Tourism Whistler would like to acknowledge and thank Pique Newsmagazine for your insightful editorial and your call for continued commitment to our resort-wide value strategy (“Waiting out the recession,” Feb. 7, 2008).
You correctly pointed out the significant impact that the U.S. economic climate can have on Whistler. The United States is a key market for Whistler, representing almost one-third of all overnight visitors to the resort.
Over the past several years, Whistler has adopted a renewed focus upon ensuring a strong value equation for visitors. Together, we must remain vigilant in our dedication to this key strategy as we attempt to mitigate any potential negative impact from challenges to economic growth south of the border.
The resort has recorded significant gains in recent seasons – in fact, the combined results of winter 2006-07 and summer 2007 represents the best year ever for the resort. However, we cannot lose sight of the importance in sustaining the resort’s value message.
Equally important, we cannot forget the not-so-distant past. It was only a few years ago that Whistler experienced annual declines in our room nights, brought on by a number of factors including 9/11, concerns about SARS and Mad Cow disease, unseasonable snow conditions, a downturn in the U.S. economy, a strong Canadian dollar, high fuel prices, travellers choosing to stay closer to home, and increased competitive threats from both ski and sun destinations.
As a resort, we chose to direct our efforts on the things we could influence – with a primary focus on making certain that we not only meet but exceed our guests’ expectation of value. As part of this strategy, Tourism Whistler set out in 2003 to define our value equation as Value = Product + Service + Price and the entire resort stepped up its efforts to ensure that price is appropriately matched with products and services provided. Our collective efforts are working, with year-over-year growth since 2004-05.
There is an anticipation of continued economic weakness out of the U.S. market and we must always recognize that there will be other external factors that are out of our control (e.g. Mother Nature, exchange rates, etc.). However, as we move forward, there are a number of positives to build upon, including our exceptional snow conditions this season, renewed confidence from our long-haul travellers, new product offerings including the Whistler Olympic Park, excitement surrounding 2010, the opening of the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in spring 2008 and the launch of the Peak to Peak Gondola in December 2008.
Tourism Whistler has worked diligently with its membership and partners to counter the misperception that Whistler is “too expensive” – and the value equation is critical to our success in addressing this challenge.