Gordon McKeevers ad in newspapers last week has caused Tourism Whistler to respond with a press release.
"In order to share the facts with the resort community regarding Tourism Whistler's Central Reservations service, the Board of Directors of Tourism Whistler has responded to a political advertisement by Gordon McKeever published in the Whistler Question (Nov. 7) and Pique Newsmagazine (Nov. 8)," the release states.
McKeever, a candidate for council in the Nov. 16 municipal elections, used his election ad last week to raise the issue of Tourism Whistler turning over its Central Reservations services to Resort Reservations, a subsidiary of Intrawest.
Tourism Whistlers press release states:
Effective Sept. 1, 2002, Tourism Whistler entered into a service agreement with Resort Reservations Network, (RezRez) for the provision of call centre services and the use of an on-line booking engine. Tourism Whistler assets-1-800-Whistler, 'mywhistler.com' and the Tourism Whistler database-continue to be owned by Tourism Whistler, and have not been handed over as suggested by McKeever. The new strategic relationship with RezRez has provided Tourism Whistler with access to the substantial RezRez database for marketing purposes, thereby allowing Tourism Whistler to grow visitation to the resort even more effectively.
As of Sept. 1, Tourism Whistler's call centre represented six per cent of resort-wide business, not 20 per cent as stated by Mr. McKeever. On a combined basis, Tourism Whistler bookings when added to RezRez's independent bookings currently account for 20 per cent of resort-wide bookings, not one-quarter to one-third as advertised by McKeever.
"We can only hope that in future Mr. McKeever chooses to inform himself more fully before taking positions in the press that foster divisiveness in this community," says Rick Clare, Chair of the Board of Directors of Tourism Whistler.
The agreement between Tourism Whistler and RezRez incorporates specific monitoring mechanisms and controls to ensure that this contractual relationship is of benefit to the members of Tourism Whistler. In addition, detailed monitoring and reporting is being presented at monthly scheduled Tourism Whistler Property Managers' meetings.
The current relationship with RezRez is for a one-year period. The Board of Directors will be vigilant in its review of the success of this arrangement. The Board will make its decision to proceed with a further term or terminate the relationship based on open dialogue with its constituents, keeping in mind the best interests of the entire resort and the membership of Tourism Whistler.
"Tourism Whistler commends Mayor O'Reilly and Administrator Jim Godfrey in doing an excellent job representing the community interests at the Board table of Tourism Whistler," adds Clare. Business interests are elected by the membership of Tourism Whistler. McKeever refused an invitation by the Nominations Committee of the Board of Directors of Tourism Whistler in the spring of 2002 to run for a seat on the Board.
Tourism Whistler explored its call centre fulfillment options for 18 months prior to entering the agreement with RezRez. Consideration was given to investing in a new software program compatible with the current central reservations system; however, this option was ruled out due to the significant investment required. Such an investment would have led to significantly higher fees or commissions to members and/or reduced marketing investment in a very competitive global environment. After a thorough and competitive RFP process with five solutions providers, and extensive negotiations with two short-listed companies, RezRez was awarded the contract.