GENEVA — One needs skiers, the other, passengers. Skioo, a pay-per-use sky pass, and Uber, a ride-hailing service, recently partnered to transport city residents to snow-covered slopes.
Gregory Barbezat, the founder and owner of Skioo, drove people to the slopes of Glacier 3000, above the Swiss village of Diablerets, in a minibus. “The atmosphere was excellent,” he said with a smile.
Although this first trip was free as it was a trial run, the next ones won’t be. Barbezat says that Skioo is not looking to rake in cash from the venture but won’t be losing money either. “It is a marketing investment. It offers us visibility, content, stories to tell, and it helps us understand the needs of the skiers we meet,” says Barbezat.
Skioo is trying to reinvent the ski bus. Barbezat wants to recreate a generation of skiers who are, by his own admission, “a little more rock-and-roll than the previous one.” This coming winter, Skioo will organize about 30 departures using Uber and other partners, from Swiss cities like Bern, Basel and Zurich to alpine peaks.
Barbezat’s motto? “Make skiing fun again, less serious, especially by removing logistical constraints such as travel, parking, etc.”
The practical constraints linked to skiing have been the foundation of Skioo’s business model since 2012. The company offers rechargeable cards linked to debit cards that charge skiers according to resort’s prices and their use of them.
About 25,000 skiers already use Skioo cards free of charge. About 50 ski resorts give him a commission each time a user frequents their slopes.
Barbezat plans to further expand. He is already preparing for the 2017-18 winter. He has negotiated with accommodation services Airbnb, Expedia, and Booking.com to offer customers packages of ski days and overnight stays. “The ski resorts are very interested but on the other hand, the operators don’t want to have to address each of them individually. They want a single interlocutor,” he says.