Winter lodging bookings similar to last year | SierraSun.com

Winter lodging bookings similar to last year

Kelsie Longerbeam
klongerbeam@sierrasun.com

Occupancy at western mountain resorts, which includes California and Nevada, was up 9.7 percent in the month of October.

The trend of flat occupancy and increasing rates keeps chugging along with summer lodging trends spilling into the winter season for mountain destinations.

A 7 percent gain was made in aggregate revenue among 20 participating destinations in eight western states, which consist of California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming. Occupancy rates had a minor 0.1 percent increase over the summer of 2016, industry data showed.

Inntopia, a Vermont-based business intelligence company which acquired DestiMetrics earlier this year, released the results in their monthly DestiMetrics Market Briefing.

"Even though summer occupancy was up only slightly, the strength of the consumer marketplace is apparent in strong rate increases that led to another summer revenue record," said Tom Foley, vice president of Business Intelligence for Inntopia. "This trend of flat occupancy along with increasing daily rates started showing up last winter and persisted throughout the summer, and is now evident in the winter date for November through April arrivals."

Occupancy was up 9.7 percent in the month of October with a 14.1 percent gain in revenue compared with October 2016.

The DestiMetrics Briefing also showed that as of Oct. 31, aggregated winter occupancy is down 0.1 percent compared with the same time last year, with declines appearing in December, January, and March. In contrast, the average daily rate (ADR) is up 4.9 percent and is showing gains for a majority of those months.

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The combination of occupancy and rate increases has resulted in moderate revenue growth of 5.4 percent, compared with the same period a year earlier. December is the only month showing a decline in revenue, due in part to the 3.6 percent decrease in occupancy bookings for that month.

"Despite several western destinations pushing back opening dates because of inconsistent snowfall, economic momentum is positive and the purely destination visitor who comes from afar, books earlier, and stays longer seems undeterred," Foley said. "These destination guests are less concerned about snow conditions than local and regional visitors and are booking at a similar pace to last year, even with daily rates continuing to edge up."

Following a stormy September, economic indicators rebounded in October with the September national job creation report being revised from a loss of 33,000 jobs to a gain of 18,000. Along with the 261,000 new jobs created in October, the unemployment rate declined to 4.1 percent from 4.2 percent. However, prospective workers dropping out of the job market was also cited as an explanation for the drop.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped another 4.3 percent in October, setting another all-time record for the Index and finishing a hearty 28.9 percent higher than it was one year ago. These positive figures were reflected in the Consumer Confidence Index (CCI), that rose 4.4 percent to reach its highest benchmark since December of 2000 at 125.9 points.

"As we move into the peak booking months for mountain resorts, what remains unclear is whether occupancy is flattening because some properties and regions are nearing capacity or if the increasing rates are dissuading some visitors from booking," Foley said.

"At this point, we suspect it is a combination of both scenarios although some other unidentified variable may be in play. But … what is clear is that this pattern has persisted for 10 consecutive months so an immediate upward jump in occupancy isn't likely without a 'perfect storm' of rate declines and significant, marketable snowfall."

Kelsie Longerbeam is the news, business and environment reporter for the Sierra Sun and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza. She can be contacted at klongerbeam@sierrasun.com or 530-550-2653. Follow her on Facebook, and Twitter and Instagram @kelsielongerbm