The Impact of Sundance 2020 on Park City's Vacation Rentals

January 27, 2020

The Sundance Film Festival, held annually in Northern Utah, is the largest independent film festival in the United States. Screenings and events take place across Salt Lake City, Park City, and the Sundance Resort. Many visitors choose to stay in Park City, turning the popular ski destination into a hub for cinema.

Vacation rentals in the Park City area have higher occupancy rates during the festival than most other weekends in January and February. During Sundance 2020 (January 24 - February 2), the adjusted paid occupancy rate (which excludes owner stays and maintenance holds from available days) for vacation rentals is currently at 59%. This is 2% higher than last year as of the same date and can be expected to rise a few more points with last-minute bookings. 

Although adjusted paid occupancy shows a year over year improvement in the market, other numbers highlight more nuance in the occupancy rates. Of Park City’s vacation rentals, 28% are single-family houses and 47% are condos. This is common in ski destinations - the occupancy rate for condos in Park City is typically higher than homes (about 9% higher in 2019). During Sundance, this difference is more pronounced; adjusted paid occupancy is 52% for houses and 71% for condos during Sundance 2020. When compared to last year’s festival, adjusted paid occupancy for Park City’s rentals shows a 9% decrease in for houses and a 15% increase for condos.

Occupancy rates are also substantially different between the two weekends of the film festival. This year, the adjusted paid occupancy rate is 89% for the first weekend and 56% for the second. The first weekend’s rate is 5% higher than last year, but the rate for the second weekend is 1% lower. The occupancy rate for the second weekend will likely rise a few points with last-minute bookings, but will not match the rate of the first weekend.

Also of note, the average booking window for stays during Sundance is seven days shorter this year than in 2019. So far, the average renter booked their accommodations 73 days ahead of check-in for Sundance 2020, compared to 80 days as of the same date 2019. The final booking window last year was 73 days, so we can expect last-minute rentals come into play again this year, making the 2020 booking window even smaller.

Park City’s vacation rental performance during the Sundance Film Festival shows the importance of diving into the data, instead of only considering overall rates. This is especially true around large events when rental activity is different from the rest of the season. Key Data makes it easy to explore these nuances and gain insight into market performance during your destination’s biggest events.

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