Aspen Skiing Company Expands International Reach

Oct 9, 2013

The Aspen Skiing Company is sending staff to "emerging markets" like China where more and more people are skiing.
The Aspen Skiing Company is sending staff to "emerging markets" like China where more and more people are skiing.
Credit Aspen Skiing Company/aspensnowmass.com

The Aspen Skiing Company is boosting its efforts this year to reach international visitors. The Company is working to attract skiers from new markets like Japan and China. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

For years, the Aspen Skiing Company has focused on key players in the international market like Australia, Brazil and Europe. In addition, now, it’s looking toward emerging markets like China and Japan.

"Our efforts in the international arena, we’re stepping those up, so this is a high area of focus for us," says David Perry.

He's the Senior Vice President of the Ski Co. On Tuesday, he thanked the Pitkin County Commissioners for attracting Delta back to the Aspen market. Delta left the Aspen airport in 2010 but this summer, announced its return, thanks in part to an incentive package that includes $50,000 from the county.

More flights means more options for international visitors, an important component for the Ski Co., where up to a quarter of the company’s business comes from outside the country.

"We can’t just depend on the up’s and down’s of Australia, Brazil, Mexico and Europe because skiing is really strong and winter tourism is really strong and growing in some markets," says Perry.

"When they come from further, they usually stay longer and leave more money behind," Ralf Garrison says about international visitors.

He's with the Denver-based DestiMetrics, a company that tracks business at U.S. ski resorts. He says international visitors, no matter where they come from, are highly sought after. Garrison says the recession has changed the outreach strategy for resorts.

"Historically, the international guests that were attracted to U.S. skiing were those who look and talk very much like we do, Europeans for the most part. As we went into the recession and came back out the other side, the world economics have also changed and Europe has been struggling, at the same time, third world, or what were third world countries, have been growing much more rapidly," he says.

Buoyed by a growing economy, more people in China are traveling to ski. A March 2013 news segment from the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation reports China has 5 million skiers and that number could double by 2015.

Perry says the Aspen Skiing Company will be competing with places like Switzerland for Chinese guests.

"As Chinese citizens start to travel internationally more, they’re going to reach out to the iconic resorts of the world. Switzerland has done a fantastic job of positioning themselves in the hearts and minds of Chinese travelers to think that winter alpine has everything to do with the Swiss Alps."

Perry says Ski Co. wants to broaden that perspective to include Aspen and would like to see additional multilingual resources in the community.

"What if we had a multilingual kiosk in the airport for people to inquire about questions they might have, those are things in the future," he says.

Already, Ski Co. is encouraging its employees to study new languages and the Company’s sales staff has been traveling to emerging markets to drum up business.