Whistler-Blackcomb focuses on the big picture
Pique recently sat down with Doug Forseth, the senior vice president of operations for Whistler-Blackcomb, to discuss weather, the lessons of 2004-05, marketing Whistler-Blackcomb, and the "wow" factor for this coming season.
Pique: It seems like a lot of changes are being made with beginner skiers in mind.
DF: In a lot of ways. One thing were really focusing on this year is speed control, which is continually a challenge for us.
(With the) Slow Zones weve seen an improvement, but we still find in the areas where were not monitoring that people are skiing or snowboarding too fast or inappropriately for the conditions or number of people.
Were going to expand our Speed Control programs uphill and get Ski Patrol more involved.
Our message is that you have to monitor yourself. There are still lots of places where you can ski fast, where its appropriate to do so. Just because the posted speed limit is 90, if there are cars on the road, or if its rainy or slippery you have to go slower its just common sense.
Before weve just given people warnings, but were stepping that up a bit. We will be looking at passes and entering infractions into the computer, and we see that people arent getting the message and are ignoring the warnings, well have to take stronger measures.
Pique: This is the first time that Whistler-Blackcomb and Tourism Whistler have worked together on the same branding and marketing.
DF: Its a good thing. From our standpoint weve increased our marketing budget significantly over last year and previous years.
Pique: What is this years marketing program going to look like?
DF: Were going to continue what we started last year with book/stay campaigns, and were working with partners in the U.K., the U.S. and Australia to help these operators to fill our beds and create energy and momentum within the resort. We also plan to increase our presence and campaigns in local markets. For one thing, we have an aggressive campaign to increase the sale of Edge Cards this year. Well also be celebrating the 40 th and 25 th anniversaries for Whistler and Blackcomb, and were hoping to leverage that to create more energy and excitement.
Pique: What about the rest of the village. Are we doing enough as far as offering recreation and attractions for people off the hill?
DF: I dont think we are doing enough, and we need to do more. The tubing park is a step in the right direction for families, but one thing we dont have right now is skating or other forms of outdoor recreation. Certain amenities are missing, and not just for when its raining but also after hours.