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Trends Q: After a tough snow year, how did ski vacation bookings compare this summer over last?

photo of the author Gregg Blanchard

Once the lifts stop turning at the resorts (and often even before), eyes are turned toward next season to drive advanced bookings and ticket sales. With the tough snow year of 2011/12 behind us, we took a look at how many people booked their ski vacations during the summer months this year versus last and broke down the results by region. Pretty interesting stuff.

The Goods
To find the answer to this question, we took booking data for the last 8 years from 17 resorts: 7 in the East, 7 in the West, and 3 in the Midwest. Every year, we grabbed all the bookings made April 1 – November 1 for vacations reserved between November 1 – April 1 (the following year).

Instead of only looking at this year versus last year, we also looked at how this year compared to an average over the previous 7 years. Take a look:

The results are interesting and seem to correlate pretty closely to a common denominator: the average snowfall in each area. In the Midewest, where natural snowfall might not be as expected or anticipated, bookings were up, especially versus the 7-year average. In the East, where the mountains are bigger and hopes for powder days may be higher, summer bookings were also up slightly.

On the flip side, the West, known for big mountains and the expectation of deep snow, took a noticeable hit with bookings down 4.8% over last year and 8.5% over the 7-year average.

What This Means
To once again state the obvious: snow matters. And it seems to matter more in some areas than others. A bad snow year in an area that only expects to get 100-150″ like the Midwest isn’t hit nearly as hard as a western resort that averages north of 350″.

In the East, they appear sit right between the two. Averaging 200-250″ of snow, there are scaled down expectations of powder days, but heavy reliance on snowmaking may help to smooth their curve.

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