Some early indications that the Front Range market is growing
By Alissa Johnson
March—and with it, spring break—are right around the corner, and all signs indicate it’s going to be busy. With Oklahoma and Texas spring breaks happening at the same time, the resort is focusing on maintaining a high level of customer service during the peak of the season.
According to Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) vice president Erica Mueller, March is going to be consistently busy. Mardi Gras lands during the first week, which should bring some increased business levels on the weekends, and March 11 to March 18 is going to be even busier.
“Texas and Oklahoma both share the same spring break week this year and I’m sure many people in town remember what this is like. It will be all hands on deck,” Mueller said.
Throughout the rest of the month, there will be some mid-week group business, and the Front Range spring break falls between March 27 and March 31. Mueller also expects weekend business to be busy throughout the rest of the year.
In her report to the Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce, Mueller wrote, “Here at the resort we are focused on our guest service and training for that last push of the season. It is during these times that we all start to get tired, while we have increased visitation so it is important to motivate and encourage everyone to continue the great guest service that we have been providing.”
Mueller noted that the resort is currently scoring 82 percent in terms of guest likelihood to recommend the resort compared to 70 percent throughout CBMR’s competitive set. And she encouraged chamber members to focus on guest services, too.
“Many of our guests don’t distinguish between CBMR, other businesses or even downtown businesses. They tend to establish their opinions on Crested Butte from their entire experience, so let’s do everything we can do continue to wow them all!” Mueller wrote.
As for some community chatter that more visitors are coming from the Front Range—some discussion at the Mt. Crested Butte Town Council focused on whether the resort was becoming a drive market—Mueller said it’s a little early to say just how much that part of the market is growing. It will be easier to assess with end-of-the year data.
That said, looking at lodging, Mueller said that the Denver market appears to be up 8.6 percent and the Colorado Springs market appears to be up 61 percent. The resort attributes the latter to a successful Military Appreciation Month in January. In addition, the resort saw an increase in visitation from the Rocky Mountain Super Pass Plus during January and has seen increased visitation on weekends overall, which could speak to that Front Range market.
Since the 2013-2014 winter, the resort has gone from seeing 55 percent of its business on weekends and holiday time periods to 61 percent. Mueller noted that overall skier visitation has grown at about that pace, but weekend/holiday visitation is outpacing Monday through Friday visitation. She emphasized that the full picture won’t be clear until after the season.
“Are we up in the Front Range market here in Crested Butte? I would confidently say, yes we are. I would also add that while this is great for business levels throughout the community, regional traffic is also more fickle when it comes to weather and commitment of coming to town.
“Front Rangers tend to bring their own skis (less rental/demo demand) and take fewer ski/snowboard lessons than do destination guests. So we can’t get complacent and we still need to focus on our air programs and destination marketing efforts to continue to drive those visitors that book earlier, stay longer, are not as dependent on the weather, don’t just come for the weekend, and are supporting the Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport and the air service program that the RTA and county work so hard to maintain,” Mueller said.
And, of course, as everyone will experience March 11-18 when Texans and Oklahomans descend upon Crested Butte for spring break, it will be hard to deny that many dedicated visitors come from outside of Colorado.