If a small Whistler company manages to put on a well-attended, successful event three years in a row, it should be safe to say it is good for our resort community and others could follow the leader.
Case in point, the Whistler Holiday Experience.
For the third year in a row, Sue Eckersley of Watermark Communications and her merry band of supportive community partners - the Resort Municipality of Whistler, Whistler Conference Centre and Tourism Whistler - delivered the Whistler Holiday Experience from Dec. 18 to 24 and Dec. 26 to 30 - 12 days of bouncy castles, mini golf, foosball video games and movies inside the Whistler Conference Centre.
No one can argue with the success of the Whistler Holiday Experience. An average of 500 visitors a day, happy Whistler guests interacting with healthy Whistler locals - supervising kid fun is one of the best social lubricants out there. Heck, my visiting dad even managed a midday nap in one of the really comfy chairs under the guise of watching our four-year-old, Chance, terrorize the bouncy zone. A veritable orgy of family-oriented fun focused on filling the free, indoor recreation and affordable resort product, the ongoing success of the Whistler Holiday Experience seems to beg the question - who else can step up to the plate and do this in support of Whistler's commitment to bringing people back here?
At Watermark, Eckersley runs a lean and mean communications and event production company, her key projects are the TELUS World Ski and Snowboard Festival, Cornucopia and First Night, but she says the most rewarding of them all is the Whistler Holiday Experience.
"It's probably the nicest event to be out on the front line," Eckersley says. This year she had an interaction with a Texas family who said they typically had gone to Vail for Christmas, but decided to check out Whistler last year. "The fact the Whistler Holiday Experience was going on was a deciding factor on them coming back to Whistler and they will continue to return as long as this is going."
So, we can talk about Peak to Peak, great snow, excellent target marketing and other key Whistler factors in continuing our resort community's ongoing success, but bouncy castles and ping pong tables as a component of our ongoing economic viability? You bet. Whistler has worked hard over the past few years to market the value of our resort offerings, but it's all about infrastructure. The folks I spoke to at the Whistler Holiday Experience were from around the world and around the corner and to a person they all were very thankful for the event in support of their Whistler, White Rock or Washington, DC families.
Beyond the business and community benefit, Eckersley says the Whistler Holiday Experience continued to support social equity this year by connecting with LUNA (Late and Unique Nighttime Alternatives) to present Feastamus, Dec. 23, where over 300 folks were served a full Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, for $7.
"It was an unbelievable meal, the atmosphere was wonderful and all the cooking was done by volunteers," Eckersley says. "We could not have done it without the support of the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation as well."
Many Whistler2020 community task forces have created actions that increase the diversity of inexpensive, family recreation in Whistler and Descriptions of Success from the Whistler2020 Economic, Visitor Experience and Resident Affordability strategy areas all support the continued development of resort community offerings similar to the Whistler Holiday Experience.
So, hats off to Eckersley and her crew and partners. The model is a proven success of putting heads in beds here for three years in a row. There are other times of the year when something like this could work. Who wants to bounce that around? Are you experienced?
To KNOW MORE about other actions that are moving our community toward Whistler2020, to tell us how you're contributing, or to find out how we're performing visit www.whistler2020.ca .