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Ideas
On full parking lots, hunger for the outdoors, and midweek skiers.

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GREGG
BLANCHARD
       

Quick note, I’ll be talking about supply, demand, products, and more with my good friend Kurt Kischerf today at 12:00pm MDT at part of the Inntopia Kitchen Table series.

Today is May 19. A week before memorial day. Kids are still “in” school. Summer weather is still a few weeks away. The water in the lakes is still cold. The beaches still breezy and cool.

Yet at the reservoir between Snowbasin and Powder Mountain, parking lots have been packed.

On Wednesdays.

And Thursdays.

No matter what day you wander through this valley, it tends to look more like the 4th of July than it does the 4th of May.

Utah
Two and a half weeks ago Utah went from “Red” to “Orange” on their Coronavirus restriction scale. A few days ago, they went from “Orange” to “Yellow”. As restrictions have eased – and, let’s be honest, long before – people have been flocking outside in Utah in numbers I have never seen before. And it’s not just the reservoir:

  • A trailhead near our home was packed with tents and campers when we went hiking on a Tuesday evening.
  • The road to Snowbasin on Saturday was as busy as a powder day.
  • Parking lots that had never seen more than a few cars, and consistently filling up.
  • Campgrounds are filling up on Thursday evenings despite overnight temperatures dropping into the 20s.

There are a few explanations for this – restrictions on typical indoor recreation (theaters, shopping, etc.) among them – but my mind comes to a possible conclusion over and over again:

“Folks are hungrier than ever for the outdoors.”

Again, there are lots of reason for this including research that supports being outside as a low-risk location for catching COVID-19.

Midweek
I’ll wrap this up with a though that came up when I was texting Alex Moser earlier this week: midweek.

If folks have more work flexibility, if they have this hunger to get outside, if being outside is safer, if capacity comes into play on the weekends for your resort, is there something we can do to overcome the economic and unemployment trends to reduce weekend compression and get more folks to come Monday-Friday?

I don’t know.

I hope there’s a way. Part of me believes there is a way even though I can’t clearly see the path between here and there.

But so much of what I – and we collectively – are doing right now is just exploring what could be and getting the wheels turning on a few possibilities just in case one of them turns out to be close enough to “right” to matter.


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