Occupancy rates for summer so far are tracking well below last year for Snowmass and other mountain towns, tourism leaders said.
“We’re really seeing industry-wide that summer is pacing behind,” said Virginia McNellis, Snowmass Tourism marketing director, who presented the monthly business outlook update this week in place of Snowmass Tourism Director Rose Abello.
“One of the things we’re noticing is that occupancy, depending on the month, is pacing 26% behind (in July), 34% in August,” McNellis said.
On the other hand, September and June occupancy as of March 31 are closer to where last year’s numbers were at this point. June occupancy is pacing 2% behind last year, and September is pacing 9% behind.
“There are definitely some strengths and weaknesses. What we’re seeing in the summer occupancy is rate is holding strong and even increasing,” she said. “I think what we’re seeing in the mountain industry is that consumer price resistance.”
The average daily rate for the summer is well above last summer’s average daily rate.
Snowmass Tourism/Courtesy image
While occupancy may be trending down from last year, the average daily rate (ADR) is higher than last year. McNellis said for the next six months, occupancy is pacing down 16% year over year, but (average daily) rate is up 22%.
Group Sales Director Drew Welsheimer said the first quarter this year, ended March 31, was the highest producing Q1 for room nights since tracking began in 2012.
“The story is we are basically back from COVID. We’re seeing the demand come back. We’re seeing the production come back, and that’s really accentuated by what we’re seeing in lead production,” he said.
Lead is the time between when a customer makes a reservation and the customers actually arrival at the hotel. According to him, Q1 was also the highest lead-producing quarter since tracking was implemented in 2012.
Snowmass Tourism’s summer campaigns launched April 1 and are focused on the “fly” markets, which includes markets that have nonstop flights into Aspen such as San Francisco, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, and Los Angeles, as well as markets in Miami, New York, San Diego, and the Front Range, McNellis said. The “drive” market campaigns will launch later in May.
“We really did focus on families in particular in the early April messaging, where they really need to get their summer planned out,” she said. “We’re layering in the drive markets in May. They’re always highly-targeted audiences we speak to, and we make sure it’s exactly the right person.”
She added they are building on the success of last summer’s campaigns in terms of the messaging, as well as building out new messages based on what they learned from last year.
Fly Aspen Snowmass consultant Bill Tomcich did not attend Wednesday’s Tourism Talk, but McNellis shared a few messages from him.
There will be 19 daily nonstops from seven cities on American and United this summer.
Snowmass Tourism/Courtesy image
Between American and United, there will be 19 daily nonstops from seven cities throughout the summer.
“It’s actually a slight boost in terms of seat capacity,” she said.
The seat capacity for this summer is 3.8% higher than last summer’s capacity. At the March Tourism Talk, Tomcich said this summer’s flight schedule will be similar to last year’s, with the addition of a daily flight from Austin.
Additionally, the airport will be closed May 10-24 for construction work. During that time, United has boosted its Eagle/Denver service using a CRJ700, and the crew that would normally be assigned to Aspen during that time period, McNellis said.
“They have boosted it to make sure that we can get in and out of the Valley just fine during that time period,” she said.
To reach Audrey Ryan, email her at [email protected].
By: Audrey Ryan | The Aspen Times \ April 20, 2023