Council will not be pursuing legislative powers to enforce high standards of customer service during the 2010 Winter Games.
Instead, it will rely on the Chamber of Commerce to get businesses on side, ready and willing to put Whistler’s best face forward to the world.
“The municipality has recognized that the business community in Whistler will put on an excellent Games and certainly the chamber is capable of coordinating that,” said the chair of the chamber board, Dave Davenport.
This decision comes after a letter was sent from council to Ida Chong, provincial minister of community services, at the end of May. In that letter, council asked the minister if there were measures that could be put in place to regulate business activities and ensure a high standard of customer service during the Games, addressing things like fair and equitable pricing, signage and ambush marketing.
The municipality’s information officer, Diana Waltmann, said council had the discussion and made the decision to write the letter in a closed door session. As such, under the Community Charter, the letter cannot be released publicly.
Minister Chong replied in a letter included in the latest council package. She states:
“As the amendments you have requested would extend extraordinary powers to the Resort Municipality of Whistler, I have asked the Ministry of Community Services’ staff for a detailed review of your request.”
The review is no longer necessary, Waltmann said this week.
“In our talks with the chamber, they have or are in the midst of developing the business readiness strategy and are addressing those concerns and so legislative regulations are not needed,” she said.
Davenport said the key piece is education and conveying to local businesses the importance of good customer service.
The lesson from previous Games, he added, is that the price gougers do not win in the end.
“The lesson that gets driven time and time again is that you will not be successful looking at this as a huge opportunity to make extraordinary amounts of money in a very short period of time,” said Davenport.
“The business community in Whistler has been really well informed and I think understands, especially having lived through the last three or four years, that taking a short term view on profits is not the key to success. And I think that that’s just a culture in the business community in Whistler for 98 per cent of it.”
For the others it’s a matter of communicating the message.
In addition to the Olympic business survival guide, which will be a guidebook to businesses and how they can expect things to operate during the Games, the chamber will continue to bring in speakers such as Bill Malone, the executive director of the Park City Chamber of Commerce (see sidebar).
Another important piece of information, said Davenport, is understanding what the capacity needs are: who’s coming and how they’re best served in the resort. Those capacity needs are being continually addressed in conversations with resort partners.
“The business community can operate in their interests, which is deliver good service in a profitable way, and that’s a win-win,” said Davenport. “Because if we’re providing what we do all the time and we know to whom to do it and how many people are coming, there’s nothing Draconian that’s required. It’s all just good business.”