10 benefits of instant access to the slopes with contactless systems
I love skiing, and for many it’s the perfect activity for the winter months as it combines sport, nature and the chance to spend time with family and friends…but at the same time, it’s hard to understand how it’s possible that in the 21st Century, we still have to put up with long queues at ticket desks, loosing precious time before we can click into our gear and catch the lift.
There’s more than one solution to this problem but considering that most resorts have automatic access gates (currently using an RFID card), the resorts themselves have it within their power to decidedly opt for digitalisation. And I say decidedly, because in most cases, we’re seeing partial implementation, which is therefore not as effective as it should be.
For this reason, especially since the season ended so abruptly, I was thinking it would be interesting to update what I think are the 10 main benefits of opting for instant access to the slopes with contactless systems with the addition of a few new considerations due to the new scenario we will be living in once we’ve overcome the coronavirus crisis, or the ever-closer total compatibility of access doors with the Bluetooth on our phones.
#1 Straight to the slopes. No queues
Exactly that. The main value of an online sales system and instant access to the slopes is the maximum possible reduction of waiting time before you can effectively start skiing. Once you have an RFID card that’s compatible with the resort, a system with these features allows each individual user to top-up online for a specific day, replacing the manual activity that traditionally is carried out at the payment desks, and we already have a card that is authorized for us to enter the slopes without further delay or friction.
#2 Automated pick-up on first purchase
The first purchase normally involves having to collect the card from a specific point in the resort, and therefore potentially standing in line. But there’s now the possibility of installing various keycard issuing machines in strategic points, inside and outside the resort, so that users can obtain the already automatically validated keycard by simply scanning the QR code generated through the online purchase process. Alternatively, keycards can be sent directly to the person’s address in a matter of 24 hours, in the same way as we receive many other e-commerce products.
#3 Contactless for greater protection
As a result of the new post-covid world, many skiers, and probably the authorities themselves, will be demanding the implementation of “social distance-friendly“ purchase and access control systems, for greater protection of both customers and workers. It’s clear that the long queues at the payment desks will have to be managed differently, or digital systems like the one proposed will have to be installed.
#4 Quick and easy on your smartphone. No plastic RFID keycard
Apart from being more sustainable, it would also be much easier for everyone to be able to access the slopes using their smartphone, saving us the task of producing and distributing millions of plastic cards which both cost money and have an environmental impact that can’t be ignored. Complete replacement of keycards is still a bit ahead, but the use of plastic cards could be drastically reduced, promoting re-use (circular economy) or direct use of Bluetooth on users’ mobiles as an alternative. This possibility is not yet 100% implemented in the resorts, but this season, one Austrian resort became the first to introduce it. There’s no doubt that when this is implemented in a more widespread manner, it will be a clear game-changer for everyone, and the experience will be 100% digital, mobile and plastic-free.
#5 A keycard compatible with multiple ski resorts at the same time
For skiers who like to use several resorts during the season, having to buy a keycard at each resort, and manage their use through several accounts, can be a real headache. For this reason, ski resorts should provide direct access to slopes with keycards issued by third parties, and not limit this to keycards from that particular resort. We’ve seen that services like the one offered by Skioo do not cannibalise the products of the ski resort itself, and instead contribute to removing the slope access barriers for more casual skiers, amongst other benefits.
#6 Dynamic prices and flexible payments
Paying after skiing, getting a better price by buying in advance and getting a lower price the more days you ski are options that are highly appreciated by skiers, but are only possible through completely digital sales and access control systems.
These are the most relevant benefits for skiers in my opinion, but from the point of view of the resort itself I would add the following:
#7 Increased online income by attracting new skiers and retaining of the existing ones
A system with these features allows the resorts’ marketing and sales managers to promote their resort across the whole digital spectrum, both to attract new skiers and retain the existing ones through a pass for less or more frequent use.
#8 Obtaining of customers’ data to know them better and personalise the offer of products and services
There’s no doubt that knowing and being able to contact customers requires a data generation capacity that only makes sense in a fully digital environment. In fact, ski resorts traditionally don’t know their customers very well, as the payment desks don’t have the capacity to collect data, nor is it exactly a priority for them. And additionally, this information is normally only obtained for skiers with a season pass. By channelling sales and interactions with the customer over the internet, the capacity to know and be permanently connected with the customer changes radically.
#9 Operational savings and more variable costs. Lower CAPEX
Implementing this kind of system allows ski resorts to optimise the number of payment desks needed (fixed costs) to deal with peak times, but which is clearly in excess at other times of the day or week. In fact, the trend is to convert payment desks into better quality customer service desks and make purchasing automated.
At the same time, promoting the re-use of top-up keycards or the use of a mobile phone is another way of reducing costs, avoiding large supplies of keycards before the start of the season, with the impact this has on the company’s bank balance.
Digital advertising and marketing can also be cheaper than many offline promotions that are traditionally carried out, with the added benefit that their effectiveness in terms of ROI can then be measured.
In short, digitalisation can easily be scaled up or down, turning some traditionally fixed costs into variableones. And thanks to companies that provide specialised solutions like Skitude, it dramatically reduces the necessary CAPEX.
#10 Maximised profitability
The capacity to increase the business volume, together with the reduction and variation of costs, gives us the necessary levers to increase the resort’s margins and maximise profitability.
Skitude’s contribution to the sector
In 2012, we decided to start connecting skiers and mountain enthusiasts through the Mobile Application Skitude, specifically designed for these groups, offering them more convenience and fun when they visit any resort. And vice versa, connecting resorts to potential customers through the same application, and/or a more personalised own brand application.
Over the seasons, we saw that in many resorts, these applications were becoming their main advertising and communication channels, and for more than the last three seasons, the Apps we make have been ready to allow the purchasing and topping-up of RFID cards and facilitate instant access to the slopes, fully contactless.
Along the same lines, in 2019, Skitude incorporated Skioo, an instant access card, into its services portfolio, in post-payment mode, compatible with over 40 resorts internationally and fully compatible with the resorts’ own channels and cards.
Finally, I would like to point out one of the most promising initiatives we have, which we are still working on, which consists of applications like Skitude being able to open the gates directly without the need for a keycard, without even taking your mobile out of your pocket, therefore offering the customer a 100% mobile experience.