Getting Value From Your School Ski Trip
December 14, 2022
It’s impossible to ignore the increasing cost of living that we’ve all experienced over the last few months, with prices for many things having increased and inflation running at a level not seen for decades. It’s also right that we shouldn’t ignore the missed opportunities that many of our children have suffered due to lockdowns over the last couple of years, which we don’t want to see happen again. But with cost pressures affecting everyone and everything, now is the time to look for value. Although it may be harder to find what we would consider to be bargain prices, it means that now more than ever it’s important to ensure that we’re getting great value for every penny we spend.
A long time before there were any widely held discussions about the cost of living, here at Interski we were already focussed firmly on ensuring our school ski trips offer tremendous value to both students and staff. We regularly review our products and packages to ensure that what we’re doing offers the best experience at the best price. This means we make changes when required so our packages are fresh.
Regardless of which operator you book your school ski trip with, these are some of the things that we recommend you look for when trying to find the best package.
How many days?
School ski trips normally run over 4-6 days, but when you include travel days as well, this can mean the actual tour can be anywhere between 5 and 9 days, sometimes even more. Obviously, the longer you are away, the more it will cost. The easiest thing therefore would be to travel for the shortest time possible, but this is where you need to compromise as a shorter trip can be detrimental to the overall experience.
At Interski, our tours are generally 8 days in duration including travel time if travelling by coach, or 7 days if travelling by air. We find these durations hits the perfect balance between cost, value and experience.
How many hours tuition?
The primary reason for travelling is the skiing, so maximising ski time is essential. However, ski instructors can be one of the more expensive elements of the package and so it’s important to ensure this is right. Many operators offer anywhere between 15-30hrs over the course of the week, which is a huge difference. Clearly, booking at the lower end of the package will save money, but it also means a lot of spare time during the week when students aren’t in ski school when they will need entertaining. A package at the upper end risks increasing costs, but also students suffering burnout from what would be a demanding schedule.
At Interski, our packages are based on 24hrs over 5 days. We find this works perfectly and makes the perfect compromise between ski time and cost.
What’s the best day to depart?
Although this may seem irrelevant, it can actually have a significant impact on the cost. The tourism industry is quite regimented in how it operates, and often tends to work on a weekly basis, with the week starting on either a Saturday or a Sunday, with the weekends often being the peak periods. So, if you arrive at your destination on any day other than a Saturday or Sunday, you may be inadvertently paying a premium for the pleasure. Hotels tend not to like student groups on Fridays and Saturdays so they are free for the weekend crowd who pay higher rates. Ski schools and apres-ski venues are the same.
At Interski, our packages are based on Saturday departures from the UK, departing resort on Friday and arriving back into the UK the following Saturday. This dovetails perfectly with the quieter times for the hotels, ski schools and other suppliers, meaning the best rates are guaranteed.
How should I travel?
There are three main options available – own transport, coach and air. Frankly, few people would want the hassle of organising their own transport, so whilst savings are technically possible, is it worth the headache that goes with it? Of the other two options, coach transport is almost always the most cost effective. As well as generally being better value, it also offers you a greater choice of hotels and resorts simply because you have your own transport in resort. Air transport limits the choice of hotels and resorts available as your group normally needs to stay somewhere that can be accessed by foot, and due to their proximity to the slopes can often mean they are more expensive.
At Interski, the majority of our trips are by coach. However, we have a number of groups every year that prefer to fly and we do have some groups (based overseas) that arrange their own transport. If you’re looking for best value however, we always recommend coach travel.
What time of year should we go?
Travelling at peak times will always be more expensive and your choices limited with demand so high. This means you’ll have to book early (maybe even 1yr+) to secure your preferred hotel and resort, or take what’s available – which may mean compromises. Conversely, if you travel at an off-peak time, the dynamic is flipped completely – the cost is lower and your choice of hotel and resort will be much greater. Although travelling during term may not be an option for many schools, it’s worth revisiting this with your SLT as the current climate may be the justification you need to make the trip as inclusive as possible. The price between February half-term and the middle of March can differ by as much as £250pp – a huge difference!
There are some compromises as well. Often the last week of the school term in December is a value week to travel, as are the last week of term before February half-term and Easter. Although technically still term time dates, SLTs are often more willing to soften their position for travel at these times.
At Interski, although the peaks times of February and Easter school holidays are always the busiest, we have groups travelling with us throughout the winter and if you’re looking for the best prices then March is definitely the cheapest (and quietest time to travel). It’s also worth reading our Higher Education initiative that helps set out the educational arguments for term-time ski trips travel.
What are the next steps from here?
As with most things, we recommend you take a balanced approach to organising your school ski trip. Speak to your SLT and see whether travelling during term time is possible. Have a look at which resorts would suit your group and seek out the ones which offer better value – often the lesser known resorts or regions (like Italy’s Aosta Valley), sometimes in less fashionable countries (like Andorra and Spain), but don’t be put off.
If you need some help and advice, please feel free to get in touch with us. Our friendly team have a combined knowledge of over 150 years in the ski industry and are happy, helpful and will give you all the impartial advice you need. Simply give us a call on 01623 456333 or drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.