Lodging occupancy slipped slightly this winter | AspenTimes.com

Lodging occupancy slipped slightly this winter

Staff report
People enjoy the sunshine on the top of Aspen Mountain. This summer so far is looking soft in lodging numbers.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

Winter lodging occupancy for Aspen and Snowmass slipped slightly this past winter compared to the previous ski season, according to Destrimetrics, which tracks booking data across resort communities.

A report that is part of a collaboration among the Aspen Skiing Co., the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, and Snowmass Tourism, shows the following:

April: April occupancy began the month flat to last year and, by picking up solid last-minute reservations, ending the month at 33.5% and beating last year by 1.2%.

The increase was due to Snowmass being up 11% over last year, achieving 29.6%. Aspen eclipsed Snowmass’s occupancy but underperformed last year by 4.5%, achieving 37.8% occupancy below last year’s 39.6%.  

May: May began the month pacing 14.3%, which is 17.8% behind last year’s 17.4%.  

Winter (Nov-Apr): Winter ended the season at 58.5% occupancy vs. last season’s’ 60.2%, down 2.9%.

Recapping month by month lodge occupancy percentage performance in Aspen and Snowmass.

When comparing each town’s performance year over year, it’s important to tourism officials to focus on total rooms occupied vs. the monthly occupancy percent change.

Snowmass is down 6% in occupancy percentage but actually rented nearly 5% more rooms this year than last.

Conversely, Aspen registers as flat in occupancy percent change but occupied roughly 5% fewer rooms this winter than last.

In total, the community occupied 2,000 fewer room nights year over year. The comp set overall reports relatively flat year over year in both percent change and total rooms booked. 

January’s performance was a standout and proved to make the biggest difference this winter. January was buoyed by the return of normal visitation volumes from international guests, led by Australia and Brazil, the return of an audience-fueled X Games Aspen, a record-breaking Gay Ski Week, and other solid group business booked throughout the month.

The months that were down struggled to retain the solid domestic skier base Aspen and Snowmass had gained during the COVID years, when most domestic skiers stayed within the United States for their holidays. 

From Bill Tomcich regarding winter air performance: When measuring cumulative winter months (December-April) actual outbound enplanements, the 2023/23 winter season wasn’t a record, but it did beat the winter prior. Here are a few key metrics of how this past winter fared by the numbers: 

  • Dec.-April enplanements: 165,899 this winter, up 2.2% over 162,358 enplanements the winter prior (2021/22), but down 3.8% from the record 174,293 enplanements realized during the 2018/19 winter season. 
  • Load factors: 74.8% load factor for the winter was strong did not achieve the record load factors of 76.5% the winter prior. 
  • Why are the total winter numbers up when the calendar year to date numbers are slightly down? It’s all about December. With December added in, total seats flown are up over the winter prior, while total scheduled seats were down slightly. The 12/22 winter experienced many cancellations over the holidays, as some may recall. This winter’s improved reliability in December and January made the difference between overall winter enplanements being up versus down from the winter prior. 

Summer (May-Oct.): Aspen and Snowmass trail last summer by 18.7% and when assessing actual rooms booked year over year (vs. just occupancy percentages), the area is still behind significantly.

They are trailing the comp set of peer ski resorts, as well. In fact, the collective comp set is sitting at 25.4% occupancy. This is unusual for Aspen and Snowmass. The peer resorts are collectively down only 9%.