Vail summer lodging numbers decline from 2018
Winter reservations are strong at the moment, but other trends are a cause for concern
- 6.2%: Decline from 2018 in Vail summer lodging occupancy.
- 1.9%: Decline from 2018 in Vail summer average daily rate.
- 7.5%: Decline from 2018 in the U.S. Consumer Confidence Index.
- 3.5%: U.S. unemployment rate in September.
VAIL — Success often leaves little room for growth. Success, and some national trends, had an impact on Vail’s summer lodging numbers.
According to the latest data from Denver-based Destimetrics by Inntopia, Vail’s lodging occupancy, average daily rate and revenue per available room all declined from the summer of 2018 to the same period this year.
Tom Foley, senior vice president of Business Operations and Analytics for Inntopia, Tuesday told the Vail Town Council that a number of factors are at work in the seasonal declines.
The occupancy rate decline is due in part to an increase in available rooms, he said. There were more room nights available in 2019 than the year before. Still, there were more occupied rooms in 2018.
Late season comeback
The summer numbers looked worse just 60 days ago, Foley said, before a strong August and September picked up the pace of local lodging.
The summer decline was felt in other mountain resorts. Across the industry, summer occupancy fell by 1.3%. In terms of industry averages, Vail posted lower average daily rates and lower revenue per available room.
Foley said Vail is already near the top of the industry in terms of room rates, leaving little room for growth. Broader trends include recent declines in consumer confidence, volatility in the nation’s financial markets and weakness in the European Union.
With those and other factors at work, Foley said, “consumers are starting to pull back.”
Winter looking strong
While summer showed declines, Foley said the coming winter season is starting off well with long-term reservations. Room nights already booked for the winter season are up 1.9% over the previous season.
While the bulk of Vail’s winter visitation is from destination guests — who tend to fly in, stay longer and spend more — Foley said a Front Range snowstorm last week has already had an effect on reservations.
“Backyard snow in Denver means bookings up here,” he said.
Foley added that early season reservations are benefitting from a “snow hangover” from last season. Bookings for later in the season, particularly February and March, are lagging the previous season. But, Foley added, that isn’t unusual, since potential guests are waiting to see how the coming snow season develops before making reservations.
Still, Foley said, looking at trends for the next six months shows occupancy, daily rate and revenue per room all declining.
With continued volatility in the financial markets and slowing job creation, consumer spending is slowing.
Add in the fact that Vail, in particular, is already seemingly near the top of what lodges can charge, and business overall could slow in the coming months.
Councilmember Jenn Bruno asked what the difference is between summer and winter booking windows.
Foley replied that summer guests tend to book rooms shortly before they travel. Winter guests tend to book 45 to 60 days before they travel.
Looking at national and local trends, councilmember Greg Moffet said it might be time to “buy market share” through marketing and other tactics.
As the national economy started its deep dive in 2008, the town, its business community and Vail Resorts launched “Vail All the Love,” a program that offered lodging and other discounts. The town contributed $500,000 to the program, businesses put together special offers and Vail Resorts provided marketing muscle.
Other resorts followed suit, but, Moffet said, “We came out first, and came out harder… and it went straight to our bottom line.
“We’d better be ready (this season),” he added.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-748-2930.