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2010 opportunities presented to businesses

Whistler Chamber hosts buyers representing sponsors, Olympic family

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The Olympics are less than a year away, and some businesses are still figuring out how they can benefit.

The 2010 Commerce Centre and RBC will provide some answers Tuesday, March 31 as they host a panel of representatives involved in purchasing services for Olympic sponsors and the Olympic family during the 2010 Games. The presentation is called Hosting the World - Meet the Buyers.

Whistler will be at capacity for several weeks during the Games, with more than 55,000 people in homes and hotels. As well, thousands more will be making the daily trip from Vancouver to Whistler to watch events.

According to Peter Moore, the director of Olympic operations at SportsMark Management Group Ltd., official Olympic sponsors will have less of a presence in Whistler than they planned because of the costs of accommodation in the resort and the recession. Part of it has to do with companies cutting costs, he said, and part of it has to do with optics - companies don't want to be seen spending money.

However, there are still opportunities for local businesses.

"The majority of sponsors will be staying in the downtown core, and coming up to Whistler on day trips," he said. "They're not just interested in the sport, but in the whole experience, the culture of the cities where the Games are being held. They will dine in Whistler and there's potentially the opportunity that they will do activities in Whistler as well. We'd like them to come away with a taste of the village, and have a chance to walk around.

"It's not just the Olympic Games they're coming for, but the whole Whistler vibe and feel."

This will be Moore's ninth Olympic Games, and he says many of his corporate clients have been involved longer than that. His goal is to create unique experiences.

"Most of the people who come with these (sponsor) programs have seen and done everything so that challenges to create a new experience, something they haven't seen before," he said.

Some sponsors will have a few rooms in Whistler and will want to do things like ski and take tours. But Moore stressed that the majority will be in Vancouver and time will be limited around events.

Grace Malella, the general manager of Vancouver Sportsworld, is one of the buyers working for the Olympic family, including the International Olympic Committee, Vancouver Organizing Committee, national Olympic committees, and international sports organizations like the International Skiing Federation. Many of those representatives will be staying overnight in Whistler, and will be looking for dining, shopping, sightseeing, and recreational opportunities.

Other speakers at the meeting include Barrett Fisher, president and CEO of Tourism Whistler, and Ken Veldman, manager of business connections for the 2010 Commerce Centre.

The information session takes place Tuesday, March 31 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre. The cost is $15 for members and $25 for non-members.

The Whistler Chamber is encouraging Whistler businesses to attend. To register, contact Jaime at 604-932-5922, ext. 25, or events@whistlerchamber.com.

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