Correspondent Makes Presentations On Senior Skiers’ Needs and Wants.

NSAA is the National Ski Areas Association, publishing the NSAA Journal six times a year. The publication’s audience, along with its competitor, the independent Ski Area Management, are those who manage and market ski areas. A growing topic of interest is the senior skier and how to bring them to their area.

NSAA’s own data supports’s research. Here’s why the sudden interest. Senior skiers represent about 16% of the overall market and ski approximately 21% of the skier days. We also ski off-peak—the industry buzzword for mid-week and not holiday weekends—and visit an average of three resorts a year. The number of senior skiers is growing because many of us see it as part of our healthy active life style. Put another way, age 70 is the new 50.

What leapt off the page in this year’s NSAA data was that the number of new senior beginners, i.e. people over the age of 55 who have never skied before until they showed up at the base of a ski area and bought a lesson, grew at the rate of 1% per year.

Since the 1970s, the number of skiers has been declining steadily, and it was only in the past two or three years that the number of skier visits/active skiers leveled off. From a ski area owner’s perspective, this good news but is not going to lead to lower prices.

One of the marketing themes of this year’s NSAA’s East and West Regional events was bringing back the lapsed skier who is defined as someone who skied at an early age but has dropped out of the sport for family, economic, geographic and/or professional reasons. Seniors can be lapsed skiers; areas now see us as a way to increase the number of skiers by introducing their grandchildren to the sport as well as bringing friends.

Your humble scribe held a 90-minute presentation/seminar at each event. Each was well attended and received! Space doesn’t allow me to cover everything that was discussed, but what follows are some takeaways.

Marketing strategies targeted at senior skiers differ widely. Major destination resorts tend to view us differently than those near major metro areas. Some, because of their name and branding, offer only token incentives. Others really want us.

Resorts are struggling to find ways to attract senior skiers. It is a combination cost, technology, lack of focus, and talent issue. However, next season, there will be some innovative approaches to senior skiers.

Ski areas realize their facilitates are not senior friendly. The top three areas to improve, which are not limited to seniors are 1) Need to use stairs to get to bathrooms, 2) Long walks from the parking lot or drop off point to the lifts, and 3) Need to climb from lift exit to another.

Net net, we’re now a bigger blip on ski resort’s marketing radar scope, and the interest is there.


One Comment

  1. John T Cunningham II says:

    My wife and I started skiing in the 60’s as teenagers. I am 70 & my wife will be 70 in a couple of months. We started our kids skiing when they were 3 & 4 and we now are able to ski with our Grandkids. We are heading to Lk. Placid/Whiteface later this month for a few days. I have had both hips (9.07 & 3.18) and a knee (9.17) replaced and still ski most everything but avoid the bumps when possible. We plan to enjoy skiing for years to come.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *