Romer: Three thank yous goes a long way
It’s going to be a busy winter season.
As of Oct. 31, on-the-books occupancy for the winter season from November through April is up a formidable 75% — compared to last year at this time — with gains in all six months, including triple-digit gains in February and March. Data is courtesy of our partners at Inntopia/DestiMetrics.
The average daily rate (ADR) for the winter is up 23.5%, and the combination is delivering a whopping 116.1% increase in aggregated revenues. When contrasted to two years ago in the pre-pandemic world, on-the-books occupancy is up a healthy 18.6% compared to this time in 2019, with ADR up a strong 20.9%, allowing properties to see a 43.5% gain in revenues compared to October 2019.
“Conditions driving bookings for the upcoming winter season at mountain resorts couldn’t be better,” reported Tom Foley, senior vice president for Business Process and Analytics for Inntopia. “Vaccination rates that are ticking up, infection rates moving down, and strong financial and consumer markets — despite inflation — are driving considerable upward momentum and are contributing to extending the summer’s records into next spring. Robust bookings, extended length of stay, earlier lead times for bookings, and fewer cancellations are also contributing to the positive winter outlook,” he confirmed.
While Mother Nature is currently being fickle (that’s being kind — I hope everyone pulls out all their tricks: get your car washed, book a trip to Denver, do a snow dance), we can expect to have the busiest ski season in history in terms of overnight visitation.
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That is generally a good thing for a tourism-driven economy like ours. However, it also causes some consternation from a guest service standpoint. We take great pride in providing high levels of service to our guests, and that’s harder to do when facing the double-whammy of record visitation and a workforce shortage leaving many businesses short-staffed.
Solutions to the workforce challenges are underway — with housing and workforce training at the top of the list, a concerted effort to address transportation challenges, and with our cost-of-living drivers such as health insurance and early childhood being worked on as well. These are all long-term efforts that won’t have an impact on the current season.
So, what can we do as a community? I propose the admittedly simple “three thank-you’s” as a starting point. Inspired by Al White, a former Colorado Tourism Office director and state senator, the idea is for all locals to take a moment to thank people every day.
While “three thank-you’s” won’t solve our workforce challenges and won’t address our housing problems, it just might make a difference in someone’s day, and it just might help mitigate the customer service challenges we are sure to face due to a shortage of workforce.
More and more, people are stressed and distressed. That leads to a general lack of patience — especially when on vacation. Offering a “thank you for visiting our community” to a guest on a chairlift, saying “thank you for being patient — we’re seeing the same workforce challenges you have at home,” or sharing a “thank you for your service” to a bus driver or barista isn’t a replacement for guest service training or investing in workforce programs.
However, offering “three thank-you’s” every day to guests, frontline staff and others is a simple and effective way to recognize people and create goodwill. I not only encourage you to embrace the idea of “three thank-you’s” and incorporate it into your daily activity, but I also thank you in advance for doing so.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at VailValleyPartnership.com.