Do Agents Sell Ski Trips?

Kenneth Shapiro This issue’s cover story, “Winter in the West” (page 16), focuses on some of the incredible variety of winter getaways available to Western consumers. From traditional ski towns such as Mammoth Lakes, Calif., and Park City, Utah, to the nightlife of Austin, Texas, to the art galleries and

By: Kenneth Shapiro

This issue’s cover story, “Winter in the West” (page 16), focuses on some of the incredible variety of winter getaways available to Western consumers. From traditional ski towns such as Mammoth Lakes, Calif., and Park City, Utah, to the nightlife of Austin, Texas, to the art galleries and spas of Sedona, Ariz., to the all-around sophisticated small-town vibe of Bend, Ore., travelers in the West have plenty of options. All of these locations are a short drive or plane trip away, and each of them is manageable over a long weekend. In addition, we went right to the experts, using writers that are either residents of the places covered or frequent visitors.

Whenever I mentioned this winter getaway story to friends and associates, they inevitably told me about their favorite ski trips. One family of four said they take a ski trip by car every year. They usually go to the same spot, but would be interested in other options. Another couple told me they fly to a different Western resort each time, hoping to try them all eventually. A single guy I know takes weeklong ski trips with his buddies usually renting a condo. I’m sorry to report not one of these people said they use a travel agent.

At the same time I was hearing these comments from consumers, people within the travel industry would invariably say to me, “You know agents don’t really work with ski resorts.”

Naturally, this led me to wonder, if the West has so many top ski resorts and so many consumers that have such an interest in ski vacations, why wouldn’t agents be more actively trying to tap into that market? Likewise, I meet with representatives from ski resorts and ski towns all the time, and they often tell me how much they want to be a bigger part of agents’ business. It seems clear that somehow there is a disconnect between consumers, suppliers and agents when it comes to ski trips, and someone, or some organization, would do well to step in and try to bridge that gap.

What do you think about this? Are agents simply forever cut out of the ski market? Do you sell ski vacations as part of your business? Are suppliers just giving lip service about working with agents? Send us your thoughts (letters@travelagewest.com) and maybe we can get to the bottom of this potential sales opportunity together.

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