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Guide to...

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

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

In part 1 we discussed the top three technologies every resort should be developing to give them a boost in 2023; cybersecurity, datification and digitisation. Here in part 2 we look at the technology that resorts should be implementing or further developing if they already exist.

Ski Resort Automation 

As resort operators embark on their own digital transformation, it is necessary to consider how technology supports all aspects of the customer journey, including pre-arrival, on-site and post-visit phases. As PwC noted, “Take advantage of automation, but make sure customers can reach a human when one is needed. In turn, automated solutions should “learn” from human interactions so those experiences also improve. This shift allows your employees to be more engaged when they’re needed, provide better service and get necessary support from technology—as part of the seamless experience.” 

With that in mind, this season consider easing into automation where it makes sense. For example:

  • Allocation of instructors to lessons
  • Group lists - self upload 
  • Season prep / product set up
  • Marketing segmentation and outreach

Dave Kulis, Assistant GM for Catamount Resort intends on leveraging the Intouch Campaign Management platform, a ski resort management system, for Catamount Resort and sister property Berkshire East. According to Kulis,

“We believe we can generate higher online conversions with targeted communications and personalized offers which are relevant for each specific audience."
Dave Kulis, Assistant GM, Catamount Resort

How’s this possible? They’re using their resort-wide system to better understand their guests, create personalized experiences and then apply that knowledge to develop customer segments based on demographic and/or behavioral data while delivering personalized communications across a variety of channels.  


Contactless + eCommerce

Thanks in large part to the pandemic, the desire for self service and contactless-everything has accelerated. Why? Because it’s easier and provides a superior experience.  

Ski Cooper, an independent operator located amongst the giants of Colorado’s ski industry, has aggressively updated technology platforms to create a fully integrated customer experience that enables self-service and hands-free access control.  According to Patrick Torsell, Senior Director of Resort Services.

“Our goal is to showcase our mountain and delight our guests by removing as much friction as possible while creating a superior guest experience to help attract new guests and encourage repeat visitation.
Patrick Torsell, Senior Director of Resort Services
Contactless

With that in mind, here are some ways to allow guests to serve themselves while limiting your overheads:

Direct to lift

This one is so common, it’s almost unusual to not have it. But basically, an RFID card allows guests to buy online then go straight to the mountain. It improves their experience and lowers your cost.

Rentals

Using past data, guests can book their rentals on line and, like direct-to-lift, pick up their equipment with minimal human intervention. This one does triple duty: better guest experience, less labor costs and more accurate inventory.

Food and beverage + retail

Just as the airline and supermarket industry has pivoted in their approach, so too are leading resorts. Ordering via apps or kiosks are becoming the norm as are self checkouts. For next level resorts, tie in the guest RFID card to the F&B or retail system enabling guests to ‘tap’ to pay. 

Book online - snow sports

Much like the beauty industry, leading resorts are opening their snow sports schedules to guests, enabling them to book services based on staff availability, capacity and skill level. 


eCommerce

It’s not enough to just have a nice website anymore. Guests want to buy when they’re ready, and that may be at 2am while messaging a friend and streaming the latest series.

With so many distractions guests need the ecommerce engagement to be intuitive and easy. Leading resorts are delivering this experience all the while maximizing conversions, upselling, cross selling and optimizing both prices and product availability. Here’s what to look at this season:

Mobile-first

Like cybersecurity, this one is a must-have. If your site and eCommerce functionality aren’t mobile friendly, you’re in trouble. Firstly, you will barely rank on Google and secondly you’ll be lucky to keep your guests engaged for much longer than 0.05 seconds. 

Although there are many retail-specific sites and eCommerce offerings (e.g. Squarespace and Shopify) they won’t be enough. Ski is complex, so best you speak to an expert.

Dynamic content (including pricing)

Assuming you have your mobile-first site and eCommerce functionality sorted, dynamic content is the next item to address. Dynamic content refers to web content (text, images, pricing, cross- and up-sell products etc) that changes based on the user’s:

  • behavior - pages they visit, products added to the cart
  • preferences or interests - previous purchases, visit dates, associated child accounts
  • other - geo-location or buyer personas

The airline industry has been excelling at this for years, using a mind-boggling array of signals to maximize both their sales and profitability.

To do this you need your system to automatically pull data from your website, eCommerce site and customer database, in near real time. Then, based on those signals, serve the relevant and specific information back to the user. This is easier than it sounds, but it’s not common in standard website and eCommerce offerings. 

You’ll need to look at an industry specific solution that integrates with your website, CRM and resort management system. This is why industry leaders tend to use fully integrated or ‘end-to-end’ technology solutions.  

This past season, Barb Green, industry visionary and President of Blue Mountain, adopted a dynamic pricing model for online ticket sales, utilizing technology to process 98% of transactions online while generating record revenues.  According to Green,

“Blue Mountain will seek to expand on prior season success by developing data-driven insights to further optimize product and pricing strategies with the purpose of securing advance purchase commitment and maximizing yield”.
Barb Green, industry visionary and President of Blue Mountain
Social media purchasing

After years stuck at home, latest research from GlobalWebIndex, a consumer profiling organization, shows that users have pent-up desire to explore new horizons and nurture their sense of hedonism. What better way to do that than in the ski industry. This demand is colliding with popular apps such as Instagram enabling purchases to be made without ever leaving the app. So make sure the eCommerce experience on social channels is the same as your website.

Cloud goes vertical

Cloud computing has been around for 10 years, and while it started as “lift and shift—your-mess-for-less infrastructure moves [and] infrastructure-as-a-service” it’s been through four iterations since then to where it’s landed today - “cloud goes vertical”

As Deloitte described in their Tech Trends 2022 podcast, “The idea is that as the business case and the abstraction elevate—as it moves up the proverbial stack—it can’t help but become industry-specific, sector-specific, [and] verticalized. And so, innovators across industries, including ski, are saying,

“Hey, we’re here to compete on experiences and beautiful mountains. Ticketing, rentals, product and admin capabilities are not how we compete. They’re not how we win. And so, let’s outsource that. Let’s cloud-source that to a cloud-based specialist that would be happy to take that off our plate.”

Summary

There are many opportunities for ski resorts that are both already making technological inroads and those at the start of their journey. The appealing aspect of these opportunities is that they can be implemented relatively easily and often with existing technology. 

Next up

Part 3: Tech to investigate and consider; ~ 2024 - 2026

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