March Snows Fueled Visits for Western Destinations

SAM Magazine—Denver, April 19, 2018—Significant snowfall in many regions continued through March and raised March occupancy 0.5 percent compared to year-ago levels. That cut the decline for the 2017-18 winter season from 2.6 percent to 1.3 percent, according to Inntopia in its monthly DestiMetrics Market Briefing.

As of March 31, the average daily rate (ADR) for the season is up a modest 2.8 percent, and seasonal revenues were up a slight 1.5 percent. HN Squaw314

Data for the Briefing comes from 290 property management companies in 20 mountain destination communities, representing approximately 30,000 rooms across Colorado, Utah, California, Nevada, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.

The booking pace in March strongly reflected the impact of improved slope conditions. March bookings for March arrivals shot up 35.1 percent compared to last year, while bookings for April arrivals jumped 11.5 percent. In addition to plentiful snow, bookings got a boost from lower rates at many lodging properties; that shaved the increase in aggregated ADR for the season from 2.3 percent at the end of February to 1.1 percent by the end of March.

What does this mean for the season as a whole? “Overall occupancy is likely to finish below last year, while rate and revenue should both score a win,” said Tom Foley, vice president of business intelligence for Inntopia.

“The winter of 2017-18 has been an interesting one, to say the least,” Foley added. “A strong start in late November was followed by a long, dry period, and then the snow came roaring back in late February and created a real roller coaster season. ... It seems unlikely that we will post a gain in occupancy over last year’s record season, but it is almost certain that revenues will post a year-over-year gain and set a new record. In an erratic season like this one, that is an accomplishment.”

Summer bookings are once again on a record pace, though the gains are smaller than they have been for much of the past decade. As of March 31, summer reservations from May through September are up 4.9 percent, while ADR for this same period is up a slight 1.5 percent compared to the same time last year. Four of the five months are posting year-over-year increases in occupancy. Only September is showing a decline.