Summit County seeing strong winter lodging numbers early in the season | SummitDaily.com

Summit County seeing strong winter lodging numbers early in the season

Unseasonably warm temperatures have been hitting Summit County. Tom Foley, the director of operations at DestiMetrics, said that a lack of snow is not a problem for destination tourists early in the winter season.

Summit County continues to be a go-to place for tourists as summer wraps up and winter bookings begin.

The town of Breckenridge is set to beat numbers from last year, said Bill Wishowski, the director of operations for the Breckenridge Tourism Office.

"Essentially, 2015 was a record summer, and we are exceeding that by 7 percent for occupancy," Wishowski said. "Rate is up as well, too. So it's a perfect world."

The county is seeing less of a shoulder season as summer and winter popularity extend. Before summer ends, many towns begin to see early winter bookings.

As of Sept. 30, DestiMetrics, a Denver-based company that measures lodging numbers, showed regional revenue at 43 percent for winter bookings, which is ahead of the same time last year by 4 percent. Number of rooms booked is also up from last season.

Summit Resort Groups in Dillon continued to see growth from summer and into the fall months. Barb Richards, the company's marketing manager, attributed the growth to phenomenal weather. She added that any growth in October and November is good because those months are usually slow for the company. Winter is also starting to pick up.

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"Winter is booking well, we are ahead of last year," she said.

But Richards said that the lack of snow is beginning to be a concern for some clients. The company has already seen a few cancellations due to unseasonably warm weather in the county.

However, Tom Foley, the director of operations at DestiMetrics, said that weather-based cancellations are few and far between in the tourism industry. He said that this early in the season, the warm weather doesn't seem to impact the destination traveler as much as it impacts Colorado locals.

"The early bookings for winter, particularly when you start looking this far out, you know that are being made in August, September, October, are representative of the destination guest," Foley said. "The destination guest is less concerned with snow on the ground and is less impacted by what is going on with weather."

He added that destination guests usually are looking more at room rates and being able to get a room for several consecutive nights. Locals, on the other hand, plan their weekend trips around weather because they can more easily change their trips. Foley said that if it snows in Denver, local bookings tend to go up in the mountain communities.

If the season continues to be dry, that's when it starts to impact the destination traveler, Foley said.

Weather is only one of the "wildcards" that Foley said can impact travel numbers. With skiing destinations, he said that snow and good weather will sometimes have more of an impact than the economy will when it comes to whether or not tourists decide to travel.

Foley said that even the election will have an effect on travel in the United States, but what that effect will be remains to be seen. The uniqueness of the election makes it hard to predict what consumer confidence will look like after the election.

"The good news is, this happens at the beginning of the ski season, and the dust gets to settle before we get into skiing in earnest," Foley said.

Wishowski said that elections can also impact how much advertising tourism agencies can do. He said that the BTO in particular has been quiet because they didn't want to fight election advertising.

The timing of holidays, and how schools plan their seasonal breaks, can impact when people decide to travel as well. Wishowski said that since some schools are finishing closer to Christmas this year, it is pushing bookings into January.

For the November through March time frame he said that Breckenridge is 2 percent ahead in bookings from where it was last year. Wishowski said that things can change pretty quickly as it gets later in the season.

'Things are slower than we'd like them to be, but they're pacing ahead," Wishowski said.