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New reservation centre fills Whistler beds WRA unconcerned... for now By Chris Woodall A new reservation centre has entered the business scene in Whistler to go after niche travel packages that aren’t being handled by the Whistler Resort Association operations. Called Whistler-Blackcomb Resorts, the company is doing well since its September 1996 opening day with its four employees, says owner Stan Sprenger. Despite the familiar moniker, it has no connection with either ski mountain. The company hopes to have 10-12 employees in place by next year at its Function Junction offices, Sprenger says. The company represents about 20 lodging properties in the Whistler area and sprang up when Sprenger transplanted his Mont Tremblant Reservations company format to Whistler. Mont Tremblant does not have a WRA-type reservations centre. "We are pleased with the results," Sprenger says in a press release. "Our goal for this year is to establish a good working relationship with the properties and the mountains. (For) next winter we have laid out an aggressive marketing campaign aimed at the U.S. and our objective is to promote the resort and fill some beds." That’s fine with the WRA as long as Whistler-Blackcomb Resorts doesn’t go after the same markets as the community-funded WRA. "My over-all comment would be that, in general, competition is good because it makes us both stronger, but if one looks at the differences: our service charges a 10 per cent commission with any revenues going back into the market; (they) charge a 15 per cent commission that does not go into marketing the mountain resort," says Barrett Fisher, director of marketing for the WRA. There is no itchiness in the WRA bunker about a second reservation centre as long as the two are increasing the amount of business in the resort, Fisher says. "The WRA is good at certain things, but now there’s another reservation centre," Sprenger says. Both reservation centres need to be targeting different market segments for the competition to work, Fisher says. "If we’re going after the same markets, we’re not growing market share, we’re just moving it around," Fisher says. It’s too early to say if there’s room for both WRA and Whistler-Blackcomb Resorts, she says.

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