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Hotel bookings lag behind last year for holidays, so far

November 27, 2018

Hotel bookings for December are running behind last December’s, but January reservations are ahead, according to the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce’s latest Destimetrics occupancy report.

The report compares bookings for about a dozen properties as of Nov. 15 with data for that day in 2017.

The report shows occupancy on the books and is not intended as a forecast. The big predictor of hotel business is snowfall.

“It’s a little bit of a slower start in December, for sure,” said Cory Carlson, director of marketing for Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole. “There’s good early snow everywhere.”

Though the Christmas to New Year’s period generally does well regardless, other dates are dependent on snow, Carlson said.

Last January “was crazy how much we had and how little others had,” he said.

For Dec. 1, the Chamber of Commerce report shows 16 percent occupancy, compared with 21 percent a year ago.

Occupancy on the books for Dec. 19 is 24 percent, versus 39 percent in 2017.

On Christmas Day, the occupancy on the books is 51 percent, 13 percentage points below 2017. But on Jan. 1, the occupancy figure is 63 percent, well above the 47 percent seen in 2017. On Jan. 10, it’s 42 percent versus 35 percent.

Individual properties, however, have their own stories.

“Our December is actually pacing better than last year at the same time,” said Spencer Long, sales manager at Mountain Modern Motel.

The motel, formerly the Painted Buffalo Inn, was still fairly new on the scene last fall, and “we’ve been more proactive in our marketing this year,” he said.

“That and great early season snow conditions contribute to our positive numbers for the upcoming holidays,” he said.

Last winter, the motel sold out for Dec. 28 through Jan. 1.

In fact, the Destrimetrics report said actual occupancy for 15 properties on Christmas 2017 was around 80 percent.

Long said properties in downtown Jackson tend to be booked later than properties in Teton Village.

“We see a 30-plus-day booking window in the town of Jackson, where the Village properties are more like a 90-plus-day booking window,” said.

Christmas falls on a Tuesday this year, which, because of school schedules, makes for a longer holiday season and could boost January numbers.

“That prime week has extended this year to around the 5th of January,” Carlson said.

At The Wort Hotel, General Manager Jim Waldrop said occupancy on the books is ahead of last year — a record year — by small margins.

“December, January and February appear to be coming together nicely,” Waldrop said. “March is still up in the air, but that’s typically the way March works.”

The recent dump of snow is helping.

“We’ve seen steady growth since Nov. 15,” Waldrop said. “Absolutely the snow chasers see this amount of snowfall and an opening such as the mountain resort just had, and that absolutely makes the phones throughout the destination ring.”

The Four Seasons’ Carlson is also upbeat.

“The snapshot for winter in general is very, very positive,” he said. “We’re able to look at our pace into March and early April. We feel very comfortable this year, providing Mother Nature cooperates.”

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