Édition #5

Mountain regions need new indicators to objectify decisions!

Denis MAURER President of Monitourism, G2A Consulting, Agence Ermetik, Ski Guru and Travel Data (Switzerland and Austria) Interview conducted on 12 July 2023

1. What are the main indicators currently used in the mountains?

The traditional indicators (occupancy rates, overnight stays, ski-days, etc.) are essential for managing tourism activities and, as in every sector, they go back a long way. It is not possible to run a business without always having a certain number of indicators. On the other hand, the level and need for analysis and understanding of figures by mountain professionals is improving.

Why is this? Because, for a long time, the level of snow cover or the weather were enough to explain visitor numbers or sales of ski passes, but today there are many factors involved and there is a need for subindicators to help us understand and, above all, to take action (e.g. to improve communication campaigns by analysing increases in numbers per booking period and per market).

“The traditional indicators are essential, but need to be duplicated with more detailed sub-indicators.”

Another aspect is the decision-makers’ demand for a return on investment from marketing campaigns backed up by detailed impact studies. Social network indicators can certainly be used to measure the public’s awareness of a destination, but they do not necessarily reflect the economic reality on the ground, the quality of service, the occupancy rate, etc.

Typically, the traditional indicator of “peak demand” characterises the weeks with the highest sales. Today, we are able to indicate when a holiday was purchased. This knowledge of the customer purchase calendar for each given period makes it easier to know when to invest in an advertising campaign and how to target it more effectively.

2. How are these indicators evolving to improve decision-making, particularly with a view to improving CSR? How can these new indicators be devised?

Faced with the new economic, social and environmental challenges, it is essential to remain objective! The notion of “desirable futures”¹ takes on its full meaning when it comes to collectively defining where we want to go (on a regional scale), with a vision of the future and a defined list of indicators that can be measured and monitored over time. This will make it possible to demonstrate the results of the actions taken.

This process requires a collective approach, involving the local elected representatives, local residents, the socio-professionals and all the other players in local life. As each region has its own specificities (surface area, number and structure of rental properties, etc.), it is important to be careful about making hasty comparisons and to focus on its own specific issues. A key indicator on one issue does not necessarily have the same impact elsewhere.

The indicators that are developing around CSR (e.g. groundwater levels in relation to water resources, energy performance ratings for building renovation, etc.) enable us to confront individual realities and find collective solutions. To be effective, the indicators need to measure a region’s progress against the targets it has set itself.

For example, AirBnB is giving very serious thought to listing a property’s energy performance rating when a customer is about to book it. Over and above national regulatory requirements, it may well be customers themselves who drive tourist renovation projects in the future, because renovated properties would be more desirable!

“Tourism spending in the region also needs to be better analysed and explained so that tourism is accepted by the local residents, particularly as regards the issue of land…”

To sum up, indicators must be designed to objectively measure a region’s development in relation to its own objectives and above all, to facilitate action, it must be easy to understand the factors that cause them to vary. Of course many indicators have yet to be invented!

3. How do you respond to those who challenge or question the indicators used for collective projects, such as development projects?

That the world is changing very quickly (society, climate, etc.) and that we all need to adapt! The most important thing in a democracy is to ensure that decisions are rational for the community. Yes, we can make the figures say what we like, but the important thing for me is not to be an activist, but to be credible and thereby to help make decisions objectively.

If we aspire to a desirable future, that necessarily requires concessions. It comes down to the human element and our objective. To come back to “desirable futures”, factual information has to be combined with
feedback from surveys of local populations, which is very important for involving them in the questions and getting them to accept the changes (with, in some cases, compromises).

The methodologies used or the structures that supply the data (whether public or private) can always be questioned, but the key indicators must be indisputable.

In this context, the local elected representatives must be put back at the centre of decision-making and the range of choices. This is also the aim of the observatory launched with the Crédit Agricole des Savoie:
to show over time that there are many projects moving in the right direction and that the mountain players are committed to this!

1. Refers to the Observatory of Desirable Futures set up in collaboration with the Crédit Agricole des Savoie.

After 16 years in management positions ranging from finance and human resources to general management for different lodging operators in the French mountains (Madame Vacances, MMV, Vacancéole, etc.), Denis took over from Gilles REVIAL as head of G2A Consulting in September 2021.