Mountain resorts record increased winter bookings and revenues | SummitDaily.com

Mountain resorts record increased winter bookings and revenues

Summit Daily staff report
news@summitdaily.com

Lodging is looking good. The record-breaking summer for both occupancy and revenue among western mountain resorts is carrying positive momentum into the winter.

That trend information comes from DestiMetrics, a Denver-based organization that tracks lodging bookings at 19 mountain resort communities in six western states.

The company recently announced that, as of Sept. 30, winter bookings for November through March showed an aggregated 7.4 percent gain in occupancy for the upcoming season compared to the same time last year. Aggregated revenue is also strong with a 15.5 percent increase for the first five months of the 2014-15 season.

Early season patterns show a "robust advanced booking pace," said Ralf Garrison, director of DestiMetrics, "but when it is this early in the season, the role of Mother Nature and the recent volatility of economic and global conditions give rise to a note of caution."

Data for western resorts is analyzed from a sample of about 290 property management companies, representing about 27,500 rooms across Colorado, Utah, California, Nevada, Oregon and Wyoming, and DestiMetrics says it may not reflect the entire mountain destination travel industry.

The company also analyzed the data from a regional perspective comparing the Rocky Mountain resorts in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming to the Far West resorts in California, Nevada and Oregon.

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Snow conditions from last season, or "snow equity," a phrase coined by Garrison, is having a different impact on bookings for the two regions. While the Rocky Mountain resorts are tracking 8.9 percent higher in occupancy with a 16.4 percent increase in overall revenues, the Far West resorts are experiencing the opposite effect. As of Sept. 30, their aggregated occupancy was down 6.5 percent and related revenues down 7.7 percent.

DestiMetrics also closely monitors economic variables and analyzes trends and indicators to see how they may impact the industry. In the October Mountain Market Briefing distributed Oct. 15 to DestiMetrics' subscribers, the economic assessment carried a more cautionary note than in recent months.

Reporting that as of Sept. 30, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined a scant 0.3 percent, it did mark the second decline in the past three months. More significantly, the briefing included a Dow Jones update after recent volatility in the stock market and a sharp drop of more than 900 points.

"The recent dramatic drop in the financial markets may simply be the start of a long overdue correction in an overvalued market," said Tom Foley, director of operations for DestiMetrics. "However, we have a lot of national and international variables that are also impacting investors with the European market tilting toward a fresh recession overseas while the Ebola crisis in West Africa has now appeared outside of the region. When we include an increased U.S. and international commitment in the Middle East conflict it is not surprising that markets are waffling about the future."

The sharp decline in the Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) during September was also cited as cause for concern. The 7.9 percent decline in September took the index below 90 points for the first time since June and was the first decline recorded since April.

One optimistic indicator was the two basis points decline in the unemployment rate to 5.9 percent to reach its lowest level since April 2008 as employers' added 248,000 new jobs.

DestiMetrics concluded that while skiers and riders are loyal and committed mountain travelers even in tough economic times, weather and global geopolitics will be factors this season.

"At this point, we're seeing skiers and riders taking up right where they left off last year because of snow equity," Garrison said, which is working to the benefit of Rocky Mountain destinations but challenging Far West mountain resorts. "A major break in the drought or a few good early season snowstorms would be a powerful antidote for what ails them."