I found this recently released report from the Bureau of Labor Stats (BLS) while reading the Uptake Travel Industry blog. The data is quite interesting when taken from a ski resort perspective in that it illustrates how small of a chunk of the average consumer’s paycheck might go to paying for a day on the slopes. Looking at the below chart, the small blue segment indicates how much relative to other travel expenses are available for “entertainment”, it’s not much until you get to the top 20 percent of incomes, and even then it’s still the smallest fraction after transportation, loding and food & beverage:

Average annual travel expenditures as a function of household income

This seems readily apparent that there isn’t a lot of income available for lift tickets, particularly looking at the drop in overall travel expenditures from the top 20 percentile to the 2nd highest percentile – it plummets from $3,718 to $1,459, quite a significant change. The other takeaway I had is how small a percentage of overall household expenditure the average American spends on travel:

Portion of annual household expenditure spent on travel

That percentage is quite tiny at just 3%, and the other thing to make note of is that this is as of 2008, which is a year in which the recessions’ impacts hadn’t been felt much in the travel industry.

What is the takeaway from this report?  In my opinion, it’s that ski resorts should be very cognizant of the available dollars that they are going after with consumers – mainly those in the top 20 percentile of HHI. I’m sure there are opportunities to attract those in the lower quintiles, but the numbers certainly show the best chance is those in the highest, which is something that I’m sure most of us have always been well aware of.