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News Big School Break Shifts Point to Significant Impacts on Resort Bookings for 2024/25

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photo of the author Gregg Blanchard

 Jul 2, 2024

As the Inntopia Business Intelligence team pulled their initial set of 2024/25 school break data (the data set that powers School Calendar Explorer), they started to notice some really interesting shifts. I sat down with Tom Foley to discuss what these dynamics mean for travel professionals who are looking to better align their rate and marketing decisions with calendar changes in their key markets this upcoming school year.

Gregg: Tom, let’s jump right in. How big are the shifts in school breaks that you are seeing as we look forward to the 2024/25 school year?

Tom: 2024/25 is going to be one of those school years when breaks have a real impact on when revenue is captured. The shifts we’re seeing are so significant they can move revenue not only between months, but between fiscal years.

Gregg: Where are you seeing the biggest changes and opportunities?

Tom: On the opportunity side, there’s a mid-winter break coming up for 50% of K-12 households this year that simply didn’t exist last year, creating a chance for ‘found’ revenue. But on other parts of the calendar things are moving pretty significantly as fixed-day holidays jump around. The later Thanksgiving is pushing breaks into the first week of December, while a Wednesday Christmas means that just 15% of households are on break the week before the holiday, while last year that number was 70%. That’s 25% of a revenue-critical month where suppliers may not be able to fill rooms or tables, which is particularly important as suppliers try to set the tone for winter or wrap up the calendar year’s revenue..

Gregg: Any other holidays folks should keep an eye on?

Tom: Shifts in other holidays for the year will also have consequences, with breaks around MLK moving and colleges shifting dramatically in the latter part of the season. And while Spring Break and Easter combined to create some of the best compression in memory for March in 2024, those breaks are being widely spread this year, will ramp up and down differently, and have an impact covering a six-week period from mid-March to early May.

Gregg: People who monitor school breaks will know the significance of these shifts, but for everyone else why are these changes such a big deal to resorts and hotels?

Tom: It’s a fact that 80% of households with school age children, K-12 or college, plan their family travel around when the kids are on break, so school holidays are always consequential for the travel industry. Whether you’re a lodging supplier, a restauranteur, a retailer, or even part of the public sector, knowing when those restrictions are and are not in place means that you can take informed, proactive steps to mitigate low traveler supply and capitalize on peak times.

Gregg: Any examples of these dynamics that come to mind?

Tom: A great example is the week before Christmas, which is often a very strong period in the calendar and essentially kicks off a 10 day period with the highest daily revenue of the year. If you know beforehand that the traveler supply line was going to change pretty dramatically over the course of that week or shift to another set of dates, wouldn’t you want to plan your rates ahead to attract into the soft period, while moving staffing and supply plans to the period you know will be a boom time? Of course.

Gregg: Which is why your team puts so much effort into aggregating this data and School Calendar Explorer?

Tom: Exactly, and it’s not just about rate and revenue capture; it’s a tool for your whole operation. School break data is a crystal ball into staffing, provisioning, transportation, public safety, infrastructure…the list goes on.

Gregg: Obviously not all schools have set their calendars for the year. Based on previous years, what do you expect to see as we fill out the data set later in the summer?

Tom: While the majority of schools have their calendar out – and we’ve captured a strong majority of that data – school breaks are dynamic. They shift and move throughout the year. Snow days can extend a school year; hurricane season can mean that scheduled breaks are shortened or canceled altogether. And these aren’t small one-off changes. They can impact major urban centers and whole regions, changing that anticipated traveler ‘supply line’ in ways we can’t foresee.

Gregg: What has your team done to help travel providers get ahead of that?

Tom: These changes were the reason we decided three years ago to add regularly scheduled updates to the School Calendar Explorer data. When there are major events like hurricanes or severe winter storms that can cause changes, our team is on it – checking for updates when these events occur and making sure that our subscribers are notified when changes happen so they can take the necessary steps to anticipate ‘supply line’ disruption.

NOTE: This initial batch of data is now available to School Calendar Explorer subscribers. Learn more and sign up for access at the link below:

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