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Vail Resorts straps in smooth skiing via crowdsourced wait-time app

Vail Resorts is enabling skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts to get the most of their stays with a mobile application expansion that leverages crowdsourcing to provide real-time wait line times for ski lifts.

The EpicMix Time app will enable winter sports enthusiasts vacationing in Colorado’s Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone and Beaver Creek locations to check the current wait times for ski lifts on their smartphones before venturing out the door, potentially saving them significant amounts of time. Vail Resorts is leveraging crowdsourced technology to display up-to-the-minute wait times for 55 lifts and gondolas across its properties, suggesting that other ski-centric hotels would be well-suited to follow in its footsteps.

“Introducing effective, intuitive and relevant mobile experiences is critical for our guests who are in resort for a ski vacation,” said Stacey Pool, senior director of digital experience at Vail Resorts. “EpicMix Time not only enhances what the guest can do on the mountain, but it also provides an exceptional in-app experience for the guest that matches the unparalleled in-resort service he or she is experiencing.

“EpicMix Time will allow guests to compare lift line times, view their location on the trail map so they can truly maximize their time on the mountain.”

Hitting the slopes
The EpicMix Time application is now available to download for iOS and Android devices. The app first made its debut in 2010, allowing skiers to track their achievements on the slopes and share their personal anecdotes via social media.

Now, consumers will be able to access a plethora of new features with the app update, including real-time wait lines. Skiers and snowboard riders can rest assured knowing they will be maximizing their time on the snow, thanks to the recently developed crowdsourcing technology.

Winter sports fans staying at one of Vail Resorts’ properties may use the app to deduce how long they may have to wait for a ride up the mountain from one of the 55 core lifts and gondolas available over 13,600 acres of terrain.

Consequently, riders will be able to get the most of their time at the resort, and can adjust their schedule according to crowd reports. If an app user discovers that the nearest gondola has a wait time of half an hour, he or she may opt to visit a snack bar in the meantime, instead of waiting outside in freezing temperatures.

Additionally, EpicMix Time includes GPS-enabled trail maps, so that customers can accurately pinpoint their location on the slopes and view the wait times at the nearest ski lift. To take advantage of this feature, guests should update their existing EpicMix Time app or download it from Google Play or the iTunes store.

Once users tap the EpicMix Time icon on the app, it will display the wait time for ski lifts data in real-time at each of the brand’s four Colorado hotels in Beaver Creek, Vail, Breckenridge and Keystone.

Vail Resorts claims this mobile technology is a first for the ski industry. It will continue fine-tuning the analytics within the app as the skiing and snowboarding season progresses.

Guests concerned about navigating the resorts’ ski terrain for the first time will undoubtedly take comfort in the app as well.

Mobilizing sports
Vail Resorts is also planning to expand the EpicMix Time program to other locations, and include the ability to offer updates to its customers regarding on-site dining and shopping wait times. Previous EpicMix Time incarnations have served complimentary digital photos via ski pass information as well as contests and challenges for experienced riders, proving just how mobile can act as a constant sports companion.

Future updates to the app have great potential to drive serious revenue for Vail Resorts.

“The EpicMix Time app is certainly a step in the right direction as skiers and snowboarders would greatly benefit from real-time lift wait times,” said Djamel Agaoua, senior vice president of Cheetah Mobile/Cheetah Ad Platform. “Fortunately for Vail Resorts, there is a big opportunity to get app users to actively engage well beyond just checking lift wait times.

“Vail Resorts will gain high value data about its customers who have installed the app,” he said. “This data can be used to drive additional revenue, as well as give mountain-goers a benefit they may actually want.

“There are all sorts of opportunities that can be explored, including upselling customers, cross-selling opportunities, and using beacon technology. When a group of snowboarders have left the lift area, for example, the EpicMix app can deliver them a coupon for the ski lodge restaurant or once they’ve returned home the app can offer them a discount on a hotel room for their next visit to the mountain.”

Ultimately, Vail Resorts guests will likely respond well to EpicMix Time’s crowdsourced technology, especially since it was developed as a consumer-first perk to help maximize time on holiday.

“Providing useful information is a critical benefit to our guests,” Ms. Pool said. “Comparing lift line tines and GPS-enabled trail maps introduces a unique experience because it’s overlaid on the trail map not only help the guest see their location, but it’s a resource that they can use to plan which terrain they would like to ski and which lifts they want to target throughout the day.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely, staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York