We got a request for a last minute helisking trip for next week. A dad who is willing to go solo, OR willing to take one kid for a good deal OR two kids if it’s a great deal. Pretty funny, unless you are the kid on the bubble……
Last Minute Heli-Skiing Deals are Rare (was the working title of this post until the dealing dad request)
One of the things we had in mind when we started HeliskiingReview and HELISKI.com was to do last minute deals. Trips get cancelled and some seats open up. In theory, it’s perishable inventory that the operator can sell for cheap. The operators contract the machine, lodge, staff, etc. based on their bookings, so many costs are fixed.
There are sometimes odd numbers of skiers, so last minute single deals are not unheard of. And, if the cancellation is too late to get a refund or credit, the operator has already made a nice profit on that seat.
However, it really hasn’t worked out for a couple of reasons.
- The operators don’t want to encourage their repeat, read ‘bread and butter’, clients to wait for last minute deals.
- Nor do they want their repeat clients hearing that the guy across from them in the chopper paid half-price.
- Another issue with last-minute deals is high air fares. The best connections and prices are gone by the time we get last-minute seats to fill. We get lots of offers to come up and heliski free. But I am always shocked at the air cost and hassle of finding a decent connection…or is that descent? I know, you can accuse me of what my father called “Crying in your beer.” But my wife is always amazed at the cost of my free heliskiing trips. But I digress.
- The marginal cost of additional guests is primarily the helicopter time. It’s the limiting factor.The operator needs to cover that, at a minimum. It’s not like an airline seat. Extra weight means extra fuel, fuel runs and flying time. The operators actually prefer an empty seat to a significantly discounted one. Re-fueling costs are a step-function. For example, one operator told me that it costs him $500 to fill the last seat because it causes an additional re-fuel trip.
- If the last minute guests stay at the lodge, there are food and other costs
- Finally, if the operator cannot generate some reasonable margin, they are only incurring additional risk (unless the guest has a great time and becomes a repeat customer; in which case a marketer like myself will declare victory)
So, is that more than you ever wanted to know about last minute heliskiing? Before I throw in the obligatory great picture as a reward for your attention…..it seems like a good time to remind you to make your 2012 reservations so you do not have to count on making a cancellation work for you and for the operator.