Destination Lodging Growth Slows

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SAM Magazine—Denver, Feb. 19, 2014—Buffeted by the weather, destination lodging occupancy in the East and West was up 4.7 percent for the November-January period compared to a year ago, according to research firm DestiMetrics. With 85 percent of visits either completed or on the books, lodging properties surveyed by DestiMetrics appear headed for a 10 percent increase in revenue on the season.

DestiMetrics’ data are drawn from property management companies in 19 Western mountain destination communities across Colorado, Utah, California, Nevada, Oregon and Wyoming, and 10 Eastern destinations in Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, West Virginia and Maine.

For January, occupancy was up 2.7 percent at Western mountain destinations and 6.5 percent in Eastern resorts. Lodging revenues were up 7.9 percent in the West and 11.5 percent in the East.

As of Jan. 31, though, February appeared soft. Western properties were facing a 1.8 decrease in reservations for the month, while reservations for Eastern resorts were up 6.2 percent. The booking pace during January for arrivals for the next six months declined for both regions compared to the same time last year—down 6.2 percent in in the West, and down 3.4 percent in the East. DestiMetrics blamed below-normal snowfall in the Sierras and Pacific Northwest, and cold weather in major Eastern cities, for the declines.

“The biggest challenge to overcome is lack of snow and drought in the Far West regions that contributed strongly to the 11.2 percent decline in overall bookings made in January for February arrivals in Western resorts,” said Tom Foley, operations director for DestiMetrics. “At the same time, Eastern resorts with average snowfall and nearly average temperatures have had to overcome ongoing media coverage of extreme weather conditions in the Northeast.”

Still, the abundance or dearth of snow has not had as big an impact, good or bad, as resorts expected. “Comments we are hearing from participating properties are ranging from ‘not as good as we hoped’ to ‘better than we feared,’” said DestiMetrics director Ralf Garrison. “Right now, DestiMetrics projections are showing that some destinations may approach or exceed previous records established during the 2007-08 pre-recession season, but we’re not there yet. This month’s data highlights the influence of snow and reminds us that both abundance and lack of it can create challenges.”