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Feature - Marketing Togther

Strength through numbers



In a post-Sept. 11 world Tourism Whistler and Whistler-Blackcomb have found new efficiencies through working together

Take your basic big mountain skier from, say, Vancouver. Add an against-the-grain boarder from California, a Seattle family on a winter vacation, a couple from Toronto looking to spend a weekend at a spa, and a group of once-a-year skiers from England. It’s a diverse spectrum of people, but somehow they all find what they are looking for in Whistler.

To those who live here or have visited previously, that may not be surprising. But getting the word out to people in California, England, Toronto and Seattle that they can all have the type of vacation they are seeking in Whistler is a more daunting challenge. It involves messaging, partnerships, strategic plans, leveraging dollars – marketing-speak for convincing people around the world that Whistler is where they should spend their time and money.

In the period since Sept. 11, 2001 that challenge has increased. The airline industry has contracted and the economy has slowed. The response, locally, has been a new level of partnership between Whistler’s main marketing forces, Tourism Whistler and Whistler-Blackcomb.

"Last year after 9/11, that was a real turning point in terms of co-operation," says Stuart Rempel, vice president of marketing and sales for Whistler-Blackcomb. "We all realized very quickly we needed to work very closely together, and at the end of the year we ended up having a year that turned out to be quite a success in spite of the situation. We definitely gained market share last year as a resort, and everyone in the resort – the properties, restaurants, stores – all benefited."

"Our regional business was banner," adds Barrett Fisher, vice president marketing strategy and business development for Tourism Whistler.

While a rapid response, co-operative effort between September and the start of the ski season turned what many feared was going to be a dismal winter into a very good season last year, a cynic might ask what Tourism Whistler and Whistler-Blackcomb were doing prior to Sept. 11.

"I think we’ve always had a level of co-operation," says Fisher. "What we’ve tried to do is elevate that, recognizing as the marketplace becomes more and more competitive, recognizing all the different conditions going on in the marketplace – short-term bookings, the millennium, Sept. 11 – all the periodic challenges, we have to be much more focused, much more creative with our resources, ensuring that we’re leveraging every opportunity that we can, not only within the resort but also externally."

The approach to marketing is similar to what businesses, the municipality, Whistler-Blackcomb and Tourism Whistler have done with the One Whistler group: get together to present a seamless experience for the visitor.