Advance flight bookings at Eagle lead to optimism for Vail Valley
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – A recent report showing an increase in early flight bookings at the Eagle County Airport is a good sign to those watching local economic indicators.
Advanced flight bookings for the winter are up 4.5 percent, said Chris Anderson, the airport’s terminal manager. Last year, the airport saw a 3 percent decrease in early bookings from the previous year, so Anderson is excited that early signs look positive.
There’s still room between now and the end of the season for that number to go up or down, Anderson said.
“Hopefully we’ll continue on this trend and continue to see increases in the winter,” he said.
Since the airport’s runway extension, which was finished over the summer, the airport has added a Delta Airlines Detroit flight on Saturdays and added another day of service to Miami.
“It’s great in this economy that we’re adding things and not taking away,” Anderson said.
The Vail Valley Partnership is seeing an increase in lodging bookings, too. Chris Romer, the group’s marketing director, said the Partnership’s lodging bookings are up 20 percent over this time last year. The numbers are primarily based on bookings through vailonsale.com and visitvailvalley.com, he said.
“We’re very happy that we’re up – it certainly beats the alternative,” Romer said.
Kelli McDonald, the town of Vail’s economic development manager, said lodging bookings in town are down about 8.4 percent for November, down 7.4 percent for December and down 4.6 percent for January.
The numbers are through Sept. 30. McDonald said numbers through October should be available next week.
The news isn’t necessarily bad, she said, because the industry as a whole is down a lot more.
Comparably, the lodging industry for western mountain resorts are down 20 percent for November, down 18 percent for December and down 17 percent for January, she said.
“We’re still trending ahead of other resorts,” McDonald said.
McDonald said the lodging business community is hoping to lessen the decline in bookings through last-minute bookings, which have become more and more popular among travelers.
She said she’s heard that condominium properties have seen more bookings and interest in the last few weeks – a good sign because condominiums tend to book earlier than hotels, she said.
Romer said the Partnership is forecasting to be flat with last year, but he’s hoping the numbers will actually turn out better. He said he’s sure the trend of people booking closer to their arrivals will continue.
“People are shopping around for the best deal,” Romer said. “It’s hard to say just yet how it will all play out.”
The most recent information about Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass sales show the pass is selling more than the same time last year – another good sign for the local economy, Romer said.
“We know the guests are shopping for value, now it’s a matter of having good aggressive offers and different offers for different times to capture that guest,” Romer said.
Romer said with social media Web sites like Facebook and Twitter, the message gets out faster about things like heavy snowfall and great deals. Those outlets, combined with town of Vail, Vail Valley-wide and Vail Resorts marketing strategies – like its children fly, stay, ski and ride for free promotion through American Airlines, and the promotion to fly into Eagle nonstop and get a free ski pass good for the arrival day – should be able to produce a better season this year, Romer said.
“I would say I’m cautiously optimistic,” Romer said.
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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