BRECKENRIDGE — According to the Mountain Market Briefing released each month by Denver-based DestiMetrics, a resort consulting company, increased occupancy and revenue remained the trend for mountain destinations across the country, although results varied among participating resorts, in large part due to different weather patterns experienced by the three major regions covered in the monthly report.
Western resorts — the Rocky Mountain region and Far West — posted the greatest gains for the season, which runs November through April. Data as of March 31 showed an aggregated 4.5 percent increase in occupancy compared to this past season and a 10.6 percent increase in revenues. Participating Eastern resorts posted an aggregated 3 percent increase in actual occupancy and a moderate 3.8 percent gain in revenues. Although April on-the-books data is still coming in, the volume of destination skiers and snowboarders expected during the month will only have a modest impact on seasonal totals despite extended openings at several resorts through April.
“Stronger ‘econometrics’ benefited all regions defined as the Far West, Rockies and East to some degree, but there were wide variances in occupancy between the three areas that are best explained by the weather anomalies that affected the different regions and destinations,” DestiMetrics director Ralf Garrison said. “Warm and dry conditions in the Far West created negative momentum for most of the season while bitter cold temperatures and intense snowstorms delivered challenges as well as benefits to many of our participating resorts in the East. In the Rockies, consistent snowfall throughout the season had a positive impact on visitation.”
Already Posting Monetary Gains
As resorts wind-up their winter seasons, DestiMetrics’ forward-looking indicators are providing an early look at the upcoming summer. Positive momentum and economic news, along with more emphasis on summer activities and events at mountain destinations, are expected to continue the increases in occupancy and revenue. As of March 31, western resorts are currently posting a 12.8 percent gain in revenues compared to this past summer for the months of May through October. Gains in the East are more pronounced for summer, with overall revenues up 20.5 percent compared to summer 2013.
Economic indicators tracked by DestiMetrics were also credited for having a continued positive impact on mountain visits for both winter and coming summer months. The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased modestly in March and was up .83 percent. The Consumer Confidence Index reached its highest level since January 2008, reaching 82.3 points, a 5.1 percent increase over February. And although the unemployment rate remained at 6.7 percent, there was positive jobs news including another 192,000 news jobs and February job creation figures that were adjusted upwards.
“The loyalty of skiers and snowboarders to their sport has allowed the ski industry to recover ahead of the rest of the economy but like all consumer markets, there is vulnerability, particularly at the geo-political level” said Tom Foley, director of operations for DestiMetrics. “Domestically, we think things are moving in the right direction and we look forward to calling the economy less of a ‘wild card’ and more of a trump card in the months ahead,” he added.
“As we leave winter behind and look forward, we see continued economic strength and know that summer is less weather dependent than winter,” Garrison said. “Mountain destinations that shift into summer operations with a robust line-up of summer activities and special events have the opportunity to diversify their economic base that can add operational revenue to their bottom line while attracting new guests to their destinations.”