January booking pace picks up
Overall business at mountain destinations in the Rocky Mountain and Far West regions received a boost for winter bookings during the month of January lifted by local and regional visitors according to the most recent Mountain Market Briefing released yesterday by Denver-based DestiMetrics.* As of Jan. 31, actual aggregated occupancy from November through April is up 3.4 percent and revenues are up 4.7 percent compared to the same time last last winter.
“Although the uptick in business marks a turnaround for many of the destination ski resorts, economic volatility and weather shifts still have the potential to influence the remainder of the season,” explains Ralf Garrison, director of DestiMetrics. “The booking pace during the month of January for arrivals in January through the end of April was up 9.9 percent compared to last year and that big jump was likely driven primarily by local and regional visitors who tend to have shorter booking times than international and long-distance domestic visitors who seem to be experiencing some hesitancy based on global markets, currency exchange rates, and some dramatic weather across the US,” he continued.
The month of January led the turnaround and finished with a 2.9 percent increase in occupancy for the month and a modest 1.8 percent increase in revenue compared to last year.
The Briefing also revealed that as of Jan. 31, 88.5 percent of the total nights booked for the 2014-15 winter season have already either been used or are “on-the-books” for the 2015-16 winter season. This is slightly ahead of the same time last year with seasonal revenue performing even better as 92.9 percent of the total revenue for the 2014-15 season is now booked.
The monthly Briefing monitors key economic indicators that have the potential to influence consumer spending. The Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) moved up 1.8 points to 98.1 points despite negative news in the financial markets.
“Somewhat counter-intuitively, based on the CCI, consumers continue to feel good about the present economic situation and expressed greater confidence in the upcoming six months,” observes Tom Foley, director of operations for DestiMetrics. “Consumers don’t appear to be reacting negatively to recent financial market volatility as they are continuing to make discretionary spending purchases such as travel at the same pace as in recent months, but the travel industry needs to be diligent as volatility becomes more sustained and market losses start to show up in consumers’ long-term investments,” he added.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) dropped a sharp 958.7 points in January bringing it to 16,466.30 and its lowest end-of-month close since March 2014 and the fifth consecutive month of market instability. And although the 151,000 new jobs created in January was lower than projected, the National Unemployment Rate dropped 10 basis points to 4.9 percent to reach its lowest level since November 2007.
Foley wrapped up his assessment of the econometrics for the month by commenting “even though January was a relatively soft month economically, wages continued their slow but steady growth and that gave consumers a generally positive feeling about the month.”
“The 2015-16 season got off to a strong start with good snowfall throughout the entire west and particularly in the Far West and little has changed since then although snowfall has tapered off somewhat and the financial markets have endured some significant losses,” says Garrison. “But overall lodging business remains positive and in fact, has enjoyed a measurable turnaround from modest declines that we recorded earlier in the season,” he concluded.
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The Board of Grand County Commissioners is planning a public comment session for a proposal to rename the Gore Range to the Nuchu Range.