By Andrew Mitchell
The Whistler Chamber of Commerce is revamping the Spirit Program, which rewards staff with discounted season passes to Whistler-Blackcomb for taking part in events meant to encourage better customer service and community pride.
According to chamber president Louise Lundy, recent Spirit Program events have gotten away from the core customer service message and there was a desire on the part of Whistler-Blackcomb and local businesses to get back on track.
“There have been some big changes this year, which might upset some people, while others will be saying ‘it’s about time’,” said Lundy.
“In looking at the Spirit Program and asking our membership what they would suggest, we have decided to retool the program and be really clear as to what our objectives are. The main idea was really to implement a standard of customer service within the resort, and in exchange for people attending customer service programs they would get a discounted pass for the mountain. We’ve kind of gotten away from that in the last few years.”
First year Spirit Program participants will still have to attend an orientation workshop put on by the chamber, says Lundy, and there will be a Spirit Luncheon for business owners and chamber members with workshops on leadership, motivating employees and customer service.
All staff will have to attend two-hour customer service seminars that will cover everything from current marketing and customer service strategies to an overview of what’s happening in the resort.
“For returning employees that already know their way around, we will focus on presenting new information,” said Lundy. “Things like the Olympics; what’s happening, where the venues are, and everything they need to know so they can tell our guests. We’d also like them to know what the marketing strategies are for the resort, Whistler-Blackcomb and Tourism Whistler, and how we hope to deliver on that.
“As well, we’re trying to completely revamp the whole customer service initiative, and to do that we require feedback. We’re going to need everybody’s feedback… on the things happening in the resort, the ways we can improve, and use that feedback to build a really great customer service initiative.”
Lundy says it will take three to five years to develop the concept of customer service for the resort, “of trying to inspire the community to care about the visitor experience.”
First year orientation workshops will be taking place throughout the early part of the season, and the chamber will be taking online registration starting on Monday, Oct. 16.
The Spirit Luncheon is on Wednesday, Nov. 8, and will feature guest speaker Dr. John Izzo, the author of Awakening Corporate Soul and Values Shift: The New Work Ethic and What It Means for Business. There will also be a presentation on the chamber’s new service strategy for the resort.
Spirit Day will return on Thursday, Nov. 16 with a community business trade show, as well as the first three Spirit Pass Workshops for returning employees. Other workshops will be held in the following months for employees who cannot attend the two-hour sessions in the morning, afternoon or evening.
The complete schedule of workshops will be posted online at www.whistlerchamber.com .
The Spirit Pass is $1,029 this year, or $1,111.94 after taxes. A regular dual mountain season pass is $1,689.