Will Woods and Tanya Bennett

Will Woods met Tanya Bennett two years ago. In that time, they’ve gone from colleagues to friends to business partners. Now, the pair are thrilled to announce the newly formed joint enterprise Vancouver Mysteries, Inc.

Will is the founder of Forbidden Vancouver, a company focused on offering unique tour experiences centred on the city’s scandalous history. Tanya owns Full Serve Web, offering full service solutions for businesses, from branding and web design to social media management.

In 2013, a year after opening Forbidden Vancouver’s doors, Will was looking to expand. He shared a job posting for new storytellers on Facebook and got 60 responses. Tanya was one of them.

She made the shortlist right away and quickly distinguished herself as a leading candidate. Will had her come in to audition.

“I was just bowled over by her charm and warmth,” he says.

She was an instant hit with audiences on the Prohibition City tour as well, soon racking up rave reviews on TripAdvisor.

“She charms her audiences,” says Will. “She’s witty and knowledgeable.”

Tanya says, “I was very nervous about auditioning for Forbidden Vancouver, but I really wanted to get away from my computer for a few hours a week, and I love to talk, so it seems like the perfect job! Working with Will and the rest of the Forbidden Vancouver storytellers has been the most amazing experience.”

A Surprise Plot Twist in the Forbidden Vancouver Story

Several months after Tanya joined the Forbidden Vancouver team, an unexpected opportunity came up.

Fellow tourism business owner Sevan Flament approached Will with a proposition. He had created a pair of mystery puzzle games centred on Downtown Vancouver but was returning home to France. Sevan asked if Will was interested in purchasing the company.

Will tried out one of the games. He was intrigued, but already had his hands full running Forbidden Vancouver.

When he was talking to Tanya one day, he asked if she would consider managing the business for him. She replied, “No. …But I would consider being your business partner.”

Not long after that, the two purchased Sevan’s games and formed a partnership, along with a new company: Vancouver Mysteries Inc.

“When I am at Tourism Vancouver events and I’m surrounded by representatives from the big attractions around here – ones I’ve loved and visited since I was a little girl – I can’t believe that I am there,” she says.

“It is literally a dream come true.”

Since they officially took over last April, the two have kept busy adding their own twists and touches to the games.

“We want the players to be become immersed in the world of the game,” says Tanya.

Partners In Crime

For the redesign of Crime in Downtown, the pair tweaked the murder mystery storyline and changed the artifacts that hopeful detectives receive in their game kit. One such item was the crime scene report, which they modeled after the report from an actual murder.

“We wanted to give the games a more authentic look and feel,” says Will.

This includes setting up a “secret drop” so a Vancouver Mysteries Detective can hand over case files, magnifying glasses and other game items.

“I never thought my job description would include lurking in a park dressed as a detective,” says Tanya.

Her favourite part is meeting the game players. She’s run games for a range of people, from cruise ship visitors to stagette party attendees and students on a school field trip to accounting interns.  The games are a fun activity for locals as well as visitors to Vancouver, as well as an new and affordable option for team building and staff parties.

She describes the redesigned game as similar to  “the Amazing Race meets Clue.”

“It’s a really fun way to explore a really interesting part of the city,” says Will.

Corwin Ferguson, a Jesse-nominee (Projection Design, 2013) and also a Forbidden Vancouver storyteller, draws on his considerable theatre experience and artistic talent, and has played a big part in the new look of the Vancouver Mysteries games.

Tanya brings a wealth of experience in the team building sector to her work at Vancouver Mysteries, she even wrote a training workbook on the subject in her previous career as a Corporate Training Project Manager. Will brings the warmth and imagination of Forbidden Vancouver storytelling to the mystery games. His experience creating popular interactive and theatrical tours and events that are steeped in local history and Vancouver tourism is also invaluable.

“Both Will and I have a shared passion for detective stories, film noir and Vancouver history, so it makes us a perfect match for this venture,” says Tanya.

Watch for Secret Mission, the Vancouver Mysteries spy game, which will be officially launching this Spring.