Holiday Reservations Remain Strong Despite Early Slow Start

Denver, Dec. 15, 2016—Despite concluding a contentious presidential election at the beginning of the month and experiencing atypically warm and dry weather through the middle and end of the month, aggregated winter bookings among participating western mountain resorts from November through April are up 2.7 percent and revenues are up 10.4 percent compared to the same time last year according to the Mountain Market Briefing released yesterday by Denver-based DestiMetrics.* However, as of Nov. 30, actual bookings made in November for arrivals during the six winter months were down 7.9 percent compared to bookings made in November 2015 for the same months last winter. November bookings for arrivals in the month of November were down a dramatic 25.9 percent and down 15.3 percent compared to the same time last year. The shift in bookings to later in December is being attributed to the calendar’s timing of Christmas Day and New Year’s on weekends and shifting travel dates as a result.

“While overall winter season bookings remain strong, the early season softness is likely a combination of the initial uncertainty surrounding the presidential election and the warm, dry weather that persisted through much of November at most western mountain destinations,” explained Ralf Garrison, director of DestiMetrics. “But we did see seasonable temperatures and appreciable snowfall arrive at many resorts near the end of the month and that should encourage skiers and riders to once again start booking their winter vacations,” he added.

The monthly Briefing also reported some positive trends for the coming winter with gains in occupancy being recorded in four of the six months–only April and November posted declines. While the weather may have posed challenges for some destinations, the month of November was down only an aggregate 5.3 percent in occupancy for the month and revenues posted a slight 0.6 percent gain compared to November 2015.

A review of economic indicators for the past month revealed that after a very short-lived flinch in the market immediately following the election, the rebound by financial markets, employers and consumers was swift and positive. The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared 9.7 percent to finish the month at 19,123.6 points while employers added 178,000 new jobs and helped bring the Unemployment Rate down to 4.6 percent—its lowest level since August 2007.

“Many of the new positions are holiday specific but are expected to convert into full time positions in 2017,” reported Tom Foley, operations director for DestiMetrics. “The only significant economic hiccup during the month was a slight decrease in wages for workers,” Foley continued.

Consumers were buoyed by the positive news and responded with a 6.3 percent increase in the Consumer Confidence Index that elevated it to 107.1 points and its highest level since October 2007.

“Many resorts and ski towns were watching carefully during the month of November as we monitored consumer and economic reactions to the outcome of the election while keeping a watchful eye on early winter weather patterns during the remainder of the month,” Garrison confessed. “And while booking pace dropped, we can now see that the impact was largely in early season and the twin wildcards of steady snow and good economic indicators are now teaming up to hopefully boost the booking pace through the holidays and beyond.”