Vail Resorts (Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone) has announced their technology plans for the second iteration of their popular pass-based technology: EpicMix Photo.
I remember when resorts were first trying out RFID-enabled passes: the ones with the chips in them that, with special scanners, can be picked up when you get close to them (no line-of-sight needed to scan, keep it in your jacket or pocket). I distinctly remember Copper Mountain trying these with their “Fast Lane” customers. I always laughed because people would thrust their chests up against the scanners because the technology wasn’t quite there yet. That was the early 2000s.
Now its 2011 and all Vail Resorts passes, season and day, will be RFID-enabled. This certainly means one thing: no more maintaining two technologies at Vail Resorts, no more training on two ways to scan (though, how hard is it?). It also means: everyone can get all the perks of the EpicMix scanners at each lift that track your vertical feed, lifts visited, etc.
cosnow’s take: This is a fun way to get more people visiting Vail Resorts from out of town or are just going with their friends for one or two days. They all get the benefit of the EpicMix profile and stats (and Vail learns a bit more about them, in return).
Free, Professional Photos
The exciting piece is Vail Resorts is offering their free, professional photographers access to take a picture of you and ‘tag’ you using your RFID-enabled (scan through your jacket) pass. Yes, those photographers that you ski past on the slope and wonder: “Was that a cool photo of me? Oh well, I don’t want to pay so I’ll never know…” and the ones at the top of the lift: “Do I really want to spend 15 minutes taking photos with my family not knowing if I like how they’ll turn out?”
No worries, says Vail. The photogs can ‘tag’ everyone in the photo and, through EpicMix, show up immediately for you to view and share on your social networks (Facebook, Twitter). If you decide you like the picture, you can buy the full-resolution version, save it, print it, etc.
cosnow’s take: This is epic, pun intended. Vail knows how to make money and this is it: give people awesome photos with the great app experience and encourage more purchases. Sure, most people will just share their photo on Facebook and move along. But for many, if it’s easy, they will buy photos they otherwise never would have even had taken. Plus, it sounds like your own photos can live in EpixMix alongside the professional photos as peers.
EpicMix Remix Collage
At the end of the day, EpicMix will now generate a “Remix” collage of your vertical feet, photos, pins, etc. In short, you have a nice collage showing off your day on the mountain to remember forever.
cosnow’s take: This is nearly perfect. Yes, for most people a big photo on Facebook will be all they need to remember the day. But I’d hate to have an album of flat image files. I’d rather data that I can take and show elsewhere: a widget to put on my site with days visited, vertical feet, recent photos, etc. This is a great way to send traffic back to a site (EpicMix) while allowing me to take it and use it elsewhere. I’m not sure if I’d ever reliably use this feature.
I’m excited to see the technology evolve, this is right up my alley. I love photos, stats, and skiing so I see myself continuing to experiment with the new features. I’ll be sure to post my thoughts as the season gets rolling.