Tourism Whistler

Whistler’s Place Brand

The idea around Place Branding as a tourism visioning exercise for Whistler was first presented in late 2017, with a Letter to the Editor in Pique Newsmagazine, written by Tourism Whistler’s President and CEO, Barrett Fisher. The letter acknowledged Tourism Whistler’s commitment to responsible tourism and balanced year-round visitation, and recommended the Place Branding exercise as the first step towards developing a collective tourism vision for Whistler.

What is a Place Brand?

Place Branding is more than marketing. It is the sum total of expectations, associations and interactions people have with a destination that cause them to form perceptions of it over time. It is about uncovering and expressing the unique and defining values, traits and spirit of a place for the benefit of both residents and visitors.

Place Branding provides a filter for decision-making for things like community policy, product development, programming, and infrastructure investments, in addition to influencing a destination’s marketing and communications efforts.

The goal of Tourism Whistler’s Place Branding exercise was to:

  1. Engage Whistler’s residents, businesses, stakeholders and visitors on what makes Whistler truly special and unique, and confirm what we want to preserve and celebrate for the future.
  2. Better understand the attitudes and behaviours of both locals and loyal visitors who are passionate about Whistler in order to target like-minded visitors who love and respect our mountain destination and its unique character.
  3. Engage local and visitor stakeholders on the importance of Whistler’s tourism economy, and define what ideal tourism looks like in the future.

While Tourism Whistler has surveyed visitors on numerous occasions with regards to their perceptions of Whistler in the past, this project was unique in that it was the first time a comprehensive interview and survey process was conducted with local residents and the Whistler business community. The Place Brand is built on the belief that in order to be successful, Whistler must balance a vibrant, prosperous destination with a desirable, livable community. The result is a newly defined Place Brand for Whistler that is not only emotionally resonant with guests, but wholly reflects the sentiments of Whistler locals. This alignment, harmony and balance between visitors, community and businesses is ultimately Whistler’s Desired Future.

Whistler’s Unique Place

After more than a year’s worth of work (please see Place Branding FAQ for details) and in-depth research, Tourism Whistler has developed its new Place Brand Platform, which reflects Whistler’s unique place and personality. The brand platform includes several components, namely attributes, characteristics, values & beliefs, as well as Whistler’s brand purpose, essence, promise and positioning. The brand platform is an important reference tool and compass not just for Tourism Whistler but for the whole resort – it focuses and aligns our decision-making and actions. Having a clearly articulated brand platform ensures everyone who works with the Whistler brand shares one clear, consistent, common understanding of what our brand stands for and how it stands apart from its competitors. And this, in turn, helps align all of our external touchpoints with the outside world.

Whistler’s Best Guest

It is critical Whistler focus on a target audience where there is alignment between the guests’ interests and expectations, and Whistler’s attributes, characteristics and values to ensure our destination delights our guests, delivering a positive guest experience for all who choose to visit. The Place Brand exercise included a values-based visitor segmentation analysis. The intent of this segmentation analysis was to move beyond demographics & geographics, and identify Whistler visitors based on their values, beliefs, and passions. This resulted in identification of Whistler’s primary five visitor segments, attracting visitors whose core values align with Whistler, with the majority of guests falling within the top 3 segments. Further analysis of the common traits amongst the top 3 segments, identified Whistler’s bulls-eye best guest: The Sophisticated Thrill-Seeker

Sophisticated Thrill-Seekers:

  • Have a penchant for risk, adventure and pushing their boundaries
  • Have a deep appreciation for the mountains and nature and a desire to be in it
  • Are sophisticated and well-travelled, and want to be immersed in the culture of the places they visit
  • Are motivated to accomplish and achieve in all parts of their life
  • Are youthful and active with an energy that keeps them adventuring and young at heart
  • Are longing to belong, and wanting a taste of being a local rather than a tourist
  • Are influential and social and always up for anything

Note: While Whistler’s Best Guest will be the focal point of our seasonal brand campaigns, Tourism Whistler will continue to target a variety of different product segments through niche and tactical marketing campaigns throughout the year (ex. arts, culture & heritage; festivals and events; culinary; wellness; golf; etc). More information about Tourism Whistler’s annual marketing campaigns is available here.

Long-Term Tourism Vision & Strategy

The final component of Tourism Whistler’s Place Brand exercise is to use the insights we have gathered from our research to chart a Long-Term Tourism Vision & Strategy for Whistler – a sustainable tourism plan that aligns the interests & values of local residents and guests, and works to balance year-round visitor volumes. While the Vision has not yet been confirmed, elements of our Vision that came out of our research include the following:

  • Whistler has a vibrant, prosperous, year-round tourism economy
  • A comfortable carrying capacity is achieved – leveling peaks, boosting valleys to create more balanced visitation
  • Like-minded passionate locals & visitors engage in Whistler’s outdoor experiences; and respect & protect our natural environment
  • Employee housing is plentiful & affordable; transportation is convenient & accessible; tourism jobs are motivating & rewarding
  • There is a strong comradery between locals, businesses and visitors
  • Locals appreciate & support the importance of Whistler’s tourism economy
  • Businesses respect & support balanced visitation levels
  • Visitors respect & support the resort community

The Long-Term Tourism Strategy that supports our Long-Term Vision includes elements that Tourism Whistler does not own (such as housing and transportation), but are included as they are critical components to ensuring the continuation of Whistler’s vibrant visitor-based economy. The document is only a framework at this point in time, and Tourism Whistler will be working with Resort partners such as the Resort Municipality of Whistler, AWARE Whistler, and the Whistler Chamber of Commerce to flush out the content in the coming months. Elements of the Long-Term Tourism Strategy include:

  • Tourism Stability – Affordable Housing, Accessible Transportation, Access to Labour, Revitalized Infrastructure
  • Growth Management – Levers to Influence Visitation (Place Brand, Pricing, Programming, Resort Dispersion, Marketing Programs)
  • Tourism Stewardship – Improving Sustainable Practices (Competitive Benchmarking, Policies, Accreditation Programs, Report Cards)
  • Encouraging Responsible Visitor Behaviours – Education & Messaging (AdventureSmart, Bear Smart, Fire Smart, Active Transportation, Waste Reduction, etc)
  • Partnerships – Whistler Inc (Support for Tourism, Aligned Priorities, Coordinated Efforts, Clear Roles & Responsibilities)

Please review the Long-Term Tourism Vision & Strategy document for additional details.

New Brand Creative

Tourism Whistler rolled out the first examples of our new brand creative in October 2020 with the launch of our 2020/21 Winter Brand Campaign. The brand campaign was centred around the creative concept: Thrill Runs Deep

The concept of Thrill Runs Deep nods to the legacy of a community that since its earliest beginnings, has pushed its boundaries in Whistler’s rugged and beautiful environment. It speaks to a culture that attracts, inspires and celebrates human achievement in the outdoors, and acknowledges Whistler’s comfort in its contradictions, as thrill can be found as much in the intensity of the mountains, as it can in quiet moments of reflection and awe. For a more in-depth look into Whistler’s Place Brand, please review the Place Brand Guidelines Document.

Tourism Whistler’s new brand creative also features updated brand colours, typography, photo and video guidelines, a new brand voice, and a refreshed logo.

Please find below a selection of samples of how Tourism Whistler is bringing its new brand creative to life.

To help Members embrace Tourism Whistler’s new brand platform, our marketing department has pulled together a selection of fresh winter signature imagery. These images are now available for use in a curated collection on the Tourism Whistler Content Hub.

For a complete overview of Tourism Whistler’s 2020/21 Winter Brand Campaign, please see the Winter Campaign Toolkit.

Watch the entire Whistler Place Brand and Long-Term Tourism Vision & Strategy presentation below:

Next Steps:

  1. Member workshops will be scheduled in late 2020 (Details TBC) to help connect Members with Whistler’s new Place Brand, and to help the business community align their brands with Whistler’s new Place Brand Platform.
  2. Creative rollout for Tourism Whistler’s new Place Brand Platform will begin with the launch of our Summer brand campaign (May 2020). Update: Due to COVID-19, the creative rollout for Tourism Whistler’s new Place Brand has been delayed to October 2020.
  3. Tourism Whistler’s new brand video will be released in late 2020 (November).
  4. More information about Tourism Whistler’s Long-Term Tourism Vision & Strategy and how Members can get involved will be released later in 2020. Update: Due to COVID-19, Tourism Whistler’s Long-Term Tourism Vision & Strategy next steps have been delayed. More information about this important work will be released as it becomes available.

Have Questions?

If you have any questions about Tourism Whistler’s Place Branding exercise, Place Brand Platform or Long-Term Tourism Vision & Strategy, please send us an email to