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From helping guests choose the right experience to keeping them safe, we partnered with the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) to provide safety recommendations and best practices to help you host a skiing experience.

Set the right expectations

If there are health, fitness, or other requirements needed to safely enjoy the experience, make this clear in your experience’s description. This includes providing details about the length of time, exertion and fitness required, and skill levels needed. 

Here’s a guide from the ATTA to help you communicate to guests what skill level is needed for your skiing experience: 

Skate & cross country skiing (Groomed) 

  • Expect groomed trails for ski or skate, flat at beginner level and increased steepness or maneuvering for intermediate or expert levels. Some skills may help as difficulty increases.
  • Beginner: Novices are able to move on flat and well-groomed surfaces and tracks.
  • Intermediate: Tracks may require more up and downhill, as well as some maneuvering. 
  • Advanced: Skating or cross country in steep terrain with a high level of physical exertion; may have exposure to cliffs or other elements that require controlling speed and direction. 

Skate & cross country skiing (Ungroomed)

  • Guests should expect ungroomed trails for skiing, flat and compact at beginner level and increased snow depth, steepness or maneuvering for intermediate or expert levels. Some skills may help as difficulty increases.
  • Beginner: Novices are able to move on flat or slightly sloping surfaces with minimal new snow.
  • Intermediate: Tracks may require more up and downhill, as well as some maneuvering. 
  • Advanced: Traveling in steep terrain in deep snow, requiring a high level of physical exertion for an extended period of time. 

Downhill/resort skiing

  • Guests will access slopes with chair lifts, gondolas, or trams.
  • Beginner: Guest should expect an intro on easy terrain (Green Circle).
  • Intermediate: Guests should expect to practice on slightly steeper groomed slopes (Blue Square).
  • Advanced: Guests should expect steep slopes and obstacles! (Black/Double Black Diamond).

Backcountry skiing

  • Cross-country skiing in resorts, using lifts and adding skis for cross-country as needed. Guests will use their equipment and skills to access backcountry areas, and are generally not skiing steep terrain.
  • Beginner: Guests may be new to backcountry but should have intro competence on skis.
  • Intermediate: Guests should expect skiing in tighter trees and steeper slopes.
  • Advanced: Guests should have backcountry travel skills and fitness levels to ski potentially deep and uneven snow in remote settings. 

Communicate with guests often 

Once someone books, you can use Airbnb’s messaging system to introduce yourself and help your guests feel welcome and prepared. Let them know that you’re available to answer any questions. 

You should create an experience where your guests feel comfortable asking questions at any point. Try to anticipate common points of concern (such as how to use the bathroom on your experience, expectations for interaction with others, etc.). Address any concerns outright–and make yourself available to attend to these and any others questions throughout your experience. 

Listen with patience and authentic concern, and try to put yourself in your guests shoes. This could include practical matters like if there will be food, snacks, or water provided, if they should bring their own water bottle, and what bathroom facilities are available. Try to address these concerns before guests have to ask. What may seem normal to you may be difficult or fear-inspiring for your guests, so your communication is key to a safe and enjoyable experience. 

Prepare guests before they arrive

Ask your guests about special considerations so you can plan to make appropriate accommodations for them. Provide your guests with a list of what they’ll need ahead of time, preferably before they leave their home, which may include the following, depending on type of activity: 

  • Skate Skiing: This may include the right clothes and layers, their own skis, poles, boots, and a way to stay hydrated and eat during the experience. 
  • Cross-country skiing: This may include the right clothes and layers, their own or rented skis, poles, boots, and a way to stay hydrated and eat during the experience. 
  • Resort skiing: This may include a ski pass or ticket, the right clothes and layers, their own skis, boots, poles, or a reservation to rent them, and a helmet and goggles. Be clear about skiing any “side country” terrain–if you’ll be traveling in or near avalanche terrain, your guests definitely need the gear (beacon, probe, shovel) and the skills and experience to use it.
  • Backcountry skiing: This may include the right clothing layers, your guest’s backcountry skiing setup with skis, boots, bindings, poles, and skins, as well as an avalanche beacon, shovel, and probe that they know how to use. You should recommend a helmet and goggles for the way down, and a good backpack to carry everything, including food and water (with a way to carry it that won’t freeze.)

Give a pre-experience briefing

Before you set out on your experience, make sure guests are clear on what you’ll be doing. Now is the time to check that your guests have all the food, water, and gear that they’ll need during the experience. 

Since some guests may be out of their comfort zone, they may need more of certain items than a local would, so if you can anticipate these needs, you can make the experience even better. Show your guests your specific route, the current avalanche danger, and you may want to dig a snow pit so you can check out the snow together. Now is a great time to practice searching with a beacon using the probe and shovel. You don’t have to be directly in avalanche terrain to be exposed from avalanches above or nearby, so prepare for that.

Provide the right gear

If you’re providing gear for your guests, it should be in good condition, clean and dry, and fit each guest properly. If you don’t provide gear, check your guests’ equipment to make sure it’s in good shape. 

  • Skate skiing: whether you provide it or your guest brings their own, you’ll both need boots, skate skis, and skate-specific poles, plus the layers that will keep you comfortable. Check that everyone’s skis are properly waxed and don’t have big chunks missing, your guest needs poles that have straps that will fit them, their bindings function, and their boots adjust properly and fit comfortably. Finally, don’t forget a way to stay hydrated and bring food. 
  • Cross country skiing: Whether it’s your gear or your guests, make sure they have boots, cross-country skis with either scales or skins, and poles, plus the clothing layers that will keep them comfortable. Check that their skis are properly waxed and without big chunks missing, their bindings function, and their boots adjust properly and fit comfortably, and don’t have broken buckles or pieces. Make sure their poles have straps, and they know how to properly use them. Finally, guests should have a way to stay hydrated and bring food, as well as layers–this will usually mean bringing a comfortable backpack that has good straps and buckles. Gear for yourself should include all the above, plus your first aid kit. If you’re traveling in avalanche terrain, see the additional gear needed for backcountry skiing for both guests and Hosts.
  • Resort skiing: Whether guests have their own gear or rent, they’ll need boots, downhill skis, and poles. Helmets are essential at a resort, and guests will likely want goggles as well. Check that their skis are properly waxed and without big chunks missing, their edges are clean and sharp, and their bindings fit your boots. You may want to ask about the DIN setting on their bindings. Make sure their boots are adjusted properly and fit comfortably, without any broken buckles or pieces. Make sure their poles have straps that will fit over their gloves or mittens. Don’t let them forget the layers that they’ll need to stay warm on a chairlift! Go through your own gear before the experience to make sure you have all the above.
  • Backcountry skiing: Your guests will likely bring their own gear: skis, boots, poles (adjustable may be preferable), and skins if they need to travel up or along terrain. Whether it’s their gear or borrowed, check that the setup is a style they’re comfortable with in the terrain you’ll be skiing (telemark versus alpine), that their skis are properly tuned (the right wax, with sharp edges), and that their skins fit the skis. You may want to check that their bindings are set to release at a level appropriate for them. Boots should be comfortable for ascent and descent, with all buckles and straps functional. Make sure their poles have straps that will fit over gloves or mittens. If you’ll be traveling in or under avalanche terrain, everyone needs a beacon, shovel, and probe, and the skills to use them. They’ll also need the right backpack to carry these things, plus the right layers to stay cool on the climb and warm on the descent, and finally, the food and water they need for the experience. As the host, you need all the above gear, as well as your first aid kit. It can be a good idea to carry a short rope and an ice axe, and know how to use them for rescues, in some terrain.

Choose the right conditions, and prepare for the unexpected

Talk with your guest about the range of conditions you’ll encounter, including extreme cold, wind, and precipitation from snow to hail and rain, groomed snow, icy, or six feet of heavy powder. Let them know how they can best prepare for these, as well as unexpected but possible challenges. 

If your experience takes place in or near avalanche terrain, it’s a good idea for you to know any avalanche forecast, and to talk about avalanche conditions throughout the experience, as they may change. 

It’s also a good idea to know if and where you have cell service coverage, as it can be helpful to have the means to communicate with the outside world to activate an emergency flight service if needed.

If you need to cancel an experience for an emergency, weather, or safety issues, no penalties will be applied. Learn more about the cancellation policy for Experiences 

Safety

Make sure you have a clear itinerary and plan that all your guests understand. This should include specific info about what they should do if they become lost or injured. 

As a host, you can work to prevent some of the more common problems in skiing, with some of the tips described below: 

  • Skate skiing: You can help your guest stay safe by demonstrating or teaching good technique that helps them from falling at speed on a hard surface. If there are other users on the track, from skiers to snowmobiles, let your guest know how to avoid conflict.
  • Cross country skiing: You can help your guests stay safe by suggesting good techniques for controlling downhill speed, staying aware of fatigue, making sure they stay warm and hydrated to avoid hypothermia, and letting them know your route to avoid getting lost.
  • Resort skiing: Some common safety risks include collisions with other skiers, equipment, or trees, hypothermia, and athletic injuries related to gear and terrain, such as bindings not releasing in a fall, or skiers choosing terrain at a higher level than their skills. Hosts can serve as excellent examples and wear helmets, which can make a lifesaving difference in a fall.
  • Backcountry skiing: Possible serious issues can occur in avalanche terrain. If skiers or other users trigger an avalanche, skiers can be fatally buried or injured. Skiers have to pay extra attention to not become lost, monitor and maintain their body temperature, and stay hydrated and fed. Skiers should avoid tree wells and hazards hidden by snow, such as logs and rocks. Finally, skiers should guard against common athletic injuries while also staying mindful of losing gear in a fall. 

You may want to have an emergency action plan that you’ve practiced and the means to evacuate a guest if the unexpected happens. You should carry (and know how to use) an extensive first aid kit for stabilizing an injured guest and safely evacuating them. If you’ll be more than an hour away from medical care, it’s best practice to have a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) or Wilderness Advanced First Aid (WAFA), along with CPR certification. Find out more about making an emergency plan.

Partner disclaimers

Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA): Courtesy of the Adventure Travel Trade Association. ©2021 Adventure Travel Trade Association. All rights reserved.

The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) name and logo are used with its permission, which in no way constitutes an endorsement or vetting of, express or implied, of any product, service, person, company, opinion or political position. The ATTA does not select or approve, and is not involved in the selection or approval of, Airbnb Experiences or Hosts. For more information about the Adventure Travel Trade Association, visit adventuretravel.biz.