Big data has a lot of positive attributes going for it, but one that is probably not talked about as much is its versatility. Big data covers such a broad spectrum that it can be used in a wide variety of different industries for many different purposes. So while it makes sense for big data to be used in retailing or marketing, other types of businesses may appear on the surface to be not as ideal of a fit. Take ski resorts, for example. Skiing may not seem like it would go hand in hand with big data, but ski resorts are finding some creative ways to utilize it, leading to more than impressive results in some cases. In fact, in all the big data use cases out there, what ski resorts are doing with big data can be held up as a shining example of how far a little ingenuity can take a business.
Ski resorts’ use of big data begins with new RFID (radio frequency identification) systems. These systems work by giving any visitor to the resort a card with a tiny RFID chip embedded inside it. From there, the technology can then be used in multiple ways, the least of which is to track a skier’s activity from the moment they start hitting the slopes. In other words, the data gained from the RFID chip is used to greatly improve the skier’s experience. This is in part done by getting rid of the old paper ticket model, where resort workers would have to scan lift tickets at most of the lifts skiers use. The traditional method took up time, particularly at the busier lifts, which lead to more waiting and less time on the slopes. With RFID chips, human scanners are no longer needed and skiers can get right on the lifts without hassle. Not only does this make skiers happier, but it cuts down on fraud at the resorts.
The data collected from RFID goes toward improving the slope experience in other ways as well. Many resorts are turning to gamification platforms to turn skiers’ time on the slopes into an interactive experience. Data gathered from each individual skier can be given to a program (like EpicMix) to track statistics that they accumulate. Those statistics can include how many lift rides they’ve made, number of days on the slopes, vertical feet skied, and many other factors. The data is uploaded directly from the RFID chip to the program, providing skiers with instant access to their own statistics while also comparing them with friends and family members who are also on the platform. Skiers can also get special rewards, badges, and pins for accomplishments based on their data, turning a season at the ski resort into more of a game. For example, EpicMix gives skiers the Everest Pin when they ski 29,035 vertical feet, which is the height of Mt. Everest. The friendly competition derived from gamification at ski resorts can encourage skiers to spend even more time on the slopes, increasing customer loyalty and engagement.
Big data can also make time spent at the ski resort much easier not just for skiers but for management as well. Resorts can transfer customer information smoothly and efficiently with proper data management. Before big data, buying a ticket, getting the right ski rentals, and signing up for ski classes would take a long time, keeping skiers from really enjoying themselves. Now, most ski resorts automate that process with big data, making it easier to get the information needed without wasting any time.
Those aren’t the only ways ski resorts can use big data. Based off of the data they collect, resorts can run targeted marketing campaigns depending on if the customer is a hardcore skier, interested in luxury offerings (spas, restaurants, etc.), or a combination of both. Resorts can also target when is the best time to approach season pass holders for renewal for next season. Big data is also used for weather prediction, which can help resorts decide if they can wait for snowfall or if they need to start manufacturing their own. All of these uses can make a major difference in a resort’s bottom line.
Big data analytics systems have essentially transformed ski resorts into high-tech businesses. From helping skiers enjoy their time more to figuring out how best to interact with them, big data is proving to be a valuable tool that’s vital in improving the skiing experience. The transition into a data-driven business model has been virtually seamless, and more advancements will surely make ski resorts an even more inviting destination than before.