowledge. We’re excited to take this format to other places!

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