Whistler Experience program could attract skilled workforce: Chamber 

Revamped training program launches with workshop on Oct. 7

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - COLGATE FRESH   University of Victoria professor Mark Colgate has been brought in to drive content for the revamped Whistler Experience program. He leads the first service training session of the season on Tuesday, Oct. 7.
  • Photo submitted
  • COLGATE FRESH University of Victoria professor Mark Colgate has been brought in to drive content for the revamped Whistler Experience program. He leads the first service training session of the season on Tuesday, Oct. 7.

The Whistler Chamber of Commerce's revitalized service training program, the Whistler Experience, will not only improve the resort's service culture, but attract a skilled workforce to the community, according to the organization's CEO, Val Litwin.

"Once we've built up the reputation of the program over the next couple of years, I think it could be something that will attract people to the resort," said Litwin.

"The way people flock to Apple for innovation, what if one day people were flocking to Whistler, especially talented workers, to gain an education when it comes to customer service?"

Launching next week with the season's first training session, the Whistler Experience (formerly the Spirit Program) is being envisioned as a world-class program that could not only help attract workers to the resort, but retain the employees already here — all the more necessary after a busy summer when businesses had difficulties filling staff shortages.

"Imagine if Whistler wasn't just a place you came to have an epic ski season, but a place you actually came to further your education," Litwin said. "That's a huge value proposition, and it may not be the No. 1 thing people think about when they're coming here, but once they're here, I think this will be a great part of our strategy to help retain them."

Last year, the chamber signed an agreement with the University of Victoria's Gustavson School of Business to deliver service training content that was as engaging as it was practical. To that end, the chamber brought in UVic professor and internationally renowned customer-service expert, Mark Colgate, who, along with spearheading the program's content, will also lead the 2 Essential Moments of Power workshop on Oct. 7, the result of 10 months of development and consultation with the business community.

"(The workshop) will focus on the core building blocks to influence and manage customer service," Litwin said.

As part of the Whistler Experience, the chamber will offer both paid and unpaid sessions that will qualify resort employees for a Spirit Pass, including new workshops aimed at team leaders and management staff, called the Train the Trainer and Be a Coach programs.

"Leaders and managers will now have a framework for supporting and developing their teams," explained Litwin.

"So instead of just coming to, historically, the old Spirit training where you'd maybe be inspired for an hour and then you'd go away and might not retain anything, we're actually building systems into the DNA of service culture here that allow team members to be coached and supported by their leaders."

The 2 Moments of Power workshop is scheduled from 3 to 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 7 at the Rainbow Theatre, followed by an after-party at the FireRock Lounge in the Westin. To register for this session or the Whistler Experience program, visit www.whistlerchamber.com.

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