Tourism softening in Aspen?
ASPEN, Colorado ” Two of Aspen’s top tourism officials have mixed reviews of how business is shaping up over the next month.
Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen Snowmass, a central bookings agency, is warning the lodging industry that the next month looks quiet.
David Perry of the Aspen Skiing Co. doesn’t believe the outlook is so bleak. The next month will have its ups and downs, he said, then the season will end with a flourish. Tomcich said business looks solid for some individual properties, but “there’s a lot of concern” in the industry as a whole.
“Advanced occupancy is down every single night from now through March 15,” Tomcich said. He based the assessment on reports that compare advance bookings as of Feb. 1 compared to advanced bookings at the same point last season. Only two nights match last year’s occupancy, he said.
Calls to Stay Aspen Snowmass are down 27 percent since Feb. 1 compared to last year, and the number of unique visitors to the organization’s website are down 36 percent.
“People just aren’t booking,” Tomcich said.
The lack of business comes despite the availability of more airline seats into Aspen and excellent snow. Tomcich concluded that concerns over the national economy are affecting travelers.
The Skico’s marketing department was aware weeks ago that there were soft periods later in the season, and it established specific marketing programs to fill the gaps. Perry, who oversees Skico marketing as senior vice president ” mountain division, said those programs paid off by spurring bookings.
This week and the week of March 9-15 are “soft,” Perry said. Sandwiched in between are two weeks that are close to last year in advanced reservations.
Perry said business will be strong from the beginning of Spring Break, on March 13, through the end of the season April 13. He said advanced reservations for the week of March 13 already are higher than the actual occupancy for that week one year ago. Easter falls earlier this year, so that helps spur business.
Business leaders rely on occupancy reports produced from surveys conducted by Aspen Chamber Resort Association and the Snowmass lodging industry.
The latest report, released Feb. 8, showed a mixed bag ” with Aspen business down but Snowmass Village business looking solid. The Aspen chamber corrected that report a day later and said a “calculation error” had made the outlook too bright for Snowmass.
The corrected report shows advance bookings for this week produced a 65 percent occupancy in Snowmass compared to 79 percent at the same time last season.
In Aspen this week, advance occupancy was at 76 percent compared to 87 percent at the same time last season.
Advance bookings for March were down slightly in Aspen and up slightly in Snowmass Village.