By Allen Best
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – Bookings for ski vacations continue to be well ahead of last year’s pace in Steamboat Springs.
Bob Milne, whose company manages 875 units, reports phone call volume of 30 per cent and bookings of 20 per cent ahead of last year. He tells the Steamboat Pilot & Today that a 10 per cent increase over last year will be realistic when all is said and done. Milne also reports an increase in visitor days, up to 5.7 days per visit, compared to 5.5 days last year.
His report jibes with others from elsewhere in Steamboat Springs, which had uncommonly good snow early last year. Both trends — earlier bookings and longer stays — are also in synch with what is being reported elsewhere in the ski industry this year in Colorado, and the travel industry even more generally.
Steamboat also is benefiting from an expanded program of direct flights that was announced last spring. The number of booked passengers is up 7.8 per cent compared to last year, and 20 per cent ahead of two years ago.
Jackson feels labour pinch
JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – One bagel shop in Jackson is closing on weekends until December, due to a labour shortage. At the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, the annual job fair this year attracted 10 per cent fewer applicants. And the Jackson Hole News & Guide help-wanted listings have thickened to seven pages.
All these are indicative of a tightening labour market in Jackson Hole that concerns business officials.
“There are real concerns that are starting to become apparent on quantity and quality of work force,” said Tim O’Donoghue, executive director of the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce. “It’s anecdotal, but the concerns are growing. The trend is not a good one.”
Various causes of the shortage are cited. Outlying communities west of Teton Pass, where many workers live, are starting to generate their own jobs. The energy boom is offering better paying jobs. And the loss of the ski area’s tram had reduced the luster of a ski pass that is the general inducement for many low-paying service jobs.
Scott Horn, vice president of human resources at the ski area, said the largest story is the general economy.
“When the economy gets difficult, our hiring gets better. The economy is doing fairly well now, so I’m not surprised that we’re struggling a little bit with applicants,” Horn told the newspaper. The company is hiring 20 winter employees from South American as part of its first international recruiting effort.