Winter and its weather is critical for the vacation rental and resort mountain markets. Skiers and snowboarders watch the weather the way the surfers watch for hurricanes and a big snow storm encourages them to rush to the slopes at their favorite mountain resort. With colder temperatures the ability to produce snow lengthens the season for the mountain markets which is a close second for many ski resorts. Here we take a look at current trends in the vacation rental and resort mountain markets involving weather and other factors.
As of 2018, what are trends facing the mountain market?
According to Katie Barnes of Inntopia, lack of early snowfall has caused a slowing occupancy in many western mountain resorts. Throughout December 2017, snowfall has been below average for more major resorts.
Viewing the full season from November 2017 to April 2018, Barnes indicates that occupancy has decreased by 0.6%.
However, revenues are up by 4.3% compared to the winter of 2016 to 2017. Tom Foley of Inntopia states that lack of snowfall is a challenge, but is optimistic because “a strong, loyal consumer base coupled with favorable economic conditions is helping lodging properties maintain room rates.”
Yet, Colorado is still currently facing a drop in skier and snowboarder visits -- a 13% drop, in fact. This is due to similar challenges other western resorts face, which is light snow or lack thereof. The Denver Business Journal reported that skier visits were “boosted in late 2015 by heavy late-fall snow.”
Here are some other factors to consider as trends in the Mountain Markets:
Skiing and snowboarding is considered a family activity or at least heavily reliant on a younger demographic. This year, because Christmas fell on a Monday in 2017, winter break for schools were much shorter this year. Therefore, if children, teens, and young adults had a shorter amount of time to do not have ample time to spend with their families, going to mountain resorts is immensely limited, leading to low visits and vacancy.
Moving to a long term trend, the reality is skiing is really expensive. You have to have the right outwear, rent skis and boots, there is an element of planning as you may have to travel up to 100 miles, which requires an expensive overnight stay. With the advent of more opportunities for kids to participate in other winter sports, parents are choosing to spend their money elsewhere like on indoor soccer or Martial Arts. To combat this, smart ski areas are taking the show on the road. Fenway park was the site of a “big air” expo. They put in a bunch of snow, and got folks excited about experiencing the sport for themselves.
Additionally, smart mountains markets are making this more about vacations and not just about skiing. They are building other experiences around their destination, like listening to music, dining and drinking options and other winter activities like snowmobiling. Being able to offer a vacation rental experience drives the purchase of second homes in these markets and the transition of these homes into profitable vacation rentals.
Should there still be a demand in the vacation rental market?
Yes. As of 2018, despite a decreasing visitor rate at the ski slopes, there is an increasing demand for vacation rental management software.
Smart vacation rental companies will offer instant bookings with all the amenities listed on their website that make this the destination for families for entire seasons, weekly rentals or short stays over long weekends. They partner with local activity companies to be able to offer for the full experience for those still wanting to ski for a few hours and then move on to the next activity. By being the expert in their mountain market, vacation rental companies create their own niche by being the “local” expert.
Barefoot has always focused on providing the vacation rental and resort manager the technology toolbox to be able to manage the myriad needs of the winter vacation markets. Instant bookings though your own websites, referral agents or on marketing portals is key. We are the system of record that manages your information and calendars. Couple that with full trust accounting, comprehensive activity management and built in CRM creates the perfect storm of technology. Let us know if you want to have a conversation at firstname.lastname@example.org.