More investment is needed at grass roots level to capitalise on PyeongChang success ... read more
Snowflex has changed the future of the ski, and snowboard industry forever.General Manager, Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre, Lynchburg, VA
The key to the future of snowboarding is Snowflex. I mean you just wouldn’t dream of doing some of the things they are doing without Snowflex.Photographer and Snowsports writer
We are very happy with our Snowflex summer tubing hill. It is attracting visitors from across the country!Center Director
Snow Mountain Ranch, YMCA of the Rockies
Snowflex is a great place for all levels of skiing and snowboarding. It provides and safe and fun environment that is extremely affordable.General Manager, Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre, Lynchburg, VA
A final note to all would be developers, build a slope like this and people will visit - it's really that simple
for the first time we have a safe, clean surface that people will come back to time and time again.Director of Coaching for the English Ski Council
That's the brilliant thing about it, there is so much scope to give people different experiences.Founder & Ex-Chairman Kendal Ski Club
"Thank you Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre for the good times today. Can't wait to come back!!!"American professional snowboarder, Olympian, Winter X Games and U.S. Grand Prix Champion.
The repeat business has been unbelievable, tasters develop to plough II, plough II's develop to plough III and they develop up to basic swings and even parallels, on a nursery slope!
If Snowflex® had been available 12 years ago, I would have not bothered with snow. This is fantastic.
The Snowflex tubing Hill is a lot of fun! Everyone we've had visit, has left with a smile on their face.
We are extremely pleased with the outcome.Owner Wolfe Mountain Tubing Slope, Branson, Missouri, USA
I can see it's better just looking out of my window because people are learning quicker.former Managing Director of Sheffield Ski Village
Comparing Snowflex® centers to mountain resorts
A Snowflex® facility is, by its very nature, much smaller than a typical mountain facility, which makes for a different, but no less enjoyable, experience. A Snowflex® facility is not the Alps or the Rockies so it is neither useful nor interesting to create long ski runs. We don't aim to create an alpine experience; indeed, smaller areas have a massive advantage in terms of community atmosphere and training.
A Snowflex® facility is essentially a terrain park but for all skill levels. (Interestingly, terrain parks in snow resorts are usually very small compared to the resort.)
In this regard, small is an advantage, in that tricks and skills can be repeated up to 15 times per hour – which is not possible on a mountain where perhaps 3 laps per hour are more usual. In addition, small facilities create an "atmosphere" – a scene where people are close enough together to become involved in each others activity. This socializing is more enjoyable and leads to mutual encouragement and long lasting friendships.
All in all, this leads to a rapid rise in skill development up to Olympic standards, something we have witnessed at all Snowflex® facilities. This is aspirational for other users and the social scene created leads to strong commitment giving the facility long lasting, repeat, customers. This is where the business case becomes really strong.
The Snowflex® experience is very much an "as well as" not an "instead of" experience. The focus is on skill development and can generate customers for the mountain resort market also. It is very comparable to a climbing wall versus the mountain crag scenario.
- More likely to be vacational, as an alternative holiday for 1 to 2 weeks
- Located in sparse population
- Weather dependent
- Alpine experience
- Open mountain
- Mountain restaurants
- Can be several hours away by car or airplane
- Located where the population is
- Short visit, generating high revenues per hour
- All year round availability
- Can be located anywhere as an alternative family visitor attraction
- Consistent surface and feature shapes
- Intense training activity
- Accessible to everyone
- High "off-slope" revenue generation
- Long term customer commitment
Management / operation
Operations should never be underestimated. A Snowflex® facility demands 364 day/year commitment. Snowsport skills can be employed but it is essential to give good customer service. This can come at a price but the return on investment is likely to be high. Falling short of the mark will be severely judged by the customer. Give a good experience and there will be a multiplying effect. Word of mouth can be the most powerful marketing tool you have.
BRITON has "unique in the world" experience in designing and installing urban snow sport centers. Though BRITON does not have practical operational experience all of our staff are snow sport customers and as a group are extremely sensitive to the good, bad and the ugly of operations.
What business can I expect?
In a population of 1m within 1 hour's travel, industry research suggests that at least 200,000 people could be interested in the activity. With a quality product a large percentage of these people could be converted into committed customers that will return time and again. 100,000 committed to an average of 1 visit per week is 5m visits per year at an average spend of £20 / $30 / €25 per visit = £10m / $15m / €12.5m per annum revenue. Obviously this must be the subject of due diligence during the formation of the business plan, relevant to the location planned.
Supply of customers
This is the good part. There is always a new "box" of customers to develop due to changing demographics.
A move away from the material lifestyle
Whilst it is true that the number one leisure activity in the world is shopping, there is a growing demand for interactive experiences showing a move away from the material side of life.
In the last 25 years, theme parks have performed very well commercially, especially those that have invested heavily in bigger and better rides. However there is a point of diminishing returns. A ride twice the size, costs 5 times as much and delivers perhaps a 20% greater thrill. Repeat visits will not be sustained or generated in the same way as a Snowflex® center can generate them.
This repeatability should also be used to target "off slope" revenues, whether as a stand alone or part of a mixed use destination.
Skill sports are compulsive.
Skill sports are very compulsive leading to a long term commitment with the potential of lots of repeat visits. This is a very similar scenario to golf, for example. Quite often though, with skill sports, there are entry barriers. Often you need to join a club, have money to buy equipment or need sufficient skills not to embarrass yourself when joining a team.
Snowsports, particularly the urban kind, are surprisingly easy to participate in. Lack of skill is not an issue and in fact can provide a great deal of entertainment in the beginning. Snowsports are never mastered; there is always room for continued improvement, thrill and fun.
Attracting would be snowsporters
Word of mouth and social media can be the most powerful marketing tools employed. It is vitally important to give the customer a good experience on the first visit or there may not be a second chance.
Snowsports are also entertaining for spectators – providing "thrills and spills". Thereafter it is not too difficult to entice the viewing public into the bar and restaurant so they can watch what is happening. Before long, it may then be possible to encourage them to have a go at tubing for the thrills without the spills and skills. The next stage is to enroll them into snowsports lessons.
List of potential customers
- Birthday parties
Providing a quality product
OK it is not that simple. Everything has to be right (though it is not rocket science). Stunning architecture, superb snowsports terrain design, beautiful landscaping are the easy bits to get right. The difficult part is the getting the operational management right - smiling at customers, knowing what you are doing, giving exemplary service, attending to maintenance of buildings, landscape, slope equipment, skis, boards, boots etc. This is a 364 day a year challenge!
BRITON Engineering is unrivaled at supplying THE BEST snow sports design and surface. A good architect can design the buildings, and general constructors are numerous, yet it still needs an entrepreneurial flair applied to the operation to make it all work successfully.