Scout, a new online travel planning and booking resource for skiers, has launched to help them find and book great places to ski and stay around the world. Scout offers independent hotel and resort reviews and travel planning services and advice.
Scout was founded by avid skier Sarah Plaskitt (see photo above), who quit her high-powered advertising job in New York City to travel to the world’s best ski resorts to review properties and share her recommendations and advice with fellow skiers. Her mission was and is simple: to help skiers find and book great places to ski & stay and to make the booking process easy and as exciting as the vacation.
In the span of twelve months, Plaskitt visited 360 hotels and 45 resorts in eight countries. She took 34 planes, 26 trains, 13 buses, and booked 3,600 rental car miles before launching Scout, by skiers. Scout handpicks ideal ski hotels and condos and provides in-depth reviews, tips, and insights on each location.
“Whenever I was planning a ski vacation I was frustrated with the lack of unbiased, detailed information that addresses skiers’ particular needs,” says Plaskitt. “I was also shocked at how few travel agents have actually been to a hotel, let alone the destination they are recommending.”
Unlike other online travel booking sites, and travel wholesalers and agents, Scout is selective in its choices of accommodations, and handpicks only those properties it has visited and would recommend to friends or family. “We don’t write negative reviews,” Plaskitt adds, “Because a bad hotel simply doesn’t make the list.”
Scout does not accept advertising, does not receive compensation from hotels or resorts to be listed on the site, nor does it have contracts with hotels that set sales targets. The result is a completely independent online travel planning and booking resource built by skiers, for skiers. Users can browse, research, and book their lodging reservations directly on Scout’s website in a simple and secure way.
Experts are also on hand to provide first-hand advice by phone or email, to assist customers with their ski trip planning. There are no booking fees and Scout guarantees the lowest ski lodging rates available online. Many hotels have partnered with Scout to offer exclusive VIP perks to those booking via Scout’s website, such as free room upgrades and welcome gifts.
The Scout experience doesn’t stop at the confirmation email. Scout takes its level of service beyond its high-tech booking engine and online trip planning resource by also offering a supplementary “low-tech” resource with its printed resort guidebooks. Once booked for their trip, skiers are mailed a free Scout Field Guide for their destination. The pocket-sized paperback guides are packed with useful information, such as recommended local restaurants and bars, details for how to get to and around the resort, advice on childcare services and tips on where to buy groceries.
Skiers tend to be very independent and relish the “hunt” of finding the perfect place for their next trip, according to Plaskitt. “But they still want to be ‘in the know’ and ideally would love to have a friend guide them and hook them up with a few tips, recommendations and deals,” she says. “Scout is that friend, the one who knows the secret powder stashes, the hidden breakfast gems, and the right people to arrange some ‘friend of a friend’ perks, such as upgrades.”
The ultimate goal, says Plaskitt, is to make Scout the go-to resource for skiers around the world by providing a global point-of-view with hyper-local tips and insight on the best places to ski & stay.
In the meantime, Plaskitt continues to “scout” new destinations, ski hotels, condos, apartments, lodges, and other great places to stay for savvy skiers. The team at Scout is busy designing new enhancements to the site for the 2014/15 season and skiers can anticipate more U.S. and Canadian locations to be added in the weeks to come, as well as the debut of ski resorts in Japan and Europe this fall.
For more information or to start planning and booking a ski trip, visit Scout’s website.
Images Courtesy of Scout