Tech trends for Winter 2023
(and what to watch for in the future.)
Part 3: Tech to investigate and consider; ~ 2024 - 2026
In part 1 and 2 we discussed the top five technologies every resort should be developing to give them a boost in 2023; cybersecurity, datification + digitisation, automation, contactless + eCommerce and Cloud goes vertical
Here we take a peek at what’s coming, and an opportunity to start thinking about how it could be used in your unique resort.
Smart navigation (Wayfinder)
“The best digital commerce experiences don’t just put products or services within reach. They guide shoppers to things consumers didn’t even know existed.” So notes Deloitte in their latest research paper, Seizing the next era of growth in digital commerce.
With this in mind, leading resorts are utilizing new eCommerce functionality, ‘wayfinders’ that guide users through the buying process, dynamically changing, yet smartly showing irresistible options. Thus providing better experiences for the user, while also maximizing cross-selling opportunities.
Wayfinders are brand new and not for the casual user. Think of it this way, much like pieces of Lego, Wayfinder elements are distinct parts of the eCommerce journey that can be combined in any way possible. Your imagination is the only limit.
While incredibly powerful, Wayfinders are also highly strategic, forcing the resort to think deeply about the ideal eCommerce journey as well as truly understanding each guest segment. Enabling you to guide guests to products or services they didn’t even know existed, yet most certainly will want.
Tied closely to Wayfinders are Experience Groups. Again, this technology is not yet widely available and requires sophisticated customer understanding.
Experience Groups speed the process of targeting customer segments with contextually relevant promotions and offers. This helps lower marketing spend per dollar earned, in turn supporting resorts to maximize the often small windows of opportunity to utilize capital assets.
How do they work? Essentially by using ‘big data’ and machine learning to identify commonalities in guest segments, then triggering relevant offers.
AI / machine learning / machine vision
Once the domain of sci-fi, AI, in all its forms is finally coming of age. But, it’s still just a little too early for most in the ski industry due to its complexity, need for technical expertise and deep pockets that can fund truly valuable solutions. Once the cost drops, and there are more ‘ready-made’ solutions, then it will be ideal for:
- Pricing optimization
- Predictive analytics
- Queue counting / user flow
- User targeting for promotions
Decision intelligence uses AI to analyze enormous amounts of data to identify and visualize the cause and effect relationship of decision options. By augmenting traditional decision-making science with the resulting decision intelligence, businesses can make quicker, more efficient decisions, often seeing trends not visible to the human mind.
Functional mobile app
There was a while where every company wanted an app. But users won’t download it if it’s not useful, or in tech parlance, functional. So we have seen heavy investment in mobile apps generate sub optimal results for resorts. We’ve placed this trend out a few years because currently most resorts can only muster low guest insights, hard-fought system integrations and little to no third party data engagement.
To be functional and valuable, an exceptional mobile app should be:
- Dynamic / updated in real time
- Contextually relevant
For example, static information shows the Guest the location of the nearest cafe; dynamic information includes the service waiting time now and the expected waiting time in 20 minutes (or put another way, after one more run)
Another example is an app that shows the static detail of where the nearest shuttle pick up point in town is useful, but showing the Guest the pick point with the time of the next shuttle’s arrival time with the number of empty seats on it is both contextually relevant and dynamic therefore of high value to the Guest.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Wikipedia says it best, “IoT describes physical objects that are embedded with sensors, processing ability, software, and other technologies that connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the Internet or other communications networks”
With that in mind, capital equipment is the obvious contender for IoT. But IoT only delivers value when combined with machine vision, decision intelligence and sophisticated cyber security measures (think of self-driving cars as the perfect example.) That's why, until those aren’t freely available and applied, IoT won’t be widely used either. Once it does though, IoT will enable resorts to use humans for value-added activities and leave the machines to proactively / in real time execute the likes of:
- Predictive maintenance for lifts, ski mobiles, snow makers etc
- Run lifts autonomously
- Proactive ordering for Food & Beverage
A digital twin is described as a digital representation of a physical object or system. In our case, this could be a digital representation of the ski lifts or the queues for hot chips at lunchtime.
As more ‘things’ become connected (think ski lifts, access gates, snow makers etc via IoT) they produce data. This gives IT and data experts information needed to model a digital equivalent in order to optimize productivity or efficiency as well as model ‘what-if’ scenarios.
5G has been well hyped, but at its heart, it simply offers greater speed, more capacity and lower latency (the time a signal takes to go from its source to its receiver, and then back again.)
This combination of high speed and minimal lag will make AR (see below) really come into its own as well as real time application of many other technologies mentioned in this section.
Augmented Reality (AR)
Although AR feels strange to us now, some may even argue useless. But it’s coming, and just like it’s now normal for children to ask the room to find an answer for their homework—in the future all you’ll have to do is talk. Or gesture. Or glance.
AR overlays digital information onto the user’s field of vision. Imagine a resort where you look at a ski lift and see the wait time, or race down the slopes against digital avatars. The opportunities are endless.
So there you have it. In the medium term there are ample opportunities for vastly improving the customer experience, deepening on-resort engagement and optimizing profitability.