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Lodging reports take turn for better

Gina Barker, The Park Record

Christmas lodging numbers seemed to take a dive leading into the holidays, according to numbers collected by the Park City Chamber/Visitors Bureau, a 33 percent drop in the number of guests in town the week before Christmas compared to the same time in 2011. But numbers can be deceiving, said Bill Malone, the Chamber/Bureau President and CEO.

Thought numbers were down the week leading into Christmas, numbers were dramatically up the following week. With a 15.9 percent bump in the number of guests from Dec. 20 to Jan. 5, Malone said he anticipated an uptick in the lodging report due to the days Christmas and New Year’s fell on this year.

"If you take in the whole time frame, from what looks to be Dec. 16 through Jan.5, it appears that we’re slightly behind, but not by any large numbers compared year to year," Malone said. "It was exactly what we predicted, a shift to the later portion of that time frame."

"Obviously, there was a little bit of a snow hangover," he added, "but we got some good snowfall in early December and that came a little late for tourists to react, which is most likely why we are falling somewhat behind early winter lodging numbers from last year."

The weekly lodging report shows the number of heads in beds, or guests staying in town, and from Dec. 16 through Dec. 22, those numbers sank by 33.2 percent from the same time period last year. The 2011 report estimated 89,515 guests staying in town during those days, but this year the chamber is estimating 59,769 guests.

School release dates played a role, Malone said, with most schools not releasing students until the Friday before Christmas. Lodging numbers do pick up slightly as Saturday hits, showing that as people are more able to take a vacation, they are booking. This year, more families are traveling later in the Christmas holidays and into the New Year, he added.

"We limped our way out of last year," Malone said, "and that was because we didn’t have any significant snowfall until Sundance. I’m sure we lost some people at that point, but last year was an abnormality. This is more of a normal year in terms of snowfall."

From Dec. 30 through Jan. 5, the number of estimated guests in town was up by 15.9 percent, a total of 83,580 guests booking rooms. Over the same time period last year from Jan. 1 through Jan. 7, the number of guests in town reached 72,089. The year before, that number reached 71,998.

"I feel good about this season," Malone said. "Sometimes it is about snow, and other times it is about when the snow hits that determines lodging numbers. Everyone in country has snow now, so we’re off and running.

"Now it becomes a market share game."

Television advertisements promoting Park City will begin running in major markets such as New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago Wednesday and more coast-to-coast advertising will begin in a week on cable channels.

"January is always our biggest month for reservations," Malone said, "and we have a great snow message. We are out in the marketplace and I have a feeling we’ll see a good rest of the winter."


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