September 16, 2005 Features & Images » Feature Story

How can Whistler get its mojo back? 

There’s no magic bullet, but following Dr. Seuss’s advice may help

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" I think the struggle we have faced over the last few years has also made us realize how much we rely on each other for our success," said Lalor-Morton. "In the meetings I have been attending over the last few weeks, I have noticed a genuine recognition of the need to come together and work collectively rather that individually."

Part of that teamwork philosophy includes everyone on the team talking a good game. Lalor-Morton gave a hint of what’s required by adding: " I believe we need to regain our pride in ourselves and recognize the amazing product we have created together."

Research indicates that there is an unwarranted perception that the resort has become too expensive. Rempel echoes Lalor-Morton’s sentiments in addressing that assumption. "Part of the solution means saying we are an amazing value. We need to lead our conversations with benefits rather than costs and talk more about why a vacation here is so great, rather than how much it costs."

Like an athlete confidently holding the "number one" finger up in the air on the field of competition, Whistler needs to assume a more self-assured posture, and Rempel illustrates why a winning attitude is warranted. "The bottom line is we have the same assets we did five years ago. In fact, we’ve made the resort better with improved infrastructure and product mix. More importantly, we still have incredibly talented, animated, motivated, ambitious, smart, youthful people living here. They are the ones who will make things happen".

The customer is always right…

And conventional wisdom is (almost) always wrong.

Retail pioneer John Wanamaker is famous not only for inventing the department store, but for coming up with the all time most used service industry quote, "The customer is always right."

Many long time residents and business owners will admit that despite recent statistics that claim the contrary, Whistler has let its focus on the customer slip. A focus on improving service has been a hot topic in the resort for a few years and strategic plans have been created to address the issue, but recently the rhetoric has been turned up a notch. Before becoming the interim president of the Chamber of Commerce, Lalor-Morton chaired the 2001 Service Experience Committee that examined and made recommendations on service improvement in Whistler. The committee report (tabled in 2001) made some brilliant suggestions on what excellence in service would include and how it could be achieved. The recommendations included: "A Whistler Identity, the creation of an Information Centre/Employment Centre, Recognition and Awards, Whistler Service Certificate Training Program, Canadian Service Branding" and perhaps most importantly, "Support for Employers." The report suggested that, "these broad areas were identified as having the potential to impact the many service levels of the resort by creating a service culture within all businesses."

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