'Whistler Experience' puts emphasis on customer service 

Registration for revamped Spirit Program starts Sept. 22

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While many visitors to Whistler come for the location — the physical beauty and unmatched alpine experience — it's something else entirely that keeps them coming back.

"What keeps visitors returning is the people," said Val Litwin, CEO of the Whistler Chamber of Commerce.

"If they have a phenomenal service experience, they will tell their friends, they will tell their family and they will come back again and again, so it's really such a key part of our business strategy when it comes to sustainable guest visitation."

That emphasis on customer service is the key concept behind the chamber's revamped Spirit Program, the Whistler Experience.

"Our whole idea around building this program is, to elevate our service, we first have to elevate our people," Litwin said.

To accomplish that, the chamber has partnered with the University of Victoria and renowned business professor Mark Colgate.

Colgate will employ his "8 Moments of Power" training workshops through the new Whistler Experience program.

"It's really eight principles that anyone can put into play when interacting with a customer to influence and create exceptional outcomes," Litwin said.

The program is divided into three levels of experience ranging from new employee to experienced management and is open to anyone working in Whistler.

According to Litwin, the new-and-improved program is more than just a rebranding — it's a complete rebuild.

"(The Spirit Program) has been a tremendous program that's been around for 27 years, but what worked in the past isn't going to work for us moving forward, and we have an increasingly demanding guest when they come to the resort now," Litwin said.

"We know we have such phenomenal competition when it comes to destination mountain resorts around the world, so when people come here, we have to be stepping up our game in terms of service and our overall service experience strategy."

One thing that hasn't changed in the rebuild of the program is access to season passes.

"If you go through the Whistler Experience program, it's the best deal in town for your season's pass," Litwin said.

But the training provided through Colgate and the University of Victoria also comes at a dramatic discount from what one might pay on campus.

"It's not just about the ski pass anymore. This is your gateway to world-class training at a fraction of the cost," Litwin said.

"If we can get people thinking about their own careers a little bit more (and) how they want to build their skill set, how they want to build their resume, this is actually quite a unique opportunity, because you're getting access to university-level facilitators and content... for just a fraction of the cost."

Registration for the Whistler Experience opens Sept. 22 with the program kicking off Nov. 20.

See www.whistlerchamber.com/Spirit-Pass/Training-Options.html for more details.

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