Safety of all those who join us on an HTS Total Ski trip is our top priority as we ensure we exceed the standards required by our awarded accreditations.
With over 40 years’ experience in providing school ski trips to Austria, every ski trip is underpinned by a comprehensive approach to health and safety. We have a Safety Management System in place to reinforce our legal and moral obligation to look after the health and safety of everyone on our tours.
Recognised as a full member of the School Travel Forum and accredited with the Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) Quality Badge, we work to exceed the requirements for care and responsibility. Taking into consideration every operational area from accommodation and transport to ski schools and après-ski activities, our HTS Total Ski team are constantly looking to for the best options for you school ski group.
HTS Total Ski can make a real and practical impact in a way we believe no one else in school skiing can. All suppliers, including hotels, ski schools or ski equipment suppliers, are visited at least once a year to verify their standards of operation by our own senior staff. The use of facilities in Austria, which are government licensed, helps us guarantee good standards of safety, hygiene and fire protection in respect of accommodation. This is also helps us monitor safety and good practice in respect of other key services such as ski schools and ski equipment suppliers.
Safety Management System (SMS)
Every factor beyond the adventure component of a ski trip is carefully considered and managed effectively to ensure risk is managed. We look at how the school ski trip can be enhanced for students without compromising on our commitment to safety.
The essence of the HTS Total Ski Safety Management System is that it achieves real, practical improvements reinforced by a stringent approach to assessment of all necessary components in the first instance. The fundamental underlying tenet of the HTS Total Ski Safety Management System is an absolute insistence on using only services provided by government-licensed suppliers.
Fully compliant with the requirements of the STF, our SMS covers policy, organisation, planning and setting standards, audits, reviews, and monitoring. This is certified through an annual assessment carried out by an independent authority appointed by the STF. Our SMS is also supported by our regular reviews carried out internally of our health and safety procedures.
Party Leaders will be provided with safety information detailing the measures that need to be taken during your trip. Party Leaders seeking to visit their chosen Austrian resort prior to their school ski trip can do so in order to complete their risk assessments. This can be achieved through an Inspection Visit (IVs) where HTS Total Ski will provide Party Leaders with 2 nights’ half board accommodation, one day ski pass, one day ski and boot hire and local car hire. Your HTS Total Ski Regional Account Manager will be able to run through options for your Inspection Visit.
An Incident Management Plan is in place to support us in all cases of accidents, incidents and emergency situations. This is regularly tested to ensure it can be effectively implemented 24-hours a day. Our office is operated by experienced staff trained to deal with all manner of situations and accessible to all HTS Total Ski groups when abroad. All reports are kept complete for review of all levels of incidents.
Provision of services
HTS Total Ski provides a comprehensive package for your school ski tour to Austria. All services within the package are booked with licensed operators to ensure all who operate the service fall within the scope of the relevant national and local regulations.
Transport via coach
UK coach companies enlisted by HTS Total Ski are licensed by the UK Department of Transport.
Our contract stipulates all coaches must be prepared and suitable for winter operation e.g. provision of modern snow chains, suitable heating, winter servicing (oils, lubricants, fuel, anti-freeze, brake fluid etc.).
We also specify:
a. Specific routes each coach must take in order to avoid unsafe or difficult routes in winter. We also have in place back-up arrangements along these specified routes which can sharply reduce the waiting time to obtain a replacement coach in the event of breakdown. All arriving and departing coach operations are monitored by the company‘s bi-lingual directors and senior staff. Coaches are monitored throughout their journey to and from resort with any breakdowns dealt with by us, including throughout the night. All coaches are checked in and out of resort and must contractually be provided with mobile phones in order to enable us to perform this function.
b. Each coach must be manned by 2 competent drivers, one of whom must have had experience of Alpine driving.
c. No driver will have a criminal record for an offence that would make him/her unsuitable to accompany a party of schoolchildren. The coach company will not allow any driver to accompany a party where they themselves may have any doubts as checked by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). We hold pre-season training sessions with our coach companies to ensure all understand our requirements and their duties. The training session includes detailed information on the fitting and use of proper advanced snow chains, as required in the Alps.
Transport via air
All air transport is provided by charter airlines and scheduled carriers licensed under the UK Civil Aviation Authority and their EU counterparts.
Coach transfers from schools to airports and resorts are provided by coach companies licensed by the UK Ministry of Transport (school to airport transfers) or the appropriate government department of the country concerned (airport to resort transfers). Although the use of seat belts is not mandatory in several European countries ALL airport transfer coaches provided HTS Total Ski must contractually be fitted with seat belts. This does not apply to local coaches used for evening entertainment or transport to/from the slopes or to Ski Buses provided by ski resorts/ski lift companies (as per local UK service buses).
All hotels are carefully selected by HTS Total Ski and are licensed by the relevant national and provincial authorities of Austria.
A license must be granted for hotels to operate in accordance with the following legal procedures:
a. Persons legally responsible for the operation of the establishment must hold his/her own personal, government-issued hotel and catering trade license. This is granted once a police check has been carried out and the person concerned has successfully attended the national recognised hotel and catering course (including food preparation and hygiene) and are able to present the appropriate certificates to the authorities.
b. The hotel must be inspected by inspectorates from hygiene, safety, building and fire to ensure it complies with laws and regulations. Once passed, the hotel remains under the permanent supervision of the authorities who carry out unannounced checks periodically to ensure regulations continue to be complied with.
Should a hotel fail to comply with the above requirements, it will not be allowed to open to the public. Standards required by authorities in Austria are high and follow a strict licensing regime.
All hotels used by HTS Total Ski are inspected and contracted by our company and not inspected by agents on our behalf. Such inspections are carried out at least once a year with many inspected more frequently by senior management, all of whom have many years’ experience in the travel industry. Hotels tend to be inspected while groups are in residence in order for us to monitor performance in a ‘live’ situation.
Ski & Snowboard equipment
All equipment is arranged with fully licensed suppliers who are legally and contractually required to provide suitable and safe equipment. Virtually all equipment is ski-shop supplied and fitted (with the exception of when ski equipment is stored in-house) in the hotel by the ski school which holds its own ski equipment licence.
HTS Total Ski only uses officially-licensed Austrian ski schools which are required to comply with the regulations in force. This includes the use of qualified instructors in accordance with the norms of the relevant national or provincial authorities. The use of a national, government-licensed ski schools is an important consideration for safety on the slopes. This is under the management and control of a government-licensed ski school director (with a grade 1 international qualification), which has close daily working relationships with the ski lift operator and the resort rescue services. As part of our safety management arrangements, we will not employ or use ski instructors who are not under the control of a government-licensed local ski school for the following reasons:
a. Such ski instructors, while they may well be perfectly competent as instructors, are unlikely to know the terrain and will not be able to assess where they should or should not take parties skiing.
b. In the event of difficulty, they will not be under the supervision of a ski school which is able to provide vital back-up. A locally-based, legally-liable ski school checks groups out and back in and monitors performance and procedures.
c. In the event of difficulty or accident, they may not be aware of the local procedures and contacts, may have difficulty in contacting the rescue and piste control services and may experience language difficulties in attempting to do so.
The national ski school licensing authorities carry out random spot checks on the slopes including the assessment of instructors to ensure they possess the required licence. Any ski school found to be in material breach of a regulation is subject to immediate closure by the authorities.
All in-resort lifts are licensed by the relevant national and provincial authorities in line with railway and/or transport regulations.
While evening activities are not included in our basic packages, we will happily book in advance après-ski activities, including swimming, bowling, curling, ice skating, pizza evening, folk evening, disco. Evening entertainment options are only booked with suppliers which hold the appropriate operating licence. We will not, however, undertake to book or arrange activities that can be interpreted to be unregulated or dangerous and which, by their nature, cannot be provided by licensed operators.
Child protection policy
As well as our Safety Management System, HTS Total Ski has developed a comprehensive Child Protection Policy. The welfare of every child is of overriding importance regardless of whether they are tourists or local children.
Our policy works to ensure:
- We provide protection to all children from harm safeguard all children, whatever their age, culture, disability, gender, language, racial origin, religious beliefs and/or sexual identity from abuse
- We ensure all suspicions and allegations of abuse will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately
- We guide all staff (paid/unpaid) working with students in their responsibility to report concerns to the appropriate officer
We are a member of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and have a public liability insurance of up to £10,000,000. All tours are fully bonded by ABTA and ATOL in order to protect your group against any unforeseen events. All travelling with HTS Total Ski must hold valid and adequate travel insurance (including winter sports coverage), which we can provide through Fogg Travel Insurance Services Ltd.
To find out more about how we can help you organise your next school ski trip to Austria, contact the HTS Total Ski team on 01273 244678.
Every service included by HTS Total Ski within the school ski package is provided by a government-licensed operator. None of our planned arrangement requires any member of the school ski party to leave a controlled environment, including prepared pistes patrolled by the lift company and/or rescue services. HTS Total Ski can arrange risk assessment weekends for Party Leaders.