Ship Skis HELISKI.com Interview
We discovered the coolest way to get your skis to your heliski (or resort) destination – Ship Skis. Yesterday they emailed me a shipping label which I printed and handed to a FedEx driver along with my ski bag – stuffed with clothes and my powder boards. I will rendezvous with them at Eagle Pass Heli-Skiing on Sunday…then they will be picked up from Great Canadian Heli-Skiing the following week. No schlepping, bag fees, roof racks, bellmen…..brilliant!
They pick up and deliver….anywhere. They handle everything and are around if you need them. They can do it in a day or slower/cheaper. I asked if they had thought about golf clubs…..yeah, a long time ago.
Ship Skis: You asked about golf clubs, and that’s how the whole business was based. Our parent company, Ship Sticks, was created two years ago. That took off and did extremely well, so we kind of started to branch out into other sectors, and that’s how it came about, Ship Skis. So Ship Skis is…this is really our first ski season that we’ve been in full operation. So it’s going extremely well and we’re excited about it, so.
TJ: Hey, that’s cool. So Ship Sticks, how many sticks do you ship in a year? That kind of sounds like a tongue-twister, doesn’t it?
Ship Skis: It does. I mean, and to be quite honest with you, we do, I mean, between skis, luggage and sticks, it’s hundreds of thousands of shipments a year. So it’s extremely successful and it’s taken off in every aspect, and we couldn’t be happier.
TJ: And it seems like bikes is another one that I would be interested in. Do you do bikes?
Ship Skis: It’s funny because I have kind of taken on the Ship Skis project here within the company, and as we started to meet with the resorts and as we started to create relationships with some of these ski areas, that’s the first question that they ask above and beyond skis, was, “Do you guys ship bikes?” And the answer to that is yes, we do absolutely ship bikes.
TJ: So how does it work?
Ship Skis: So basically the way Ship Skis works is it’s a door-to-door shipment service. We’re obviously partnered with UPS and FedEx, so they’re the ones that’ll actually be doing the ski shipping, luggage or boots or whatever ski unit that you decide that you want to ship, including snowboards. But we basically manage the technology aspect of it. So unlike some other sites that are out there, you know, where you call them or you go on their website and you process your shipment, they’re going to send you in the mail a shipment label, whereas with Ship Skis, our technology is integrated with UPS and FedEx where it automatically generates the shipping label for you. So it’s instantaneous. So you could schedule a shipment the morning of the day you needed to have it picked up, and it would schedule the pickup for you as well as generate the label right for you right then and there. So you’re not having to plan this out several days in advance. Obviously, you can do so, but you also have the option to drop it off if you don’t want to be home or you had other errands to run. You could also drop it off at any UPS or FedEx store if that’s easier for you.
TJ: So what countries do you operate in?
Ship Skis: Worldwide. It’s international for all the luggage, skis and golf. Some countries can be a little cost-prohibitive just because of the taxes, tariffs and that kind of thing.
TJ: And do you run…I know going in and out of Canada sometimes they want to know are these promotional items and there’s all kinds of strange nuances depending on the country, right?
Ship Skis: Right. So, unfortunately, with international shipments we’re unable to do that online at this point just because of the custom paperwork and that kind of stuff that has to be done. But we do do it over the phone. We still email you the shipping labels and the custom paperwork right away. But we handle all customs for you. I mean, so it’s kind of I’d say a convenience/concierge type of service as well where you don’t have to sit there and fill out forms and do all that stuff. It’s all automated and emailed right to you. All you have to do is really just to make sure that it’s attached to the skis or luggage that you’re shipping and the way it goes. And if there are any issues with customs, we handle that inside of UPS and/or FedEx.
TJ: That’s cool. Canada?
Skis: Yes, absolutely. Canada, we know you know, Canada is probably one of the easiest countries to ship in and out of from an international standpoint.
TJ: Got it. You know, over 90% of heli-skiing is in Canada.
Ship Skis: Right.
TJ: How far in advance do you pick them up?
Ship Skis: It really just depends on, you know, the time of transit, where the individual is shipping from and to. So, I mean, I would say an international round shipment into Canada is going to take anywhere from four to six business days. Now, we do have a couple of other options, you know, an economy and a priority. I mean, so technically it could get there in one day and it could take as long as six days, you know, just depending on how you plan in advance and how soon that you them at that location.
TJ: One day, that’s awesome! So if my wife says, “Oh, you can’t have the big car to go to the airport,” I could call you guys and say, “Can you get my skis there?” And you would say….
Ship Skis: “Yeah, absolutely.”
TJ: That is awesome. That’s amazing.
Ship Skis: Yeah, absolutely.
TJ: Oh, can you pack it with other stuff? I guess it’s pretty obvious if it’s FedEx and UPS.
Ship Skis: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, basically what it comes down to from a pricing standpoint is weight, you know. We really don’t care what’s inside the bag, so much as much as it weighs. So we have a single ski option, we have a double ski option. Can you throw in some clothes, a helmet and that kind of stuff? Yeah, absolutely, you can. Now, the single ski can’t weigh any more than 25 pounds. That’s what we list on our website. We do have a five-pound cushion, so technically you can go up to 30 pounds. -So yeah, absolutely. If you need to throw some extra gloves or hats or whatever it may be in there, you’re more than welcome to do so.
TJ: Yeah, because a lot of these…sometimes the second flight you take, they are limited to the weight and the size of the bag. And I’ve seen them leave skis and boards in Vancouver, and you get to where you’re going and they say, “Sorry, we were a little over on that flight, but they’ll show up tomorrow.” [Laughs]
Ship Skis: Right, yeah.
TJ: Yeah, so I’m thinking just bulk stuff, you know? Like various layers and soft goods and that sort of thing. You might as well just stick them in there and save yourself schlepping the bag.
Ship Skis: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you could stick it all in one bag. Some people have large duffel bags. Some people have just the slimmer ones, and then they’ll pack a separate piece of luggage and ship luggage with it as well as a suitcase, so you could just wrap the tag around it and send it on its way, you’re good to go.
TJ: I flew in to Terrace with one of the owners of Northern Escape Heli-Skiing and he had a carry-on bag. [Laughs] I couldn’t believe it!
Ship Skis: Really?
TJ: He goes heli-skiing with a carry-on, yeah.
Ship Skis: Oh, that’s amazing.
TJ: It was amazing. And you always carry your boots on, of course.
Ship Skis: Sure, sure, absolutely.
TJ: Oh, so let’s say I’m going to go to this place in Revelstoke, it’s really a hotel, where do they keep the bags before I arrive?
Ship Skis: So more than likely they’ve had items shipped in there before, and a majority of the resorts that we’ve worked with from a bulk standpoint and as we began to grow Ship Skis as well, these resorts that we work with on a ski basis, if we’re not partnered with them, we’ll call them on your behalf ahead of time to make them aware that, “Hey, Mr. Jackson is going to be staying with you on this date and this date. He’s going to be shipping in his skis and any other ski gear that he’s decided to ship with us. One, is that okay? Two, are there any fees involved? Really, we have yet to have an issue with these except for Las Vegas. Some of the hotels in Las Vegas from a golf club standpoint will say, “Okay, it’s going to be 25 dollars a day to hold it.” Some people don’t mind it, some people do. But we like to make them aware of it ahead of time so they’re not saying, “Hey, you got to let me know this.”
Ship Skis: So at the end of the day, if we’re not partnered with them, we definitely give them a call, we make sure it’s okay and make sure there’s no issues, and just make them aware that, “Hey, Mr. Jackson is going to be shipping in as well as shipping out on these dates, so you’re aware.” And nine times out of 10 it’s not an issue with the hotel as long as the guest is staying there at the hotel.
TJ: You’ll probably get more business from our clients with the Ship Sticks than the Ship Skis because they fly all over the place and play a lot more golf than they do heli-skiing. Most people take one heli-ski trip a year.
Ship Skis: Sure, sure, I understand.
TJ: I just thought of something else. You know, one of the things that surprises me about heli-skiing is that the operators give you really crappy ski poles. I don’t know why that is but they’re all these old, fat, heavy aluminum things like you would get at a rental shop in the eighties, and I don’t understand it.
Ship Skis: Sure.
TJ: So I would think shipping your own poles would make perfect sense and you’d throw them in with your skis.
Ship Skis: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, at the end of the day, I mean, we’ll never turn business away. No matter what it is, we’re happy to ship it.
TJ: Yeah, I’m thinking you’re shipping your skis, might as well throw your poles in there and get decent poles while you’re at it.
Ship Skis: Exactly. Exactly. So it’s our goal to make it as easy as possible on the client, to make sure that they enjoy their travels to where it is that they’re going and that they don’t have to worry about sitting in a baggage claim and being nickeled and dimed by the airlines these days. So in some instances we do get a phone call that, “Hey, the airline’s charging me 35 bucks. You guys are 49 dollars.” Yeah, we understand that, but at what point are you going to pay the extra 15 dollars and say, “Okay, I don’t need that kind of rental car anymore because my skis are there?” And it becomes a convenience factor especially with skis and golf clubs, especially when you have a family of five that you’re going skiing with or a group of guys who need to rent a van. So just the whole process just makes it easier on everybody.
TJ: Amen to that. I mean, schlepping them is really the hassle. I’ve had to go stand by in a Vancouver airport for like 48 hours straight waiting on each flight coming up, trying to get on it…
Ship Skis: Wow.
TJ: …and had I had skis with me, it would have been a huge pain in the butt.
Ship Skis: And that’s how we really created our first partnership, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort on the Oregon coast. Because it was so difficult to get in and out of there out of small planes. They partnered with us and recommended to everybody to ship with ShipSticks.com in and out because our delivery rate of 98% versus people shoving people on the small planes saying, “You can’t take those, we don’t have room,” is much more significant than us getting them there. So they are one of our strongest partners just because of the inconvenience of traveling and getting to those locations, and I imagine that’s the same aspect with the heli-skiing, is that you’re going to some locations where you’re taking smaller planes and things like that to get in and out of there.
TJ: Well, and sometimes a helicopter, but yeah, it strikes me that the golf clubs are even more critical because they’re much more personalized and difficult to replace.
Ship Skis: Exactly. Exactly.
TJ: So what about insurance? What if my sticks don’t show up where I’m going?
Ship Skis: Sure. Basically that’s…and that’s one of the benefits of using Ship Sticks or Ship Skis, and what makes us so different from FedEx and UPS. You know, obviously besides price—we’re cheaper than both FedEx and UPS—is that all of our shipments come standard with a baseline of insurance. So, for instance, skis come standard with 500 dollars of insurance and golf clubs come standard with 1000 dollars of insurance. And then, for a nominal fee, you have the ability to purchase up to 3500 dollars on each item of additional insurance should you need it. And let’s say that a driver or a ski is damaged – we handle everything on your behalf with UPS Capital Claims. So that’s where our insurance is through. So you’re not sitting there playing phone tag with them and going back and forth. We handle everything for you…
TJ: Yeah, my Delta Airlines story, right? Did you…?
Ship Skis: Yeah, I saw that., did they lose them completely? Are they gone?
TJ: It was funny, when I got there—I was going to Florida. I had business for a few days, and when I went to play golf and my driver was broken. So I rented one or whatever. On the way home, as I was checking in, I said, “Hey, you guys broke my driver on the way down here.” And they gave me a real hard time like, “Well, how do you know we broke it?” And I said, “Well, I didn’t open my bag until I played,” you know, on and on. And so they said, “Alright, well, you can file a claim,” yada yada. When I got home, the clubs never showed up at all!
Ship Skis: Wow.
TJ: [Laughs] So then I had to file a claim for the lost bag, and I bet it was two months before I got anything out of them. And then a long, long time later, they called me. This Oakland baggage claim guy goes, “I wanted to call you personally because I’m a golfer and I really feel bad about this, but we found your bag.” And when it showed up, the travel bag that it was in was completely gone. The bag itself was almost completely destroyed, like the pockets were all torn, all of the stuff was gone out of them. The driver they had broken driver on the outbound flight is now completely gone along with some other clubs, and a couple of irons were bent. So apparently it got run over either by a truck or a plane. They weren’t really sure. But they had like Saran-wrapped everything together and delivered it to me. It was just pitiful. [Laughs] But the big deal was how much of a pain in the ass Delta made it to get anything replaced.
Ship Skis: What a nightmare. What an absolute nightmare.
TJ: It really was. So have you played Bandon Dunes?
Ship Skis: I have not, unfortunately. It’s definitely one that’s on the bucket list. I’ve played a lot of good ones on the West Coast there but I have yet to play Bandon Dunes.
TJ: That’s kind of reminding me of when I had a towel from Cyprus Point on that bag that, you know, obviously went away, and I kind of miss that.
Ship Skis: Right. That’s for sure. Playing Cyprus s is quite an opportunity.
TJ: How about tracking? Where do you go when you need to track your skis? Do you go to the UPS site or is it on your site?
Ship Skis: Okay. Yeah, so basically our website is integrated with UPS and FedEx, so when you process a shipment you’re emailed a Ship Sticks or Ship Skis tracking number, and you’re able to track the shipment on our website. So we do all the tracking through our website. Each individual has their own individual tracking number that they can either just click that link from the email that they received from us or they can go to our website, type that in and track it that way. So there’s a couple of options as far as tracking is concerned.
And then, once the shipment is delivered, they’ll get email sent to them just confirming that, “Hey, it’s been delivered. Here’s where you sign for it,” so and so.
TJ: Cool. And why 500? Skis and bindings are probably going to be more than a grand. I guess golf clubs are going to be more than a grand too.
Ship Skis: Yeah. I mean, you know, if you go to UPS or FedEx, they include some insurance. We wanted to separate ourselves and say, “Okay, we’ll throw in the first thousand and we’ll throw in the first 500.” It’s a little different for skis just because of that dimension to the shipments. The rates are a little different from an insurance standpoint. But we do give you the option, like it’s $3.75 for golf clubs for every 500-dollar increment. For skis, it’s an additional five dollars for every 500 increment that you go all the way up to $3500. So if you wanted to purchase additional insurance, you’re more than welcome to do so.
TJ: Yeah. That’s pretty reasonable too, eh?
Ship Skis: Yeah. I mean, absolutely. I mean, I think that insuring with FedEx or UPS, I think they’re 7 to 10 bucks based on who you’re shipping with, so.
TJ: What if the skis don’t show up on time? Do you do anything…? I guess for heli-ski, heli-skiing it doesn’t matter, but let’s say I go to a resort and, oh, I don’t have my favorite skis.
Ship Skis: Yeah, sure. So obviously, you know, instances are going to happen and shipments are going to get delayed whether it’s adverse weather conditions or whether the shipment was sorted the wrong way. We understand that. So we have a consequential late bag policy where we pay up to 200 dollars per shipment for rentals or whatever incidentals, whatever it is that’s needed until that bag arrives.
Ship Skis: So if that bag is late, we’ll pay up to 200 dollars, again, for rentals or any incidentals that are needed until your bag arrives.
TJ: Awesome. And my next question has to do with clubs, so I’ll probably move that up to the top because I think it’s going to get more interest than the skis.
Ship Skis: Okay.
TJ: So any idea how many golf clubs do you ship every year?
Ship Skis: Hundreds of thousands for sticks.
TJ: How about skis?
Ship Skis: To be honest with you, I don’t have an exact number. Like I said, we’re in our infancy. But I know it’s upwards of a couple of thousand shipments a month. So that included luggage as well.
TJ: Yeah, so people might ship their skis and a bag with all their ski gear in it with you guys, and then they’re on a business trip and they just go to wherever and there’s your stuff.
Ship Skis: Yeah, absolutely.
TJ: That’s cool.
Ship Skis: And that’s where luggage is starting to grow for us as well. We’ll get individuals that are going on a ski trip with the family or whatnot, and then will say, “Hey, while you’re in Colorado I got to go up to San Francisco for a business meeting, so I’ll just have my stuff shipped. Because it goes from the East Coast to West Coast, it’s going to take five to six business days. I’ll just ship it out so I have a fresh set of clothes and fresh luggage.” So it’s kind of one thing after another. We’ve gotten a great draw on the ski side from the golf business and vice-versa customers. So they complement each other very well.
TJ: One of my brothers is a hedge fund partner and he just leaves all his stuff at the Rustler at Alta. [Laughs]
And no matter what trip he’s on he’ll stop in Utah for the weekend and…kind of a specialized case.
Ship Skis: Yeah.
TJ: And what does it cost you, so 49 bucks each way, depending?
Ship Skis: Yeah, it really just depends where you’re shipping to and from. I mean, a ground shipment from a ski standpoint is going to cost anywhere from 39 dollars up to 69 dollars just again based on where you’re shipping from. Transit times are going to be anywhere from one day to five or six days, again depending on where you’re shipping to and from. But if you were to look at, let’s say, you know, our biggest shipping pattern is obviously from the East Coast out to the West Coast through Denver those areas there – for a single ski bag you’re going to be looking around 59 dollars.
TJ: Cool. So have you started buying up other domain names like ShipBikes, ShipSailboards, ShipKiteBoard?
Ship Skis: Yeah. Yeah, we have. You know, Ship Suitcases and Ship Surfboards and all that kind of stuff, and that’s something that we’re in the process of now. Creating a parent company where all these smaller niche companies can be under…
TJ: One umbrella, yeah. Ship Stuff.
Ship Skis: Exactly. Exactly.
TJ: I have a domain name company where you have to buy them on NameBoy.com.
Ship Skis: Okay, I’ll look at that one. You said NameBoy.com?
Ship Skis: Okay.
TJ: Is there anything we haven’t touched on that you would like heli-skiers and avid golfers to know about the company?
Ship Skis: No, I think it’s really just making them aware that it is out there, that it is reasonably priced, and that it is a feasible option that can eliminate a lot of hassles for the individuals, especially going on a trip and saying, “Hey, okay, I don’t have to show up at the airport two hours early to make sure I get my stuff checked in and wait in those lines.” It really comes down to being a convenience factor for these individuals that we’re saying, “Hey, for an extra 50 bucks, you’re spending three, four, five thousand dollars on your trip, why not make your travel experience enjoyable. Leave it in our hands and let us handle it.” So, I mean, it’s really just educating the consumer and letting them know that this new concept is out there and that it’s becoming more and more popular every day.
TJ: Yeah, for a week it’s more like ten, twelve, 15,000 for a lot of these guys.
Ship Skis: Yeah. No, I can imagine.
TJ: And money’s not the big deal. The other thing that might be helpful is the guys who make very specific powder skis like DPS (read our interview) , is probably the most well-known in this community, or RAMP (HELISKI.com Interview) or whomever. I think if it were easy to get your skis to and from the heli outfit, they might sell more skis.
Ship Skis: Yeah, absolutely, and that’s definitely something that we’ve experienced, or not experienced but, I mean, have looked into as going to some of these ski manufacturers and saying, “Hey, if somebody buys a set of skis, let us throw a little coupon in there or a little blurb about Ship Skis to let them know you can ship your skis.” And it was funny we were just at a ski show up in Vermont at Mount Snow and we had a couple of rental ski companies come to us as well as who said, “Hey, you’re going to wipe us out of business because at the end of the day it’s 40, 50 bucks to rent a pair of skis for the day when if you have your own and you’re going to be out there for three or four days, you know, at that same price to ship them there for one set of rentals, so…
Ship Skis: …it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.
TJ: I would turn them back around and say, “If you could get the skis you really want in advance of your trip and not have to go to the rental shop, to me that’s worth 50 bucks each way.
Ship Skis: Right.
TJ: Because if you…I almost never travel with skis anymore, but if you go to a resort, then you got to go find a shop and then you got to hope that they have the skis that you want in the size that you want, and you’re going to pay a ton of money, like maybe a hundred bucks a day.
Ship Skis: Exactly.
TJ: So why not these guys in Vermont could turn it into a business for themselves and say, “Quality ski rentals where you’re going to be, shipping is included in the price,” and they could turn it into a new business that has broader reach than…
Ship Skis: That’s right. That’s right. I mean, that’s definitely one way to look at it. And from a golf business side, you know, some of the rental club companies that are out there and said, “Hey, let us handle all the shipping of the rental clubs for individuals that are going to Hawaii and don’t want to take their clubs and that kind of stuff.” Everybody has their own set of golf clubs at the end of the day where…
TJ: Yeah, and I just think for the most part heli-skiers will take whatever the operator has. I have these DPS skis, two years ago I shipped them in advance, unfortunately not with you guys. Well, when I got there one of the guides was skiing on them. [Laughs] And it was okay with me, but it struck me that he’d rather have these skis than the ones in their fleet. And so it got me thinking, I bet there’s a lot more heliski clients like that.
Ship Skis: Now, let me ask you this question, being an avid heli-skier there. When you ship your skis up there, if you do, would you ship it to the hotel or resort that you’re staying at or would you ship it right to the operator?
TJ: Well, most of these places are a remote lodge in the middle of nowhere, and so I’d ship it to the lodge.
Ship Skis: Okay.
TJ: I mean, there’s a handful that you have to fly in by helicopter, but they all have an office that’s near a road where you could ship it to. And there are also some operators that are in ski towns like especially Revelstoke and Whistler where you’re staying in a hotel, not a lodge, so you just send them to the hotel.
Ship Skis: Now, Heliski.com, what is your main purpose, just rating these places or…?
TJ: Yeah, our mission really is to attract, educate, engage heli-skiers. So we try to get them on our mailing list, we blog about stuff like this and review the different areas. And when somebody decides they want to go heli-skiing, they get a hold of us and we walk them through their criteria, what’s important to them, how many people are going, how many days, what kind of experience they’re looking for, and then I’ll find out who matches that criteria and has availability and what’s the pricing and send it to them. Then we’ll talk and help narrow it down and eventually they’ll book, and they just say to the operator, “Oh, I’ve talked to TJ and he helped me pick you guys,” and then they’ll send me a commission check after they get paid.
Ship Skis: Okay. Awesome. So you’re acting as really just an expert advisor?
TJ: Yeah, just being an agent. In Europe they call them tour operators, but I don’t do the airline reservations and that sort of jazz. I just say, “Oh, you’re looking for a group of four from New York that wants unlimited vertical in March? Then you should go to Eagle Pass Heliskiing.”
Ship Skis: Okay.
TJ: Or if they’re coming from California, “You should go to Northern Escape Heli-Skiing.”
Ship Skis: That’s neat.
TJ: Yeah. Transfer of knowledge, I hope.
Ship Skis: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So now how many times a year do you go heli-skiing?
TJ: Two or three.
Ship Skis: Two or three times?
TJ: Yeah. It’s tough. You might have seen my wife walk by, so it’s hard for me to get ‘tower clearance’ to go more often than that.
Ship Skis: Okay.
TJ: But every year I turn down free trips. It’s just something I swore I would never do, turn down free heli-skiing.
Ship Skis: Now, that’s something that, you know, not being an average skier and not too familiar with heli-skiing, is that something that you’ll do on a daily basis or do you do it one day or…?
TJ: Oh yeah, you’ll do it like…like on this trip in March, I’m going to go six days in a row. I want to say it’s brutal, but that’s what my dad woud call “crying in your beer.” I am getting to the point where I worry about which body part’s going to give out, you know, my knees, my back, whatever. But I pretty much work out all year long just so I’ll be ready. You don’t want to be the guy who’s holding back your group ever. [Laughs]
Ship Skis: Exactly. Exactly. Now, how many people will fit in a helicopter when you do that?
TJ: It depends on the chopper. A lot of them hold four guests and a guide. There are some that hold five, some that hold six. A lot of operators will take them big choppers that hold 10 or 11 and they’ll serve multiple groups with that. So on the one extreme, four groups of 10 people sharing a helicopter, on the other extreme, you can have your own four-person helicopter. So that’s kind of the range. CMH (Canadian Mountain Holidays) is the market share leader, and they focus almost exclusively on these big choppers and big lodges with 44 guests at a time, because it’s just more cost-effective that way, right?
Ship Skis: Yeah, sure.
TJ: To have 11 people riding in each lift. But you can pay a little bit more and have a little bit more flexibility if you go with a smaller chopper.
Ship Skis: That’s great.
TJ: I appreciate your time, Jeffrey, and I appreciate you sending my skis and stuff.
Ship Skis: No, I appreciate the opportunity and, you know, anytime you need to ship your skis or clubs for that matter, give us a call. We’re happy to be here for you.
TJ: Oh, great. Nice to meet you.
Ship Skis: Alright, nice meeting you. Have a good one.
TJ: Alright, cheers.