Whistler Card the key to community 

Local knowledge, local deals part of new identification card

At press time more than 220 Whistler businesses had signed on to the Whistler Chamber of Commerce’s Whistler Card program, a piece of photo I.D. that can be used for discounts, services, public education programs and more.

"It can be used for discounts, but it’s so much more than that," said Don Dewar of the Whistler Chamber of Commerce. "What we’re offering is a piece of photo I.D. that shows you have a commitment to learn, to shop locally, to help local businesses by acting as a sales person for that business."

The Chamber of Commerce will offer the Whistler Card to employees starting April 2.

The list of participating businesses includes retailers, restaurants, hotels, recreation and tour companies, health service providers, entertainment venues and more. How the participating business uses the card is entirely up to them. Many will choose to offer discounts and special promotions, and participants are encouraged to be creative and come up with other value-added promotions to benefit Whistler staff and businesses.

All of the businesses and the services they offer to cardholders will be available on the Chamber Web site at www.whistlerchamber.com.

The main goal, says Dewar, is to reward residents and staff for shopping locally in the belief that they will in turn act as ambassadors for the resort by recommending participating businesses to visitors.

It’s free for businesses to participate in the program, and staff can purchase the card for $20.10 for six months or $38 for the year, plus GST. A family rate with three cards is also available.

When a card is purchased or renewed, staff will have to show photo I.D. as well as current proof of their employment in Whistler, such as a recent pay stub or a dated letter from a business owner or manager.

In addition to making the resort more affordable for staff, the Chamber will benefit as the e-mail addresses of participants are added to a database that will be used to gather public input on future business and community considerations.

The first questionnaire relates to the Chamber of Commerce’s Learning Communities program, which provides lifelong learning opportunities for Whistler residents. Programs range from training programs for the service industry to first aid certificates to training in office and interpersonal skills. Career training and distance education is also supported.

The survey will be used to add new programs to the list currently offered through the Chamber of Commerce.

The database of e-mail addresses will also be used to make members of the community aware of ongoing community issues.

"We’re hoping to use the Whistler Card to engage people, and make them members of the community. We want people to think of this card as their official Whistler identity," said Dewar.

"There’s always a perception that this is a discount card, but it’s more than that. It’s a different level of engagement to learn about businesses, to learn to shop locally, to voice your opinions and contribute to the community."

Locals can pick up their Whistler Cards at the Chamber of Commerce’s Visitor Information Centre by the exit from the taxi loop. You can also register online in advance to save time.

The card can pay for itself in a short time.

For example, the food and beverage category of participating businesses already includes 32 participants with discounts and promotions ranging from 10 per cent to 25 per cent, ‘buy one get one cheap’ deals, guaranteed VIP or priority treatment, food specials, off-season menu specials, coupons, free extras, and more.

To learn more about the Whistler Card and participating businesses, visit the Chamber of Commerce Web site.

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