Skiers line up to board Christie Peak Express on Thursday at Steamboat Ski Area. This year’s first effective lodging forecast shows tourism trends similar to last year’s, predicting a 20 percent occupancy rate Saturday.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Skiers line up to board Christie Peak Express on Thursday at Steamboat Ski Area. This year’s first effective lodging forecast shows tourism trends similar to last year’s, predicting a 20 percent occupancy rate Saturday.

Chamber, Ski Corp. predict lodging occupancy

Forecast calls for rate similar to last year’s

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— The Chamber and Ski Corp. released their first effective occupancy forecast Wednesday, and it shows tourism trends similar to last year’s.

The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. built the new tool to give businesses a better idea of what to expect long range in terms of tourist numbers. The Chamber also released its lodging barometer, which offers a nine-day forecast.

Effective lodging aims to capture more than hotels. The analytical tool provides estimates based on all places people could stay — a friend’s couch or mom’s condo, for example. The inaugural forecast shows those spaces to be about 10 percent full Thursday and closer to 20 percent full this weekend.

That matches the lodging barometer, which forecasts 20 percent occupancy Saturday. That amounts to 3,470 pillows. Lodging is expected to be 11 percent full Wednesday and 23 percent full Dec. 5.

Last year, the barometer showed a lodging forecast of 28 percent for the weekend after Thanksgiving. The actual figure wound up being 35 percent, reflecting 5,330 visitors.

The effective occupancy tool includes a 90-day forecast and a rolling forecast for the ski season. The latter shows visitor numbers are expected to be similar to last year’s. The peaks were higher two years ago, particularly during Easter weekend. Steamboat’s tourist beds were close to 100 percent full at that time two years ago and closer to half full last year, according to the graph.

Sandy Evans Hall, Chamber executive vice president, and Andy Wirth, Ski Corp.’s senior vice president of sales and marketing, noted that the long-range forecast will change throughout time.

“We reserve the right to be wrong,” Wirth said earlier this week.

Evans Hall came to Ski Corp. about six months ago, hoping to find a way to give businesses more planning tools. With a longer forecasting period, businesses can better estimate how many employees and how much inventory they’ll need throughout the season. The Chamber and Ski Corp. built the effective lodging forecasting tool together. It’s scheduled to come out every Wednesday.

All Chamber members were to have received the tool this week, but it then will be made available only to Chamber members above the base level of membership. Evans Hall estimated earlier this week that a base-level membership costs about $275 annually and that an upgrade to receive the new forecasts would cost about $125.

Wirth noted the local economy could benefit from the timing of the Christmas holiday. Dec. 25 is a Friday, and many people travel for their ski vacations the day after Christmas. That will be a Saturday, when Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden offers a fully stocked flight schedule.

American Airlines also has offered additional flights to YVRA for Christmas week, Wirth said.

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