Summer Concerts at Whistler Olympic Plaza will be prepared several months ahead of the 2012 timeline in an effort to increase marketing opportunities for the Whistler Presents series.
“One of the goals of the FE&A program this year, through the work of the working group and oversight committee, is to push the planning for the program earlier this year,” said Michele Comeau, spokesperson for the RMOW. “Hiring the concert production company earlier is part of the advanced planning.”
A report presented to council in November titled “Festivals, Events and Animations 2012 – Summer Research and Lessons Learned,” said the 2012 summer achieved a cohesive, consistent Whistler Presents identity in all marketing and communication channels. Of the lessons learned, however, was a need for a dedicated resource to collect, review and distribute detailed programming and most importantly, an earlier confirmation of that programming.
The RMOW has issued an open Request for Proposal (RFP) for providers to plan a summer’s worth of concerts over at least five weekends from late June to early September. Providers will need to work within a total budget of $180,000. Those contracted in the past include Mobilize, KR Productions, Watermark Communications Inc. and brand.LIVE.
In 2012, the FE&A planning process was initiated in February and concluded at the May 1 council meeting. After council approval, the FE&A Working Group then began the process of booking performers and liaising with third-party producers.
As a result, most summer programming, including that for Canada Day, was not secured, confirmed and promoted until late June. Local businesses expressed concern that such late announcement did not provide sufficient time to capture the potential impact of the FE&A program.
Though the RMOW is taking a proactive approach by securing an event provider months ahead of last year’s schedule, the availability of RMI funds must be confirmed by the province before any performers can be booked. Historically, the province has not confirmed the funding until April or May and if its timing remains the same this year, Whistler could again miss its opportunity to market Whistler Presents more effectively to regional visitors.
The concerts at the plaza were originally designed to drive room nights, but after research carried out over the summer of 2011, the objectives were shifted to increasing the visitor experience and driving advocacy for Whistler. This move was accompanied by a reduction in budget for concerts in 2012, and while attendance was slightly down, Whistler hopes to see a longer-term impact on visits.
The concert that had the most noticeable impact on room nights was the two-night performance of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, according to Tourism Whistler research. The majority of attendees were visitors and most travelled to Whistler specifically for the performances.
With the deadline for RFP submissions coming next week, the winning proponent will be expected to start as early as Jan. 28.