September 27, 2002 Features & Images » Feature Story

Feature - Festivals & Events 

Eventful events in festive Whistler

New organization planned to streamline event process

By Kara-Leah Grant

For those who attend them, festivals and events in Whistler are a fun way to take in some local arts culture, check out an up and coming Vancouver band, or test their mettle against other mountain bikers, snowboarders or skiers. They come around so often it’s difficult to make time to get to the best events, and it’s easy to take for granted the multitude of festival and event experiences on offer in Whistler.

But for those who spend their time organizing and marketing festivals and events in Whistler, it is a very serious business. A business, just like any other business, full of mandates and objectives and projected cash flow and profit margins. And like every other business in Whistler, events and festivals strive to remain profitable, constantly deal with rules and regulations and always want to meet the demands of their consumers.

One of the biggest event organizers in Whistler is also the resort’s marketing body, and Tourism Whistler’s number one goal is to get the Whistler name out into the market and drive traffic to the resort. The festivals they organize, from Weetama and Cornucopia, to the Whistler Jazz and Blues Festival and Oktoberfest, are all designed with that goal in mind.

" Tourism Whistler’s objective is to drive business into time periods when the resort needs the business," says Jill Greenwood, Director of Brand Marketing.

"We are also trying to extend the length of stay of our guests, giving them reason to stay over on a Thursday or a Sunday night. If there is a four or five day festival it extends the length of stay and drives the business into the midweek period."

And Tourism Whistler is achieving its goals. Cornucopia in particular has grown rapidly over the six years since its inception and this year features a trade component.

But Tourism Whistler also wants the local community to embrace the festivals they produce, attempting to draw a local crowd with early bird specials on tickets and single ticket sales.

"It is very important that festivals attract locals," says Greenwood. "At Cornucopia we involve the local community by bringing in local businesses to run seminars or showcase their products, so we try and integrate the products and services of the local community into the festivals."

While Tourism Whistler has an eye on the locals’ needs and does want them to enjoy their festivals, ultimately their bottom line in gauging the success of any Tourism Whistler festival is whether or not it brings in guests. Sometimes, like in the case of the Whistler Arts Experience, it means Tourism Whistler stops producing a festival that locals may have enjoyed.

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