Economic forecast: sunny skies and healthy markets
In running the day-to-day aspects of a healthy business, thinking globally may be a hard concept to integrate. When there are new menus to design, a flood of guests coming in a corporate retreat, a small avalanche of papers stacking up on the corner of the desk, most people are not stopping to consider the rising middle class in China or the economic implications of European debt.
But that does not mean businesses should be ignoring these issues, argued Andrew Busch, the keynote speaker for the Park City Chamber/Bureau’s "2013 Economic Forecast Luncheon."
Instead, keeping on top of these issues is the key, an often forgotten piece of information that could lead to new business, especially in communities such as Park City that rely on investors, second-home buyers and vacationers from across the globe.
"Guess what? The stock market is up," Busch said to a crowded banquet hall of chamber members this week. "And that is not just nationally, but globally. From the beginning of December to now, Japan’s stock market is up close to 30 percent in two months. In Shanghai, there is something very similar happening, and typically when a year starts strong it continues."
Based in Chicago, Busch is a recognized expert on the world financial markets working with BMO Capital Markets, providing analysis on public policy issues for China, Europe and the United States, and offering consultation with U.S. Department of the Treasury and Congress staff members on economic, financial market and tax issues.
"In a lot of ways, these speakers validate the issues you think are out there," said Bill Malone, the President and CEO of the PCCB. "Then, you can try to take that into context and ask how this impacts Park City.
" It was interesting to hear what he had to say, especially the positive outlook for those in our customer base. We know the stock market has a correlation to the visitor numbers here."
In his presentation, Busch covered three major points as part of his economic forecast in the coming year: that the United States will slowly grow jobs; that China is expanding its consumer market; and that the European Debt Crisis is still going to play a significant role in the global market. While those ideas sound lofty something more likely to be expressed on his CNBC show "Money in Motion" rather than to a resort town made up mostly of restaurants, lodging properties and ski runs Busch attempted to localize the big picture ideas. From employers tackling the impending rise in health care costs to the untapped tourism markets abroad, the global market matters to Park City, he said.
"Keeping the global picture in mind is so important," Busch said. "China is a perfect example. The growth of the middle class there is so enormous, so rapid, and those people want to travel. For Park City, the wealthy in China are already interested in coming here. When I look at businesses, this is a strategy that is often completely undeveloped. If it were me, I would be trying to find travel agencies in China, overseas partners that could help navigate tourists to this town."
"Clearly there is a business opportunity," he added, "and that is just one example."
In actual application, Busch made note of the record-breaking numbers of flights arriving at the San Francisco International Airport, a prime location to launch additional marketing campaigns.
"With business travel, one trend has been the non-loyalty of that travel, how they are going for the best deal," Busch said. "If you are a Marriott, a Hyatt, you should not expect any loyalty. You need to provide specials, provide an environment that will entice them to choose your property. Business spending is already down with these types of getaways, so it’s important to make it attractive."
Parkites were excited about the overall message, one of growth and economic recovery after years of headlines declaring the strength and magnitude of the national recession.
"It is nice to hear optimism for a change, with the fiscal cliff and the politics of the fall, that pessimism that came with it," said Andy Beerman, a City Councilmember and owner of the Treasure Mountain Inn. "Park City, even though we are insulated to some extent, is still tied to the national economy. What comes to this community is discretionary spending, people buying homes or vacationing, which is money they do not have to spend. To see a positive national trend, it seems like we will see some growth here, and that is encouraging."
Alison Butz, the Executive Director of the Historic Park City Alliance, agreed with the sentiment.
"It is good to know about what other markets are doing," she said. "It sounded positive overall for the global economy, and that could only benefit Park City."
"We cater to international tourists, and that is on top of the high quality of domestic tourists we pull in," she added. "It is important to know these issues, how it could impact us."
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The Park City Chamber/Bureau on Tuesday honored Bob Wheaton, the longtime leader of Deer Valley Resort, with its annual Myles Rademan Spirit of Hospitality Award. Wheaton joins a long list of prominent Park City figures who have won the award.