December a down month for lodging |

December a down month for lodging

It wasn’t surprising to hear that December reservations through the 800-AT-TAHOE central reservations system were down.

Members of the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association who heard the report on Thursday already knew that a lack of snow, Y2K fears and reluctance to pay high prices kept visitors away from South Shore for what is normally a prosperous month.

What was surprising is how dismal the numbers sounded, especially when compared to a stellar December the previous year when Mother Nature had deeply blanketed the ski slopes by Thanksgiving.

According to Cindy Armitage, property liaison for the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association which manages the 800 number for the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, call volume, at 9,580, was down 51 percent compared to December 1998, when agents received 19,424 calls.

The association made 761 reservations, a decrease of 29 percent.

That’s compared to 1,075 reservations in December 1998, which was way up from 640 in 1997.

“December numbers overall are at least over (1997) numbers,” LTVA Director Terry LeBan told the association.

In other numbers, 936 room nights were reserved for a 46 percent decrease over the previous year; revenue at $346,000 decreased by 43 percent.

For the fiscal year-to-date, which began in July for the association, call volume decreased 43 percent, reservations decreased 19 percent, room nights decreased 9 percent and revenue decreased 15 percent.

“Thanks to the snow (that fell recently) phones are starting to ring again,” Armitage said.

Despite low call volume, the conversion rate at 9 percent improved 1 percent over 1998. The abandonment rate – the percentage of callers who hang up before talking to an agent – was only 0.5 percent compared to 21 percent last year.

The central reservations program includes only lodging properties that choose to participate in the program.

Such telephone reservations systems nationwide are being impacted by an increasing number of visitors who make reservations over the Internet or call properties directly.

LTVA advertising promotes the 800-AT-TAHOE number as well as its Internet site for those wanting more information or to make reservations.

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