Reservations down for Christmas week in Aspen
ASPEN, Colorado ” Current bookings would produce an average occupancy of only 59 percent during Christmas week for the Aspen lodging industry, a report released Tuesday shows.
The outlook is even bleaker in Snowmass Village, according to an occupancy report performed for the Aspen Chamber Resort Association (ACRA), town of Snowmass Village and Aspen Skiing Co.
“It’s not going to be dead. It’s just not [going to be] as busy as we’re accustomed to,” said Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen Snowmass, a central bookings agency.
The report shows that the average occupancy for Aspen’s lodging industry is just 59 percent for the week that includes Christmas ” 28 percent behind last year’s actual figures.
Reservations already on the books for Snowmass properties would produce only a 43 percent occupancy rate right now compared to an actual level of 75 percent last year.
“It’s a little disheartening,” said Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle. “We’d like to see some last-minute bookings close those gaps.”
The occupancy numbers are overall averages based on surveys of Aspen and Snowmass Village properties. Some individual properties are nearly full for the holidays. Others reported dozens of empty units. The numbers reflect reservations as of Nov. 30.
Critical period for businesses
The holiday period is critical for lodges, restaurants and retail shops. Aspen and Snowmass are usually filled close to capacity during those seven to 10 days. Businesses operate at a hectic pace but reap financial rewards.
The latest occupancy report doesn’t include the week of Dec. 28 through Jan. 3, which is usually the peak period during the holidays.
Tomcich said Aspen’s five busiest days this holiday season will come Dec. 26 through Jan. 1. The current bookings would produce an average occupancy of 75 percent. That’s compared to 95 percent for a similar peak period last season, he said.
In Snowmass, the occupancy during the peak period would be about 60 percent right now, but that figure could rise, Tomcich said.
“If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen with last-minute business,” he said. “The question is, how much is it going to grow?”
Marketing partners scramble
The Skico and its major marketing partners are scrambling to catch the attention of prospective customers during the holidays and throughout ski season. However, one of the better promotions doesn’t apply during the holidays.
Aspen-Snowmass resort entities teamed with Frontier Airlines on Friday on a promotion that provides free airfare, lift tickets and lodging for kids ages 12 and under. The deal allows one eligible kid to stay free for each adult that books a minimum three-day, four-night vacation.
The deals have to be booked through Stay Aspen Snowmass by Dec. 23. It isn’t valid from Dec. 25 through Jan. 4, and other conditions apply.
Hanle said the deal couldn’t be offered during the holidays because of Frontier’s limited availability on flights. Nevertheless, officials are counting on it driving business this season.
That promotion is part of a special $100,000 marketing campaign designed to promote Frontier’s inaugural winter of service in Aspen. The Skico, ACRA, town of Snowmass Village, Stay Aspen Snowmass and major lodges agreed to promote business when Frontier agreed to start service.
In another promotion, the Skico is offering lift ticket discounts for purchases at least one week in advance. This is the first time in six years the company has offered the discount over the holidays.
Stay Aspen Snowmass is promoting various deals, including “last-minute specials,” on its website.
Tomcich said there is a legitimate shot for Aspen and Snowmass to improve their occupancy figures during the holidays and beyond with the promotions. Some travelers are waiting until closer to their travel times to book their flights, and they are hungry for bargains.
There is plenty of room for improvement in Aspen-Snowmass occupancy figures. The current bookings would produce an occupancy of 62 percent in Aspen in January. The actual occupancy was 87 percent last January.
In Snowmass, the current bookings for January would produce an occupancy of 52 percent compared to an actual rate of 75 percent.
“The bottom line is there are still rooms to be had,” Tomcich said.
A property called MTRIP conducts the occupancy survey every two weeks. Sixteen properties representing 74 percent of the units in Aspen and 10 entities representing 84 percent of the units in Snowmass were included in the latest report.