Online Ski Tour Clearing House.

Skiers who are seeking the latest discounts on ski travel can now go to an online clearing house set up by the Ski Tour Operators Association (SKITOPS), which represents more than two-dozen of the oldest and largest specialty ski tour operators in North America.

Skiers who are seeking the latest discounts on ski travel can now go to an online clearing house set up by the Ski Tour Operators Association (SKITOPS), which represents more than two-dozen of the oldest and largest specialty ski tour operators in North America.


Winter travelers can quickly search through nearly 800 packaged vacations to resort destinations throughout the world. In addition, they can see last-minute bargains in a new section called “Late-Breaking Deals,” which is updated regularly. Right now, resort areas are offering a myriad of incentives, including discounts of 15 to 20 percent on rooms, free extra night`s stays, discounted lift passes, and free skiing for children. Also, many lodging properties have dropped minimum-night stay requirements.


But anyone who is thinking of taking a ski vacation over the coming holiday period will have to book fast, because both lodging and airline seats are already tight. Furthermore, airlines have cut back service to secondary airports at ski resorts, as well as to major gateways such as Denver, according to David Tanner, association president and co-owner of Rocky Mountain Vacations in Glenwood Springs, Colo. “Consumers will find it easier to let us sort through all of these ongoing changes and get them to their destinations,” he says.


SKITOPS companies offer discounted bulk airfares as part of their packages, and often these are lower than the published fares, especially on direct flights to ski regions. But fares are an ever-shifting landscape, almost on a daily basis. Tour operators routinely are among the first to hear about major air fare reductions. Just last week, for example, SKITOPS companies were told that United Airlines was dropping its fuel surcharge—typically $40 per ticket on bulk fares. “We can advise our clients immediately and pass along the savings,” says Tanner.

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“In any case, the tour operator can book the lowest available fare and find the most suitable ground package,” he adds. “This year, with so many late-breaking price reductions being announced on a daily basis, SKITOPS companies are the best source for centralized, up-to-the-minute information.”


The SKITOPS Web site offers the most extensive inventory of ski vacation packages on the Internet. Using a new search engine launched this season, you can narrow your search by resort, country, state, dates of travel, departure city and type of lodging. (The site also contains a complete list of SKITOPS member companies.) After reviewing the packages that meet your criteria, you can contact travel companies through a simple e-mail inquiry form, asking for a call-back if you need more information or want to book a trip. “The personal touch represents the essence of our business,” says Tanner. “SKITOPS companies take care of their clients before, during and after their vacations.”


www.skitops.com


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