Economics

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Ski Resorts Reporting a Blizzard of Economic Impact, Even in the Summer

20 Sep, 2017

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

Fall is moving in and for once, ski resorts aren’t in any rush to see the snow fly. With the off-season (May through October) not even fully over, properties are already reporting revenues up to 90 percent of their entire off-season in 2016, according to an article in Sporting Goods Business Online. And with plenty of events still on the books before winter sets in, that number is on track to blow last year’s out of the water.

Why? Attribute it to the increasing numbers of event owners who know a good thing when they see one. Ski resorts have become the go-to destinations for events like mountain biking, trail running and obstacle racing throughout the summer months. In addition, businesses that use the local waterways for fly fishing, paddle sports and more will also use mountain resorts for accommodations.

Brian Duncanson, vice president of real estate for the Spartan Race, noted in a recent Inside Events article that for his purposes, the events planned at ski resorts often meet with success because they touch on the exact combination of wilderness – and amenities – needed by organizers.

“We have to find something an area that is a little remote. In an ideal world, that would be close to a major metropolitan area; unfortunately, that’s frequently counterintuitive,” Duncanson noted. “All the things we need – the interesting terrain with the hills, the water, the mud, the rocks – it’s all found at ski areas. Then they have the wide open spaces for the post-event festival, large parking areas, plus a lot of places to stay, eat and have fun. They really have everything we need from the event perspective. And these days, to stay in business, ski areas need to operate 12 months of the year so it really works for everyone.”

In addition, organizers say, such towns have built-in infrastructure, including good roads, access to airports and more.

When not in use for sports events, winter resorts have been finding a new appeal to organizers of festivals, including those with live music – something that otherwise might not sit well in a suburban or urban area where residents could be bothered by noise.

And the numbers don’t lie. DestiMetrics, which compiled the figures, based its projections on the data provided by 20 mountain destinations in eight states; this data suggested the growth trend will continue through the remainder of the off-season and into the early winter. Bookings made in the month of July for August arrivals were down a slight 1.9 percent but September bookings are up 3.3 percent, October bookings are up an enormous 71.1 percent, November bookings are up 27.1 percent and December is up 0.4 percent compared to the same time last year. The trend is consistent with the past few summers as September and October continue to significantly outperform the other summer months in a year-over-year comparison.

It could be, notes Tom Foley, vice president of Business Intelligence for Inntopia, that there is pressure on resorts from rent-by-owner options like VRBO or Airbnb; however, there is not a way to measure this at present.

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