New ad campaign expected to help winter tourism keep pace

October 31, 2017

As Jackson approaches winter, occupancy projections have surprisingly fallen behind last year’s. The Travel and Tourism Board, however, believes its recently released “Stay Wild” campaign will bring totals in line with, if not in excess of, last year’s numbers.

Occupancy for October and November was up 3 percent over last year, but as of Oct. 15, occupancy for December is down roughly 3 percent, and the next six months are down nearly 5 percent as compared to last year.

“At this time, the forecast for the winter still trails last year, with the most significant delta occurring in December,” said Anna Olson, executive director of the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce. “This situation is being watched closely by the lodging community and others who are involved in marketing the destination. The JH Travel and Tourism Board have just launched their winter campaign, and it’s close to being 100 percent in the market now.”

According to Kate Sollitt, executive director of the Travel and Tourism Board, its “Stay Wild” campaign has seen positive results since being put into the market Oct. 20. In less than two weeks, its page views have increased by 25 percent, corresponding with a sharp increase in seats purchased on flights into the Jackson Hole Airport.

“December is a little bit off, with 15 percent fewer seats sold,” she said, “but since we’ve launched the ‘Stay Wild’ campaign, we’ve already seen that drop to 13 percent with 94 flight bookings in October, compared to just 13 during the same time last year. I think we’ll be okay this winter and eventually keep pace with last year.”

Part of the reason for occupancy initially lagging behind last year, Sollitt said, is that Christmas falls on a Monday this year, shifting many families’ travel plans to after the holiday. As a result, January occupancy projections are up 6 percent.

“Though consumer confidence dipped in September and job creation declined,” the Chamber’s Destimetrics report reads, “confidence remains very strong relative to recent years ... and the destination travel industry as a whole is strong.”

Last year saw a pre-Christmas dip similar to this year’s lower number, but, thanks to a big early season storm, occupancy outpaced 2015. Another big storm could turn things around.

“Snow sells,” Sollitt said last fall. “People can quickly change their plans in this digital world we live in.”

The Travel and Tourism Board recently approved and subsidized the AMSOIL International Series of Champions Snocross race, to be held at Snow King Mountain Resort on Dec. 8 and 9. The event is meant to drive occupancy during a normally slow season and should level out business in December.