Denver, April 18, 2017—In what is being described as a roller coaster season that started slowly, was strong mid-season, and then lost momentum in the final weeks, the 2016-17 ski season will likely record some year-over-year declines by the time a final tally is recorded through April 30 among participating western mountain destinations. According to Denver-based DestiMetrics* in their Monthly Market Briefing, as of March 31, aggregated occupancy for the past winter season from November through April is down 0.3 percent while overall revenue is up 6.8 percent compared to the same time last year. Four of the six winter months showed increases in occupancy while November and April were down.
“It has been an unpredictable and erratic season as both Mother Nature and geo political forces created some interesting dynamics that shaped destination visitors mountain travel behavior,” observed Ralf Garrison, director of DestiMetrics. “This winter season marked the first time in a decade that we have seen declines in year-over-year occupancy and yet we saw gains in revenue for both the Rocky Mountains and the Far West though in different months and patterns. While occupancy increases have been slowing as resorts approach practical capacity in high demand periods, the increase in rates suggests that demand remains high and that skiers continue to demonstrate their passion for mountain vacations with their tolerance for increased rates,” he added.
Although some resort communities will continue to host destination guests in April, many areas are closing and ramping down operations so that lodging performance for the month will only have a modest impact on the final season tally. As of March 31, overall revenue has already reached an aggregated 102.7 percent of last year’s total revenue while room nights were at 98.3 percent.
Looking to summer, aggregated overall occupancy is up 1.6 percent as of March 31 compared to the same time last year with revenue up a strong 11.2 percent—a similar pattern to winter. May and June are currently showing slight decreases while July, August, and September are posting strong increases.
A brief review of key economic indicators revealed that there was a slight dip in the Dow Jones Industrial average of 149 points and the first monthly decline since October 2016. However, the Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) jumped to its highest level since December 2000 by increasing 8.2 percent to reach 125.6 points. Employers added an anemic 98,000 jobs in March and the Unemployment Rate dipped down to 4.5 percent although much of that drop was attributed to the unemployed discontinuing their job hunt.
“Wall Street is reacting cautiously in the wake of recent national legislative and executive challenges and geopolitical turmoil that may impact the domestic economy,” explained Tom Foley, director of Business Intelligence for DestiMetrics. “While the market currently remains robust, instability and uncertainty in the Middle East and North Korea along with rising interest rates at home could impact the consumer travel market as events unfold,” he cautioned.
*DestiMetrics tracks resort performance in mountain destinations, compiling forward-looking reservation data on a monthly basis and aggregating and reporting the results to subscribers at participating resorts. Data for western resorts is derived from a sample of approximately 290 property management companies in 19 mountain destination communities, representing approximately 30,000 rooms across Colorado, Utah, California, Nevada, Oregon, Wyoming, and Montana and may not reflect the entire mountain destination travel industry. Results may vary significantly among/between resorts and participating properties.