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Google honours Whistler with eTown Award for second-straight year

Award celebrates business communities that embrace the Internet



When your business involves sending customers flying through the air in some of the most scenic surroundings on earth, it's not easy to get the point across on a flat, lifeless computer screen.

But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try.

"The challenge was trying to express an experience that is almost impossible to describe until you've done it," explained Superfly Ziplines CEO Kirby Brown.

But with the help of a Search Engine Optimization firm and some talented filmmakers, Superfly was able to do just that.

The result?

A website worth looking at.

"We've in fact now renovated and rebuilt all (of our) websites, with this sense of generating really emotive, experiential content, so that when people arrive at our websites we give them something back," Brown said.

"It's not just a sales tool, it's a real experience."

The redesign, coupled with powerful analytics tools provided by Google, led to a dramatic increase in webpage views, and in turn, an increase in sales and revenue.

"'Wildly successful' is the best way to describe it," Brown said.

Superfly is just one of many Whistler businesses making good in the ever-expanding online world.

On Wednesday, Google Canada announced that for the second year in a row, Whistler was the recipient of one of its annual eTown Awards.

The awards are designed to recognize towns and cities across the country whose businesses are embracing the Internet to grow and fuel local economies.

"This year's winners, like Whistler, really are reminding us that in the Internet age, you can basically be a business of whatever size and whatever part of the country you are in, but you can still succeed online," said Jennifer Kaiser of Google Canada.

The other winners of this year's eTown awards are Oakville, Ont., Banff, Alta., Rosemere, Que., and Chester, N. S.

"I think clearly there's a growing entrepreneurial spirit in Whistler which is something that should be embraced and celebrated, and I think businesses in Whistler are really turning to the Internet to start and to develop their own businesses," Kaiser said.

"I think our hope at Google is that Whistler really becomes an inspiration to other areas of the country to do the same thing."

While Canada has one of the highest Internet penetration rates in the world, many small businesses have been slow to adopt online strategies.

Part of the reason Google presents its eTown awards is to motivate more businesses to get involved with online marketing and sales, Kaiser said.

"(There are) only 41 per cent of Canadian small businesses that even have a website, so there is a missed opportunity for some cities and for some businesses," she said.

"Part of the hope of the Google eTown award is... to shine a light on those towns and communities for them to be an inspiration to other parts of the country."

A special community celebration will be held Friday, September 5 at 10 a.m. at Village Square.


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