Room nights up, snow abounds 

Increase in direct and last-minute bookings

Record snowfall on Whistler and Blackcomb are enticing equally astonishing numbers of visitors to the resort. Photo of Whistler Mtn. by Maureen Provencal
  • Record snowfall on Whistler and Blackcomb are enticing equally astonishing
    numbers of visitors to the resort.
    Photo of Whistler Mtn. by Maureen Provencal

By Alison Taylor

Room night bookings for New Year’s Eve are up a staggering 32 per cent over last year, according to Tourism Whistler.

And that’s not the final tally as there could be more last minute bookings in the coming days.

It’s clear that the message is out: Whistler is the place to be if you want to ski.

“Skiers go where the snow is,” said Tourism Whistler’s director of communications Michele Comeau Thompson.

“We had huge success with our early booking offer as well this year from all markets, (with) record breaking days of sales leading up to the mid-November deadline for bookings. So I think all of those things, plus our unbelievable and record-breaking snow, have just come together. Whistler’s hot.”

With unusually warm weather in Europe and in eastern Canada and no significant snow to speak of on the slopes there, the resort has driven home the message both regionally and overseas that winter is alive and well in Whistler.

The UK market was a strong focus in the 2006-07 business plans for both Tourism Whistler and Whistler-Blackcomb. It’s a significant market — last season UK guests accounted for 14 per cent of the hotel room nights during the winter season from November to April.

This year Whistler marketed directly to consumers with splashy and innovative advertising, rather than just through the tour operators, as was done previously. And it’s paying off.

“We’re seeing some pretty major increases,” said Christina Moore, manager of public relations and communications at Whistler-Blackcomb. “We haven’t seen all the numbers yet so we don’t have a full understanding of whether they’re booking directly through us and not through their tour operators, but in general we are seeing an increase in UK visitors over last year. And we’re also seeing a lot of last minute bookings, which is pretty exciting and that I think is a result of all the snow messaging that we have hammered out there since the middle of November.”

The snow conditions have worked in Whistler’s favour to support the existing marketing strategy in the UK.

While neither organization has redeployed funds into the European markets since the record-breaking November snowfall, they’ve been driving home the message online and through public relations.

“Certainly making sure our word is out online and through the news and travel media is really the best way to get snow news out there in those longer haul markets,” said Comeau Thompson.

For the two weeks over the Christmas holidays, room nights are up 16 per cent over last year (which was up over the previous years) and most of that is during the coming week.

December’s numbers will not be available until next week. In the meantime, the resort is bracing itself for what it expected to be some of the busiest days of the season.


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