Early season snow spikes lodging numbers for Breckenridge, Mountain West
Holy pow, Batman.
Nothing boosts winter bookings at Western mountain destinations quite like a strong wave of mid-November storms.
From the Sierra Nevada in California to Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, those storms produced a wealth of snowfall that’s propelled bookings for the 2018-19 ski season.
According to DestiMetrics monthly market report produced by Inntopia and released earlier this week, aggregated bookings made during the month of November for arrivals through April were 12.8 percent ahead of the same timeframe last year.
The healthy snowfall also triggered an immediate response with consumers booking accommodations in November for same-month arrivals, which were up a whopping 47.7 percent compared to the same time last year.
The surge in bookings delivered a 14.5 percent increase in actual occupancy for the month of November. Combined with a 1.9 percent increase in the average daily rate, the first month of the season finished with a stout 16.6 percent year-over-year gain in revenue compared to November 2017.
“Compelling snowfall this early in the season certainly gets a lot of the credit for the surge in bookings during November,” said Tom Foley, senior vice president for the Business Intelligence division of Inntopia, “but we also tracked that there were some minor decreases in the (average daily rate) for some periods during the winter and that probably also played a role in consumer’s willingness to book their winter vacations in the past couple of weeks.”
At Breckenridge Ski Resort, the snow was a true blessing. Altogether, 80 inches fell on the resort this November, which registers as the second highest total recorded for the month over the past 20 years.
November’s snowfall came on top of a strong October, as Breckenridge got 110 inches of snow from mid-October — when the resort starts reporting for the season — through November.
With the 110 inches of early season snowfall being the most ever for the resort, it allowed Breckenridge Ski Resort to open more terrain, chairlifts and all five peaks earlier than it ever has before.
According to the Breckenridge Tourism Office, that has pushed bookings for the winter 10 percent ahead of 2017 year to date as of Nov. 30, and Breckenridge is running at about 34 percent occupancy for the winter as a whole. Occupancy at that rate represents a 43 percent increase over November 2017, according to the tourism office.
“About half of the business that we will have on the books is on the books right now,” said Lucy Kay, president of the office, in her latest update before Breckenridge Town Council. “Remember, we end up winter usually around 50-55 percent occupancy; so it’s tracking.”
Like Inntopia, Kay put much of the credit at Mother Nature’s feet.
“We’ll take some credit, but I think snow gets a lot,” she said.
According to Inntopia, results can vary from one Western destination to another, but strong snowfall really can be the rising tide that floats all boats.
Looking past November’s bounty, pre-holiday forecasts are coming in rather rosy as well, in part, because most winter months seem to be benefiting from the high rate of November bookings.
“Our concerns about a snow hangover from last season were somewhat eased as bookings in November were positive in almost every category and filled in some of the negative occupancy we had been reporting in the two weeks prior to Christmas,” Foley said.
On the national front, the economy, while remaining strong in most categories, showed some instability in November. The Dow Jones Industrial Average saw dramatic cycles in November, but ultimately finished the month up 1.2 percent over October.
Furthermore, consumer confidence has stayed near historically high levels, and the national jobless rate remained unchanged at 3.7 percent for the third consecutive month. Foley noted that investors might be showing more concern nationwide, but “so far, these economic uncertainties don’t appear to be having an impact on mountain travel.”
The strong November rates for Western mountain destinations follow another record-setting summer.
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