News » Whistler

Tourism Whistler’s game plan


In last week's Pique Tourism Whistler president and CEO Barrett Fisher described the work her organization has done to date to combat Olympic aversion, to get people to Whistler in the months before and after the 2010 Games. It's a hefty task made all the heavier by the global economic climate. She calls it a "double whammy." But then again, Tourism Whistler has seen its share of challenges in recent years.

This week Fisher explains to Pique's Alison Taylor what Tourism Whistler's game plan is for the coming months and how it hopes to leverage the once in a lifetime opportunity of the 2010 Games for years to come. She hopes to see some of the blood, sweat and tears of the past years pay off in spades down the road.

Pique: Tell us about this year's upcoming advertising campaign.

BF: Our campaign theme for 2009-2010 is really about there's no better time to visit Whistler. And there really isn't. Whether it's pre-Games or during Games time it's going to be some of the most amazing wide-open terrain because we are 100 per cent open for business and during Games time we are 90 per cent open for business...

We have an Australian campaign going on in the Australian market. They typically travel in the January timeframe and so it's really about encouraging Australians to come... Similarly in March, post Games, you've got the Paralympics. All of our tour operators are talking about for those guests who are not able to come in February, what better time than to have them come in March and still get an amazing Olympic/Paralympic experience through the Paralympics with all the spirit of the Games, but it will be a little bit quieter than the February timeframe, and so that's going to be a big push. And as well we have some family programs that we are promoting during the March period, when you look at kids stay, ski and eat for free... We actually launched with the restaurant association just a sample of that in March 2009 so we're planning to build upon that in March of 2010....

We will be doing a combination of advertising programs and promotions and media blitzes and special packages to our regional, Canadian, west coast U.S., Australia and UK markets. And those would be our core target markets that we would have targeted last year as well and the year before that...

In the close-in regional markets it will still be a strong value-add message as far as that we've got very competitive pricing and if you book early you can save up to 39 per cent off if you book by Nov. 15, and that's really across all of our markets, really trying to ensure that people do book early and we've got a price guarantee this year... And that's really about making sure people understand that if you book early rather than waiting until the last minute, we'll actually provide you with the best offer up front.... And that's a strategy that we have agreed to as a board of directors at Tourism Whistler and one that we've encouraged to our membership because there is a belief sometimes in the world that if you wait until the last minute you'll get a better deal.... That's a new strategy and that's part of this economic aversion because what happens in a tough economy is that people will wait and see, 'well maybe I don't really need to book, maybe I'll wait and see if the prices get better.' We've got some very compelling offers out there.