Q: How much longer do out-of-state guests lodge at resorts compared to locals?

July 31st, 2012

It’s been said over and over again that destination guests stay longer than local guests. That drivers book fewer nights that flyers. But how much? With a handful of variables going into what might be a local or not local, we decided to simplify the question a bit: how long do out-of-state guests lodge compared to in-staters?

The Goods
We couldn’t use just any set of resorts for this analysis because an East-coast mountain that is a two-hour drive from three other states won’t provide the same meaning as a resort in the Rockies where the next state is a day’s drive away. We found 8 resorts that each had at least a 3 hour drive to the nearest state border (or the first significant metro area within that state).

We wanted to include more typical guests so we limited the length-of-stay to 14 days. What we found is that for this sample, on average, guests that are coming from the same state only stayed 2.35 nights at the resorts. Guests that come from out of state stayed 3.94 nights, more than a night and a half longer.

The smallest difference a resort saw was out-of-state guests staying 0.9 days more than in-staters. On the high end, one resort;s out-of-state guests stayed more than 2.5 nights longer.

Why This Matters
Perhaps the most common lodging-related offer that resorts promote is a “stay ___-days, get 1 free” (also phrased as “___ days for the price of ____”). When you know the habits of different types of guests, you can shape the offer like a carrot on a string to entice guests to stay a little bit longer than the average.

If locals average 2.5 nights, you can use offers to encourage 3 night stays. On the flip side, if your offers are for 3-night stays but the average demographic that is reaching actually stays 4+ nights, your offers could actually hurt the average length of stay for your guests.

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Who is Ryan and what are his solutions?

A fine question indeed.

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