Business Monday: The numbers behind Snowmass tourism
As snow starts to settle in the mountains and temperatures continue to drop, many locals and officials are beginning to shift their focus to the winter season ahead.
Snowmass Tourism Director Rose Abello is one of them. But on a recent afternoon in Town Hall, Abello reflected on the summer tourism season, including what went well, which goals her team has for summer 2020, and how winter and summer business stacks up for the resort town.
“We constantly assess data to see how we are doing, what’s working, what’s not working and what we should do differently,” Abello said.
About half of the town’s annual revenue comes from sales, lodging and real estate transfer tax collections, with a large chunk going toward town marketing strategies.
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Between 2017 and 2018, the town’s 3.6% collection of county sales tax revenue increased by over $270,000, or roughly 7%, and the Snowmass Village 3.5% sales tax revenue increased by over $600,000, or nearly 9%. There also was an $80,000 increase, or 4%, in the town’s 2.4% lodging tax revenue.
Over the 2019 budget year, town officials project an 8.9% increase in county sales tax revenue — which amount to more than local sales tax gains — an 11.46% increase in town sales tax revenue and a 10.01% increase in lodging tax revenue.
That’s why the tourism department’s mission is to support the town’s economy through activities, events and programs that attract visitors and their wallets to the village.
“Snowmass Village aspires to be the leading multi-season, family-oriented, inclusive mountain resort community,” the Snowmass Tourism department’s aspiration statement reads. “When successful, Snowmass Village will have achieved the quality of life and economic vitality that will assure our future as a sustainable resort community.”
According to graphs created by DestiMetrics, a company that helps individual businesses and resort towns track occupancy and revenue rates, Snowmass Village saw occupancy increases in July and August from the previous year, but decreases in June and September.
The summer stats show the highest average summer occupancy rates on weekends, namely Saturdays, with lower rates during the week. Town data show sales tax revenue also increased in June, July and August compared with 2018.
A quick look at Snowmass Village’s winter season data shows the town has much higher and consistent occupancy all week long from December to April compared with the summer months, which Abello said drives the types of events the town looks to put on.
“In the summer, we tend to do events that drive overnight visitation, except for the Thursday night concert series,” Abello explained. “In the winter we do some of that, but we also host amenity events for guests when we are super full, not to bring people in but to provide for the people here.”
Roughly 70% to 80% of the available beds in Snowmass Village report to DestiMetrics year after year, Abello explained, allowing the tourism department to look at these ongoing trends in summer and winter, and to help hone in on what marketing and event strategies work for each season.
Another key stakeholder in the success of Snowmass’ summer season is Aspen Skiing Co. According to Jeff Hanle, Skico vice president of communications, the company saw a 10% to 15% increase in its summer business across the mountain from the Lost Forest and Elk Camp to the Snowmass Bike Park.
Hanle mentioned the Farm to Table weekly event and Snowmass Bike Park race series on Tuesdays, and adding Friday to the weekend gondola operation schedule from Labor Day to October as some of the past season’s successes.
“Our summer business across Aspen-Snowmass was up, but Snowmass was up more so than Aspen,” Hanle said. “We hope to continue to gain momentum and our belief is this trajectory will continue as things become more well known.”
Hanle referred to the Lost Forest, which is only 2 years old, and the Snowmass Bike Park, which continues to see new trails and features added.
He also belives the Snowmassive Chase high school and Buffs in Snowmass college mountain biking races, which Skico partnered with Snowmass Tourism to host, only helped promote what Snowmass has to offer.
“Those kind of events help us in the future because those kids say, ‘Wow, look at this awesome trail system,’ and want to come back with their families,” Hanle said. “We hope to see that kind of ripple effect.”
The tourism department hopes to increase its marketing, special events and group sales budgets for 2020, including adding a full-time, seasonal marketing events coordinator specialist.
“Our events team goes nonstop all summer long, and one of our goals is to make our events even better and more effective,” Abello said at the Town Council meeting of the new position and proposed budget increase.
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