Ski Butlers expands rental service to Europe
Park City company adds seven French resorts to company
Since Ski Butlers launched in 2004, founder and CEO Bryn Carey had dreams of expanding internationally. Now, the Park City company is taking its business to the French Alps.
This ski delivery service, which began in Carey’s garage, will expand to include seven areas in France during the upcoming 2017 to 2018 ski season. This expansion will bring the number of Ski Butlers locations to 44 resorts throughout the U.S., Canada and France. Mike Cremeno, vice president of sales and marketing, is excited at the possibility of continued growth in Europe because of the popularity of the sport. While the U.S. has about 55 million skier visits a year, Europe has over 150 million annually.
“In Europe they have a different mindset for skiing. In the U.S., they ski longer days. In Europe they like to ski a little bit, have a beer, ski a little bit, then have a drink. It’s a really big après scene and more of a lifestyle,” Cremeno said.
The company is partnering with another ski rental service, Rental Republic, during the transition to better understand the market and the ski culture. European team members of Rental Republic will perform Ski Butlers’ delivery service at the new French Resorts, but customers in North America can still book everything through skibutlers.com.
Monthly meetings with Rental Republic will help Ski Butlers learn about its customers and how its service is being used. Ski Butlers began conducting research and surveys of the demographics and habits of European skiers when it started talking about the expansion last December, but now it is testing its service on the ground.
“The big goal is to understand the European market this year — to understand how our customers see value in potentially going to Europe and using our service there,” Cremeno said.
Eventually, Ski Butlers plans to bring its full brand to Europe, but they first need to learn if its current North American customers and future European ones will grab onto the idea, something Cremeno is fairly confident will happen. Ski Butlers makes renting easy by bringing the ski shop to its customers so they no longer have to travel with their ski gear in tow.
The company has had steady growth since its start, adding about one location a year between 2004 and 2010. They then paused to perfect their current markets by improving partnerships and service within resorts such as North Lake Tahoe, Breckenridge and Whistler/Blackcomb. They expanded again last year, adding Big Sky, Montana and Sun Valley, Idaho. After this recent expansion, they will again focus on improving their partnerships within towns and staying true to their values.
“We can’t say we want to go to X, Y and Z resorts next year because we really want to make sure that customer service stays at the lifeblood of our business, and if we grow too fast, that can be sacrificed,” he said.
At the heart of Ski Butlers is the desire to help people pursue their passions in the mountains by making their rental process as easy as possible. Plus, Cremeno said Ski Butlers aims to bring jobs into beautiful mountain towns and provide a fun work environment where employees work hard and play hard.
Ski Butlers currently employs 50 people in Park City and about 300 employees company-wide, a big jump from last year’s 250. It has three service centers in Park City and is currently moving into a new location at 4212 North Forestdale Drive. Growth is only expected to continue as the now international service looks ahead at expanding to places like Asia, South America and the Southeast Pacific.
While this expansion will not create more jobs right now for the company, Cremeno said, “it’s proving to us that our business is continuing to thrive.”
In May, the long-time owners, Joy and Geir Vik, announced their retirement and passed on the business to the Brian and Dena Merrill, and their son, Dylan, who had been their friends and colleagues for years.
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