8 Things You Should Know About Organising a Group Ski Trip
July 1, 2019
Organising a group ski trip can be daunting – people want different things out of their ski weekend
Some people want first lifts, off-piste guides and a sandwich for lunch. Others are happy just to have made it onto the mountain for one run before a long lunch and then hitting après ski.
Anyone who has ever volunteered (or been coerced) into organising a group trip knows just how challenging it can be.
We’ve been creating tailor-made ski trips for groups of all sizes for over 20 years, so we know a thing or two about how much work goes into it.
Here’s a list of things you should know about organising group and corporate ski trips.
1. Pick Your Dates Carefully
Deciding on a date (or better still, a selection of possible dates) that will work for everyone in your group, should be the first priority when considering a larger group trip, as this can be one of the most restricting factors.
The sooner a few key decisions like this are made the better the fares and availability will be.
Don’t forget to factor in each country’s holidays! Avoid the UK half term of course. France deploys its younger population to the snow for most of February, and Italy and Switzerland have specific weekends to avoid for various carnivals and religious holidays.
If you want the best value during the main season, January is the ideal time and the earlier in January the better. But there are also great deals to have on the shoulders of the season, pre-Christmas or in April. I’m often amazed at what kind of accommodation you can fit in the budget at these times of the year!
March is always popular for weekend trips but you need to work around various European holidays. Those are generally connected to when Easter falls, so move from year to year. Also expect prices to be higher than in January.
Another great way to optimise value is to hit the snow during the week, avoiding the weekend crowds. This can open up a world of accommodation and deals not available over the weekend. Can your group travel from Sunday to Wednesday, for example?
2. Set the Budget
Having a good idea of how much you’re realistically prepared to spend per person for this trip is vital before you start thinking about where you want to go and what hotel you’d like to stay in.
There are options to suit every budget but what you want to spend will dictate which destinations will work and so much more.
Once you have an idea on the spend, we can advise which resorts and accommodations will best suit your group and offer the best value for money (and which destinations you should forget about).
3. Destination is a Key Decision
Next you need to select your destination, which will bring with it a variety of trip features. Your destination may already be determined to a large degree by decisions 1 and 2.
It pays to be clear about your guests’ range of skill levels and realistic about what you really need for a short break.
For example, Chamonix can usually stay off the shortlist for larger mixed ability groups despite being the first place a lot of people think of for a short trip, since no one in your group is sponsored by Red Bull and logistically it is a nightmare (unless your group is looking for more advanced adventures).
The boss might go to Meribel or Val D’Isere every year for their week-long family holiday and suggest one of those resorts, but you don’t need the 300+ kilometres of slopes of Les Trois Valleés or Espace Killy for only 2 days of skiing.
Less well-known places like Courmayeur and Engelberg are perfect for a group short break with quick transfers and compact but varied ski areas that can satisfy all levels and still have the whole group meet up for lunch, whether you have been on the beginner slopes or heli-skiing the Alps in the morning!
4. Choose the Best Transport for Your Group
If you’re a large group, the transport options for a ski trip will change.
To make timings work for a short break you’re realistically going to need to fly. We recommend flying with Swiss Airlines if you’re bringing your own gear. They carry them for free – which is why they are justified in calling themselves “The Skiers’ Airline”.
Getting from the airport to the resort is the next challenge.
Forget the car hire, trains and buses you might consider for an individual trip. Private transfers can be expensive for small numbers but once you have a decent size group, they become cost-effective and really the only sensible way of getting everyone to resort together.
One key variable people sometimes forget to factor in is how much energy your group are willing to (or have the capacity to) expend on the journey there and back. We’ve all been there. Travel fatigue is real.
Minimising the leave required and travelling after work can be popular but be ready for late arrival in resort. Consider taking the afternoon off so you get there in time for a pizza on Thursday night and are ready to ski first thing on Friday morning.
Likewise, people often want the latest flight possible home on Sunday and a full day of skiing. But it’s worth thinking about whether people will be in a fit state to ski on Sunday? And if so, whether you’re prepared to get home at 1am? Perhaps a half day skiing and being home to show your face to loved ones, or even just a leisurely breakfast and lunchtime flight is the way to go. You’re also more likely to avoid delays this way.
It all depends on the vibe your group wants to go for, and what state you want to arrive home in.
5. Be Sure to Choose Accommodation Wisely
Who doesn’t love a cooked breakfast waiting for you without a finger being lifted? Dishes disappear. Log fires light themselves. An in-house bar, you say? Hot tubs. Saunas. A ski-in living room! Depending on budgets, it’s all there for the enjoying.
Whether you’re a crowd of three, or more like a Roman phalanx, your accommodation will always need the same comforts and will usually come as a hotel.
Chalets and apartments are usually rented by the week so are unsuited for shorter trips. If you know the exact number of beds needed, then you know you are getting your money’s worth out of a chalet or apartment. However, if the size of your group is not set in stone and booking flexibility is needed, then hotels are the only option.
6. Get Your Gear Sorted
Dragging large, heavy luggage through terminals. Paying extortionate fees for airlines to take your skis/snowboard. Fitting skis and boards into hired vehicles or transfer buses. Carrying your equipment from the hotel to the slopes.
These are probably the main reasons ski resorts all across Europe are littered with good quality ski equipment at reasonable rental rates, often with slopeside storage. Honestly, only the near-professional needs to take their hardware with them. Any ski/board-style is catered to.
If people are unsure of what style to rent, go for “all-mountain” equipment. The skis or board will be wide enough to float on powder (for when you get that magical snow dump) but also versatile enough to have fun on groomed runs or the odd jump.
Rental equipment can always be swapped while there, so don’t spend too much time worrying about this.
7. Entertainment Options Are Aplenty
Most resorts are well stocked with restaurants, bars and clubs for après ski and long evenings with dinner and drinks.
But if you have a particular activity in mind, like spa trips, dog sledding, tobogganing or glacier walks, it pays to make sure your resort features it and that your accommodation is within easy, affordable access for you.
If you want some off-slope activities lined up, your destination and dates will auto-feed your entertainment options.
8. Putting It All Together
Once you’ve considered all of the above; here’s what you need to do next:
- Form a list of the people in your group that are ready to commit with a deposit payment and get an idea of how much they’re willing to spend
- Find a couple of dates everyone can make to give some flexibility to get the right deal
- Pick your destination to suit your requirements based on our aforementioned advice of what is feasible and will fit the bill
- Select accommodation and transport to suit your budget and needs
In large groups it can be near impossible to please everyone, so don’t try. And don’t have too many cooks spoiling the broth; keep the decision-making group as small as possible.
From there, it’s juggling timetables, connections, and confirmations. Excel spreadsheets are your friend. I have a spreadsheet for all big trips. It removes stress by keeping track of all the threads and sorting out money matters.
It can be a daunting task when you undertake being the organiser.
But you have people waiting to help at any turn. You start the ball rolling, we can take over and help you explore some of the greatest European ski spots with our local connections.
Whether it’s business, pleasure or something in between, we have detailed local knowledge to help get you there, within your trip parameters, as soon as possible. If you have specialised requirements, need private meeting spaces for big groups or want your skiing equipment handled when you get to your destination, we’ll make sure you’re getting what you want.
Get in touch with our multi-lingual team and we’ll help you organise a group ski trip no one will forget.