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Marketing stepped up for Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival

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The global marketing campaign to promote the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival is bigger than anything ever attempted before, with marketing partners in the resort and the media actively pushing the April 16-25 event.

The value of this marketing push, which includes international television, national radio, industry magazines, contests, promotions and other public relations – including promotion by Tourism Whistler and Whistler-Blackcomb – has been pegged at $3 million.

"To clarify, it’s not like we’re writing a cheque for $3 million, but what we do have, as the festival has gained momentum and scope, is the fact that we’ve been able to forge some really powerful media partnerships," said W1 president Doug Perry, who created the WSSF almost nine years ago.

"For example, we have a major strategic alliance with the Time-Warner Group, so all of their national vertical publications are involved in a pre-event communication plan – national contests on various radio stations, that kind of thing. And the market value of all the promotions and contests and advertising is $3 million."

Perry doesn’t have exact figures, but he says the marketing campaign is 40 to 50 per cent larger than in previous years.

The main reason for the increase is the fact that the event is still growing, says Perry. Last season, the festival’s eighth year, the WSSF had a total economic impact to Whistler of $26 million. According to a survey of visitors, 34 per cent of respondents said the festival was one of the reasons they were in Whistler at that time.

"And that number is growing every year," said Perry.

"(The WSSF) has really gathered a lot of steam in the marketplace, meaning that it’s attracting more support as it grows in size."

Perry is also aware that many local businesses are looking at the festival as a way to draw more visitors to the resort.

"(The marketing) is also partly a reflection of the fairly flat market we’re experiencing right now. We’ve taken it upon ourselves to shift our marketing power to the next gear," said Perry.

The festival was originally created to help extend the traditional winter season, to get people thinking about skiing and snowboarding at a time when most people are thinking about summer activities. So far it has been extremely successful, with visitor numbers and event participation increasing every year.

Marketing the event has become a year-round effort, says Perry.

"Most people think with an event like this we start planning a few weeks before, setting up the stage and building the jumps and things, but 80 per cent of the effort the group puts into this is in pre-event marketing and communication.

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