What You Ought to Know About Destination Leisure Travel...
Dec. 21, 2016
Holiday Reservations Remain Strong Despite Early Slow Start 
Despite concluding a contentious presidential election at the beginning of the month and experiencing atypically warm and dry weather through the middle and end of the month, aggregated winter bookings among participating western mountain resorts from November through April are up 2.7 percent and revenues are up 10.4 percent compared to the same time last year according to the Mountain Market Briefing released yesterday by Denver-based DestiMetrics. However, as of Nov. 30, actual bookings made in November for arrivals during the six winter months were down 7.9 percent compared to bookings made in November 2015 for the same months last winter. 

Source:  DestiMetrics.    
Ski Industry
Ski industry bets on multiresort passes as season gets underway 
As winter-sports enthusiasts prepare to take to the mountains to catch big air on their skis and snowboards, ski hill owners have prepared for the 2016-17 season by taking their cues from the aviation industry.
More than any single improvement at a particular resort, the upcoming winter-sports season will be marked by more North American ski resorts than ever offering their versions of multileg trips and codesharing, both through continuing consolidation and broadening the reach of multiresort season-pass partnerships.   Vail Resorts continues to lead this trend. 

Source:  Travel Weekly. 
Vail CEO Katz Uses Casino Model To Drive Peak Performance 
Like a monk on a mountaintop, Robert Katz is sitting in the Eagle's Nest, a gourmet restaurant high above the quaint faux-Swiss village of Vail, ready to impart wisdom. "If you're a casino you have these very committed, addicted gamblers," the 49-year-old CEO of Vail Resorts says, explaining his business. "Well, we have these very committed, addicted skiers." As with resorts in Las Vegas and Macau, Vail Resorts accumulates enormous amounts of information about its customers and obsessively tracks their activities. On the slopes, for instance, there are radio-chip-equipped lift passes that record which runs skiers take and with whom they ride the lifts. Vail can even send targeted cable-television ads to their TV sets when they are home contemplating next winter's ski season.

Source:  Forbes. 
Making snow ยท Changing the business of winter 
Lake Tahoe is famous for giving skiers and riders more than 300 days of sunshine and more than 400 inches of snowfall, but sometimes there have been winters when all skiers and riders want is more snow. Luckily the 2015-16 winter season dumped enough snow in the region, but the four years before that were some rough seasons. The evolution of snowmaking has been a game changer for Tahoe resorts by giving them more control, better on-snow experiences for their guests and a full winter season of snow without being solely dependent on Mother Nature. If relying on Mother Nature alone, Tahoe resorts may not be able to open until early to mid-December and it's all up to the weather on how long they can stay open.

Source:  Tahoe Weekly.    
Killington crowds leave lasting impact on sport of skiing
Record crowds packed a snow-covered New England mountain venue over Thanksgiving weekend as the International Ski Federation's Audi FIS Ski World Cup returned to the Killington ski resort near Rutland, Vermont for the first time in 25 years. With 30,000 spectators over two days, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) anticipates the event to have a significant long-term sport growth and industry impact.  The engagement of fans was greater than anticipated, comparable to the biggest crowds in the 50-year history of the alpine World Cup tour. The production of an eastern USA World Cup was part of a decade-old strategy by the USSA to grow awareness of alpine ski racing across America with a return to the most densely populated area of ski fans.

Source: Park Record.  
Destination Tourism
Park City Sales Boosted by Australian, Mexican Travelers
Vail Resorts' ( MTN) recent acquisitions - a $1.06 billion purchase of Canada's Whistler Blackcomb and a $136 million buyout of Australia's Perisher - is bringing an increasing amount of international travelers to its U.S. destinations and, somewhat surprisingly, many of those guests are from Mexico.   Not surprisingly, due to the company's EPIC season pass, which can be used at any resort under Vail's umbrella from California to Canada, international travelers at the Park City, Utah, destination are mostly from Australia - as Perisher season pass holders take advantage of the free range, said Park City CEO Bill Malone.  

Source:  The Street.    
Storm boosts Christmas bookings and beyond in Jackson Hole
Having Christmas on Sunday this year greatly slowed early bookings this season - but good snow recently has been a great equalizer.
Because most people did not receive days off from work for Christmas this year, the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce's Destimetrics report, which was released Nov. 30, showed that occupancy rates for Dec. 23, 24, 25 and 26 were all down sharply compared with last year.   But since the end of November the snow gods have dropped over 3 feet of snow on Jackson, causing many to rethink their Christmas plans.  

Source: Jackson Hole News & Guide.    
Vacation Rentals
Watch Out, HomeAway and Airbnb: Here's Why TripAdvisor May Be Your Biggest Competition
When most people book a vacation rental online these days, HomeAway is typically still their first go-to. The company has been the 800-pound gorilla in the online vacation rental market space for almost a decade now since acquiring its chief rival VRBO (arguably the platform that started it all) back in 2006. It's been equally that long since the vacation rental business was a desktop, mom-and-pop enterprise to scrape some extra cash off your ski condo. The global vacation rental market now represents one of the most potentially disruptive forces in global hospitality. 

Source:  Forbes. 
Airbnb Says 1 Million Listings Are Now Available for 'Instant Booking'
When Airbnb came under fire for the discrimination some of its users experienced using its home-sharing service, the company pledged to increase the number of listings available through its "instant booking" feature.  On Thursday, Airbnb said that in December the company reached its goal of having at least one million home listings that can be booked through the feature, which lets guests book a rental without communicating with the host and getting their approval, according to a memo from Airbnb. The company has touted the instant booking feature as one way it can help curb discrimination, because it doesn't give hosts the option of turning down guests.

Source:  Fortune. 
Uber launches new service for rides to Colorado ski hills in High Country
People living or vacationing in Colorado's mountains who need a dependable ride to and from the many ski areas in the state now can take an Uber ride to their hill of choice.
Source:  The Denver Channel - KMGH ABC.  
Winter Park ski train, starting Jan. 7, is already adding capacity
Interest in the resurrected weekend train service between Denver and the Winter Park ski resort, which will make its first run on Jan. 7, is running so high that some weekends are close to selling out and Amtrak is adding more capacity.
The train, dubbed the Winter Park Express, will make a round-trip run between Denver Union Station and the ski area on Saturdays and Sundays between Jan. 7 and March 26, 2017. An additional round trip will be added on  Martin Luther King Day and Presidents Day, both Mondays.

Source:  Denver Business Journal.  
Airline Industry
Next Year is Shaping up to Be Another Good One for Airlines - and Travelers
The airline industry is enjoying a financial tailwind thanks to low oil prices and a bevy of add-on fees for everything from bags to boarding. This is good news for airline executives and stockholders, but it also benefits travelers, delivering cheaper ticket prices and more choice on competitive routes.   In a new report published this week, the International Air Transport Association said global airlines will be in the black again next year, although it predicts a collective profit of $29.8 billion, a fall from this year's $35.6 billion. 

Source:  NBC News. 
Record holiday travel for Utah, Mountain West predicted
Utah and the rest of the Mountain West region will see record-setting travel during the upcoming holidays, the American Automobile Association predicts.
AAA Utah spokeswoman Roylayne Fairclough said Thursday that between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2, some 7.6 million residents of Utah, northern California and Nevada residents will make holiday trips of 50 miles or more.  That represents a 1 percent increase from 7.4 million a year ago, also a record.  "More Mountain West residents will travel to celebrate the holidays than ever before," Fairclough stated. "Rising incomes and a desire to gather with family and friends should make this the most traveled holiday season ever recorded."
Source:  Salt Lake Tribune. 
Trump's election is causing extreme swings in the US economy
After the election of Donald Trump, it appears that various measures of the US economy - from consumer confidence to bond markets to inflation expectations - have zoomed in extreme directions.
The latest example of these extreme reactions in the US economy came from  Friday's University of Michigan consumer confidence survey. While the index jumped to the highest level in almost two years, it also showed that the mood of the country is extremely bifurcated.   From Richard Curtin, the chief economist of the UMich Survey,  in the release:  "When asked what news they had heard of recent economic developments, more consumers spontaneously mentioned the expected positive impact of new economic policies than ever before recorded in the long history of the surveys."

Source:  Business Insider. 
Using DestiMetrics data to tell your destination's story
Some of the best uses of DestiMetrics data can be seen in the media.   Why? Because it's being used to tell a story about a destination's performance, how they fared in the past but mainly about what to expect in the future. 

This may be surprising given the confidential nature of lodging performance data but when discussed with the proper insight and context, the use of data to paint a picture of a destination's outlook for the season can be powerful. It can inform interested parties (local businesses, second homeowners, etc.) of what to expect in numbers of visitors and where the peaks and valleys will fall.  It also gives a destination marketing organization the opportunity to talk about the "why's", "how's" and the "but's" behind their community 's metrics regardless of whether they are under performing or over performing. 

Below are examples of
DestiMetrics client destinations who have successfully crafted "sound bites" from their DestiMetrics reports to inform their community about this winter season's outlook and offer the reasons behind it.  

If your destination could use this kind of data or if you would like to understand how to better  communicate your story, please contact Katie Barnes
"For me, the DestiMetrics data and analysis is "need to know" information, rather than "nice to know", and as such, forms a pivotal role in my sales & marketing decisions. It is ski-industry specific, pulls together all the relevant available data in one package ready for interpretation.  It offers us the ability to conduct comparative analysis and identify trends that might otherwise prove difficult to decipher."
Brian Lence
Former Vice President Sales & Rental Management
Vacations Inc.
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 Volume 83