There’s a lot of uncertainty in the COVID-19 era. That’s particularly true in the travel industry.
A Thursday seminar sponsored by the Vail Valley Partnership may provide a bit of clarity, or at least clarify some of our questions.
The webinar will feature presenters from a group called the Insights Collective, a group of travel industry veterans who are volunteering their time and expertise to try to make some sense out of a confusing time.
Insights Collective founder Ralf Garrison said the group works as a data-driven think tank for the tourism industry.
“We respond to questions with fact, if we can find it,” Garrison said. When facts are in short supply, the group responds with “what we think we think,” Garrison said.
What will winter look like?
Insights Collective member Jesse True, a former executive at Copper Mountain, will be a panelist at Thursday’s webinar. True said there isn’t a lot of fact base available right now. Some information is coming from resorts in the Southern Hemisphere. Those resorts, now in their winter season, are working to establish a “comfortable COVID carrying capacity,” True said.
What that looks like, at least now, is planning for a roughly 50% decrease in skier visits. But, True added, Vail Resorts appears to be in a better position than other North American resort operators.
Some of that decline may be reflected in current reluctance to travel.
Collective member Barb Taylor-Carpenter, another Thursday panelist, said the intent to travel is “still pretty low.” But, Taylor-Carpenter added, demand seems to be moving into 2021, with bookings in the U.S. moving roughly seven months out. There’s also growing interest in smaller hotels and condos.
Still, she said, “It’s still a drive market” when it comes to ski areas.
Apart from the introduction and mass use of a vaccine for COVID-19, safety procedures will be important for the travel business.
Taylor-Carpenter said there’s been an uptick in face mask usage in almost all sectors of the travel industry. A more cohesive approach to mask usage could help the industry, she said.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.