‘It’s time to attack’ 

Concerted, co-ordinated marketing campaigns to focus on Whistler value

Fairmont Chateau Whistler general manager Paul Tormey has just three pieces of advice for a resort looking to climb out of its current economic slump – "market, market, and market."

Tormey was one of the presenters at the Aug. 17 Tourism Whistler Member Session on Value Strategy held at the Telus Conference Centre. The meeting was well attended by local business owners and representatives from the municipality, Chamber of Commerce, and other organizations.

The meeting looked at current Tourism Whistler research on visitor and customer perception of value, a price comparison with Whistler’s key competitors, and common marketing strategies for the future.

"My level of disappointment, that is shared by everyone, is the volume of business," said Tormey. "I think our resort has been on the receiving end of many difficult world events, whether it’s 9/11, mad cow, SARS, wars, currency exchange rates, weather, pick whatever one you want.

"The rest of the world is going through those things too, we’re not alone, and I think we need to collect our efforts, resources, and passion to once again show we’re the best. We need to start acting like the best, price ourselves appropriately for the market we want to attract, and market, market, and market ourselves."

Tormey pointed to Tourism Whistler’s "Always Real" campaign, which is also being embraced by Whistler-Blackcomb.

"I believe the plan’s in place and the majority of collateral and marketing pieces are good, and that Tourism Whistler has done an excellent job in assembling research, a tremendous job on creative, and a tremendous job in identifying markets we should attack… now it’s time to attack. We’re not spending enough money or enough resources marketing, we’re not aggressive enough, or marketing often enough… it’s relatively easy to spend your way into being more competitive, but we have to start."

The research compiled by Tourism Whistler is mainly based on surveys of customers that were taken in summer, winter and online. The research identified strengths and weaknesses for the resort, as well as the perception of Whistler.

According to Ian Dunn, who presented Tourism Whistler’s research, the survey looked at the value equation "price, plus product, plus service."

Between 85 per cent and 90 per cent of visitors surveyed were satisfied or very satisfied with the Whistler product, including accommodation, restaurants and mountains. The only product area where there was less satisfaction was in the variety of retail stores.

In terms of service, most respondents said the service was good and a majority of repeat visitors said the quality of service was improving. However, according to Dunn, there was a vocal minority among respondents that listed service as one of the reasons they would not return to Whistler.

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