Attracting tourists used to be like shooting fish in barrel.
Put up a couple of websites, take creative licence with the pictures, package the rooms with some lift tickets and our reputation would do the rest. We worried whether we were simply flavour of the month, or did we draw so much water in the market that those tourists would keep coming?
We got our answer. The world economy collapsed at about the same time as the World Trade Center, and at about the same rate. We can no longer shoot fish in a barrel. Those fish have learned how to jump from barrel to barrel very selectively and very quickly. So the trick is to figure out how we get them to jump in our barrel and, after we’ve shot their wallets the first time, convince them that they need to come back.
There has been some talk of micro-marketing. Why not specifically target the fifty thousand workers living in camps in the Oil Sands and convince them that they must come to Whistler for their precious time out? Could we land charters full of Oil Sands workers in Pemberton and bus them to Whistler for a 12 pre-packed days of hard drinking, eating and carousing – all at premium prices?
With the Tough Mudder we saw how allegedly extreme athletic events can draw big numbers. The Grand Fondo draws a smaller clientele, but with more money to spend. Should we consider organizing a world-class citizen ski race, but on a mega scale?
The race could start at the top of Whistler. There would be 1,500 entrants, started in groups of 10 with Feet Banks MC’ing the start. To ensure the racers are immediately spread out, straight out of the pen there would be a 50-metre herringbone climb or a long skate before pointing ‘em down for a high speed tuck down Whisky Jack, Orange Peel and Upper Mur’s to bottom of the Red. Racers would ski straight into a priority chute onto and up the Red. From the top, another high speed tuck down Green Acres to Green (or Emerald – being somewhat color blind I get confused on this point). Then into a priority chute and up the Emerald for another high speed tuck, but first a skate across the face of the Roundhouse to the top of Pony Trail, then down Papoose into Franz’s and over the Rock Garden and into the Lower Dave Murray. From there up again, down Upper and Lower Olympic and over to Blackcomb for more of the same. You get the idea, a race of linked downhills.
The race would need to be demanding enough to draw serious racers. It should cover about 35 kilometers with no more than 25 gates. There would need to be crash nets in strategic locations, ensuring that the Weasel legacy did not die with the Olympics.
The race would be so much fun normal citizens who lurk tremulously in the bottom half of the Peak to Valley would have a blast. That means a big party the night before with costumes, a band, fireworks and a head to head GS to sort out the starting order from the top 10 finishers in the previous year.
There would need to be some big, high speed turns in front of licensed patios, each with it’s own band, giving the beautiful ladies who presently grace the barge scene an opportunity to dress in cheerleader suits and scream their faces off. On second thought, Princess Stephanie and the rest of those ladies would probably be in the race, but you get my drift.
Think this is a crazy idea? Check out www.derweissring.at. The way I see it, posting pretty pictures on a website is no longer good enough. We need to get organized, work hard and give people serious doses of fun at what we know as well as anybody in the world – ski racing!