Late summer lodging tax revenue up across most of Summit County; winter bookings up across mountain west
FRISCO — Lodging revenue is slightly ahead of last year across the mountain west, according to Inntopia’s latest DestiMetrics market briefing. The combination of a 0.8% increase in occupancy and a 2.7% increase in average daily rate resulted in a 2.6% revenue increase for lodging properties in September compared with the same month in 2018.
The overall increase is modest, but in Summit County, Dillon and Silverthorne saw larger increases late this summer. In August, Silverthorne’s lodging tax revenue was up 14.8% while Dillon’s was up 22% compared with the same month last year.
Silverthorne Revenue Administrator Jackie Balyeat said the increase is partially due to a large tax payment made by a lodging property that hadn’t paid the tax for several years. But the revenue is largely from short-term rental properties filing correct lodging taxes.
While larger hotels and motels are looking fairly flat in their revenue, Balyeat said, there have been a lot more short-term rental owners who have registered recently and are fulfilling the short-term rental lodging tax requirement.
“A lot of it is educating taxpayers, making sure people understand that they need to file and showing them how to do it,” Balyeat said.
That’s easier now that Airbnb collects taxes on behalf of hosts rather than the hosts being tax collectors themselves.
Dillon Finance Director Carri McDonnell agreed with Balyeat’s assumption that increased compliance among short-term rental tax filings are what have created the increase in lodging tax revenue.
An “increase in education through the new licensing regulations have increased compliance,” McDonnell wrote in an email.
The LIV Sotheby’s International Realty commercial snapshot reported that Breckenridge’s 2019 lodging revenue through August is ahead of 2018 by 4.9%. The official sales tax report put out by the town of Breckenridge also showed a 3.2% increase for August compared with the same month in 2018 after two months of decreases.
Frisco was the only town with a decline in lodging tax revenue for the month of August, down 9.3% compared with August 2018. Year-to-date tax revenue is up 3.24%.
Frisco Revenue Specialist Kelsey Moorhouse said the modest year-to-date growth is not necessarily statistically significant. She pointed out that while the late winter snow was helpful for skier visits, the snow that persisted into the summer recreation months brought lodging revenue down.
Winter bookings up
Looking ahead to winter, a solid snow season is always a major factor in lodging revenue. In March, Breckenridge generated the most short-term lodging tax revenue it had in two years, $36.86 million, because of record-breaking snowfall that month.
The current winter booking pace across the mountain west is slightly ahead of the 2018-19 season. As of Sept. 30, Inntopia reported occupancy for November through March is up 0.4% compared with the same time last year. Year-over-year occupancy is up 6.6% in December but down 3.6% in November and February. The average daily rate for November through March is up 3.8% and is projected to increase revenue by 4.2%, according to the report.
Inntopia Senior Vice President of Business Operations and Analytics Tom Foley said the data is based on a relatively low volume of bookings and is subject to change along with the weather.
So far, the snow is piling up in Summit County, with ski areas anticipating breaking their October snowfall records by the time the next storm rolls out of the area Wednesday.
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