Business Leader Magazine recently sat down to speak with Ben Newman, the Marketing Director of Corporate Peaks to discuss the growth of the company, how they are changing the image of corporate travel and how it can help your business thrive.
Based in the Alps, Corporate Peaks focus on ski getaways with everything catered for, from the moment you arrive off the plane, to the wave goodbye at the airport. Whether on a tight budget or an extravagant trip of a lifetime – they cater to all of the client’s needs.
Ben is an experienced skier himself and has seen the unique way in which Corporate Peaks has brought together team members for companies of all shapes and sizes.
Can you give me an overview of the Corporate Peaks?
Corporate Peaks is unique corporate event planning company, specialising in business and group travel from budget to luxury. We offer bespoke ski events across the Alps as well as our new summer programme ‘Active Incentives’.
It all started back in 2014, when Director Holly Hull had a lightning bolt thought after viewing one too many unorganised events in the area. She then called me and explained her idea and business plan. We then put those ideas into action and before long we soon realised we had found a niche in the market for the Portes du Soleil area.
What was the inspiration behind setting up the company?
Mountain travel is a well-established industry which has been around for a long time. There are some fantastic companies out there which offer the most special experiences. However, ultimately we found a missing link between the tourism industry and professionals – especially where we are based.
With so much attention focused on well-being and mental health in the work place it became clear just how beneficial a corporate ski trip can be.
Fresh mountain air, combined with learning a new sport, getting fit together and team bonding, leaves colleagues feeling refreshed and motivated heading back to work. They find a new found appreciation for each other and the company, which directly leads to an increase in productivity levels.
It was this that was an inspiration, as they were goals to which we wanted to apply in our own working environment also.
How would you describe the growth of the business?
On our first season we only operated in Morzine, France. This is where our main office is based and where we felt most comfortable to hone our craft. Since then we have expanded across four countries and have gained special expertise in many resorts throughout the Alps – as well as introducing our summer programmes.
Our growth has been one of my favourite and most satisfying parts of our journey. It has enabled us to build new relationships with a whole host of differing characters from quirky hoteliers to talented private chefs etc. These are now people we call friends, and with common goals we support each other to uphold the highest levels of service. Supporting local businesses has been an integral part of our own growth and development.
In terms of our figures, we have doubled our profit margin over the course of six months, as well as tripling our seasonal turnover due to the return in support, recommendations and growth in confidence and passion for our product – which as we all know, isn’t always the case.
What resorts and countries do you operate in and how do they differ?
We operate in a range of alpine resorts stretching over France, Italy, Switzerland, and Austria.
When organising the perfect ski trip, the first and arguably most important this to do is choose the right resort. With so many different world class resorts located in the Alps, the task can prove daunting.
There are the many factors that need to be taken into consideration before we choose to run a getaway at a resort.
In terms of the ski terrain, not all resorts have mixture of green, blue, red, and black runs that will leave you spoilt for choice. Some are more catered to beginners, and some can prove quite challenging. The size of the ski area is important too, smaller resorts can easily be covered by experienced skiers in a couple of days.
You also need to consider the level of snowfall. Generally, January through to March the snowfall in all ski resorts will be plentiful. If you are planning a trip early or late in the season it’s more sensible to head to higher resorts in order to find that fresh powder and to ensure your group gets the ‘winter experience’ that they desire.
Of course, Aprés Ski and the nightlife are very important. Whilst some prefer a quaint village to hang up their ski boots at the end of a hard day’s riding, followed by some well-earned spa treatments, many come away to ski hard and party harder. Resorts will vary from family orientated to ‘Ibiza in the Alps’ style resorts playing host to lots of live music and even festivals. There is also a variation on Apres/nightlife ratio too and our coordinators are experienced and qualified to make the essential resort recommendation for your event.
As with any getaway or holiday, the food on offer is very key to a successful trip. Generally, local mountain cuisine will vary depending on whether you’re in France, Italy, Switzerland, or Austria. There is now an excellent variety of high end restaurants offering ‘chefs table experiences’ to tasty Tartiflette stands in the streets. Not to mention the homemade fresh pasta or game favouring resorts of Italy.
Budgeting an event is something that needs to be considered. Fancy heading to Switzerland or Lech and holidaying like a royal? Expect a hefty price tag. Resort costs vary according to terrain size and popularity as well as many other factors. In our professional opinion, Italy is by far the most cost effective way to ski the Alps – as the resort costs are significantly lower to the ‘powerhouse resorts’ in France and Austria.
Finally, you must consider the type of accommodation. Whilst many of resorts have a mixture of accommodation, some are more made up of apartments, some hotels, and others mainly chalets.
What is the perception behind corporate getaways?
The perception of the ‘corporate getaway’ is often of a high end, male-dominated trip for corporate ‘fat-cats’ – old fashioned and just related to one industry in particular – finance.
Another perception is a group of colleagues in a dull room, sat staring at a power point presentation for three days, often in a mainstream hotel chain in the UK.
How are you guys changing this?
We have a young, exciting outlook. A lot of our trips are fun and incentive-based, not to mention in these beautiful environments and locations across the alps.
Many of our clients work in high pressure environments with strict deadlines and heavy workloads. We offer a chance for their minds to escape, and there is no better place than the mountains. We approach companies who may have never done this before, we explain how our trips can be used on an incentive basis, as a reward for hitting a sales target, or team bonding. We are also ensuring that we take on board all of the organising and always include fun activities that suit each clients’ brief/specifications.
Not to mention – we are still a new company and living in the alps gives us the advantage to showcase these new and exciting programmes with the personal touch that traditional corporate ski trips may not include.
What range of businesses do you guys cater for?
All – we believe every business can benefit from one of our trips. Our breaks are completely bespoke and range from budget to luxury, there is no one that size fits all!
Do you have to approach these different businesses in different ways?
Approaching different businesses can initially vary, particularly if we have market research regarding the ‘style’ of corporate event they normally go for – if they do at all – but generally our initial point of contact remains the same and focuses on the product we have at hand.
However, essentially it all depends what the individual business wants to achieve from the trip. Once we have the desired ‘end goal’ we can start to think about how to reach it and begin our initial stages.
Examples of recent trips we have organised include sales conference, training workshops, improving client relationships and incentive based getaways – and with each different trip comes a different strategy and planning procedure.
What are the future plans for Corporate Peaks?
We intend on making this product readily accessible to all prospective clients globally – to tap into a more global market and encourage the boost on team morale and incentive corporate retreats as well as increase our target audiences awareness of our excellent ability to orchestrate conferences ‘with a view’.
We aspire to be the leading corporate tour operator and are fast at becoming one of the best at what we do.
The new website supports our fun and updated outlook on the corporate industry which is exactly the direction we want to push Corporate Peaks and our promo video also captures just a snippet of what we can offer clients in the UK, Europe and worldwide.