The report featuring insights and projections from winter sports experts from 15 countries is our second future trends study in this field, commissioned by Mastercard. It uncovers the challenges of COVID-19 and the opportunity for long term change the pandemic has provided, to improve the winter sports experience in the future.
The winter sports industry has seen a major shift in operations which has forced many resorts to reassess how the slopes function, with 73% of experts predicting even further increases in contactless technology leading to seamless contact free experiences by 2025, including in payments, food orders, ski hiring and hotel check ins, compared to just 62% last year. Whilst the industry is beginning to bounce back, 49% of industry experts predict that pre-COVID levels, in general consumer skiing and live attendance, won’t return until 2023, a similar outlook for in person spectator winter sports events.
The main insight for the better than expected outlook, is due to rapid adoption of technology across the slopes. Recent data has highlighted that globally, digitalisation has been catapulted forwards with 5-years’ worth of adoption happening within an eight-week period. This is being reflected within the winter sports industry, as experts predict that COVID-19 will accelerate digital growth.
The change in tactics for the industry is surprising as historically, technology and skiing have had a tumultuous relationship as people look to the slopes for a ‘closer to nature’ experience. By 2025, however, experts predict that the pandemic will have a major impact on three key areas of technology; training, preparation and recovery decisions for athletes, general convenience for skiers including holidaymakers and optimisation of ski lift technology to minimize the spread of viruses.
Another area of major technical advancement that experts predict to see by 2025, comes in the form of eSports. Virtual sports exploded on to the scene in 2020 as in-person events were cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19. Winter sports aren’t known for their virtual presence, other than in cult games such as SSX Tricky, however, some experts predict that by 2025 eSports will have opened up the virtual slopes for people across the globe, including where skiing isn’t naturally possible. As well as geographic acceleration in winter sports, 43% of experts predict simulations will have a significant impact on overall accessibility with more people who have a disability being able to experience the sport virtually.
Download the full report here.