The snow is here. The mountains put on their beautiful white coats. It’s time for the ski season. Before, the ski vacation checklist was limited mainly to the equipment: skis, jackets, gloves, boots. Today everything is different. The list also includes: tablets, laptops, and primarily smartphones: It is out of the question to travel without technology! Only 4% of French people go entirely offline when on holiday, and 81% of Americans admit that their smartphone is their number one travel accessory. People will always wish to go skiing, and the snow industry has a bright future, but no one wants to be cut off from the world while on a mountain. We are entering the era of skiing connected!
We are living in the era of immediacy and sharing. As skiers, we want everything to be done in this way to make our vacation a unique customer experience. There is a real revolution in behavior. The resorts have understood the stakes and the interest for their image and notoriety: Today, for more than 80% of [French skiiers], Wi-Fi access is a selection criterion when choosing a ski resort. Also, 31% of people in America only select a hotel if it offers free Wi-Fi. Every year, resorts are investing more in IoT and connected infrastructures. Resorts have even implemented something called smart station – a new technology that is available to facilitate the lives of holidaymakers and ensure their comfort.
Skiing Connected: Wi-Fi for all and everywhere
The primary objective of the ski resorts is simple: to offer access to Wi-Fi to everyone everywhere, whether through optical fiber or radio links, a free Wi-Fi central point, or an individual pocket wifi. All amenities at ski resorts are created to satisfy the customer. (e.g., since 2015 the resort of Les Gets [has offered] its holidaymakers a pocket Wifi system enabling them to stay connected everywhere, even when on holiday)A customer’s satisfaction starts with internet access. Nowadays, we want to be able to share everything immediately. The resorts have understood this need have acted to improve. There are more and more photo points installed in front of the most beautiful photo spots of different ski areas. The photo points ensure beautiful photos and selfies for skiers, that of course – thanks to the connected structures – can immediately be shared for our greatest happiness.
Mobile applications for a better customer experience
Which resorts do not have their own applications? If only one! Mobile apps are the favorite digital tools for resorts. And ours too. These are our vacation companions. Applications accompany us from our very idea of a snow vacation until our return home.
A question? A need? A desire?
The applications are there to make our life easier. We can book our stay, our packages, find out in real time the weather, snowfall, snow conditions, and openings/closures of the slopes; we can find our friends and know everything about the resorts and their region; thanks to the beacons and sensors scattered everywhere in the resorts, one can choose the most suitable itinerary for their level, but also according to the affluence of the lifts; and much more. Everything is within smartphone reach.
Webcams, video, camera and TV: all the means to skiing connected
Today we do not talk about smartphone without talking about video. Thanks to the implementation of Wi-Fi in most areas, holidaymakers can access the Web TV and Youtube channels of the stations but also of the regions, and the webcams of the domains. Skiers can then judge for themselves the state of the slopes and have real-time information on the weather and possible activities. To complement these services, some stations even install large screens near the slopes to show skiers the less traveled routes of the resort so they can thus make the most of their day.
If the Wi-Fi is developing, it is the same for the different video devices that are dispatched on the domains. More and more slopes are installing these kinds of devices. No need for an onboard camera or third parties to fix our memories or film our exploits. Photos and videos are taken automatically.
Some stations even put terminals in place that identify the person with his hands-free ski pass and trigger cameras that will film his passage. You can receive your video immediately on your smartphone or download it later.
Not to mention the resorts that offer 3D and augmented reality services – with or without a VR mask – to discover a region or domain, to be able to find one’s way or even to follow snowshoe itineraries.
Data for the Use of Skiiers and Resorts
Sensors located everywhere – on the slopes and lifts, but also in the strategic locations of “towns and villages”. The sensors are serious assets for the resorts:
Station trackers are notified in real time of any problem. Staff can open or close tracks to skiers through a dashboard.
Ski slopes can collect data (the famous “big data”) on the habits and preferences of their tourists.They can then offer companies beacon advertising campaigns or dynamic displays.
“The digital revolution is well on its way for French slope maintenance services – both in terms of skier enjoyment and safety. Ski patrol equipment is being updated with new geo-localisation devices. In introducing these resources, Val Thorens is a truly pioneering and visionary force in terms of what will become common practice 3 or 4 years’ time.” Benjamin Blanc, head of the Belleville Valley slope maintenance service – Feb 2017.
Data and customer’s loyalty at the heart of skiing connected
The connected station today is a reality. A reality that meets a need and that develops at the same pace as the latter. While all the stations do not offer the same services in terms of connected infrastructures, videos, sensors or IOT, the will is there. And the trend is not going to reverse.
“Ski resorts have nothing to envy to smart cities“…”The French mountain resorts, which represent a market of 9 billion revenue by the end of 2016, have inevitably entered into a process of optimizing the management and operation of their infrastructures and are now relying on the IoT power to inform the decision-making process of their operators.”
The goal of the smart station is threefold:
- The customer: improving the customer experience for a higher customer satisfaction.
- The data: the possibility of collecting data throughout the skier’s stay but also before and after. Through applications, we can give our opinion on everything, suggest improvements and detail what we liked. We can even answer questionnaires. Even after our stay, we then provide essential data that complements our preferences captured during our stay. The stations love data; analyzed, these are priceless!
- The notoriety: All the sharings, likes, comments and others alike, actively and freely (in both sense of the term) add to the familiarity a resort; word of mouth takes all its sense and proves its impact.
With one and only one priceless finality: customers loyalty!
Thus, The digital revolution is definitely on and resorts have no other choice than to get smart. In the snow industry, the equipment and clothing sectors also have to follow the pace: customers want to be connected, but also want all their equipment to be connected. Get Skiing Connected!