Now that the fun and Games are rapidly receding in the rearview mirror, how did we do in the Olympic leveraging department?
Some downtown watering holes prospered, especially if they had plenty of suds on tap and big screen TVs. Local hosts who opened their homes to volunteers became community ambassadors. Many of their guests will no doubt return. With Sam the Axe Man beckoning drivers and the staff at the Adventure Centre working overtime to sing our praises, we made a lot of new friends.
Despite the big bucks the district tossed at advertising, incidents like the Garibaldi Budget Inn debacle ended up sending the wrong message to prospective visitors.
VANOC is suing the former owners of that snake-bitten establishment because reservation cheques were allegedly cashed while foreclosure proceedings were underway, leaving Games employees out in the cold.
Numerous other potential guests were similarly duped after they pre-booked and one of them declared it might have been smarter to find accommodations in Whistler or Pemberton.
"At this point, I'd be leery of stopping to refuel in Squamish," he announced in an email forwarded to The Chief.
Of course we all know that eventually everyone was offered shelter, some of it free of charge. Nevertheless, that's not the spin the major electronic and print media put on this exchange.?
Along with reports from visitors that some local commercial accommodations were lacking in amenities and service, this sorry episode has not exactly cemented our reputation as a destination venue.
And the story of leveraging gone sour doesn't end there. Overall many merchants saw a profit decline in February 2010 compared to the previous year.
Instead of marketing the town and its vendors, we turned too many visitors off, or ignored them.
The district could have negotiated a mutually beneficial parking deal with Wal Mart and Home Depot for drivers from the Lower Mainland and south of the border, who were ready to take buses to Whistler.
That didn't happen.
To compound the problem, muni officials treated the area around the bus loop like the grounds of Buckingham Palace and restricted parking for three adjacent blocks.
Instead of the district joining forces with the Chamber of Commerce to offer free coffee or special deal vouchers redeemable in local stores by visitors, bylaw enforcement officers festooned windshields with $25 parking citations.
The word on the Lower Mainland was: avoid Squamish.
We had a cruise ship moored in our harbour loaded with cash bearing customers. Many VANOC employees aboard the Mona Lisa and Olympic volunteers in town took advantage of our retail environment.
However, in hindsight, this captive audience was not energetically pursued.
I came, I saw, I shopped, just didn't happen with enough regularity during the Games. Veni, vidi, Visa turned into veni, vidi, vamoose.
The Olympics gave the Sea to Sky Corridor an opportunity for unprecedented exposure. If advertising is all about branding and creating product awareness, our performance was less than stellar.
For five years leading up to the Games we whined about VANOC giving us the shaft.
When the time came for us to leverage the Big Event, we fumbled the ball.