How to choose a tour operator for university snowsports trips

The time has come for university snowsports clubs to start planning next winter’s trips… but which tour operator should you go with?

Currently there are two main tour operators (TOs) in the student market: NUCO Travel and Wasteland Ski. Although the packages they offer may seem similar, every university club is different and one TO is likely to fit your group better than the other. Here are seven top tips and pieces of advice for making the choice, written by former president of Bath University Snowsports Thomas Purkhardt.

1. Have a resort in mind

Each ski resort has its pros and cons, but there will be a perfect option out there which can deliver exactly what you want for your club. Consider how many beginners, intermediates and expert skiers and snowboarders your have and what terrain is needed. Also think about additional events, accommodation and whether the resort is student-friendly. Nobody wants multiple visits from the Genderme during afters. Once you’ve don’t some research, a far clearer picture of what each TO can offer in this resort will form during their pitch. This will make it easier to ask the right questions during the planning process.

You can find in-depth resort information at The Ski Club of Great Britain’s detailed resort pages and NUCO Travel’s handy resort guide.

This Easter Val Thorens hosted Exeter University on their biggest trip to date

This Easter Val Thorens hosted Exeter University on their biggest trip to date

2. Speak to your snowsports friends

If you are considering making a switch of TO or just want to find out more about the company, it’s a great idea to get in touch with other university snowsports societies who have experience with them. There’s a lot less smoke and mirrors here as you will likely get a very honest opinion and assessment of the relationship between that club and TO.

3. Bring the party

In recent times university ski trips have been making large steps towards becoming week long festival-type events. It’s worth detailing your event vision for your trip to the TO and finding what can be both possible and momentous for your trip-goers. Moreover, it’s a good idea to find out what similar events have cost to run in the past and what worked and didn’t work.

©Entirety LABS via Bath Snowsports

©Entirety LABS via Bath Snowsports

4. Work out what you want to be included in your base price

The typical base price covers lift pass, accommodation and coach transport. After that, you have the opportunity to add a whole array of additional items which can help promote your club at Freshers Week such as flyers, posters and feather flags. You could also add items for socials and your trip events like rubber ducks, UV paint or masks. The possibilities are endless but it’s important to work out the additional cost you want to add to your base price for these items and then limit yourselves from there. Remember if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

5. Find out what’s new

In the world of student snowsports, a lot can change in a year so it’s worth doing your research and asking the right questions. Be realistic about what areas TOs have triumphed in and where they have fallen short of requirements to give you a clear picture of their strengths and weaknesses. Equally, times change so keep up to date and try to set the past aside and give each new pitch a fair consideration. TOs are always aiming to improve their services and striving to put things right to win your contract. You are in a good position to get a great deal for your group and are responsible for their experience. Therefore, it’s important to get the facts.

Find out what’s been happening in the NUCO Times newspaper.

©Entirety LABS via Bath Snowsports

©Entirety LABS via Bath Snowsports

6. Take your sweet time

TOs can sometimes press you for a decision before you are ready to make one. If you need more time then ask for it and also find out what the consequences of not being quick could be. Most of the time it will be down to getting certain beds from agencies in the resort, however, a few days of waiting shouldn’t impact this choice critically. Treat ‘em mean, keen ‘em keen. Your club members will appreciate you taking the time to create the best trip possible instead of rushing the process.

7. Plan outside of the trip

A TO doesn’t just have to cater for your ski trip. If you want to run a ball, charity event or competition to improve your club’s reputation at your university, find out what else the TO can do to help. Both NUCO Travel and Wasteland Ski have a wealth of experience in events and the added benefit of extra promotion is that it brings together a closer tie between your club and TO. By having that additional face to face contact, you’ll improve the relationship and familiarity with your members.

No matter what, although the correct selection of a TO will help improve the club, having a passionate committee who want to work hard for the club is the key to any successful year. Don’t be fearful to try new ideas, events and change mindsets, best of luck!