Snowbird Season Stable

by Taylor Damonte, Ph.D., Director of the Clay Brittain Jr. Center for Resort Tourism and Gary Loftus, Director, Grant Center for Real Estate and Economic Development, E. Craig Wall Sr. College of Business Administration, Coastal Carolina University

The centers’ researchers define the winter tourist season along South Carolina’s Grand Strand as the 13 weeks between the Thanksgiving holiday and the President’s Day holiday. Defining it this way allows researchers to compare average performance during the same number of weeks containing the same holiday periods each year. There are still some calendar-driven differences across the years; for example, during 2016 and 2018, Jan. 1 fell on a Friday and a Monday, respectively. When a holiday such as New Year’s Day falls on a Friday or a Monday, it creates a three-day weekend opportunity for travelers, impacting tourism business performance.

That being said, average percent occupancy for the centers’ sample of nightly rented hotels, condo-hotels and campground properties declined by 1.1 occupancy points, or 3.6 percent, compared with the winter season last year. Average daily rate for these nightly rentals decreased by 0.7 percent, leading to a 4.3 percent decrease in revenue per available room (RevPAR).

Based on the scientific random samples that center researchers observe of reservations for weekly rented vacation rental properties advertised on the internet, average occupancy in the VRP segment this snowbird season was stable, up by 0.1 occupancy point, or 0.1 percent compared with the equivalent weeks of the previous year. Advertised rental prices declined by 6.6 percent, which would drive revenue per available bedroom down by 6.5 percent compared with the same weeks last year.


If you represent a lodging management company and you would like to become a participant in the centers’ research and receive weekly segment-level results and six-week occupancy forecasts, contact Taylor Damonte,, or Gary Loftus,, at Coastal Carolina University.