How Val Cenis accelerated the shift towards pre-sales in the midst of COVID-19

Val Cenis Ski Resort

Online sales are off to a roaring start at Val Cenis for the winter 20-21 season. Despite a global pandemic and a host of unknowns as we approach winter, online sales into winter dates are up over +300K€ year over year. As we’ve said before, businesses who use this crisis to shift consumer behavior will emerge with much stronger businesses than pre-COVID. Let’s take a closer look at how Val Cenis has achieved this result so far, and the trends they’ve seen along the way.

YOY cumulative bookings

It all started with their pricing strategy. Val Cenis’ ticket strategy starts with a low quantity of tickets at attractive starting prices across the entire season, to incentivize customers to buy, even many days before the start of the season. A visual representation of their pricing strategy is shown below: each day of the season is treated as its own opportunity and priced as such, reflecting demand for the day. While prices start low, 50% of tickets are actually priced significantly higher, as represented by the vertical boxes. 

Visualization of Val Cenis’ 6-day ticket strategy

On June 2, 2020, Val Cenis opened online sales for dated-tickets for 5+ day products. 5-7 day products were their best sellers last season and they wanted to continue driving advanced bookings volume for these products. Jérôme Estienne, Sales & Marketing Manager at Val Cenis, attributes this year’s success so far to their multi-faceted marketing strategy designed to drive traffic to Cloud Store. These four pillars of acquisition include: email newsletters, website referrals (primarily from the Val Cenis destination site), Adwords, and organic search. At the initial launch, which Estienne considers the first two weeks of sales, loyal Val Cenis customers flocked to buy online, excited by the “1 Day / 1 Deal” campaign and the end of lockdown in France. During this period, 42% of sales came from their newsletters, amounting to 175k€. 

“The loyal customer is the pillar on which we can build a strong revenue base for the season,” says Estienne.

Therefore, he initially focused on re-engaging loyal customers and getting them excited about the upcoming winter season. During this time, other sources of traffic, including organic search, website referrals, and Adwords, were minor contributors to revenue.

From mid-June to mid-August, revenue growth slowed down slightly as initial pent up demand teetered off. As summer came to an end, however, customers began to think again about their winter ski vacations, and as demand rose, website traffic picked back up. During this time, 39% of revenue came from the Val Cenis destination site referring traffic to, 28% came from organic search, 12% from Adwords, and 5% from email.

Estienne is anticipating continued strong growth during the season, and will introduce dynamic same-day pricing this season as well to push customers to buy online. Since launch, Val Cenis’ goal has been to secure revenue from loyal customers, and has been successful maintaining consistent sales over the past several months.  With a solid base of revenue already booked into the winter season, Val Cenis is less exposed to any unpredictability thrown its way this winter, related to COVID or not. The rest of Val Cenis’ date-specific ticket strategy (1-4 day products) will go on sale in November. Estienne expects strong sales given what he’s seen so far, particularly as the resort’s opening day rapidly approaches.

Catalate is a global pricing and e-commerce company empowering ski resorts, parks, and attractions to increase online revenue. As the only purpose-built ticketing platform for the industry, Catalate has developed successful strategies for hundreds of Partners across $1 billion in online sales. Get in touch today.

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