Christmas week good for lodging industry
January 7, 2009
The week after Christmas was a bright spot in Park City’s economic outlook.
For the past several years, Dec. 26 to just after New Year’s Day has been one of the strongest weeks, if not the best, for lodging figures. While overall numbers were still down from 2007, that week didn’t disappoint.
"The snow we got was a powerful message. We all knew with a couple good storms we’d get people exciting about skiing again," said Thomas Cooke, director of marketing for Deer Valley Lodging.
Records kept by the Park City Chamber Bureau had the community down about 20 percent from 2007 prior to Christmas. But from Christmas to Jan. 3 it was only down about 5 to 8 percent. Many hotels reported doing better.
Denise Perkins, director of sales and marketing for Hotel Park City said they were virtually sold out except for a few rooms. Advanced reservations in November had them sold out until some people cancelled.
That was a result of a trend she’s seeing: people taking longer to make decisions and booking less in advance. Last-minute decisions resulted in cancellations around Thanksgiving, and then last-minute bookings almost filled the vacancies again.
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"Obviously we were pleased with the week, though it was slightly down from last year. We were happy to see it was as good as it was," she said.
K.C. Catipon, a desk agent for The Yarrow, said last year was much better, but they were nearly full on several days. The hotel got good business from "walk-ins" looking for rooms close to Main Street. Once the snow fell, reservations started pouring in, she said.
Another example is the Sundance Film Festival. Just over a week away, the hotel is now almost sold out, which is good news, but they used to sell out by October, she said.
Jan Raio, director of sales and marketing at Stein Eriksen Lodge said they were "pleasantly surprised." Historically, she said, all seven days sell out. But this year, four sold out and other three days were at 90 occupancy or above.
"Based on the economy, we’re very pleased," she said.
But an advantage that Stein Eriksen Lodge and Hotel Park City have is a tradition of repeat high-end clients. A little farther out of town, the Best Western Landmark Inn saw some of its worst numbers in 20 years.
Julie Ovard, general manager of the Landmark Inn at Kimball Junction, said it was the first time in two decades they didn’t sell out that week. That said, it was still at 85 percent occupancy and this week the hotel is sold out hosting the Western Regional ski racers.
Michael Strong, assistant general manager for the Holiday Inn Express at Kimball Junction said they also did OK.
"It wasn’t horrible," he said.
Cooke said Deer Valley Lodging was lagging behind goals in December and responded with some last minute specials.
"If a consumer asks what your special is and you don’t have one, they know they have a lot of other options in town," he said.
Specials have been an effective way to generate excitement about staying in town, he said.
"Consumers are savvy," Perkins said.
"People are looking for deals and I don’t blame them for asking."
To sell the second week of Sundance, her hotel is taking measures such as reducing the number of mandatory nights and trying to accommodate expected "walk-ins."