Yesterday Vail Resorts announced EpicMix, an app where Twitter meets ski lodge tall tales. The press release, which we covered this morning, reviewed the what and when. Rob Katz, Vail Resorts' CEO, gave me the skinny on the why and how - and a bit more on exactly what.
Q: Have you been tracking people on your slopes for some time now?
For about the past two years, our lift passes have had radio frequency [RF] chips installed in them. Each lift across all five of the Vail resorts has an RF reader that has allowed us to passively track skiers.
Q: Why is now the time to give people access to the information you've been gathering?
We've been watching two trends. The first is a huge, renewed interest in skiing and snowboarding from Generation Y and the Millenials. The second is the massive amount of energy that same demographic is putting into social media. It follows that a digital version of apres-ski would suit them, and we plan to give them one.
Q: What exactly do you expect people to do with their stats?
Log onto a website to view their statistics from the day, week, or season. They can earn pins like Pow Hound for hitting certain runs, First Chair for being on the first lift of the day, or Last Chair for being on the last. Some pins will be more exclusive and elusive. Some will be earned by a sort of treasure hunt of slopes that we arrange on a regular basis. Then there'll be leaderboards—global and among groups of Facebook friends—where people can see how they compare in terms of vertical footage, number of runs, or number of pins earned. Stats for an individual will persist over the course of several seasons.
Q: That sounds like a video game.
It's a little Farmville-esque. But the app will allow people to find their Facebook friends on the mountain and meet up with them as well.
Q: Are we going to see stats from other resorts compiled as well at some point?
We're going to try this ourselves first. At some point we're certainly open to the possibility of collaboration with other resorts.