Future of Rentals

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    Lugging skis to, through and from the airport, paying baggage fees and then doing it all again in reverse. There’s nothing vacation-like about BYO on a ski holiday. In the past renting was a headache, a time waster and the selection disappointing, but things have changed. While we still think you should always bring your own ski boots and helmet—carry-on, not checked—when it comes to skis, many of us prefer to rent.

Rental revenues have increased almost every year for the last decade, according to the Snowsports Industries America SIA. That’s encouraging shops to carry better and bigger ski fleets and to rethink the whole rental game. Many rental stores now have an online component. Users can fill in their details online and reserve specific skis. It reduces lining up and ensures renters get what they want as soon as they arrive.

Wintersteiger wants to make it even smoother. The Austrian ski service and rental equipment provider is developing a system that automates most of the process. It takes your online registration, and for the bootless, adds a foot scan that automatically records weight and height and, most important, recommends the best-fitting boot, reducing trying-on time.

But the most convenient change is the growth in ski butlers. AwayCo is a membership service that hooks renters up with top gear at many destinations. The bespoke reservation system cuts lines and searching for the best rental shop.

Even smoother is Black Tie and Ski Butlers. The two companies bring the rental shop to you. Book exactly what you want online and they meet you at your accommodation with options to ensure you get the right fit. Ski Butlers operates at 26 resorts in Europe and North America, including Whistler. Black Tie is only in North America, but it services hotels in Banff as well as Whistler. The cost isn’t much more than renting from a local store.

Ski travel is getting a little easier—and a lot lighter. skibutlers.com; awayco.com; blacktieskis.com

from Buyer’s Guide 2020 issue

Ryan Stuart
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