The data is in; the ’10/11 winter season was better for mountain lodging than last year's.
According to recent data released by the Mountain Travel Research Program (MTRiP), destination mountain lodging business was up on most fronts. Overall occupancy for the winter season was up 5.7 percent compared to last season. In addition, average season lodging rates were up 1.5 percent.
The season started with strong numbers but faded as the season progressed, with the exception of strong numbers in March for most destinations. Occupancies were up in five of the six months, with the exception of April. Nightly rates were up four of the six months, with the exceptions of February and April.
"These increases were supported by slow but steady improvements in the overall economy with an appreciative nod to Mother Nature who certainly did her part in most regions," explained Ralf Garrison, director of MTRiP. "MTRiP's lodging results generally track destination guests but are consistent with the skier visit numbers released by the National Ski Area's Association that recently reported 60.1 million skier/rider visits which were also up from last year and close behind the record of 60.5 million visits in 2007-08."
This recent report also included information on the upcoming summer season. Currently, May is up 8.8 percent, while on-the-books occupancy is up 6.6 percent for the next six months with a nightly rate down 0.3 percent.
Key economic indicators for April included that the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up four percent, unemployment was down to nine percent, and the Consumer Confidence Index was up 2.5 percent. On a negative note, there was a dramatic increase in both the Consumer Price Index and the Travel Price Index with both increases attributed to the rise of crude oil.
"For the travel industry, our big concern is that the increase in the TPI means travel inflation has jumped up to 6.9 percent and is dramatically outpacing consumer inflation at 2.7 percent," said Tom Foley, MTRiP analyst. "Despite that important consideration, in recent months we've watched the elements come together to provide a robust foundation for economic recovery with the lead indicators increasing consistently and giving us cause for optimism."