This season, visitors to Vail Resorts ski areas can track how many days and runs they have enjoyed at the ski area, using technology embedded on lift tickets and passes. Radio-frequency scanners on every lift at Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, Keystone and Vail resorts in Colorado and at Heavenly in California will communicate with chips embedded on passes and tickets to automatically track guests’ runs.
Riders can check their progress online or on the mobile EpicMix application, for free. They can opt in to share the data on their Facebook and Twitter updates. EpicMix also would let customers know when their Facebook friends are skiing. Vail Resorts says no one sees the data unless customers opt in. Riders also can disable the radio-frequency chip.
Not to be left behind in the innovation game, The Canyons ski area is spending millions of dollars to reconfigure the mountain and add North America’s first heated chairlift with a bubble shield that swings over passengers like a pair of orange goggles. Ultimately, the Canyons and other resorts in Park City hope to steal market share from Colorado, which draws three times as much skier traffic. Utah’s resorts, have been waging an aggressive campaign to woo destination skiers for a decade now, with advantages such as double Colorado’s snowfall and a short drive from Salt Lake City’s airport.
The rivalry has not just been in marketing and innovation – The Canyons is owned by Toronto-based Talisker Corp., a closely held resort operator. When Talisker bought the Canyons two years ago for $123 million, Colorado rival Vail Resorts Inc. filed a lawsuit claiming it had a deal to buy the resort from now-defunct American Skiing Co. but lost.