Denver, Colo., April 15, 2019—The question isn’t whether western mountain lodging will set an all-time record this season, the question is how big that record will be—and if the record will be for occupancy, rate, revenue, or all of them. In the most recent monthly DestiMetrics* Market Briefing released by Inntopia, as of March 31, aggregated actual occupancy for the full six-month season was up 5.6 percent compared to the same time last year while the Average Daily Rate (ADR) is holding a 1.1 percent edge over last season. The increases in both categories is delivering a healthy 6.7 percent increase in revenues in a year-over-year (YOY) comparison to last year at this time. This signals the eighth consecutive record for revenue and room rate. Occupancy levels stumbled in the 2017-18 so a record in that category would need to surpass the 2016-17 season. Results are based on a sample of nearly 300 participating western property management companies.
“The reason that we are so confident of setting yet another record is because occupancy figures that have been either banked or booked for the season has reached 102.6 percent of last year’s total and are now just one-half of one percent below the 2016-17 record, while actual revenue has reached 101.7 percent of last season’s all-time record,” explained Tom Foley, senior vice president of Business Operations and Analytics for Inntopia. “We had the ‘perfect storm’ situation this season with strong and consistent snowfall coupled with a continued strong economy and optimistic consumers. It is rare to get that combination in a single season and with the reality of an extended season at many destinations, we expect the final results to be even stronger with another month to go.”
The likelihood of a seasonal record was boosted by March results. In a YOY comparison to March 2018, March occupancy was up a healthy 7.4 percent and the ADR was up 4.4 percent to deliver a formidable 12.1 percent increase in aggregated revenues compared to last March.
Attention in this month’s Briefing also took a forward look at the upcoming summer. As of March 31, reservations already on the books for the summer months of May through September are pacing down a slight 0.7 percent compared to the same time last year. However, ADR has notched a 2.7 percent increase to provide a 2.2 percent increase in revenues. Overall, occupancy is gaining in three of the five summer months.
Economic indicators during March showed some wavering, but still remained robust and conducive to consumer spending. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) dipped 0.6 percent from its February closing and despite the slight decline, remained 7.2 percent higher than at the end of March 2018. Consumers expressed caution during March as the Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) dropped a sharp 5.6 percent during March to mark the fourth decline in the CCI in the past five months. However, at 124.1 points, the Index remains strong and the decline suggests ebbing confidence in the economy’s long-term outlook. The national Unemployment Rate remained unchanged in March at 3.8 percent as employers exceeded expectations and added 196,000 new jobs while simultaneously sustaining good wage growth. The upsurge represents a strong rebound from a weak February when only 33,000 new jobs became available.
Bookings made in March for arrivals in the six months from March through August were up in five of the six months with the exception of August, which was down 4.4 percent in a YOY comparison.
“Once again, the two ‘wild cards’ of the winter season—weather and the economy—are what shaped the 2018-19 season,” Foley emphasized. “Even though we had a couple of wobbles in the economy during the winter months, abundant snowfall picked up the slack occasionally and the overall economic strength helped assure that we’ll be setting a few records, though we will have to wait until the end of April to know just what they will be,” concluded Foley.
*DestiMetrics, part of the Business Intelligence platform for Stowe-based Inntopia, tracks lodging performance in resort destinations. They compile forward-looking reservation data each month and provide individualized and aggregated results to subscribers at participating resorts. Data for western resorts is derived from a sample of approximately 290 property management companies in 18 mountain destination communities, representing approximately 30,000 rooms across Colorado, Utah, California, Nevada, Wyoming, and Idaho and may not reflect the entire mountain destination travel industry. Results may vary significantly among/between resorts and participating properties.