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Whistler Chamber's Spirit Pass expanded to include summer activities

Customer service training will also be offered online: managers in 2012, staff in 2013



Providing topnotch customer service to Whistler's visitors could lead to play time on the links, or a spa day out for employees around the resort.

The Whistler Chamber of Commerce's popular winter Spirit Pass program will be expanded to include the summer season starting in 2013, giving employees the chance to take part in warm-weather activities.

Participants attend a Spirit Session that provides essential Whistler and customer service information. Those who have taken part in the program have been up to now eligible for a discounted Whistler Blackcomb season's pass, known as a Spirit Pass.

Chamber president Fiona Famulak said the change encourages employees to put customers top of mind and provides an incentive to stay in Whistler to work. It also gives employers an effective retention tool for keeping staff.

As well, the Chamber is putting the three-level Spirit Session training program online. Level two for employees who have been working at the resort for longer than a year, and level three for managers, supervisors and owners, will be added this year, while level one for employees will continue to be taught in classrooms for 2012, moving online after January 2013.

Famulak said the British Columbia Institute of Technology helped to develop content for online sessions; the website content was paid for by the Fee-for-Service contract with the Resort Municipality of Whistler as part of its program for developing and delivering the Whistler Service Strategy. The program evolved in this direction over the last five years.

The vision of the Whistler Service Strategy is to make guest experiences "a key competitive advantage for Whistler," said Famulak.

"This is something we can control even if we can't control the weather. To make it successful it needs to be ingrained in our DNA," she said.

"The RMOW's fee-for-service funding allows us to develop the online infrastructure. We wouldn't be able to do it otherwise."

The Chamber is currently seeking services and activities to offer users of the summer Spirit Pass, including discounts for spas, golf and other activities.

"We're delighted to be offering the summer pass. It was a need identified by our members," Famulak said. "We have a number of ongoing discussions with companies but nothing has yet been confirmed about who is on board."

An additional value of moving the training out of the classroom is that eventually new employees will be able to start the courses at any point in the year from the comfort of their home computers.

"Online courses can be offered right away. New employees just arriving in Whistler can start the course, even if it is halfway through the season. They can start from anywhere in the world," Famulak said.

"The best in customer service for Whistler is a 365-day proposition and we need to support it 365 days a year."

Famulak said the Chamber would take feedback from the first intakes of the online program and continue to enhance it as it develops.

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