Our group didn't manage to find tickets and hotels to make it last season, but I heard the snow was meh compared to the season before.
I asked the travel agent about next season, she specifically told me that a large number of goers tend to buy their tickets/tour packages a few months in advance, with late November bookings being ridiculously overpriced. Your best bet to get the best rate is to start booking during the later summer months (July-Oct) depending on how early they allow you to book.
I've personally went snowboarding at Niigata/Nagano area more often since it's closer to where I live (in Japan) and we can do day/weekend trips.
Hopefully, we plan to bring a few more friends up to Hokkaido with us this coming season. Would you recommend Niseko for beginners?
I would agree that the season when taken in overall was slightly worse than the season before but even then, it was fantastic. Early season riding was easily some of the best I have ever done. We had 2 days in early december where it dumped half a metre back to back. The only time I have ever thought there was too much powder.
Jan and early Feb was slightly disappointing though, winds and occasional rain meant the snowpack wasn't the best but then we we randomly get a 40cm dump somewhere in between.
Then again, having done 2 full seasons there whats disappointing to me might be the best powder riding that most people have done. I think Niseko makes us into powder snobs slightly.