That skier who just cut you off whizzing down the intermediate slope is considerably more likely to own a smartphone and tablet than the passengers who sat near you on the airplane and booked their flights online.

In fact, while 64% of U.S. online travelers own smartphones and 31% pack a tablet, while some 82% of U.S. “ski travelers” own smartphones and 55% own tablets, according to PhoCusWright’s Skier & Ski Traveler Study, presented at the Mountain Travel Symposium April 11.

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The survey, conducted for PhoCusWright by Leisure Trends Group in February, queried an online consumer panel of 1,611 adults who had skied at least twice in the prior 12 months.

Among the more interesting findings, the survey found that about one-third of the respondents were purchasing lift tickets using mobile devices.

That pales in comparison with the percentage of skiers checking ski conditions (more than 80%), seeking out nearby restaurants and bars (about 75%), and looking to see which lifts were open (roughly 65%) using mobile services, but it’s still significant.

“More than four in five skiers own a smartphone, one third of those have already purchased lift tickets on their mobile phone, and another third plan to do it within the next one to two years,” says PhoCusWright principal analyst Douglas Quinby, who presented the study at the Mountain Travel Symposium.

“This clearly indicates that ski travelers – who are an affluent and high-spending traveler segment – expect to be able to purchase lift tickets online and via their mobile device,” Quinby says. “Ski providers must make a robust, transactional mobile experience a priority.”

In other words, ski operators had better improve the user experience on mobile devices if they want to keep lift-ticket and other ski-related purchases flowing.

There’s been so much written about the importance of recommendations from friends and family in travel purchases, but the study placed it way below online research when it comes to the shopping phase for skiing and ski trips.

The top sources of information for skiers during the shopping phase were Internet websites via computer (70%), personal recommendations from friends and family (38%), and websites and apps via smartphone (25%).

Mobile thus placed well below computers, but the gap will undoubtedly close in coming years.

Oh, and for those observers interested in the death of travel guidebooks in print, the survey found that 10% of ski travelers consulted printed guidebooks while shopping for ski trips.

Some skiers are still making room for printed guidebooks in the backpacks.

Photo Credit: A family chair lift at Solitude Mountain in Utah. More skiers are getting mobile with mobile purchases. Chad Spector / Solitude Mountain