There are many ongoing challenges in the ski industry. Accomplishing growth is primary. It’s a balancing act between attracting new people into the sport and retaining the existing skier base. Participants drop out for various reasons including age, physical maladies or just plain lack of interest. With the first time skier and snowboarder retention rate hovering around 15% (NSAA stat), growing the sport is a challenge, indeed.
One of the reasons for the low retention rate is the perception of difficulty that first-timers experience, the result of which is that 85% of them leave and never return. That first day on the slope is critical, first impressions are everything. If people have fun, they come back for more. The key to this fun factor is the level of success that is achieved on that first day, which directly relates to the amount of "down" time. Think back to your first day skiing, there was quite a bit of that, I’ll wager. This is where the SkiBike (aka SnowBike/Skibob) comes in. The inherent design of the package, with a 3 point stance (bike-skis and foot-skis) and low center of gravity makes for a very stable and controllable ride. Within a few runs, participants will be having fun with very little, if any, of that "downtime".
Retaining the existing skier base is another issue. Various physical conditions, bad knees, stiff joints, diminished endurance as well as mental issues (ie boredom) all contribute to "dropout".
Ski-Biking is much less physically stressful, which allows people to stay with the sport much longer. You’ll be selling a lot more of those discounted tickets to 70 year olds. Also, "something new" is sometimes just the right prescription to inspire people who don’t ski as often, or at all, because of the "thrill is gone" factor.
Look at the potential clientele:
• First timers. The bike has a much shorter learning curve. The intimidation factor is lessened. People who would be afraid of skiing, will try the bike because of a familiarity with bicycles. Also, it can be used as a teaching tool for those wishing to transition to skis or boards.
• People who have skied before but didn’t like it. It’s amazing what a little success will do!
• "Plateaued" skiers looking for new inspiration and performance levels.
• Skiers with physical ailments and disabilities.
• The large group of aging baby boomers who are starting to feel a little "creaky"and can’t tolerate the physical stress of traditional skiing.
• BMX kids, mountain bikers, motorcyclists. A crossover group looking for a "handlebars in my hands" experience in the winter.
• People looking for "something different". There is currently a great appetite for alternative experience as exemplified by the popularity of so called X-treme sports.
• Rubber legged skiers. On multi-day visits, some become exhausted. Bikes are a less- tiring alternative. They have also proven successful in 2nd- shift after hours programs.
• Anyone looking for a high performance ride.
Safety: A valid concern. Ski-Bikes have seen continuous use in the European alps for over 50 years and have an exemplary safety record. In the United States, since 1996, which is the beginning of their contemporary incarnation, we are not aware of any injury accidents involving Ski-Bikes. The high-control factor plays a major role in this outstanding safety record.
There are now 65+ resorts in the U.S.A. that allow Ski-Bikes, with more being added each season.
Of course, what has been outlined above are the advantages of having a rental program. We actively promote this because bike/slope access is the key to bringing new people into the sport, one of our primary goals. The try it, you’ll like it philosophy.
But there is a growing number of people who have tried it, liked it, purchased their own equipment and are looking for places to ride. This is a fast growing segment. So even if you cannot commit to a rental/instructional program, please consider the advantages of allowing Ski-Bikers access to your mountain. I assume you would have no objections to selling more lift tickets, right?
We understand that there can be many issues. Skibike World exists as an informational and educational resource. Utilize this website. Please feel free to contact us with any questions that you may have. Depending on your location, it may be possible for a representative to appear at your door for a "demo" ride. A smile is guaranteed...
If you decide to allow Ski-Bike access, please contact us so we can add your resort to our guide.