Summer tourism in Park City continues to sizzle even as other mountain towns slip |

Summer tourism in Park City continues to sizzle even as other mountain towns slip

Crowds packed Park City last month for the annual Fourth of July festivities on Main Street. Occupancy rates have climbed this summer, even as other mountain resort towns in the West see falling visitation.
Park Record file photo

Bill Malone, president and CEO of the Park City Chamber/Bureau, has some information for Parkites under the impression it’s been a particularly busy summer in town: Their eyes do not deceive them.

After a banner ski season, summer visitation is also trending upward, with occupancy rates from May through July this year besting numbers from 2018, according to data from the Chamber/Bureau. Occupancy was up 7% in May, 2% in June and 4% in July, the busiest month of the summer in Park City.

Malone said the steady increase was encouraging, attributing it to the town’s diverse summertime offerings, which draw visitors from within Utah as well as from other states.

“We’ve been able to do that just because of the product,” he said. “When I say product, I mean both the accommodations that are offered, as well as the activities that are offered here. And that ranges from everything from golf and fly fishing and mountain biking to events.”

With the occupancy boost, Park City’s summer has contrasted with many other resort towns in the West that have experienced a decline in tourism in recent months after years of summer gains. According to Inntopia, a firm that tracks lodging performance at 18 resort destinations, including Park City, summer occupancy among all the locations was down 2.3% as of July 31.

Tom Foley, senior vice president of business operations and analytics for Inntopia, said in a press release last month that the declines are slight but symptomatic of lodging rate increases that stemmed from high demand for summer mountain recreation.

“Those rising rates are starting to lower demand,” he said, “and while properties have been able to maintain and raise rates thus far, occupancy is continuing to slide and it will be interesting to see how properties strike the balance between maintaining visitors and revenues for the remaining summer months.”

Malone notes that lodging rates have increased here, as well — by 5.8% this summer. But a major factor that sets Park City apart from several of the other destinations Inntopia tracks is its strong business tourism market. In recent years, roughly half of overnight visitors in the summer have been group and business travelers in town for meetings or conventions.

Having properties capable of hosting conventions and retreats is a big advantage, Malone said, and one many resort towns, such as Jackson in Wyoming and Breckenridge and Steamboat Springs in Colorado, lack.

“When 50% of your business in the summer is meeting- and corporate group-related, you’re booking that stuff two years in advance,” Malone said. “Not like a leisure guest that says, ‘Oh, the forecast doesn’t look good for this weekend.’”

Lodging properties aren’t the only ones reaping the benefits from the business travelers, though. Those visitors typically do not pay for their own airfare or accommodations, meaning they have plenty of money to spend at shops and restaurants.

“They may have a propensity to order larger when they’re out or buy gifts or buy art, things like that, while they’re here,” Malone said.

New slogan, same message

This year will be the last for the Chamber/Bureau’s “Yes. All That” summer digital marketing campaign that seeks to highlight the diversity of Park City’s offerings in the warm months.

Targeting coastal markets such as California and New York as well as large, fast-growing metro areas like Denver, Phoenix, Dallas and Chicago, the campaign has been a success since it was introduced in 2016, clearing up misconceptions some would-be visitors held about what, exactly, there is to do in Park City, Malone said.

Next summer, a new slogan will accompany the Chamber/Bureau’s marketing efforts: “You’re on the right trail.” The tagline is meant to highlight the fact visitors can find whatever kind of experience they’re after in Park City, Malone said.

“It’s in many respects the same message that we’ve had with the “Yes. All That,” Malone said. “It’s just freshening up the message.”

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