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5 tech trends for Winter 2023
(and what to watch for in the future)

An in depth look at the ski industry’s hyped, helpful and hopeful tech, for this season and beyond.

Ski resort operators around the world have been dealt a difficult hand, yet continue to show resilience. On the supply side we’re faced with aging consumer demographics, the climate crisis, a global pandemic, industry consolidation, drastic labor shortages, and global unrest.

Most of which were cited in the recent NSAA Kottke End of Season report [paid] and have been covered extensively in major publications.

Meanwhile, on the demand side, consumers in the experience economy are presented with a myriad of options for discretionary spend, and in parallel, we are witnessing a fundamental shift, in which the total guest experience defines the price premium. As noted in the PwC Experience is everything: Here’s how to get it right report,

“32% of all customers would stop doing business with a brand they loved after one bad experience.”

While such global dynamics would create mayhem in less resilient industries, ski resort operators continue to adapt while developing long term strategies to rise to the challenge and mitigate the impact of such forces.

Speaking to visionary ski resorts around the globe, a consistent theme has emerged; they are optimistic because they’re leaning on technology to not just survive, but thrive. So as we come to the end of the 2022 season we use this four part series to look at technology and assess what’s relevant, what’s over hyped and what to look out for in the future.

Part 1: Tech you should be further developing, in order to thrive in Winter 2023
Part 2: Tech you should be adopting, in order to thrive in Winter 2023
Part 3: Tech to investigate and consider its possible use in the medium term, around 2024 - 2026 
Part 4: Tech to take a casual interest in and how it could affect your resort in the long term; 2027+ 

Part 1: Tech you should be further developing, in order to thrive in Winter 2023

Cyber security for ski resorts

In November 2018, Marriott Hotels reported a data breach which saw an estimated 339 million guest records exposed globally. They were fined $24.6m for "failing to keep millions of customers' personal data secure."

In late 2020, industry leader Boyne Resorts suffered a cyberattack by the WastedLocker operation that impacted enterprise-wide systems, taking critical systems including reservation platforms offline for weeks..

Then in April 2021 the Resort Municipality of Whistler suffered a ransomware attack that forced them to shut down their network, website, email, and phone systems. The note left on their website directed them to visit a chat site to negotiate payment. They were still dealing with the aftermath in November 2021.

These are just a few high profile examples in a long list of attacks on tourism and industry providers. Smaller and less ‘newsworthy’ attacks are happening frequently in large part due to ‘Ransomware-as-a-service’ now being a thing. What used to be the domain of the uber-smart is suddenly available to those willing to pay. Small time criminals and ‘wannabe’ hackers now have the world, and its money, at their fingertips.

As an industry, and as individual resorts, this is the foundation on which we need to focus in order to thrive. The Cyber Avengers, a self described “group of salty and experienced cybersecurity pros who work together to help defeat cybercrime and slow down nefarious actors” recently released a very helpful article on Forbes outlining steps to take to stay secure. 

Latest research from Gartner, a research company, shows that this year there are seven vital trends security leaders must address in order to protect against, due to companies’ ever expanding digital footprints.

For many resorts a ‘do it yourself’ approach isn’t possible, so we recommend seeking help from a professional and/or following best practices per the US government's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency

Ski resort datafication and digitization

Every resort is awash in data. Leading resorts are organizing and using it to better understand their customers in order to deliver better experiences; helping drive revenue and repeat visitations. 

A recent article by Forbes noted, “The single largest enabler of experience is technology. It facilitates innovation, personalized engagements, granular insight and next best recommendations, which are the foundation of benchmark experiences. In the past 12-15 months of the pandemic, digitization has played a vital role in keeping experiences in every consumption category — and the businesses providing them — alive.”

Last quarter we wrote an article on how ski resorts can best use their data and digitize their engagements in order to provide exceptional experiences. We won’t go into detail here but essentially this season you should be using data to

  1. Get personal

    Successful resorts and attractions know that guests now expect the most relevant, targeted information. All the time. From every company. So they use deep understanding to create offerings that are highly attractive and meet expectations from the outset.

  2. Advertise at the right time, right place
    Deep guest insights deliver maximum results with the right message at the right time in the right place. Don’t advertise to thrill-seeking, 23 year olds on a mom website. Equally, don’t promote skiing when it’s 90º out.

  3.  Do more than just packages and tiers. More exposure = more fun 
    Add-ons, amenities and interest-adjacent activities all work to delight guests and create unforgettable experiences; helping them spend more and keep coming back. But beware. Add-ons need to be relevant and limited.

  4. Hit them in the feels
    Every interaction causes feelings. From the first ad to the moment they get back home. A single bad feeling will ruin the entire experience. Make the good vibes seamless, understand your guests, optimize experiences, surprise and delight.

  5. Do what’s expected…and it better be easy
    ‘Big tech’ has set the standard on user experience. Successful resorts and experiences are doing this by offering guests a seamless experience. From planning to purchasing; first visit to on site experiences. Every touch point is easy.

  6. Be smart
    Leading resorts and experiences use technology to optimize operational productivity, maximize guest yield and happiness, minimize overheads and bottlenecks. The key difference between the okay and amazing, is that the amazing take their lead from guests not shareholders. 

Summary

So there you have it. In the face of such challenging industry dynamics, generating visitors and maximizing conversions requires a sophisticated approach to technology with much low hanging fruit ready for the picking. 

If nothing else this season, consider how best to use the available technology to not only attract new visitors, but to also generate repeat visitation and set you up for the incredible technological changes that are coming. 

You’ll create a superior customer experience and reduce your overheads all the while providing reliability, scalability and extensibility.

 

Next up

Part 2: Tech you should be adopting, in order to thrive in Winter 2023

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