The snowsport industry would like more feet on skis just as the cycle industry wants more bums on saddles. What could the bike trade learn from the ski trade?

Off piste

According to US trade magazine Outdoor Retailer (November 2000) a recent snowsport seminar in America had US ski industry experts doing somersaults trying to figure out ways of increasing skier day numbers.

Both the SnowSports Industries America and the National Ski Areas Association are working to bring more people into the sport. From association reports presented at the seminar, some key findings shine out:

[These findings can be applied to the bike trade hence the comments in square brackets].

* The more proficient a participant gets, the more likely he or she will continue.

[Obvious, yes, but what does the bike trade do to encourage cycle training? Could more centres such as Patrick Fields London School of Cycling be set up and core-funded by the bike trade?]

* Those who start young spend significantly more on the sport than those who start later in life.

[Does the bike trade do enough to encourage youth cycling? Should cycle proficiency schemes receive more industry help?]

* Three of the five main reasons why people dont ski is because they are not comfortable, they have no confidence and no time.

[For the bike trade the resonance here is clear: bikes are also seen as uncomfortable. Has the comfort bike message been adequately broadcast by the bike trade?]

* Marketing should be refocussed away from extreme images.

[Does bike trade marketing over emphasise the extreme nature of mountain biking?]

Delegates at the seminar heard that if the ski industry could attract just two percent more people to try skiing, and if 1 percent of those could be retained as regular skiers, the sport could go from 45 million to 67.5 million skier days per year.

And tills would ring.

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