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Women's events see huge growth in a decade

TW and CTC don't market to women specifically



Former competitive gymnast Kerri Carlson and mountain bike coach Candace Shadley know what women want.

How else to explain why Carlson's every WOMAN conference and Shadley's Trek Dirt Series mountain bike camps have snowballed in the past decade?

"My sense is that it's a growing industry because women generally are more active and they have the means," said Carlson, as she puts the finishing touches on the tenth annual every WOMAN conference in Whistler May 24-26.

"every WOMAN is about having fun and connecting in a really uncontrived way," said Carlson. "(It's about) using exercise as a vehicle to advance your goals in life."

The numbers speak for themselves. Ten years ago there were 60 participants at every WOMAN and 20 workshops; this weekend there will be more than 250 participants choosing from 100 workshops from zoomba to yoga, mountain biking to capoeira, as well as workshops on financial planning and menopause.

Shadley sees the same thing with her Dirt Series mountain bike camps, primarily for women with a handful of co-ed camps over the summer. There is a co-ed camp this weekend in Whistler.

Thirteen years ago she hosted three camps and drew 100 participants; this year there are 19 camps and a 1,000 participants. Her waitlists to get into the camps are growing by the day. From her perspective, the female market is a huge growth niche market, a critical market too.

"To me, (women) are not just the lowest hanging fruit but we're connected to all the other fruit," she said.

What she means is that once women get into a sport then the family comes into the sport or the couple embraces the sport together.

Women are the planners, the organizers and more often than not, the keepers of the family budget and the decision makers.

"I think it shows the sport has reached another level when women are in it," said Shadley.

Tourism Whistler does not have numbers on women as a niche market, nor does it specifically market to this segment.

"We design our marketing campaigns strategically and while we haven't segmented women as a niche market, they are incorporated into our campaigns," explained Patricia Westerholm, Tourism Whistler's manager of corporate communications.

While Tourism Whistler may not target women through traditional advertising, it does promote niche markets through other channels like social media.

Likewise, the Canadian Tourism Commission does not target women or men in their marketing, using a different way of targeting markets such as travel motivation and interests.

Every Woman takes place this weekend at various locations.

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