To offer our travel agent members attractive winter sport activities at the lowest cost and with the following goal: to increase winter sport product knowledge so that members can serve their customers more actively and effectively.
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The Belgian Travel Agencies Skiclub started in 1976, when a group of travel agents devoted to mountains and snow had the idea - during a Railtour famtrip to "La Plagne" (Savoie) - of creating an organization dedicated to promoting winter sports among travel industry professionals.
They not only had the idea - they acted on it! And on March 10, 1977, the "Railtour Skiclub" was founded in Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland, and duly registered by Belgian authorities.
Thanks to the support of RailTour and the energy of the club's board of directors (all founding members), the Club grew quickly. For the next 15 years, an ever-increasing number of travel agents profited from snowy vacations and Railtour products.
In the early 1990s, the Club's board, acting upon changes in Railtour management, decided to terminate the Club's connection with Railtour. In 1993, they changed the name to the Belgian Travel Agencies Skiclub.
Now completely free from all tour-operator "pressure," the Belgian Travel Agencies Skiclub works closely with national, regional and local tourist authorities, as well as the hotel and, occasionally, the tour operator trades.
Since its founding and early development, the Club has received the staunch support of a new generation of travel professionals and winter sport enthusiasts. Their project is straightforward (and enjoyable!): to allow travel agents to discover "snow products" personally and become true specialists, so that they can offer their customers the best advice and propose winter sport packages that suit the customers' every need. After all, how is one to advise a customer accurately about a ski resort if one's never experienced the pistes? Winter sport is a technically demanding subset in the leisure travel sector, and Club members are better equipped to deal with those demands.
We are proud to declare that our members are true winter sport experts, thanks to the activities organized each year by the Club. A few years ago, we even distributed stickers to our members so that their clients could quickly recognize their expertise!
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How does Membership Work
The Belgian Travel Agencies Skiclub is open to every travel agent interested in improving his awareness of the winter sport product in order to increase sales and customer satisfaction.
For a very low yearly participation fee, members receive the full program of Club activities for the winter season.
For an additional low inscription fee per activity, members can participate in any of these activities.
The low fees are designed to cover the Club's costs and to be competitive with other travel benefits offered in the industry (such as tour operator famtrips).
The fees also depend on the participation of the hosts (please see below).
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Most activities are "familiarization" long weekends in Alpine (France, Switzerland, Austria, Italy) or Pyrenean (France, Andorra, Spain) resorts. We usually leave Belgium on Friday night, by night train when possible, and return the same way on Tuesday morning. The night journeys allow people to spend more time in the resorts (usually three days) without having to leave their agencies for a long time.
For some destinations, we travel by plane (ex: Isola 2000 via Nice, or Sierra Nevada via Grenada) or by coach (when invited by a coach-specialized tour operator).
We generally choose weekend-based activities because they permit members from small agencies, who couldn't afford to leave during the week, to participate.
We sometimes explore long-haul destinations during longer trips: in previous years, we've visited Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.
In order to keep in touch with our members during the summer season, we sometimes propose cultural or gastronomic discoveries.
We look forward to enlarging our European winter activities to new destinations, such as Scandinavian or Eastern European countries.
Since the 1999-2000 season, we have initiated actions to promote the Club within the Belgian travel industry:
The yearly "Skibidou" newsletter, distributed to all members and prospective members, details the previous season's activities, with articles and pictures from the resorts visited, and provides the program for the upcoming season.
For each trip, we guarantee an article in the specialized press, written either by an invited journalist or by one of our members. This allows our guests to expand the impact of the activity to a larger public.
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Following is the organization of a typical weekend, together with the services we require from host resorts or institutions:
· Arrival in the resort on Saturday morning / Departure on Monday evening (depending on transportation schedules. We are open to all proposals regarding dates, holiday periods excepted.
· We take care of transportation between Belgium and the closest station or airport and ask for support regarding transfers.
· 2 overnights in the resort, based on twin-bedded rooms (maximum 2 single rooms in case of uneven number of men or women), breakfast and dinner included (sometimes at different hotel or restaurant), or apartments/studios. These services are usually offered by our hosts.
· Skipass for 2.5 days or 3 days, offered by the resort or skilift operator. Two or more ski monitors usually help us discover the ski area during one or two days.
· Special or complimentary rate for ski material rental for those without their own gear.
· The host usually organizes a resort presentation in the early evening on Saturday or Sunday. We are open to any suggestion for visits or activities during the stay!
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