May lodging occupancy numbers in Vail could use at least a little boost (editorial)
This story has been corrected. Sales tax, not lodging tax, is the biggest single source of town revenue in Vail.
Spring is an easier time in the Vail Valley. Whether you’ve headed out of town for a while this spring, or just used our slow time to plan or regroup, it’s nice to not be high-season busy for a while.
Still, a recent lodging occupancy chart from the Vail Chamber & Business Association shows why people keep trying to put a bit more spark in the season between the day our ski hills close and the June 7 start of the GoPro Mountain Games.
That chart shows the steep drop in guests between March’s ultra-busy days and the frankly too-slow days of May.
Taking three Saturday nights — March 3, March 31 and April 28 — Vail’s lodging occupancy went from 89 percent in early March to 43 percent the night before Easter Sunday to 11 percent the last Saturday of April.
Moving to the night of April 30, a Monday, lodging occupancy fell to 5 percent.
The occupancy chart has always been thus, of course. From the earliest days until now, ski season is when Vail earns the vast majority of its lodging tax — a major source of revenue.
People in the lodging business are used to this, of course. Still, a bump in those numbers would be nice.
Group and corporate business is a big part of slow-season lodging, of course. And, to be honest, our April and May weather can be variable, to put it kindly. That makes outdoor events tricky. That applies to the fall months, too.
No one wants to be spring-break busy all the time. That would be too much stress for everyone, from owners to managers to front-line employees. We all need a deep breath or two after the hustle and bustle of the busy times.
Still, it’s well worth the effort to bring a few more people to the valley during the slow times. It would be nice if staying open in May could at least pay for itself.
The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Krista Driscoll and Business Editor Scott Miller.