As the snowflakes slowly melt on the majestic Dolomites, Dolomiti Superski draws particularly positive conclusions from its winter season. With an 8% increase in the number of daily passages, the season exceeded all expectations. How do you explain these results? What investments and innovations made it possible to achieve these goals? In an exclusive interview, Andy Varallo, President of Dolomiti Superski, tells us the details of a season characterised by an increase in the number of visitors, significant investments and courageous innovations

Dolomiti Superski attracts more and more skiers

The winter season of Dolomiti Superski was characterised by a significant growth in the number of visitors. Total first admissions increased by 5% compared to the previous season, reflecting a greater influx of unique visitors to the ski area. In addition to this increase, there was a 2.45% increase in passages, which represent the total number of times skiers use the lifts. In addition, daily passages increased by a considerable 8%, ‘proving that the proximity public who only visit us on a daily basis and without staying overnight is loyal and passionate about skiing. Skiing proves to be trendy, representative of a status and provides entertainment in a lifestyle style’.

The difference between the increase in first admissions and the increase in passages is explained by the nature of these two indicators. First entrances represent the number of unique visitors to the ski resort, while passages correspond to the total number of times skiers use the various lifts.

‘In theory, a 5 per cent increase in first admissions should translate into an equivalent increase in passages. However, weather conditions can strongly influence this ratio. For example, if a skier decides to ski for six days, he might only ski in the morning and not in the afternoon due to snowfall or bad weather. Consequently, even if the number of skiers is increased, the number of passes per skier may decrease if conditions are not favourable, resulting in less utilisation of lifts,‘ explains Andy VARALLO.

Dolomiti Superski. ®Harald Whisthaler

This analysis highlights the significant impact of weather conditions on the behaviour of skiers and, consequently, on the statistics of visitors to the Dolomiti Superski lifts.

Fluctuating but favourable weather conditions

The winter season started well with a cold October and the first snowfalls. The middle of November also brought snow and the last ten days of November were characterised by cold temperatures, allowing the slopes of the Dolomitisuperski Ski to open as planned.

Andy VARALLO takes stock of the rest of the winter season: ‘December exceeded our expectations thanks to ideal winter temperatures and stable weather conditions. This enabled us to welcome skiers in optimal conditions, even on the terraces of the huts. January was a great success with the international public, while February, despite some hot spells, maintained a good turnout until after Carnival. In March, high temperatures put a slight brake on bookings, and we hoped for a better turnout for Easter. Nevertheless, the season ended with an excellent attendance record, exceeding our expectations. We welcomed a very diverse public, with an excellent turnout of locals and children from primary and middle schools, testifying to the growing interest in skiing in our region’.

Dolomiti Superski: 110 million euro investments in 2023-2024

The volume of investments for the 2023-2024 season amounts to 110 million euros, mainly focused on improving the ski slopes with the purchase of new snow guns, the installation of new snowmaking lines, and the construction of reservoirs and pumping stations to ensure optimal snowmaking. In addition, state-of-the-art snow groomers, equipped with environmentally friendly engines, were purchased to ensure sustainable slope management.

Four ski lifts were renovated to improve the capacity and efficiency of skiers’ transportation. In addition, the My Dolomites application was developed, incorporating a series of useful services to help visitors find their way around the world’s largest ski destination.

Dolomiti Superski. ®Harald Whisthaler

For example, a new price calculator has been introduced that informs customers of the exact price of a ski pass depending on the period chosen, the duration, the ski area (including a single area or the entire Dolomiti Superski) and the user profile (adult, junior, senior or child).

‘This system makes it possible to calculate the exact cost, including discounts for age, multiple days and online purchases, offering total transparency on prices. In addition, we achieved a 30 per cent share of total sales through the online channel, reducing queues at counters and car journeys on the day of arrival. This not only facilitates holiday planning, but also helps to reduce traffic congestion at holiday destinations on changeover days. These investments demonstrate our commitment to offering an exceptional skiing experience while respecting the environment and improving customer satisfaction,’ adds Andy VARALLO.

A decline in German customers in favour of visitors from Eastern Europe and Scandinavia

‘We have observed significant changes in the composition of our clientele in terms of geographical origin, age and profile, which have influenced our marketing strategies. Firstly, the German clientele decreased slightly, while the Italian market remained stable. On the other hand, we experienced a strong increase in the number of visitors from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, which helped diversify our customer base.

Dolomiti Superski. ®Harald Whisthaler

The UK ranked fourth in several of our destinations, showing significant growth in the number of British customers. In addition, the US, thanks to the IKON Pass, has become an increasingly important market for us. The IKON Pass allows American skiers easier access to our ski area, significantly increasing their presence’.

Shopping smart: how Dolomiti Superski makes access to the slopes easier

Dolomiti Superski is constantly working to improve its offer. In order to attract and retain customers of the Dolomiti Superski group various promotional and pricing strategies have been implemented. One of the main initiatives was to offer an immediate discount of 5% to customers who purchased their skipass through the online shop at least two days in advance.

‘We also introduced benefits for families with children. Children under 8 years old could ski for free if an accompanying adult bought the same type of ski pass at the same time (except for season passes). In addition, children under 16 received an unconditional 30% discount on the adult list price. For large families, we offered the Dolomiti Superski family ski pass and seasonal ski pass options, with considerable savings.

Our early and late season promotions have been maintained, including the ‘Dolomiti Superpremière’, which offers 4 days’ accommodation and ski pass for the price of 3 (or 8 days for the price of 6) from the start of the season to 23 December 2023.

The ‘Dolomiti Springdays’ offered two options: the L (large) version with 7 days‘ accommodation at the price of 6 and 6 days’ ski pass at the price of 5 (from 16 March to 1 April 2024), and the S (short) version with 4 days’ accommodation and ski pass at the price of 3 (from 2 April 2024 until the end of the season in the area concerned).

Dolomiti Superski. ®Harald Whisthaler

The ‘Dolomiti Superski Superdays’ were also proposed, allowing 8 non-consecutive days, and packages with 8, 10 or 12 non-consecutive days in a specific valley. These pricing strategies and promotions are designed to offer maximum flexibility and attractive incentives, reinforcing our commitment to make skiing accessible and flexible for a wide range of visitors,’ says Andy VARALLO.

Dolomiti Superski’s pricing strategies and promotions have had a significant impact on visitor numbers. Superski Family packages and season ski passes recorded significant growth, supported by the excellent snow conditions at the beginning of the season, which encouraged early bookings and family involvement. The ease of purchase through the online channel played a key role, allowing customers to obtain all the necessary information at the time of purchase and to go directly to the entrances of the ski areas without passing through the ticket counters.

‘Responsibility Ranger’, the ‘sustainable’ programme of Dolomiti Superski

Andy VARALLO goes into detail about Dolomiti Superski’s commitment to a more sustainable mountain: ‘We launched the “Responsibility Ranger” programme in collaboration with a sustainability consultant. The programme started with a detailed assessment of the existing situation in each valley of the Dolomiti Superski ski area. We collected data on CO2 emissions, winter and summer energy consumption, fuel consumption, and equipment in use for each ski lift company, and used this data to create an energy efficiency and CO2 consumption indicator, which allowed us to draw up an inventory for each valley.

This analysis led to a second part of the project, in which each valley was commissioned to develop a single sustainable development project. These projects involve the valley floor and the tourism associations or consortia and include a complete documentation: project analysis, feasibility study, analysis of risks, costs, urban planning and bureaucratic obstacles, obtaining the necessary permits, implementation schedule and final evaluation. Each valley has two years to develop this project and create comprehensive documentation.

Dolomiti Superski Été. ®Harald Whisthaler

This documentation will then be shared with the other eleven valleys in the consortium, enabling similar projects tailored to each valley to be implemented quickly and efficiently. These initiatives demonstrate our commitment to the environment and are well received by our customers, who appreciate our proactive approach to sustainability and the reduction of ecological impact’.

Dolomiti Superski: prospects and innovations for the coming season

The coming winter season looks promising in terms of investments. Andy VARALLO gives us a taste of what’s to come:

We plan to invest between 100 and 120 million euros in various improvements and expansions of our infrastructure

‘As far as online shopping is concerned, Dolomiti Superski plans to introduce facilities to make processes and interfaces more intuitive. The aim is to simplify and optimise the user experience, enabling customers to purchase ski passes more efficiently.’

These initiatives are aimed at strengthening Dolomiti Superski’s leadership position in the Italian ski industry, offering a better customer experience and adopting state-of-the-art technology to meet the growing expectations of visitors. ‘We are confident that these investments and innovations will allow us to continue to attract a diverse audience and offer high quality services to our skiers,’ concludes Andy VARALLO.