Heliskiing demand is an excellent leading indicator of the economy. Although traditional economic signals are mixed and uncertain, heliskiing bookings are bullish on 2012.
John Forrest, GM Northern Escape Heli-Skiing, says, “ Our reservations for next year are very strong as well. We are currently up 100% on reservations to date over last year. Most of the increase is actually in our Classic program while the high end Private bookings seem to be lagging a bit, but still up 50% over last year.”
One might think that heliskiers are immune to economic fluctuations. That is true for the financially independent. There is a core market of heliskiing enthusiasts who have the means, skill and health to indulge every season (and sometimes multiple trips).
However, there is also a segment of the helicopter skiing market on the margin – which can only go when the planets align. These helicopter skiers can be fueled by the big bonus, the great year, the big sale, the big settlement, kids graduating college, inheritance or whatever. Aging knees or bucket list anxiety motivates others. But for most it is expectation of future earnings. When they book, it is good news for the economic outlook.
CMH Heli-Skiing, the industry giant with 11 lodges, has seen very strong demand, suggesting the recession may be ending. Sarah Pearson of CMH adds, “Our bookings are strong for 2012 and space is steadily filling up. After last-season’s epic snowfall, mind-blowing skiing and endless laughter, both guests and staff are eagerly anticipating another stellar season of heli-skiing.”
At HELISKI LLC we represent 95% of all heliskiing operators, and most are seeing a surge in demand. HELISKI.com, HeliskiingReview and HELIBOARD.com are the top heliski and heliboard agents, offering expert heliskiing advice and recommendations to help groups find the best trip. Demand is way up, and some lodges are already sold-out for next year.
Small lodges are often the first to sell-out. Giacum “Jake” Frei owns and operates Skeena Heliskiing, one of the many boutique heliskiing operators that have opened in the last 15 – 20 years. “We offer an intimate lodge experience, catering to groups of 10 per week. 2012 has very few openings.” Darryn Shewchuck, Director of Sales & Marketing, Mica Heli Guides, adds, “We have a strong repeat business, and are 95% booked already.”
“Some countries are up and some are down but overall and believe it or not, we’ve had more requests in June than ever before,” according to Mike Watling, Director, Sales and Marketing –Last Frontier Heliskiing,
2011 was a ‘biblical’ powder year; so many groups are booking early. February always sells out fast, but for 2012 January and March bookings are the strongest in years. The helicopter skiing market is hot. Heliskiers and heliboarders are booking now, in anticipation of the cold, and the economic recovery.
The recession can eat my tracks!