Bergbahnen Destination Gstaad AG (BDG) has ended with a positive balance sheet for the third time in a row.
After its initial success, the results were up again by three percent in the winter and nine percent over the entire financial year, with revenue from visitors up by nine percent compared to the previous year. The BDG is counting on dynamic pricing this coming winter.
“All good things come in threes,” says managing director, Matthias In-Albon, commenting on the third positive operating result in a row. The fact that the forward strategy is now bearing fruit is evident from the positive position compared to other top ski resorts in neighbouring countries, as well as from the Skiarea Test, where the BDG won awards in seven categories. “To get to the position we’re now in, over recent years, we’ve had to make many decisions, including tough ones,” emphasises the managing director.
In-Albon compares the BDG to the SBB. “We’ve gone from being a company standing still and gathering dust to a modern service enterprise. However, we’re still a long way from the end of our journey.” One particular goal the company has is to embed its mountain railways deeper within the region. “We believe it’s very important for the BDG to have public backing and that people talk about ‘our mountain railways’ and support them,” says In-Albon.
Top4 ski pass a success
Since first-time admissions rose by 18 percent during the winter of 2017/18, the BDG also recorded a three-percent increase during the 2018/19 financial year. Visitor traffic increased by nine percent compared to the previous year and the bottom line results show a symbolic profit of CHF 313,000 (the previous year was CHF 281,000).
The winter got off to a sluggish start, with a lack of snow and rain over the holidays. “If it hadn’t been for our investment in technical snowmaking, we wouldn’t have been able to provide a coherent ski service,” says In-Albon. “The new Saanersloch lift and the Top4 ski pass have also helped to make positive progress.”
The three-year contract for the ski pass will expire at the end of the year and talks will take place in November. “In principle, all four partners are in position,” says In-Albon. Also, talks will take place with the management of Glacier 3000. “The BDG is ready and willing to integrate Glacier 3000, but whether or not this succeeds is in the lap of the gods,” says Heinz Brand, president of the board.
New: Dynamic pricing
Starting this winter, the BDG will implement a dynamic pricing system. “We’ve examined the topic in detail,” emphasises In-Albon. The digital transformation is changing the business model and visitors are less prepared to stand at the cash register when they can order their tickets online in just a few clicks. At the same time, technological progress facilitates new pricing strategies, he explains.
The BDG has opted for a moderate price model, with the lowest price of CHF 49 for a day ticket and the highest price of CHF 74. In particular, those who book early or on quieter days (Mondays and Thursdays) will benefit. “Day visitors and families are the main focus of our dynamic pricing model as they’re price-sensitive and plan their holidays well in advance.” According to Brand, it’s important that hoteliers and landlords of holiday apartments are well-informed and let their guests know about the various offers.
The next step is to harmonise the arrangements for landowners’ indemnity insurance, which was initiated as part of the financial restructuring of the BDG. In future, everyone will be treated equally. “The concept is in place but we’re still in the middle of implementation,” explains Brand.
“From a strategic point of view, we need to promote long-term planning and development to the best of our ability,” Brand emphasises. In the near future, the BDG will place as many as five superstructure planning applications. However, the aim isn’t to create new tracks or open up new areas, but to bring the existing tracks up to the latest standards and optimise them, including their line management. The Eggli toboggan run and the reservoir on the Hornberg are good examples.
Based on AvS/Anita Moser
Translated by Justine Hewson