SAM Magazine—Denver, Nov. 26, 2018—The full summer season from May through October set its sixth consecutive records for occupancy and average daily rate (ADR), while revenue set a seventh consecutive record despite some ups and downs in individual months at Western mountain destinations tracked in the DestiMetrics Market Briefing. Looking ahead, winter bookings show weakness in the early season, likely as a result of last year's early snow drought in many parts of the West, but strength during the middle of the season.
DestiMetrics data derive from a sample of approximately 290 property management companies in 20 mountain destination communities, representing approximately 30,000 rooms across Colorado, Utah, California, Nevada, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.
The six-month summer season, May through October, saw occupancy rise 2.3 percent and ADR edge up 2.5 percent for a combined 4.8 percent increase in revenue. The month of October offset a 4.2 percent dip in occupancy with a 4.3 percent gain in ADR to finish with essentially flat revenue for the month compared to October 2017.
“One of the most interesting findings from our data this summer was that summer occupancy is now getting very close to parity with winter," said Tom Foley, senior vice president for the Business Intelligence division of Inntopia, which produces the Briefing. Summer occupancy was 97 percent of the previous winter's occupancy, though summer rates are still appreciably lower.
Bookings for the early part of the coming winter continued the cooling trend that started last month. Bookings made in October for arrivals in November declined 5.6 percent, with bookings for December down 3.9 percent. However, bookings made in October for arrivals in January rose 18 percent, for February, 11 percent, and for March, 37.4 percent. Total bookings for the full winter season are up 2.1 percent compared to the same time last year. That, coupled with a 0.5 percent decline in ADR have resorts on course for a 1.5 percent uptick in revenue for the season.
The data for November bookings, which won't be available for another few weeks, could show improvement. Data for the current Briefing report was collected through Oct. 31, "before significant snow fell at many mountain locations in early November,” Foley said. He cautioned, though, that "Christmas falling on a Tuesday this year has created some awkward timing for school breaks and is contributing significantly to the challenge for December bookings." He also noted that "as rates have been increasing steadily for the past few years, we are also starting to see some pushback as rates approach consumer’s tolerance level.
”Where will this winter end up? Too soon to tell. “For most of the past decade, record summers have led to consecutively stronger winter seasons, but the pattern shifted slightly last year with inconsistent snow quality in much of the West, which seems to have at least temporarily halted the upward trends in winter occupancy,” Foley cautioned.