Report: Late snow boosts resorts’ occupancy rates | SummitDaily.com

Report: Late snow boosts resorts’ occupancy rates

Breckenridge Ski Resort is under a blanket of fresh corduroy on Feb. 16. Snowfall throughout February helped boost occupancy rates at many western resort destinations, including Breckenridge, according to Inntopia, a Denver-based market-research firm that tracks the data.

Overall, the lodging industry in Breckenridge had been relativity flat this year with occupancy up 1 percent and average daily rate up 2 percent through Feb. 28, according to the Breckenridge Tourism Office.

In March, however, occupancy rates in Breckenridge shot up 13 percent, said Lucy Kay, the BTO's president and CEO, as she updated Breckenridge Town Council on the latest figures during its meeting last Tuesday.

Speaking to council, Kay noted most of the gains came in the third week of the month, which she credited as a function of the Easter weekend falling on March 31-April 1 and spring break traffic.

For the winter, she added, occupancy was up 3.8 percent in Breckenridge with a 1.8 percent jump in the average daily rate.

"That's pretty decent for the kind of year we had," Kay told council.

Over 20 properties spread out across Breckenridge report their occupancy rates to DestiMetrics, including The Village, Doubletree and Residence Inn hotels, Breckenridge Grand Vacations, multiple property management companies and others.

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According to the BTO, three-fifths of short-term rental units in Breckenridge also release data on their occupancy rates to DestiMetrics, and the town's most recent sales tax report lines up within 1-2 percent of DestiMetrics' data.

Working with DestiMetrics, the BTO analyzes the data every two weeks and reports back on it to the business community.

DestiMetrics' reports are produced by the Denver-based market-research firm Inntopia Business Intelligence. They're used for a variety of purposes, including gauging how well the lodging industry at western resort destinations is performing on the whole.

According to DestiMetrics' most recent monthly report, late-season snowfall at many resorts boosted their lodging industries. However, as of Feb. 28, the late snow had not been enough to spark a year-over-year increase in aggregated occupancy rates for them.

"The booking pace during February was a complete 180-degree turnaround from the beginning of the month," summarized Tom Foley, vice president of Business Intelligence for Inntopia.

"Although the significant snowfall clearly drove considerably more bookings and occupancy during the month," he continued, "a few weeks of strong snowfall does not make a season."

As of Feb. 28, for the full winter season, which runs November through April, aggregated occupancy rates remained down 2.6 percent compared to last season. That was still a slight improvement from the previous month, when occupancy was down 3.3 percent.

Also, the decrease in occupancy has been partially offset by an increase in the average daily rate, which has led to a slight 0.7 percent increase in revenues compared to last winter, according to DestiMetrics.

Strong economic indicators and increased consumer confidence are getting much of the credit for "lending stability" to resort destinations' lodging revenues, despite having a low-snow winter.

Those indicators include employers adding 313,000 new jobs in February, well above the expected number, making for the fifth straight month of job gains. At the same time, the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.1 percent.

Although the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced some volatility in February, it remained more than 20 percent higher than it was in February 2017. Also, the Consumer Confidence Index hit its highest level since November 2000.

"Consumers appear confident that the economy will sustain its strong expansion in the months ahead," Foley said. "Increases in interest rates are expected to keep inflation in check, but with such strong economic fundamentals, discretionary spending on travel is likely to be unaffected by market fluctuations."

According to the BTO, while more people across the U.S. are booking vacations, Breckenridge has positioned itself well "as an authentic year-round vacation destination" to accommodate all of those travel plans.

One sign of that local growth, according to the BTO, is a boom in the town's culinary offerings, including 16 new restaurants opening in Breckenridge since late 2016. Breckenridge also boasts an award-winning creative district, surrounded by countless recreational opportunities, and that too is helping the town see a better-rounded economy throughout the year.