The following section reviews information about Sun Peaks Resort. The aim of the review is to understand the experiences of guests visiting the sports school in Sun Peaks Resort. This is in relation to their perception about the school, the instructor and the general services that relate to the Ski School and the programs. Thus, the section covers the general information about the sun peaks resort, the sport school and to find out who are the visitors at the school and their experiences.
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Sun Peaks Resort
The Sun Resort came to being in 1993. Formerly it used to be called Tod Mountain. It is the second largest ski area in British Columbia and it is ranked third in Canada. Sun Peaks Resort resource is located on Mount Tod in the McGillivray Creek. It is centrally located in British Columbia, 45 minutes’ drive from Kamloops. The summit of the skiing area is at an elevation of 20180. The Sun Peaks Resort has 15 kilometers of terrain that is skiable. The average snow received each year is 5.6 meters of snow. From the humble beginnings, Sun Peaks has transformed to a world class destination for skiing, mountain biking and golfing (Sun Peaks, 2012). This has mainly been due to laid back nature that the visitors can experience in the entire resort.
In relation to it being favorable for skiing, the resort was described as, “It’s as easy to slip into as strapping on skis and gliding down to a café for breakfast before hitting the slopes” (Kyle, Theodorakis, Karageorgiou & Lafazani, 2010, p. 5). It has a natural terrain of approximately 4270 acres that are not crowded and which extend to cover three mountains. The resort has quality and reliable snow coupled with variety of terrain from three mountains. Besides there are no lift lines which makes the resort to unique compared to other resorts. The resort offers 135 runs for the visitors to choose from which leads the skiers to anywhere within the vast skiable terrain for example from the open glades found in Mt. Morrissey to the steep faces of Tod Mountains.
Sport School: The Ski School
Nowadays, many resorts have added numerous resources as a means to attract more visitors. According to Mill (2007), such an approach results in the increased demand and need for self-development. An example of such an addition is the Sun Peak’s ski school that was started to take care of the increasing demand for ski and snowboarding lessons for the guests. The school is in Sun Peak Resort and has been ranked as one of the largest ski schools that currently exist in the British Columbia, in Canada. According to a report by Sun Peak Resort (2016), the ski school of Sun Peak provides a wide range of services and programs to children and adult individuals visiting the resort.
According to Facilities and Services (2016), the training programs are divided into three categories of beginner, intermediate, and expert. In addition, Sub Peak Resort (2016) pointed out that any guest learner can engage in private or group lessons. The three categories of the training programs at the ski school are based on ratings. Mill (2007) asserted that resort managers have always felt that it can be hard for guests to pay extra amount of money for training after spending a considerable sum on the primary facility.
Over the recent years, the number of guests at various resorts has increased (Morey, 2004). In the case of Sun Peaks, such a high increase in guests increases the demand for ski and snowboard training programs. As such, the ski school has increased the number of instructors, as well as increased the frequency of staff training for better delivery of the lessons.
Visitors at the Sports school
In Canada and other parts of the world where skiing has become a competitive and leisure sport, many people have the desire to learn the sport, to be safe when skiing and generally to improve their skiing experience. A study conducted by Palmer and O’Neill (2003) noted that the skiing sport has transitioned from the old game in which people did not bother to go for training to learn basic to a competitive sport where perfection is very crucial.
Thus, people enroll in training programs that are supposed to enhance their efficiency (McCammon, 2000). The enthusiasts of skiing will visit the training resorts to understand the terrain, improve their skills and for general orientation to the sport (Sun Peaks, 2013). However, some people attend training programs just for fun and leisure, to meet and make new friends.
The ski school attracts different visitors in terms of age, purpose for coming to school and gender orientation. The majority of the people attending the school are visitors who want to improve their skiing skills, those who come to make friends and other want to be acquainted and be safer in the slopes. In relation to the Ski Sport School, majority of the visitors are the young people aged between 20 and 30 years old. Also, the visitors include the beginners, and people who are already good at skiing and want to learn new things and improve their skills. The guests’ desire to learn the different programs offered in the school such as local programs, recreational race programs and adult youth programs.
The main objective of the study was to analyze the sports school at Sun Peaks Resort in order to find out how it is prepared for the guests. The second objective was to find out the experience of the guests in the sport school. The third objective of the study was to find out who are the visitors coming to the school. Thus, a survey was conducted to determine the experiences of the visitors to the park. The following is the analysis of the survey results. The analysis will be critical in determine the overall outlook of the experiences of the visitors.
One of the key objectives of conducting the study was to find out who are the people visiting the ski school and their experiences. The sample size for the study was 33 participants, 18 men and 15 women. In relation to the participants’ skills ski and snowboarder level, the beginners were 10, the intermediate 12 while the advanced were 11. About the knowledge of the school, 54.5% heard about it from friends while 30.3% got the information from the internet, 5% were from other sources such as self-discovery.
The main differences in the ski resorts normally relate to the quality of skiing, the slope altitude, the scenery, experience and the average snowfall. Nowadays, managements of ski resorts have invested in good training facilities in order to enhance the experience of the people skiing. Besides, they have hired instructors to train and guide the visitors. Just as the natural features of the resorts affect the skiing, there are different factors that influence the training experience.
The factors depend on the level of the learner, the instructor and the general skiing facilities provided in the resort. In relation to the survey, majority of the guest were very comfortable with lessons at the highest elevation. In addition, 9 people were comfortable when taking lessons at the top elevation.
Out of the sample size of the sample of 33 participants 55.5% were males while the women accounted for 45.5%. The people captured in the study were between the ages 22 and 27 years. However, majority fell under the age bracket of between 22 and 25 years. See figure 1 below, it is a summary of the ages of the people who participated in the study. It is worth noting that only one participant was aged 27 years. The guests came from different regions. However, majorities were from Canada which had 15 participants, China was second with 8 people. The other people captured in the study included those from Thailand, Japan and Norway.
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The Experience of the Guests
As noted in the literature review, there are different factors that determine the level of satisfaction and comfort. Some of the factors cited include the personal factors, safety measures, and the attitude of the instructors and the altitude of the terrain. Morrison (2010) noted that management of the relationship is critical in influencing the level of comfort. In the literature review, one finding related to the care given to the guests and close guidance throughout the challenging causes. In this relation, the participants were asked how they felt about the overall experience during the training. Interestingly, majority of the people had good feeling about the training processes.
Even though these factors could be attributed to the roles of the coaches, Back and Lee (2009) noted that personal and gender factors have significant influence. For example, a sociological study by Stoddart (2010) found that participants normally construct meaning of gender and place, this implies that in mountainous sublime or to elevation points men may be more comfortable compared to women.
Nowadays resort business operates in a very competitive environment. As a result, managers of the resorts are continually looking for better ways to enhance the experience of the visitors frequenting the resorts (Fuchs, 2004). This is very critical in order to enhance the experience of the guests. For example, in the Ski School Sun Peaks, skiing lessons are taught to the guest as one of the way to enhance their experience and improve their skiing skills.
Data from the school shows that various educational programs are offered to the guests. Concerning the general experience in the school, majority of the participants rated the school as supportive with 4 people rating the school as excellent. Similarly in relation to the services offered by the trainers and guides’, there was overwhelming support in which 18 participants rated the instructors as very supportive while 7 stated that they were supportive. Only one person noted that the instructor of the Sport School was very unsupportive. These results show that majority of the attendants are happy with services provided by the Sport School.
Based on the results, it is evident that the management of resort has invested in resources to enhance the experience of the visitors. The findings relate to literature review which pointed to the mangers in adding value to the natural landscape. Key to note is that majority of the learners were comfortable taking lessons at top elevation. According to Muzaffer (2005) the type of the destination and training programs influence the level of customer satisfaction and loyalty. The measurement of the customer satisfaction plays an important role in determining the overall performance of resorts (McDougall & Levesque, 2000). As a result, it is upon managers to identify drivers that satisfy the customers and those which lead to making the customer feel comfortable.
According to Mill (2007) skiers are interested with destinations where they can maximize utilities. This relates to the type of utility and the number of ski runs available and safety measures. Similarly, Alegre and Garau (2010) found that the experience of skiers is influenced by the travel distance, and the type of elevation.
Skiing training has become very important in Canada. Due to increasing competitiveness, the need of qualified instructors has been on the increase (Hudson, Ritchie, & Timur, 2004). Evanschitzky and Wunderlich (2006) noted that the increasing safety of people skiing calls for qualified instructors. In the literature, review, most of the people attending the school pointed that they were mindful of their safety hence the need to improve their skills.
As a result, in the survey, participants were asked their perception about the role of the instructor. This related to dimensions of expertise, friendliness and punctuality. The findings showed that all the factor were significant to the trainees. For instance, in relation to competence, 71.8 % stated that it was very significant. Only 9.3 % stated that competence was slightly important for the instructor. About friendliness, the participants noted that it also contributed to their experience in the school.
However, the opinion was divided in relation to aspect of friendliness. For example out of the 33 participants, 11 people noted that the factor was slightly important, 12 people stated that it was important while 9 participants stated that it was extremely important. The other dimension was punctuality and reliability of the instructors. Out of 31 people who responded to the survey question, 12 participants said that it was important while 12 stated that it was slightly important. Only 7 participants pointed that it was extremely important.
The survey also sought to find out the training experience in relation to the way the training was conducted. This related to the grouping during the training sessions. The findings showed that participants preferred training sessions in which the group size included 3 to 5 people; 42 % of the study participants preferred such groups. For group size of between 6 and 8 people only 21.2% were comfortable. In addition, the participants were not very comfortable with very small groups. The analysis of the findings showed that only 36.4% were comfortable with groups of 1-2 people.
The analysis of the results showed that many people visited the skiing school in order to improve their skills. For instance, out of 33 participants, 66.7% visited the centers to improve their skills. Other factors that made the participants visit the school involved the need to increase their safety on the slopes accounted for 9.1% while those to be acquainted to the skiing area were 9.1%. However, there were some attended the programs just to make friends. This comprised of 15.5%. This shows that the people who attend the school have diverse expectations. In addition it points to the importance of the skiing as a good recreational and leisure activity in which people can meet to make friends.
The findings from the survey are in line with literature review that pointed that there many factors that attract people to the resorts. From the literature, it was found that the factors include the natural scenery and the management measures taken to better the experience of the guests which has led to increased competition between various resorts. For instance, in the literature review, Palmer and O’Neill (2003) pointed out that the skiing sport has transitioned from the old game in which people did not bother to go for training to learn basics to modern skiing where sportsmen and women want to perfect their and minimize injuries. These sediments relates to the survey findings where many people pointed that competence of the instructors is a key factor that determine their comfort while undertaking the trainings.
Interview question: Describe Ski School at Sun Peaks Resort in terms of services and programs
From the interview results, it was evident that Ski School at Sun Peaks Resort has a wide variety of programs and services for guests. The services and programs available in the school are not specific for expert skiers or snowboarders. Thus, the services are available for any guest who is interested in skiing or snowboarding regardless of whether or not they have had a skiing or snowboarding experience in the past. In addition, the school has various programs that are divided according to age; some for kids and others for adults.
The kids programs are taught to children aged 6 years and above, and at times private lessons are offered to at least a group of 3 learners. Such private coaching was introduced to take care of the needs and demands of the individuals who are in need of more customized experiences. To enhance efficiency of the lesson, the school insists on minimal people (at least 3) in a group (Sun Peak Resort, 2016). The resort itself has an exclusively high rating and positive reviews on the famous trip advisor platform, known for its independence in estimation judgments (Siomkos, Vasiliadis & Lathiras, 2006).
Interview question: What are the main markets of the Ski School at Sun Peaks Resort?
According to the interview response from a sport school supervisor at Sun Peaks, the main markets for Ski School at Sun Peaks Resort include Washington State, lower mainland, Vancouver and Northern Okanagan. In addition, the Resort receives many Australian guests alongside a few from the UK. Evidently, the Ski School at Sun Peaks Resort has become popular, which can be attributed to the high significance that guests have as far as ski and snowboard schools is concerned.
Additionally, the influx of guests from different parts of the world to the Ski School at Peaks aligns with the latest discovery that over the recent years, the preference for clients in guests’ resorts has seemed to change in favor of additional resources such as ski schools (Folk, 2008; UNWTO, 2007). Anderson (2007) noted that guests are willing to pay extra money for training regardless of having spent considerable amount of money on the primary resort’s facilities.
Interview question: How does the School promote their main markets?
The school at Suns Resort has a variety of promotion methods that it uses to spread awareness to its target market (Sun Peaks Resort Master Plan, 2013). For example, it was evident from the interview that the school uses magazines and online media marketing to woo guest from different parts of the world. In spite of these two methods being the main ones, the school also relies on destination marketing whereby a marketing staff does all the marketing alongside the use of ski shows in different areas where the school sees potential guests. The use of online media marketing approach is considered a suitable marketing approach (Ormiston, Gilbert, & Mannig, 2008).
This can be attributed to the fact that most people have now embraced technology and increased the number of online users (Roger-Monzo, Marti-Sanchez & Guijarro-Garcia, 2015). As such, online marketing approach is likely to reach a wide market for the school in comparison to other promotion methods such as the use of magazines.
Interview question: What is the overall trend in visitation over the last 5 years?
As pointed out by a sport supervisor at Sun Peaks School, the overall trend in visitation over the last 5 years has increased. For example, between 2014 and 2015, the total visitation has increased by a range of 15-20% based on previous years (Brey 2010). This can be observed from the high demand of guests in need of training. As such, the school has been forced to increase the number of instructors, as well as the type of lessons to capture the interest of all guests.
According to Kubota and Shimano (2014), such a high rate of visitation in the Ski School of Suns Resort aligns with the growing trend observed for the last three consecutive seasons in British Columbia. Based on the growing trend, there is a high possibility that in the next 5 years, the visitation will grow to about 25%. Mill (2007) attributed the rise in the visitation to the fact that most resorts are introducing new trainings and courses as a way to meet the rising demand for self-development nowadays.
Interview question: How does Ski School impact guest experience?
The school has a huge impact for the guests who visit, since the school’s instructors are always with the guest during their training period. As such, the help that the guest receive from the instructors is likely to have lasting impact given that the primary aim of the instructors and the lesson is to ensure that the guests get maximum knowledge and skills through various lessons. The school ensures that the guests are satisfied every day of their stay at the school. To achieve this objective and meet the rising demand of skiing lessons among guest, the school has increased the number of instructors, as well as increased the frequency of staff training.
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