‘Snow equity’ from 2015 driving winter bookings across western resorts | SierraSun.com

‘Snow equity’ from 2015 driving winter bookings across western resorts

Claire Cudahy
"Snow equity" from a good winter last season in the Tahoe Basin is translating into early bookings.
Courtesy / Ski Lake Tahoe |

TAHOE-TRUCKEE — After a record-setting summer in terms of occupancy and revenue, winter bookings are beginning to roll in for resort towns in the Far West region, according to DestiMetrics data.

DestiMetrics compiles and analyzes figures submitted by resorts in mountain travel destinations spanning six states, including California and Nevada.

“The Far West is going to have its fifth consecutive all-time season for occupancy and revenue this summer,” said Tom Foley, director of operations at DestiMetrics. “The summer period is May through October.”

Occupancy rates are up by 2 percent, while revenues are up by 8 percent, according to data compiled May 1 through Aug. 31 and released this September.

“That’s a result of marketing efforts,” noted Foley.

The Consumer Confidence Index shows a positive shift in the market, with an increase of 4.6 percent during August to close at 101.1 points. This is the first time it has moved over the 100-point mark since Sept. 2015.

“Recent reservation patterns in mountain destinations reflect the more confident consumer and this mood has been a major contributor to this summer’s expected record,” observed Foley.

Destinations in the Far West, including Lake Tahoe, are also beginning to see growth in revenue and occupancy in September and October, formerly categorized as low shoulder season months, said Foley.

Though it is still early, booking for the 2016-17 winter season are beginning to roll in across the U.S.

As of Aug. 31, the aggregated data from participating destinations revealed that compared to this time last year, bookings through Feb. 2017 are up 10.9 percent.

“There are occupancy gains on the books taking place across the industry,” said Foley. “But the Rockies, Far West, and the industry as a whole is actually struggling somewhat on rates for the peak months. Their revenue isn’t as high as they’d like it to be.”

The average daily rate for November through February is essentially unchanged from last winter, according to DestiMetrics data, but double-digit gains in occupancy are reported for all four months.

Moreover, roughly 28 percent of all room nights booked for last season have already been booked for the upcoming winter season.

Foley noted that after several years of poor snow, last year’s good snow in the Lake Tahoe Basin is translating into more winter bookings.

“El Niño did some good and created what we call ‘snow equity.’ It’s when you had a good snow year and it carries forward — people remember that. Tahoe and areas are reaping the gains of positive snow equity in occupancy,” said Foley.

Though room rates are down, revenues are up due to higher occupancy, he added.

But there are two factors that could squash these positive predictions for winter.

“Winter has a massive wildcard and that is snow. If no snow comes, the skiers don’t come and they forget the positive snow equity. The drought isn’t over and there are some concerns about what will happen with the La Niña this season,” said Foley.

“The next wildcard is the presidential election, and that does impact consumers. This one is unique. and we don’t know how it will impact consumers.”

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