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We do need to get that market back. We’re going to continue to
work on the value story, that Whistler is an affordable destination.
Air travel is more expensive than ever, which is something we
really have no control over, so we expect the value message — whether
it’s bundling products and costs, or hotels and airfare — to hit
home the hardest. We offer competitive rates with other ski areas, that’s a
fact we have to drive home.
Pique: Are there any destination markets you will be focusing
on more than others?
DF: There are three markets we will be doing most of our
marketing. The first two are Washington state and California, which are in the
same time zone as Whistler and can offer affordable rates to Vancouver by
virtue of the fact we’re kind of in the same neighbourhood. That lowers air
The other market is Central Canada, especially Ontario. It’s
still a longer flight, but we have the same currency, and flights into
Vancouver are still affordable.
We’ve been running national ads in The Globe and Mail, and so
far we’ve had good response to our “book by” packages, which we expected to
grow again this year.
Pique: Is there anything else you wanted to mention?
DF: Food. We’re looking at some new concepts in food, and in a
way we’re going back to the basics this year. We’re dropping prices on 20 to 30
per cent of various menu items, which means we’re also reducing our margins
there. It’s more expensive to provide food on the mountain because of the
transportation and preparation, but people still compare the prices in the
Roundhouse Lodge with the prices in the village.
We’re offering more value combination deals, where you get an
entrée, drink and maybe a desert item for under $10. There are going to be more
soups, more sandwiches, all high quality ingredients. We’re listening to our
guests, and meeting their expectations and needs.
The test kitchen is the Roundhouse, and I think people are
going to like what they find.