A couple of week ago, I wrote about the Vail Resorts' electronic EpicMix ski pass, which leverages social media, personalization and a high degree of interactivity. In a nutshell, the RFID-based plastic card records data and sends to a personalized portal where you can view your photos and monitor vertical feet skied, among other things. And it tweets where you are so your friends can check in or meet you on the mountain.
The EpicMix tagline is "Capture, connect, share."
It's cool and once you get it, you want nothing less wherever you ski.
I realized that when I skied last weekend at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont, one of the biggest areas in the east. It too issued issued an electronic RFID-based pass much like the one from Vail except less functional and fun. I yelled to a lift attendent "does this monitor vertical feet skied?" The response was "Wished it did."
So did I.
It was very cool learning that in my two days at Vail and Keystone, I skied 39,065 vertical feet. No such luck with the Stowe "Evolution" card, which I measured against the leader, EpicMix.
Stowe's Evolution card was hand-scanned every time I got on the lift. An attendent scanned the EpicMix card only part of the time.
And the Evolution's only tie back to online was buying more lift tickets, albeit at a decent discount (for me, $69 instead of $81). But Stowe charged $5 for the card when I bought it at the base lodge and said I could get that refunded at the end of the day if I chose to do so.
Give me a break! Like everyone else, I am tired after a day of skiing and looking forward to getting my boots off. And here I give Stowe all this personal data when I bought the card and they charge me!? It should be the other way around.
The EpicMix card was free although it should be noted Vail charges $20-$40 more than Stowe for a lift ticket. Fact is nothing is free at ski areas.
Besides functionality, the other big difference is the the EpicMix gives skiers (aka the customer) the feeling that it benefits them. I am not so sure with the Evolution card, which I think has been too narrowly and somewhat clumsily executed. I suspect there is more to come.
Stowe's Evolution card is start while the EpicMix card is well down the electronic path. And these systems could some day help locate lost skiers.
Underneath these cards are servers, the cloud, the Internet, RFID ships, much more IT infrastructure and most of all, vision.
Remember paper lift tickets? Well, I skied the Sugarbush Resort in Vermont on Monday and it stuck out that it was still issuing those artifacts.
Click here for a deeper dive into EpicMix, which mentions, not insignificantly, that the system has had the complete backing support of Vail Resorts' CEO Rob Katz and CIO Robert Urwiler. Like I said, vision...
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