Aspen lodging industry hopes the phones start ringing |

Aspen lodging industry hopes the phones start ringing

ASPEN, Colorado – The latest occupancy report confirms that Aspen and Snowmass Village are in for a tough summer.

The actual occupancy for June was 48 percent in Aspen compared to 57 percent in 2008, according to a study sponsored by the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, the town of Snowmass Village and the Aspen Skiing Co.

In Snowmass Village, the occupancy this June was 31 percent compared to 35 percent for the month last year.

“June turned out OK – not nearly as bad as it once looked,” said Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen Snowmass, a central bookings agency which facilitates the occupancy report.

He credited last-minute bookings. A trend has developed in recent years for travelers to book their vacations closer to their arrival date. That trend has been pronounced during the recession. About half of the people who booked trips for June through Stay Aspen Snowmass booked in June. That is up about 13 percentage points from same-month bookers last year, according to Tomcich.

The local lodging industry hopes the trend continues because advance bookings aren’t strong for July or August.

In Snowmass Village, the reservations on the books as of June 30 would produce a 30 percent occupancy in July. Last year, the comparable figure was 47 percent. Actual occupancy for the month was 55 percent.

For August, advance reservations are 17 percent this year compared to 29 percent last year. The actual occupancy was 51 percent in 2008.

In Aspen, advance bookings as of June 30 for July would produce occupancy of 51 percent. Last year’s comparable number was 72 percent. The actual occupancy was 82 percent.

For August, advance bookings are at 36 percent compared to 50 percent in 2008. The actual occupancy for the month was 78 percent.

Tomcich said an analysis by a firm that looks at business trends in several western mountain resorts shows that Aspen and Snowmass Village are doing better than many resorts in Summit and Eagle counties in Colorado and parts of Utah. Aspen and Snowmass are experiencing a larger percentage decline in occupancy, but its overall occupancy is still higher because of strength in numbers from past summers.

“We’re definitely still at the head of the pack in terms of occupancy and rate,” Tomcich said.

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