Zermatt in Switzerland belongs to the absolute top destinations in all things ski holidays. The mountain village is brimming with highlights: the highest ski area in Europe, year-round snow security, dreamy views of the Matterhorn, etc. Skiers from all over the world head to Zermatt all year long to enjoy the finest of ski holidays. SnowTrex spoke with Suzi Steiger from Zermatt Tourism. Which highlights does the region have to offer, which challenges does the region have to offer, and what are the goals for the upcoming winter?
There are plenty of destinations available to choose from for a ski holiday. What’s so special about Zermatt?
In Zermatt, a unique atmosphere reigns and those who visit Zermatt always come back for more. This is thanks to the breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the Matterhorn, one of 38 four-thousand-metre high mountains around Zermatt. The countless pistes provide for plenty of variety. Whether you’re a skier or snowboarder, there’s something for everyone here. What’s more is that this destination doesn’t just stop at success, but rather continues to invest in its infrastructure and offers for their guests. The new Matterhorn glacier ride, the highest 3S lift in Europe, literally and figuratively lifts your experience along the Matterhorn up to a whole new level. Before you even put on your skis, you’re immediately drawn into the surrounding mountain world due to the close proximity of the mountain. Last, but not least, you’ll be on the piste in just 9 minutes with the new lift – faster than ever before!
Winter sports resorts, especially at the start of the season, promote special incentives to draw guests into the ski area. Together with Switzerland Tourism and SnowTrex, Zermatt will be organising a special competition for the winter opening. What’s it all about and what can the winners expect during at the opening?
In Zermatt, you can ski 365 days a year. For this reason, even we don’t have a classic season opening as you would with other destinations. Our “season” is more or less the entire year, but around the end of November, we’re in full-on “winter mode”. It’s this message in particular that we wish to share with the world during the “WOW Winter Opening Weeks”. Furthermore, we’re still on the search for fitting ambassadors who wish to support us. Together with Switzerland Tourism and SnowTrex, we’re treating six couples to our “WOW Winter Opening Weeks” in Zermatt. You’ll expect to find Zermatt as if it’s in the middle of winter, with freshly prepared pistes and a unique programme with everything from a late night shopping to an après ski party.
Winter holidaymakers today have different requirements than those from a few years ago. The majority don’t stay as long, but make up for it by going on ski holidays more frequently. Which current developments and trends have you noticed? How will Zermatt adjust to these developments?
We’ve also noticed that the length of the winter holidays ranging from one to two weeks has the tendency now to be a bit shorter. What’s more is that we’ve seen enquiries for activities and special experiences both on and off the piste increasing as well. Digitalisation is also a keyword when it comes to expectations. This applies to both the manner in which a guest can inform themselves about our destination before their arrival as well as how they can book. It also applies to the accessibility and overall ability to search for information in resort. This requirement is very well met thanks to our Wi-Fi reception throughout the entire ski area, for example – even on the piste. In order to meet all of the digital requirements of our guests, we as a destination are currently investing quite a lot of time and effort into our digitalisation project. This includes topics like a destination app, digital registration form and even a marketplace for further simplification of bookability. Our goal is to provide our guests with the best possible service, whether it be from receiving their first information to arriving in resort, to their stay in resort, and even to provide us with feedback after their stay has ended.
Which new features in the Zermatt ski area can winter sports fans start getting excited about?
Currently, anticipation is rising particularly for the new Matterhorn glacier ride, of which will be up and running just in time for this winter season. I can personally confirm that a ride with this new lift is sure to excite every winter sports fan.
A big challenge for winter tourism is the lack of growth. Time and budget are not preferably spent on a supposed “expensive winter holiday”. Parents also oftentimes see a lack of interest in spending a family holiday in the snow. Which measures does Zermatt take to get families and young people more excited for winter sports?
Nearly 80% of our guests are returning guests. Zermatt has always been a family destination and the joy and connection to Zermatt will continue to be passed down from one generation to the next. We will therefore continue to put great emphasis on families: children up to the age of nine will receive a “Wolli Card” in Zermatt-Matterhorn, which is valid for one year from the beginning of November until the end of October. With the Wolli Card, kids can use all of the lifts for free, stay in numerous hotels and apartments for free, are exempt from paying tourist taxes and are invited guests for Wolli events. This really helps kids feel like VIPs of the destination.
Winter tourism is extremely weather-dependent. Topics like climate change, shortened winters and lack of snow are extremely present in the minds of many potential winter holidaymakers. What is Zermatt doing in order to maintain the attractiveness of winter holidays, especially considering its unique position due to its altitude, but also considering alternatives to skiing?
Due to our altitude, we are certainly at an advantage. Additionally, the Zermatt Bergbahnen AG also has a solid infrastructure and has built up tremendous knowledge when it comes to the functionality of artificial snow-making facilities. ¾ of our kilometres of piste either lie on the glacier or can be covered in artificial snow from starting from fall and continuing on into winter at tempuratures of up to 3°C. Due to the snow security here, the need for alternative options to skiing certainly doesn’t impose upon us. That being said, it goes without saying that we also have a wide selection of activities for winter guests who do not wish to ski.
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