That’s more like it: The Snow Travel Expo is Back!

This Sunday in Melbourne and the following week in Sydney the Snow Travel Expo is back.

Which is a sign some normality is returning and a great effort by Expo organiser Phil Osborn and all those participating. Snow Action caught up with him for the lowdown on that comeback.

Shovelling snow at the Melbourne Snow Travel Expo
Snow in Melbourne in May? Must be Buller showing off their snow factory guaranteed opening date .. ©

The 2020 Snow Travel Expos were on schedule to be the biggest yet in 15 years of the popular annual shows that bring together the best of local and international snow holiday options, plus great deals on gear, insurance and more.

But in March last year it went from all go to all woe in a matter of days. The PM suddenly couldn’t go to the footy, we couldn’t leave the country and lockdowns were in place all over. No travel. No gatherings. All that was a bit over a week after we flew back on a typically full Qantas flight from Japan ourselves.

At first most people assumed this was pretty temporary. Like the Olympics, the Expos were postponed. Then as restrictions dragged on, inevitably cancelled.

Which all seems like so long ago now, the old normal, back when we all had a life. And the freedom to enjoy it doing stuff we liked, skiing and boarding in places like Japan, NZ, Canada, Europe, America, Argentina and many more. Not to mention at home. 

Phil the Snow Expo is back, congratulations. That is pretty amazing really as we are still in limbo land as to when more opportunities to travel will open up beyond New Zealand.

I know, it’s exciting to be back in our regular time slot. We love being the event that helps kick off the Australian and NZ ski season.

Despite all the setbacks at least you managed to keep people in the loop with the virtual expos late last year. When did you start to think that you were going to be able to get the actual live Snow Expos back on track this year?

Yes, 2020 was set to be our biggest event in our 15 year history. Instead, our virtual Snow Travel Expo was a great solution for 2020. We had 600 hours of content watched. I loved producing the digital event, it was fun. But I also now fully appreciate the power of a live event…it’s like going to a music event – you can listen to it at home, but immersing yourself in a live event is a rewarding experience that gives you more. When did I think we could go back to a live event? For me, I’m a positive person, I could see we would run a successful domestic ski season and the NZ & Australia travel bubble had a lot of talk about opening in April, even back in January. And the vaccine rollout, while slower than initially anticipated, was always going to help open up Australia. May 2021 is pumping in Australia right now, compared to May 2020. I also believe once Australians are fully vaccinated, we will start to see travel corridors with other safe, fully vaccinated countries appear. 

We endured months of ’New Zealand Travel Bubble’ speculation – many, us included, thought it could and should of happened later in winter last year – there was even speculation of flights from Canberra and Hobart to NZ. How did the Kiwi ski areas react when they finally got the good news it was back. Who is here?

The NZ Ski resorts were stoked for the Australia / NZ travel bubble obviously. They will be big winners. All the major NZ ski resort key people will all be in Melbourne and Sydney – resorts include Cardrona, Treble Cone, Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Mt Hutt. The funniest call I got was from Salmon from the Shotover Canyon Swing – the day the first Australian’s started arriving. He was so ecstatic to see Australians jumping off everything again! LOL.

All the NZ adventure guys will be at the Snow Travel Expo as well – so if you want to jump out of plane skydiving, go jet boating or throw yourself off the Shotover Canyon Swing you can meet up with them and get a special deal.

How about the rest of the World – despite the difficulties it looks like most place really want to be back keeping themselves top of mind for as soon as we can travel again?

Yes, that’s correct. And our industry now knows, things can change quickly and you need to be prepared. Australian skiers and snowboarders want to travel to safe ski destinations as soon as our borders open. We are a big snow traveling market…so keeping connected to us is important. 

Snow Travel Expo Canada section
The Canadians are always popular Expo attendees and they’re back in force for 2021 © Snow Travel Expo

We have seen a pandemic retail boom across everything from housing to cars to active lifestyle, got to figure a lot of people will be splurging on snow gear too. Who is here on the gear front?

Each city is slightly different. In Melbourne – Auski, Bootlab, Snuxe and Dahu boots. In Sydney – ESS, Snowbound, snub, Libtech, Gnu, Sontimer goggles. 

Most people simply could not ski anywhere at home last winter, especially in Victoria, and obviously nowhere overseas. That’s a lot of pent up demand. How has the response been from the public – are registrations strong?

It has been really strong. It’s on par with 2018 numbers. 

Any advice or tips for those who might have any concerns about coming along?

We have had to create Covid safe plans so everyone can be safe in the knowledge we are doing our best to put on a great event. As of today, there is no community transmission in either Victoria or NSW, so you’ll be safe. Our contact checking set-up – where you have to register for a ticket and also scan Victorian or NSW Covid Safe app details means you are safe.  

Thanks Phil – great effort, see you there!

Thanks Owain, see you at the Snow Travel Expo!

Don’t miss them, the Expos are free as always. Pre-register on the links below for tickets and check out the prizes:

Melbourne Snow Travel Expo

Sydney Snow Travel Expo