Denver, CO – Favorable snowfall in December in most mountain regions throughout the U.S. helped boost ski resort lodging occupancy and revenues for the month, according to the most recent data released by the Denver-based research firm DestiMetrics. The group’s monthly Mountain Market Briefing also revealed that the upward trend in both occupancy and revenue is carrying into the remainder of the season, aided by generally positive economic indicators.
Nationally, mountain resorts saw an aggregated 6.2 percent increase in actual occupancy and a 12.3 percent increase in revenues for the month of December. Western resorts posted a 6.5 percent increase in actual occupancy compared to last year with revenues up 13.3 percent, while participating properties at eastern resorts experienced a 2.1 percent increase in actual occupancy and a 3.6 percent increase in revenues during the holiday month.
The group’s data for western resorts is derived from a sample of approximately 290 property management companies in 19 mountain destination communities, representing approximately 27,500 rooms across Colorado, Utah, California, Nevada, Oregon and Wyoming. Data for eastern resorts in derived from a sample of approximately 10 destination aggregate data sets in 10 destinations representing 4,500 rooms in Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, West Virginia and Maine.
Looking forward, business on-the-books is positive for the remainder of the season with the booking pace during December for western destinations up 6.1 percent and for eastern resorts up 8.3 percent.
“With a good early start and strong holiday season behind us, we can confirm that our earlier expectations have been met,” observed Ralf Garrison, director of DestiMetrics. “Now the post-holiday booking pace has picked up and with it, prospects for a strong season of destination travel are continuing to look positive in most regions,” he added.
The monthly Briefing also provides an analysis of key economic variables that have the potential to shape leisure travel behavior. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) finished December up an additional 3.05 percent, resulting in an annual gain of 3,473 points or 26.4 percent for the year.
“Although this meteoric rise in the Dow was good news, it wasn’t necessarily reflective of the overall consumer economy which paced well behind financial markets, though it did improve moderately,” explained Tom Foley, operations director for DestiMetrics. “We’re definitely keeping an eye on that disparity as we’re not sure that Wall Street is as good an indicator of ‘Main Street’ as it was in the past.”
Although the Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) rose 6.1 points in December, Foley noted that this was only the fifth increase in consumer confidence in the past year and that there is lingering pessimism among consumers about earnings stability. Another dip in the Unemployment Rate was also accompanied by a cautionary message that December was the weakest month of the entire year for job creation and that the decrease also reflects more job seekers dropping out of the job hunt.
Despite the somewhat mixed assessment of economic indicators, skiers and riders are booking winter vacations at a higher level than in recent years.
“Now that nearly a quarter of the entire ski season’s business is already ‘in the bank,’ and another 50 percent is ‘on the books,’ the remainder of the season is looking increasingly positive and could result in one of the industry’s best years ever if both the weather and economy continue to cooperate,” summarized Garrison.