While occupancy numbers for resort bookings in Summit County are still suffering from last season's poor snowfall, that trend looks to be making a turnaround.
The month of December was down in occupancy by 2.6 percent
“It is no surprise that December's business is down from last
year,” said Ralf Garrison, director of the Mountain Travel Research Program
(MTRiP). “Advanced reservations have shown that trend for the past six months
since the trend came forward.”
The reasons for the downward trend,
Garrison said, were due to last year's lack of snow combined with this year's
slow start, as well as the relative uncertainty of the economy. Discussions
about the economy during the presidential election quickly became discussions
about the fiscal cliff, which affected consumer confidence.
was a bad year and there's a little bit of a hangover effect,” Garrison said.
“Guests were concerned about whether the resorts would be back in Mother
Nature's good graces. They sat on the sidelines longer and waited … for
The snow that the mountains received around Christmas was
positive, said Garrison. Although it was too late for out-of-state visitors to
take advantage of, those closer to the area, such as people on the Front Range,
got the “snow message” and have started coming back.
“Now the elections
have come, the fiscal cliff has come and the snow has come,” Garrison said. “The
rhetorical question is if there's enough momentum being created now that we can
offset the slow start.”
According to the numbers in MTRiP's latest
occupancy report, the answer to that question is “yes.” Midweek occupancies in
January are consistently pacing above last year by at least a few points each
day and some days by as much as 15 percent higher. Overall levels will be
between 40 and 60 percent occupied each day. The weekend revolving around the
Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday is looking particularly positive.
positive trend looks to continue into February. The day of the Mardi Gras Ball,
Feb. 9, may even push past 90 percent occupancy. Predictions for the month of
March show a decline in the first half of the month with an increase in the
second half. The winter season, overall, is currently pacing 5 percent above
last year's occupancy at the same time.
The increased amount of visitors
during the past few snowfalls is positive in more ways than just numbers, said
Garrison, as they will act as messengers to others.
“They bring with them
smartphones, that have the communications power of a broadcast studio and a
social network the size of the universe and they begin to communicate a message
to the rest of their friends and network about how the Christmas season was,”