Capitalizing on volunteers

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By: Korie Marshall
Editor

I know it is a common practice in many places and many industries – being flexible with your pricing, often with the intent of charging more when things are busy. You see it a lot with accommodations, and I can’t really blame a motel owner for charging a bit more for their last room on any given night, if they want to take that risk. Because it is a risk – you might get a bit more money that night, but that customer might be less likely to come back to your establishment the next time they come through, and that might be when your rooms are empty.

But in a small community, where locals are volunteering their time and effort to bring events to the community – to put the community on the map and give people reasons to want to come here and maybe live here – it is incredibly disheartening to know that some businesses are trying to “capitalize” on that, especially when they aren’t putting anything into those events.

I’ve been volunteering at the Canoe Mountain Rodeo for a number of years, and I know how hard a small group of people work to put that on. It’s just one of the amazing events locals bring to the Robson and Canoe Valleys. I often hear from people who love coming to events here, because they love the scenery, the people, and they are amazed at what we have to offer. And I hear from people who stop in just because they see something from the highway, and now they know a bit about our community, and they are likely to talk about it and come back later.

I hate hearing that some of those people feel ripped off, because the motel they stayed at over-charged them.

We expect gas prices to be high here, and I was pleasantly surprised by one tourist this weekend who said gas here was 30 cents cheaper than it was in Barriere that day. That is quite scary for Barriere, but that is one person who was quite happy to gas up in Valemount, and we all know people talk about gas prices.

But people talk about room charges as well, and when one person asked why she was being charged $180 for a room over the weekend, staff told her that management wants to “capitalize” on events in the valley. The management is probably not happy staff passed that bit of information on, but I’m not happy that some business owners want to take advantage of the volunteer work done in this community for a quick few dollars, without ever giving back to those volunteers or that event.

I know a lot of local businesses support events and groups with donations of various sorts. Sometimes they do it for the exposure and advertising; sometimes they just do it and don’t want credit, because they know they are helping their neighbours and their community. I hope it is only a small minority of local businesses that are trying to take advantage of those events and groups. And I hope they realize they are leaving a lasting impression on some visitors, and it is not a good one.

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