Skiers, Snowboarders Will Tell It On The Mountain

With heat like New York’s been having, it’s not to early to dream about skiing and snowboarding, especially when mobile technology will let winter athletes engage more closely than ever with each other–and their resorts.

Vail Resorts announced today that this coming season, it will deploy mobile a mobile strategy called EpicMix. The plan¬†consists of a mobile application as well as RF (radio frequency) chips embedded in lift tickets, season passes, and the lifts themselves at the company’s Vail, Beavercreek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Heavenly resorts. EpicMix¬†lets guests track the distance they’ve gone down the slopes; announce when and where they are on the mountain, and meet up with friends via private messaging; share blow-by-blow accounts in real-time via Facebook and Twitter; and even win “rewards” from the resort, in the form of collectible pins, based on their activities.

Vail Resorts’ plan is a natural progression from what casino hotels have been doing the past several years. Gaming establishments have long used SMS/text messaging, for which customers opted-in to receive special offers like sales deals, “players’ club” specials, or entre into exclusive events. Casinos hotels–and later, other resort hotels–also found that SMS increased consumer interaction, while the data gathered from willing customers meant that the businesses could finely-tailor future marketing campaigns. And yes, like that industry, Vail too will only collect information from people who specifically opt into the program.

EpicMix is a pretty comprehensive strategy, and a very interesting use of different kinds of mobile technologies. (It almost makes RF technology, which had observers a-twitter earlier this decade, seem sexy again.) Besides RF there’s LBS (location-based services), mobile social networking, and a mobile app compatible with all smartphone platforms to organize data into meaningful and fun (create your own leaderboard among your friends!) information.

All mobile marketers should watch Vail very closely this season, as EpicMix will prove which technologies–and how they are used–works best to engage consumers and keep them coming back. The only mobile tech missing is a “gyroscopic” sensor that can tell you friends when you wipe out and bounce, bounce, bounce down the mountain.

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