Town of Vail data shows record-high visitation days in February
Data from WiFi usage, parking and bookings indicate the town is seeing more visitors in both villages
February was a banner month for the town of Vail in terms of visitation. Both in comparison to the previous ski season as well as prior months this ski season, the town is seeing more visitors in both villages (based on its WiFi data), with several overflow parking days and relatively strong bookings.
The town of Vail uses the number of daily WiFi visits to track pedestrian traffic data in both Vail Village and Lionshead Village. The town currently only has data up until Feb. 23 of this year.
Based on a report included in the town’s March 1 Committee on Special Events packet, February had three record high visitation dates: Feb. 18, Feb. 4 and Feb. 10, with over 31,000 daily visits on each day.
While the first date came during President’s Day weekend, the other two dates coincided with the National Brotherhood of Skiers’ 50th-anniversary summit, which was held in Vail between Feb. 4 and Feb. 11.
Not only that, but out of the top 10 highest-trafficked days this ski season, February has seven of the highest days (with one date in January and two in December rounding out the top). On average, so far in February, the town has seen a daily average of 25,373 visits compared to 21,097 average daily visits in January and 18,472 in December.
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This represents not only an increase from the two prior months this year but a significant increase year-over-year. So far, on average, February had a 52.75% increase in daily WiFi visits compared to the previous year. At its highest, the town saw a 94.75% increase year-over-year on Feb. 10.
January and December of this year also saw significant increases in WiFi traffic year-over-year. On average, January had a 43.03% increase year-over-year, and December had a 31.66% increase.
Additionally, by the same time last year, while Feb. 19, Feb. 20 and Feb. 18, 2022, had the highest WiFi visit days, December dates rounded out the top 10 days. And the ceiling was much lower; Feb. 19, 2022, saw 19,383 visits, which is significantly less than the record 32,627 visits on Feb. 18, 2023.
By the same time last year, the town had only 1.3 million daily WiFi visits, compared to 2.1 million so far this ski season. In total, during the 2021-22 ski season, Vail reported 2.2 million WiFi visits.
One other metric that the town continues to track related to visitation is its parking transactions as well as the number of days it has to use overflow parking on the frontage road.
Between Feb. 1 and Feb. 22, 2023, the town had a total of 102,457 parking transactions across its town-owned lots, which include not only the two village parking structures but also its lots at Ford Park, Red Sandstone and the soccer fields.
This averages out to around 4,454 transactions a day between these February dates, which is a decrease from January but an increase from December this ski season. In January 2023, the town had an average of 4,700 daily parking transactions in its lots, and 4,295 on average in December 2022.
For the 2021-22 ski season — from its start through Feb. 20 — the town’s average daily total of parking transactions was around 4,492. So far this season, the average across the entire 2022-23 season (up until Feb. 20) is at 4,116 daily transactions.
Reducing the number of days it has to overflow cars onto the South Frontage Road was one of the town’s primary goals in the new parking program it rolled out this season. While it had a stated goal of 15 days, the town has already utilized this frontage road parking on 18 days this season. This includes five days in February, eight in January and five in December.
The most recent came Saturday, Feb. 25, when the town allowed 541 cars to park along the South Frontage Road, the highest number of overflow cars this season. In February, it also utilized this parking on Feb. 10 (with 337 cars), Feb. 11 (with 312 cars), Feb. 17 (with 270 cars) and Feb. 23 (with 214 cars).
Although the town of Vail is already above its goal, these numbers represent a significant decrease year-over-year. By Feb. 27, 2022, the town had already utilized the overflow parking on the South Frontage Road 35 days, with three days in February surging over 545 cars parked.
For the entire 2021-22 ski season, the town recorded 53 days of parking on the frontage road.
The March 1 Committee on Special Events packet also included the latest data from Destimetrics, which provides booking and occupancy data for properties in Vail.
According to the report, which has data as of Feb. 15, 2023, February had an average daily occupancy of 83.3%, with the second largest share of net new bookings (following March). Since Jan. 31, 2023 (the date of the last Destimetrics report), there were 2,355 new bookings for the month of February. From the same date, there were 2,938 new bookings for March.
This helps “to improve the year over year bookings underperformance, and additionally improving the average daily performance to -0.8% (-1.8% last report),” reads the Destimetrics report.
This report also looks ahead at the current Vail bookings through August and reports a 2.3% decline in bookings for this time period compared to last year. The number of room nights booked for February through August total 194,195 rooms, a 5.6% decrease compared to the same time last year.
In a Dec. 31, 2022 report from Destimetrics, it was reported that all months from December 2022 to June 2023 were showing an overall decrease in inventory compared to last year at the same this. The latest report shows a continuation of this trend, with lower inventory reported through July 2023.
As the report looks ahead, all the months between March and July show a reduction in bookings compared to the same time last year. However, in August, there are already over 5,000 more bookings than the same time last year, as well as a higher level of inventory compared to August 2022.