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Luxury brands are focused on skiers once again. 

This winter’s ski holidays are back on the agenda for Europe-bound travellers after UK travel restrictions were eased further this week. 

With news that the UK Government has scrapped PCR and pre-departure tests, travel firms have reported a surge in demand for winter sun and ski holidays.

With the latest round of travel restriction changes coming into play from today (7 January), fully vaccinated UK holidaymakers will be able to swap PCR and pre-departure tests for cheaper lateral flow tests on their return to Britain, which will save them hundreds of pounds. 

Pent-up demand

Jet2 Holidays was quick to launch a money-off discount promotion for bookings to celebrate the government’s latest travel announcement (on 5 January). The company said demand had returned to “around pre-Covid levels” and it has seen a “huge spike” in bookings.

CEO Steve Heapy told the BBC that before the rule changes, bookings were “well below” usual levels, but the relaxation of measures has given people “the confidence that perhaps they won’t be caught in resorts quarantining”, with bookings up 150% within 24 hours of the announcement.

He said Jet2 has a larger summer holiday package for 2022 than 2019. “People are desperate to get away, that’s been demonstrated over the past couple of days,” he added.

“The removal of these travel restrictions is the news that our customers have been desperate to hear, and the massive surge in traffic and bookings tells us that holidays are very much back on for UK holidaymakers,” Heapy commented. 

Flight bookings forecast

While it’s still early to be tracking consumers’ travel plans after this week’s UK travel announcement, ski season flights to some French resorts have begun to approach pre-pandemic levels, according to forward bookings data from Echolution’s travel analytics partner, ForwardKeys.

Nationalities arrivals for January – February 2022 vs same period in 2020 for inbound European travel in the Rhone Alps region – source ForwardKeys.

For inbound European travel in the Rhone Alps region, arrivals are back up to -20% of 2020 levels in February 2022 – traditionally a busy week due to the half-term holidays. 

Arrivals traffic for January – February 2022 vs same period in 2020 for inbound European travel in the Rhone Alps region – source ForwardKeys.

Travel analysts have forecast high demand for travel bookings will continue, according to The Telegraph.

After disappointing sales over the Christmas break, travel data aggregators including Skyscanner, predicted an instant spike in demand, similar to the 131% surge in searches after the restrictions were lifted in September 2021.

Tim Alderslade, the chief executive of Airlines UK, which represents carriers, said: “This is a hugely welcome move at a critical time in the booking season for passengers, and will provide a massive boost to those wanting to travel abroad or come to the UK this year.

Travel ad spend set for double-digit growth in 2022

Furthermore, advertising spend for the travel sector is set to increase in 2022, off the back of double-digit growth in 2021, according to a Business Intelligence report by market research firm, Zenith. 

Zenith’s Business Intelligence Travel report paints an upbeat picture of a resurgence in ad spend for travel, expanding by 24% in 2021 across 13 key markets, including the UK, US and Germany. The pace will quicken further to 36% in 2022, before easing back to 19% in 2023, when it will finally recover all the ground lost during the pandemic.

The report also highlights a major shift to digital, with travel brands upping their digital advertising spend from 63% in 2020 to 70% in 2023. This trend is being driven by the rise of travel apps, vaccine passports and digital concierge services. By comparison, Zenith comments that advertisers currently allocate just 58% of budgets to digital. The report also notes how the travel sector now conducts 32% of sales by e-commerce versus 20% for retail as a whole.

Luxury skiwear targets Gen Z hypebeasts

The luxury market has been ramping up its marketing to ski-bound consumers with premium brands such as Prada, Chloe, Dior, Louis Vuitton and Moncler all launching dedicated skiwear ad campaigns this season. 

Meanwhile branded collaborations such as Chloe x Fusalp, Balmain x Rossignol or Gucci x Northface are also serving the luxury athleisure market with limited edition skiwear collections intended for the slopes. 

Prada has partnered with luxury resort retailer AspenX for a capsule skiwear collection, exclusively available in the Colorado boutique and via the hotel and retailer’s e-commerce site. 

Net-a-Porter, Mytheresa and Farfetch have all launched expanded online shops for their skiwear offer with brands such as Perfect Moment and Isabel Marant as consistent bestsellers.   

EcoSki is a also retail name to watch. The UK-based etailer is the first company dedicated to outerwear rentals and uses a Rent the Runway-style business model for consumers who borrow skiwear to wear on the slopes for a limited time only. According to Bloomberg, skiwear has become a fast-growing category for Rent the Runway, the luxury rental industry’s leading operator. 

Echolution takeout:

With skiers heading to the slopes again, luxury brands are able to target HNW consumers with seasonal campaigns that reach them across multiple channels pre-trip. With the benefit of utilising travel bookings data, brands can execute highly targeted campaigns by demographic, origin market and brand preferences.