Sun Peaks offering your customers more than just skiing
Agents take note
Tourism Sun Peaks’ senior market development specialist, Megan Nelson talks to Canadian Travel Press about the summer season just passed, the upcoming
winter and an upcoming training program for travel agents, so read on.
So, maybe you can start by talking about how COVID-19 has impacted on Sun Peaks. Did you have a summer season? And, if you did, how was it different from previous summers?
After a powder-filled season with our deepest snow base on record, we made the difficult decision to close the mountain a month early. Keeping our guests and locals safe was, and continues to be, a top priority. We opened back up at the end of June as per the provincial guidelines and had a very successful summer season. Sun Peaks was embraced by BC residents and there was a great buzz all summer long. We saw many first-time visitors to the resort that were drawn to the outdoor nature of a trip to Sun Peaks, our wide-open spaces and lack of crowds.
Can you talk about some of the health and hygiene initiatives that the area has implemented to make sure that visitors feel comfortable and safe? What were some of the challenges encountered?
Prior to opening in June, we worked with all the independent businesses in Sun Peaks to create consistent signage that everyone could use. It really made it easy for guests to understand the protocols and expectations in the resort. Increased sanitation and cleaning were implemented, and hand sanitizer stations can now be found at all entry points. Restaurants and cafés created additional seating and physical distancing on the village stroll. Our lift-access hiking and biking had caps on numbers to ensure minimal lines or crowds on the chairlift and trails.
While it’s hard to believe that summer is already coming to an end, I’m wondering if you can talk about some of Sun Peaks’ plans for winter. What can visitors expect?
Sun Peaks has the advantage of already moving through the summer season, so we can now implement practices and learnings as we move into winter. The winter will be all about planning ahead and pre-booking. The number of lift tickets sold will be capped this winter, to ensure a positive and safe experience for our staff and visitors. We now have an online booking system for equipment rentals including waiver signing, further reducing touch points within the overall guest experience. We are also introducing an RFID system which will improve physical distancing between staff and guests at the lift bases while
providing faster access to the mountain. Another very exciting change this year is that Sun Peaks is now part of the Mountain Collective. We look forward to welcoming new visitors as part of this program and introducing them to the Sun Peaks experience.
Now, ski areas usually have lots of activities, special events, etc. going on. I’m wondering if some of these won’t need to be cancelled or postponed because of COVID-19. Can you offer some insight into how Sun Peaks will be handling activities this winter?
Most of our winter activities will still operate with increased safety protocols and guidelines and we expect to see an increase in guests choosing independent activities like Nordic skiing and snowshoeing. As for events, we will continue to follow Provincial guidelines. Safety remains top priority. Through this summer, we were able to host small events that added to the overall atmosphere of the resort. We expect some village animation will continue this winter.
Canadian Travel Press’ readers are primarily travel agents and I’m wondering if Sun Peaks works with agents and if it does, maybe you can talk about what it offers to agents looking to sell its products and programs?
Sun Peaks is made up of a number of independent suppliers so each one has their own strategy when working with travel agents. In many cases, the easiest way for agents to access all components of a package is to work through the major wholesalers. Sun Peaks has a long history of prioritizing the travel trade, ensuring agents have equal, and in many cases, better offers than what would be available to the public.
Does Sun Peaks have any training programs to help agents with product knowledge on how to sell the destination?
We will be hosting a webinar for agents on October 15 and the link to register is https://tourismsunpeaks.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUld-GupjMtE9PYpX7qKcbzBIfeXcOj497x.
They can also visit the Travel Trade page at https://www.sunpeaksresort.com/travel-trade for detailed training presentations, itinerary ideas and to sign up for our quarterly travel trade newsletter.
So, why should agents sell Sun Peaks? What makes it different from its competition?
Sun Peaks is easy to get to, and it’s designed with convenience in mind. Once you’re here everything is within walking distance or a short ski away. The intimate village is pedestrian only and ski-through, including 40+ local boutique shops, rental services, restaurants, cafes and pubs. The terrain is expansive. We are the 2nd largest ski area in Canada, with three mountains surrounding the village, offering 360 degrees of skiing.
Last question. Are you optimistic about the upcoming winter season? Why?
We are very optimistic for the upcoming winter season. Canadians won’t be travelling to sun destinations this year or to international ski destinations but may still be looking to get away and enjoy time with their friends and family. We want agents to know that Sun Peaks is a fantastic ski destination, but also offers your clients more then just skiing. It is the ideal winter escape from crowded spaces and busy cities while still offering your clients key things they look for in a vacation – a range of accommodation from moderate to luxury, local and internationally inspired foods, unique outdoor activities and a place to settle in and relax.