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Tourism Whistler contracts out central reservations to Intrawest



After 18 months of research Tourism Whistler has decided to out source its central reservations to Intrawest’s Resort Reservations Network.

"Our ultimate goal is that this will be a 100 per cent successful partnership that will only continue to grow the business for the resort," said Barrett Fisher, vice president marketing strategy and business development for Tourism Whistler.

"They have the Whistler expertise and they have the Whistler track record. We are talking about a tried and true proven company that knows the Whistler product that has seen exponential growth over the last several years."

Over the last year Tourism Whistler explored several options for its central reservations after it became clear it needed new technology and a more reliable labour pool.

At one point it had considered moving the call centre to Vancouver but that still meant it had to purchase technology.

That technology was estimated to cost up to $5 million, although some in the field estimated it may have cost twice that much.

"It did not make sense," said Fisher.

"We would have had to have done one of three things. We would have had to increase our member assessments, increased our commission rate and/or reduced our marketing program."

Tourism Whistler investigated five companies as they searched for a solution.

It found that RezRez, as Resort Reservations is known, alone could provide not only technology that met and exceeded its needs, but also a large call centre.

And, said Fisher, by working together marketing duplication could be avoided.

But some in the community have voiced concerns that the resort is turning into a company town.

In July Tourism Whistler announced that it was partnering with Intrawest to take advantage of their golf expertise for the Whistler Golf Course. Now it is central reservations.

"I believe this is a community which values economic diversity and the strong contribution of the local independent businessman," said Gord McKeever of Rainbow Retreats.

"I am very concerned about this decision."

McKeever also recognizes RezRez’s strong performance history and hopes it will benefit reservations.

He is however, concerned about a resort accommodation provider being involved at this level.

"To have a stakeholder in the reservation inventory also manage the reservation, well the potential is there for abuse," he said.

But Fisher believes there is little risk of Whistler becoming a one-horse town.

"From the perspective of being a monopoly that is just not the case," she said.

"Even when you look at combining the reservations of RezRez with the reservations of Tourism Whistler it still only equates to 20 per cent of reservations for the resort.