What You Ought to Know About Destination Mountain Travel...
Feb. 17th 2016
January Booking Pace Picks Up At Western Mountain Destinations
Westin Riverfront Resort Overall business at mountain destinations in the Rocky Mountain and Far West regions received a boost for winter bookings during the month of January lifted by local and regional visitors according to the most recent Mountain Market Briefing released yesterday by Denver-based DestiMetrics.* As of Jan. 31, actual aggregated occupancy from November through April is up 3.4 percent and revenues are up 4.7 percent compared to the same time last winter.  "Although the uptick in business marks a turnaround for many of the destination ski resorts, economic volatility and weather shifts still have the potential to influence the remainder of the season," explains Ralf Garrison, director of DestiMetrics.
Source:  DestiMetrics. 
Ski Industry
Average snowfall may lead to record numbers at Utah ski resorts
Snowbasin Resort Thus far 2015-16 has been a pretty average snow year. It may not seem so in comparison to last year's snowfall, but the 2014-2015 season was among the lowest snowfall seasons on record and the previous year wasn't much better.
In this case, average is good. And, consensus is, if skiers and snowboarders continue visiting Utah's resorts at the current rate during this average winter, this year is on target to hit record numbers.
Ski Utah president Nathan Rafferty said it will all depend "on how things go in February and March, which are typically very good months."

Source:  KSL.com. 
Business booming on New Mexico ski slopes
This season's heavy snow means big business for Ski Santa Fe and other winter resorts in New Mexico. The storms created not only great slopes, but also great tourism revenues as well. "The snow has been, quite frankly, amazing. It's been as good as we've seen in quite a long time, and it just keeps coming," ski area manager Ben Abruzzo said. "I have customers all the time telling me that they just haven't seen snow like this in forever. We're very fortunate. This is one of those seasons you dream about."

 Source:  KOAT Albuqueque. 
Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts Bouncing Back After Years of Drought 
Squaw Valley At this time last year, so little snow had fallen around Lake Tahoe that a nearby golf course opened months earlier than usual, and ski resorts had to make their own powder on runs flanked by bare ground.  But this year, Lake Tahoe is once again a winter wonderland: resorts are enjoying the most snowfall since California's drought began more than four years ago. That is creating a positive ripple effect throughout the picturesque region in the Sierra Nevada.  Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows says it is on track to record more than a million visitors this season, a record.

Source:  The Wall Street Journal. 
The organizers of Big Air at Fenway wanted to bring the mountains to the city. To make it happen, they enlisted the local experts who know the mountains best. "It's our first time working with the winter sports industry at this level, and the regional support has been tremendous," said Fred Olson, Red Sox senior director of special events. "Ever since we announced the event, companies from the area have stepped forward." That meant using an ice supplier from New Bedford, snowmakers and terrain park staff from Killington, a snowmaking company from Natick, and grooming machines from Quebec-based Prinoth.

Source:  The Boston Globe. 
After a January that was filledwith tons of powder for most ski areas in the west, February has been fairly dry. Temperatures in the Tahoe Basin have been 15 degrees above average with nary a snowflake in sight, and in Colorado skiers have used more sunscreen than fat skis in the past week. Meanwhile, in southern California the forecast for Big Bear looks more like spring than the middle of winter. The warm and dry weather have many asking:what happened to the Super El Niņo we've been talking about all winter? Throughout the west this season, the El Niņo hype has been real. The record-breaking weather phenomenon has resulted in better snow coverage than last year, an increase in skiers on the mountain, and even for some ski areas to open for the first time in five years.

Source:  Curbed.com. 
Western ski industry: Balancing resort seasons now a 'mandate'
The resort landscape is always evolving, but that evolution may be headed toward rapid change in the next few years. The pace of that change was one of the central topics of The Assembly, an annual tourism seminar produced by Destimetrics, a Denver-based resort market research and consulting firm, which took place as part of the SnowSports Industries America Snow Show on Jan. 29 in Denver. The biggest change is happening now. Mountain resorts throughout the Rockies and West are faced with what is, ultimately, a good problem: Peak periods have gotten to the point that there are few, if any, traditional lodging units available during those times.

Source:  Sierra Sun. 
Destination Tourism
The lingering strength of the dollar is pinching the flow of international tourists into Colorado. International visits are declining at the state's ski resorts that count on free-spending during longer stays by visitors from afar to bolster the bottom line. "This is not at all unanticipated, with the strong dollar," said Melanie Mills, the president of the Colorado Ski Country trade group. "We've been working in our key international markets for 30-some years, and this is part of the deal with this business. Sometimes our currency is weaker and we benefit, sometimes our currency is stronger and we feel some pain."

Source:  The Denver Post. 
USA Pro Challenge won't race in 2016
Denver Leg Organizers of the race, which would have counted 2016 as its sixth year hosting the world's top cyclists pedaling across the state, need more time to establish a new ownership structure and secure long-term investors. Pushing the race to 2017 gives organizers more time to enlist national sponsors and potentially add new Pro Challenge races across the country.
"What we don't want to do it put a Band-Aid on this. We are going to take a pause and focus," said Shawn Hunter, the longtime chief of the race. "Unless we can pull this off in a manner like we have for the last five years, we think the prudent thing is to hold off and launch in 2017."
Since October, Hunter has led a volunteer team in a search for community and national sponsors for the high-profile race.

Source:  The Denver Post. 
Aspen lodges posted a 63.2 percent occupancy rate in 2015, tops among Colorado ski towns for the year, while the lodges' average daily rate of $413.26 was the state's most expensive. The data, released earlier this week by the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association, indicate Aspen doesn't appear to have a problem filling rooms despite the loftiest rates in the state. "Aspen has a certain image and it has a certain attraction that people will flock to," said Robert Benton of Robert S. Benton & Associates Inc., a Denver-based company that consults the hospitality industry.

Source:  The Aspen Times. 
Mountain Town News
We've been following the affordable housing crisis in ski towns for a while now, whether it's Vail Resorts' recent announcement that the company will spend $30 million on the problem or how tiny homes might be just the thing to save ski towns everywhere. The ski town lifestyle is in danger, and now the problem is getting national attention. In a recent article entitled, "Precipitous Rents in Ski Country Push Workers to Edges," the New York Times documents the challenges of living in powder paradise.

Source: New York Times & Curbed.com. 
Lodging Industry
The Rise of Messaging Services Will Be the Death of Call Centers
Messaging provides a path out of this morass, but like any new tool, adopting a better communications strategy demands an organizational change. Customer communication must be the shared responsibility of the entire team, not an isolated task for contact center agents. Travel brands have concentrated customer interaction in large-scale, off-premise customer contact centers. Whether a hotel, rental car, or other travel brand, customer interactions are handled by agents in places like Omaha or Ireland. What started as call centers handling an 800-number have grown to contact centers encompassing a range of communication channels, including email and social media.

Source:  Skift.com.  
Measuring Airbnb's Real Threat to U.S. Hotels Using Industry Metrics
On the heels of a report about hosts produced by Penn State University for the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA), CBRE Hotels has released a trove of Airbnb data with market-by-market insights into Airbnb's business in the United States that compares Airbnb data to hotel data. Like the AH&LA study, it turned to Airdna to provide insight about occupancy, room rates, and availability on Airbnb. It focused its research into Airbnb because of the company's impact in traditional hotel markets as well as its domination of a competitive set - as measured by Google Trends - that includes VRBO, HomeAway, and FlipKey.

Source:  Skift.com. 
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), global tourism generated $7.6 trillion for the global GDP in 2014, making it one the world's fastest growing and largest sectors. At the heart of this industry's growth is the embrace and enhancement of digital technology. With a heightened consumer expectation for value, service, and personalization, the travel industry needs to understand how to reap profit on the intangible: happiness and fulfillment. Today, there are more opportunities than ever for travelers to connect with brands to plan their journeys, making it easier for companies to engage with customers and win their loyalty - or completely miss the mark.

Source:  Forbes. 
Airline Industry
The average price for domestic airfare dropped 6.2% to $372 in the third quarter of 2015 from 2014, according to the Department of Transportation. That's the cheapest since 2010. Fliers can thank the expansion of low-cost airlines and the plunge in oil prices for the drop in ticket prices. "The major airlines are flying scared and looking over their wing tips at these low-cost carriers that are definitely taking up market share, despite their horrible reputation," said George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com.

Source:  CNN. 
Why Cheap Gas Might Not Be Good For The U.S. Economy
Gas sign Happy times are here again at the gas pump. The price of oil keeps falling, and Americans are filling their tanks for less than $2 a gallon. The government says cheaper gasoline put an extra $100 billion into drivers' wallets last year alone.
That seems like it would be good for the economy. Turns out, it might not be.
"Is it possible that lower oil prices could actually hurt the U.S. economy?" asks Vipin Arora, an economist with the U.S. Energy Information Administration. "I think the answer could be yes."
Arora's findings are based on his own research, so this isn't the government's official word on the matter. But his research suggests that cheap gas might be bad for America.

Source:  NPR. 
If flying over Niagara Falls in a helicopter or coming face to face with a polar bear are experiences on a traveler's bucket list - but not necessarily in their budget - now may be the perfect time to visit Canada. The Canadian dollar - also known as the Loonie - dropped 16 percent against the dollar last year and is now hovering near 71 cents to the U.S. dollar. In January alone, the greenback added more than a percent against the Loonie. That means that U.S. travelers heading north of the border for the extended Valentine's Day/Presidents' Day weekend, or perhaps for the NBA All Star Game (Feb. 12-14) in Toronto will find everything from dining, shopping and lodging to local attractions being offered at a discount of as much as 30 percent.

Source:  CNBC. 
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Mountain Real Estate Stats & News

Interested in the status of real estate markets in mountain resorts/towns in the western US and Canada?  The Western Mountain Resort Alliance (WMRA) produces quarterly and year end transaction statistics from their members, who include the board of relators in Whistler, Sun Valley, Lake Tahoe, Steamboat, Sun Valley, Park City & Jackson Hole.  Click for the most recent WMRA 2015 Year End Stats and 2015 vs. 2014 Comparison Graphs.
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Keystone, CO

Note: If you're planning on attending any of these events and would like to schedule a time to meet, please contact Katie Barnes at kbarnes@destimetrics.com or 
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 Volume 74