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One spot contested in TW board elections

Both candidates look for change in the organization



There will be just one election this year for Tourism Whistler's 13-member board of directors, with two candidates vying for the position of Director at Large.

Dave Davenport, who currently fills the position and is the owner of Skitch in the village, will be running against Trevor Graham, general manager of the Westin Resort and Spa.

Both candidates say that the timing is critical to take advantage of all the hard work Whistler has done getting ready for and hosting the 2010 Winter Games.

"There are signs that we're coming out of the recession," said Graham this week. "We're not out yet. We had the benefit of the Olympics and everybody talks about the afterglow. At the end of the day, I think to take advantage of those two things, the focus has to be more on the big picture rather than maybe on the tactical that it's been for the last 36 months."

While Graham said there is always a need to provide value and offer great deals, that message should come from the individual operators.

"I think as a collective body, Tourism Whistler should be focused on the bigger picture," he said.

"See the experience, sell what Whistler is and create that imagery in people's minds that is the attraction to this destination."

Davenport also said there needs to be a shift in focus at the organization, away from the work of the last few years which has been centred on creating awareness of the resort.

"I think from a marketing point of view what we need to be focused on is really moving into sales mode and making sure that instead of just showing people what we do, we have to now get people to actually come and visit," he said. "So it's a real sales focus."

That focus will take a cultural shift at the organization.

It's an organization, too, Tourism Whistler is in the midst of restructuring in the wake of the Olympic Games. Those changes at the management level also need to be on the board's radar, added Davenport.

"I think the board really needs to make sure that's working and that's delivering on the promises, which are more resources to marketing and, I think, a very aggressive sales oriented approach."

In addition to the Director at Large position, three other board positions were up for election this year.

There were no challengers in the other three categories which leaves incumbent Jim Allard as director of Multi-Managed Lodging - Village, incumbent Roger Soane as director of Single Managed Lodging - Large and newcomer Steven Webb as director of Multi-Managed Lodging - Other.

Webb, who is the general manager of the Hilton, faced no challengers for the position, which was left vacant by Bryan Pilbeam, general manager of the Crystal Lodge.

All Tourism Whistler members are eligible to vote for the Director at Large position.

Members will be sent a user ID and password to access the online voting system beginning Friday, April 30. The online voting will be open until May 19 at 5 p.m.

Members can also vote in person at the annual general meeting (AGM) on Thursday, May 27 at 2 p.m. at the Whistler Conference Centre. The candidates will have the opportunity to speak at the AGM and the results of the election will be announced at that time.