It is Whistler's ultimate meet and greet for newbies and one of the most popular, with free food and drink — and the chance to find out what the resort has to offer.
The winter Information Trade Show saw 350 front desk staff, concierges, activity guides business owners, drivers, volunteers and other winter workers drop by the Whistler Conference Centre on Dec. 10 to check out 88 participating businesses and organizations, and to find out more about Whistler's companies and services.
Organizers said it was important since new workers are often too busy to learn about Whistler in their spare time. This one event brings people to the same place to help workers get their bearings in a casual and supportive way.
"It's an opportunity for frontliners to understand what goes on in Whistler and allows people to get to know each other and the businesses here," said the manager for visitor services at Tourism Whistler, Jody Warren, one of organizers.
Warren said the numbers broke the records for both participants and company booths.
"It has been a really thrilling turnout and it's just getting better," she said.
Another organizer, Cathie Coyle, who coordinates the resort's Village Host Program, manned a table at the entrance, answering questions and stamping forms that would allow participants to have a free glass of wine courtesy of organizers. She said the trade show has been around for about five years.
"It's not what we did five years ago... it's so much bigger and reflective of the resort," Coyle said.
She added it had developed far beyond the scope of the first trade show and much valuable information is gathered about the needs and interests of new staff.
"We've had wonderful feedback. The trade show is similar to the old Whistler spirit, and we tried to keep it fun and relaxed," she said.
Whistler councillor Jack Crompton was at the trade show as a private citizen, promoting his company ridebooker.com.
"It's a chance to meet hoteliers and concierges and to make a deal," Crompton said. "When I present at conferences outside Whistler I'm talking to people from other places. This event is a great opportunity to meet up with people from inside the resort, tell them about us and learn about what they might need."
Jon Fathom of Fathom Stone Art Gallery & Studio said this was the third year his company has participated in the trade show.
"I love it. We can be here and meet all the new volunteers and workers in town and share what we have here. People get a better idea of what we have at the gallery," he said.
Johanna Ivarson arrived a month ago from Sweden and was already representing jewelry company Pandora at the trade show. She was surprised by the festive atmosphere and said other staff far from home, coming from other parts of Canada and Australia, appreciate the welcome.
"It's great! The trade show is so much bigger than I expected and I find it more open than at home. I'm quite new, it's my first month here and I'm feeling so welcome. I couldn't believe there would be the food," she said.
Resident Janice Hulse, an IT consultant, had not attended before.
"This has given me very good awareness of what's in this community, it was a chance to talk to the principals and hear their value propositions," she said.
The next Information Trade Show, covering the summer season, will take place in June 2013.