With the Easter long weekend taking place three full weeks before the 2008 Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival, event director Sue Eckersley said some people were doubtful that this year’s festival would be as popular as past editions. A look at the early numbers, however, shows the festival can stand on its own.
“Even the years we don’t fall on Easter, we’re typically the weekend afterwards and it gives us a bit of a boost,” she said. “It was interesting this year that we were three weeks out from Easter, and people were concerned that the festival was going to take a real hit in terms of accommodation numbers. I’m really excited to report that that didn’t happen.”
According to Eckerlsley, early numbers are slightly behind last year, when Whistler also hosted the Mountain Travel Symposium, but are on par with the festival in 2006, which was a week after Easter.
“If you take away the Mountain Travel Symposium, we’re on par with last year as well,” Eckersley added. “I think that speaks great lengths about the strength of the festival and its real ability to drive visits to the resort.”
This was the 12 th year for the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival, and the second year that Eckersley and her company, Watermark Communications, has produced the event.
Actual visitor numbers won’t be available for several weeks, but Eckersley presented her early data to Tourism Whistler’s commercial core committee on Wednesday. The message is positive overall, and will help set the direction of the festival for next year.
“As far as event attendance went, we sold out most of the big events like the pro photographer showdown, both filmmaker nights, the fashion show, and the Seasons world premiere. The Theatre Event would have sold out, but a block of tickets were returned by sponsors at the last minute. Events close to selling out were the Icon Gone, although I’m not sure how many tickets we sold for that, and the DJ Experience.”
Eckersley said the DJ Experience has been oversold in the past, and the decision was made to increase ticket prices to avoid the long lines and boost the level of talent.
“We’re in our fourth year for that event and we’re trying to find a happy medium,” she said. “Last year the ticket price was lower, it sold out, and things were kind of crazy. It’s hard to manage an event when it’s at capacity and there’s no opportunity to let anybody in. By raising the ticket prices and increasing the level of talent we were able to manage people’s expectations a little better and have a little wiggle room.”