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Resort Communications Group splits up





Rapid expansion and growing internal diversification are among the reasons cited by the Whistler-based Resort Communications Group for an amicable split of its operations into three separately-run businesses from June 1, 2001.

RCG, an events management company, is most well known for its creation and running of Whistler’s successful annual World Ski and Snowboard Festival as well as its management of the Winterstart festival.

Since its inception in February 1999, RGC expanded its portfolio though an alliance with Whistler video production company Media Collateral Limited (MCL) and founded a new division, Whistler Resort TV, after gaining a digital broadcasting license from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission last December.

The three RCG partners — Doug Perry, John Rae and Don McQuaid — said the business became so big it made sense to split the operations apart.

Perry will retain the RCG name and event management side of the business, while Rae now wears a new hat of director of strategic planning for MCL. He will be working with MCL managing director Steve Podborski and creative director Jim Budge, who also owns Long Run Video Productions.

McQuaid has taken the helm as president of Whistler Resort TV.

Rae said it has been exciting to see the overall business grow but each now wants to concentrate on the separate components.

"We became so diverse that there was a stated lack of sensibility co-mingling as departments," he said. "It was like having a florist business in one department and a metal refinery in another."

Rae said his vision is to turn MCL into a leading full-service advertising agency on the North American West Coast. "The goal is to develop and execute communication strategies and plans that champion the active resort-orientated lifestyle," he explained. "That could include everything from account management and Web site design to media planning and buying."

McQuaid said Whistler Resort TV is also on the start of a huge growth curve. The company currently airs looped resort video information content on Whistler Cable’s channel 19. An earlier deal with Whistler Networks to partner up on its high traffic site and set up a reservations business failed as a joint venture. It did, however, work as an independent project for

McQuaid said his long-term plans encompass all new media. He said a series of new services will be introduced to the TV channel over the next 18 months, culminating in a fully interactive digital service comprising satellite TV, digital TV, cablevision services and high speed Internet access. "Every major TV network in Canada is moving to digital and Whistler is the perfect beta site because of its small size," he said.

"This means locals and tourists alike will be able to point and click for specific information and reservation services without having to go through the whole video loop."

In the interim, new features being introduced on channel 19 this summer include a golf segment, Webcams that showcase access points on the mountains and up-to-date weather conditions, plus a weekly ‘eye on Whistler’ piece hosted by RCG’s Kristen Robinson. McQuaid believes many Whistler property managers will use the new interactive service as an additional revenue source by installing digital set top boxes for client use.

The former partners said the three businesses will keep working together on a sub-contract basis for special events and projects. Perry said there have been some misconceptions that the split is the result of things going wrong. "We entered the market pursuing a great array of projects quite aggressively and have seen a very accelerated rate of growth as more business has come to us," he said. "RCG will now have an even sharper focus on event development and management both in Whistler and in new markets in the USA." Perry said RCG’s relationship with Colorado Ski Country USA will be a gateway to new deals with resorts there, and the company will continue a strategic planning agreement in Mammoth Mountain in California.

As usual, RGC will be managing the Whistler Ski and Snowboard Festival in April next year.

McQuaid said Whistler Resort TV will continue to operate out of the Village Square next to RCG. However Rae says MCL will soon be based at a new recording facility in Millennium Place, as well as securing new office space in Function Junction.

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