Tourism and hospitality businesses across Metro Vancouver are participating in the social media movement #WeAreTourism. We are supporting each other by sharing these stories of challenge and hope.
This is one story.
It all happened after one Mystery Night.
When Tanya Bennett, Owner of Vancouver Mysteries, held one of her Mystery Night events at Vancouver Lookout last October, she didn’t know this fateful evening would lead to a meaningful partnership.
When Pamela Thurston, Manager of Guest Experience & Operations at Vancouver Lookout, said yes to hosting Vancouver Mysteries last October, she didn’t know she would be playing the role of a grieving widow on a regular basis.
And neither of them expected the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Vancouver Mysteries is a locally owned company that offers themed outdoor mystery games on the streets of Vancouver. With the game kit provided, the experience is also a self-guided tour of downtown Vancouver. Yes, Vancouver Mysteries has the outdoor advantage as customers are never indoors and they sign up to play within their own social bubble. However, Tanya had to come up with a new system for resetting the game kits in order to ensure the safety of her staff and customers. Before handing it to the players, the kit would be sealed and quarantined for 72 hours. After each game, customers would seal the used kit, and the kit would be quarantined for 72 hours before the Vancouver Mysteries team touches and resets it for the next game.
“Logistically this is a challenge because it puts 6 days between use, whereas before it would only take 5 minutes to reset the game,” explains Tanya. “We have to be more organized.”
It was a slow June for Vancouver Mysteries. Business picked up some for Tanya in July and August, but it’s still down 75-80% compared to last summer. The good news? “This October may actually compete with last October,” Tanya beams.
In addition to the marketing effort and an increase in team building bookings, the partnership with Vancouver Lookout plays a part in a brighter-looking fall season. Just before the lockdown, Vancouver Mysteries launched a new indoor game called The Case of the Hotel Detective. It’s portable so it can be played anywhere — at an office, a home, or in any city. Following the success of their brief collaboration last October, Pamela reached out to Tanya and proposed to bring the game to the Lookout after its re-opening.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to connect ourselves with something as iconic as the Lookout,” says Tanya. Similar to the outdoor games, players sign up with their own social bubble. Groups arrive at staggered time slots and are taken to the Lookout via a private elevator ride. Each group is led to their private table, physically distanced from other players. To prepare for the event, the Lookout deck is sanitized, the elevator is sanitized after each ride, and the quarantined game kit is placed at each table prior to players’ arrival. All players also have the opportunity to enjoy the 360° view of Vancouver on the Lookout deck.
Since the first pop-up game at the Lookout, this partnership has blossomed. Pamela has even become a part of the game and played the character of a grieving widow. Furthermore, the two organizations are still joining up for the Mystery Night events in October, providing another cross-promotion opportunity.
“One of the wonderful things about the tourism industry is the camaraderie and the opportunity to learn from each other,” comments Tanya, thinking with social distancing she would be running her business alone. “But it turns out I’m even more connected to people than I was before.”
As for Vancouver Lookout, they were used to welcoming up to 1,500 guests a day. A lot of their guests were cruise ship goers, Rocky Mountaineer passengers and international visitors from across the world, with only approximately 15% of guests being locals. Since they re-opened in August, they have been closed to walk-up visitors, offering either an one-hour, private on-deck experience for groups, or an event space for up to 50 guests. This transition has allowed the Lookout to offer locals a safe, weather-friendly space to create some special memories.
“Imagine a ‘Farewell Vancouver’ party,” explains Tracy Volb, the Lookout’s Manager, Sales and Events. “We recently hosted a multi-generational family who haven’t seen each other for 6 months. The daughter, who’s moving away, saw her last sunset in Vancouver here.”
How about a birthday brunch. Or a marriage proposal. Or the backdrop for a Zoom meeting.
In addition, they are holding pop-up events within the arts community, inspiring photographers, painters and alike with a breathtaking view of Vancouver.
“It’s ‘Your Vision, Our View,’” Tracy says proudly.
Currently, Vancouver Lookout is putting together a Dine with A View package with a number of Gastown restaurants, where guests can rent the deck for 90 minutes and have their meal delivered from one of the participating restaurants.
“Picture the Vancouver Lookout for not what it used to be, but what it can be,” suggests Pamela.
Like the view, sky’s the limit here.
ARTICLE BY: Joyce Lam, Kumquat Marketing
PHOTOS BY: Mark Kinskofer, Vision Event Photography
SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT BY: Kelly Liberatore, Creative Contessa Marketing