Chamber aims to reenergize Spirit Program 

Chamber exploring ways to increase engagement with resort employees, provide added training

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The Whistler Chamber of Commerce is looking to revamp its Spirit Pass Program with the aim of increasing engagement with customer service in the community and providing more specialized training for employees.

"What we hope to achieve is a revitalized program that is iconic in terms of its service training and is the envy of other resorts," said chamber CEO Val Litwin. "We want to make sure we don't just have great content, but we also have an incredibly inspiring program that sustains spirit and service excellence throughout the course of the whole year."

The program currently offers a range of incentives, like a discounted Whistler Blackcomb season's pass, to individuals who take part in training initiatives that are dependent on their experience.

Following feedback gleaned from chamber members in a recent needs assessment, the Whistler Chamber of Commerce (WCC) determined that work needed to be done in order to sustain engagement with customer service staff in Whistler throughout the year, particularly after the holiday season "burnout," Litwin noted. The result is the chamber's new social media contest, The Most Stoked, a hunt to find "the two most stoked-on-Whistler, exceptional-service-delivering people in town."

Contestants can enter themselves, an employee or co-worker by picking up The Most Stoked nametag at various locations around Whistler and posting a mugshot on Instagram with #TheMostStoked hastag in the comments explaining why this person deserves the nomination. The contest runs until April 4, when the Whistler Chamber will announce one male and one female winner, who will receive a VIP package to the 2014 World Ski and Snowboard Festival, running from April 11 to 20.

"The cool thing about The Most Stoked is that it's not just a neat way for people to qualify for some cool prizes and tell some of their stoked stories, but this is a zero-cost tool for business," Litwin said. "For those companies that don't have employee retention budgets or the budget to do something cool like an annual party, go ahead and nominate some staff members because there's going to be some great visibility for these potential winners and there are huge prizes."

The Chamber is also exploring new ways to meet the needs of Whistler's entire workforce through the Spirit program, particularly around providing additional sector and segment specific training. Litwin said the local food and beverage industry is likely to see courses around beer and wine knowledge delivered in the coming year, for example.

The Chamber is also considering increasing the number of qualifying events service staff must attend to be eligible for the program. Currently, resort employees at all three designated levels must attend a single training event, or, in the case of frontline staff who've lived and worked in Whistler for over a year, complete an online tutorial to access the Spirit program's benefits.

"We've already got a tremendous carrot with this season's pass, but what we want to also do is have the content be so inspiring and relevant that the season's pass is just the cherry on top, it's not necessarily the only driver," Litwin said. "So that's our challenge, but also our opportunity as a community."

For more information on the Spirit Pass program and the Chamber's new social media initiative, visit www.whistlerchamber.com.

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