The Big Idea: Whistler Experience Service Solution aims to educate

The Whistler Chamber of Commerce has long prioritized customer service training as a key to business success.

When the Whistler Chamber invested in an education partnership with the University of Victoria’s Gustavson School of Business in 2014, the new Whistler Experience Service Solution brought university-level training to Whistler’s workforce and subsequently put 5,600 people through training in it’s first year — that’s half the town. 

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Training sessions are customized for all levels of Whistler’s workforce, from welcome sessions for those new to Whistler to executive level workshops. To elevate the emerging leaders of Whistler’s business community, the Whistler Chamber is offering The Whistler Experience Scholarship, which will help two new and aspiring leaders working in Whistler kickstart their careers.

Sending Whistler to university

This is the second year that The Whistler Experience Scholarship is up for grabs to future leaders of Whistler’s business community. On the heels of year that saw record-setting enrollment in service training sessions offered by the chamber, the demand for the executive level training sessions is on the rise and attracting international attention — the service strategy was recently featured in Forbes by bestselling customer experience writer, speaker and consultant, Micah Solomon. This season’s training lineup has been expanded and so has the scholarship offering. 

Year two of the scholarship includes access to the full suite of The Whistler Experience training powered by the University of Victoria’s Gustavson School of Business. The lineup includes the core program consisting of The Eight Moments of Power delivered by award-winning professor of Service Excellence, Dr. Marc Colgate on Nov. 17. New this year is a session on Nov. 24 to tap into emotional intelligence for business success and an additional full day of executive training with Dr. Mark Colgate on Dec. 8 focused on implementing the Whistler’s service values and creating a powerful service culture in an organization.

Building a community of leaders

The chamber sees great potential offering the business community a different kind of training to build a resort of leaders. The scholarship is a valuable opportunity for someone starting out in their career to expand their skillset to a very executive level. Scholarship winners will master how to win and keep customers based on key principles of human behavior like the power of context, which will teach participants how they can shape an environment that can completely reframe how a customer sees things.

With nearly half of the town’s workforce being exposed to the foundations of this service strategy through various Whistler Experience sessions, having an in-depth understanding of Whistler’s service strategy can help aspiring leaders reach that next level in their company and in their careers. 

“If you want to elevate your business, first you have to elevate your people,” said Val Litwin, Whistler Chamber CEO. “We don’t just have world-class content taught by expert professors, we are giving leaders the tools to support and develop teams so they can sustain excellence.”

The scholarship winners will bolster their resume with some impressive certifications that can really set them apart. Someone ready to take the next step in a service career can walk away with training from a world-class institution in the University of Victoria, renowned for its customer service program paired with practical application in North America’s number one ranked ski resort.

Why service training?

Customer service training is critical for Whistler businesses. As the town faces a labour shortage the Whistler Chamber has been focused on strategies to ensure businesses are still able to provide the top quality experiences that have contributed to the town’s award –winning reputation. A report released by the Whistler Chamber in September 2015 demonstrated the significant impacts customer service training has on nearly every facet of a business, from employee retention to stock performance.   

“Research shows that employee retention is key to saving money and an organization’s overall success,” explained Litwin. “Arming your aspiring leaders with this training will result in a more engaged team which leads to higher productivity and performance. The investment means more satisfied customer, yes, but also more satisfied staff.”

The Whistler Experience is a resort-wide service strategy made possible in part with fee-for-service funding from the Resort Municipality of Whistler and the support of presenting partner, Gibbons Whistler in partnership with Whistler Blackcomb and Tourism Whistler.

Nominations for the Whistler Experience Scholarship are open until Thursday (Nov. 12) at midnight at whistlerchamber.com. Nominees must be aspiring leaders (currently working in a non-managerial position) or new leaders (who started in their first leadership position within the last three months). The two scholarship winners will be announced by the Whistler Chamber on Friday (Nov. 13).

Michelle Ratcliffe is the marketing and communications manager at the Whistler Chamber of Commerce.

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