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On August 30th, 2010 Vail Resorts announced EpicMix. This feature, which comes included in all RFID enabled passes, will link you with your virtual persona. This shall collect data and store it in Vail’s servers, soon to be a server farm I imagine. With the acceptance and adoption of Social Gaming (Farmville, Bejeweled), and the advent of Geolocation/Geotagging offerings such as Foursquare and Facebook Places, Vail Resorts has developed a fantastic integrated product, and one which will be compelling to use. It shall be social networking “candy” to the active person. Skiers and riders shall be advertising their accomplishments, while Vail gets to advertise across social media platforms. The guest shall be able to register themselves with the click of an “Allow” button.
In 1995, I spoke with the marketing heads of Breckenridge, Squaw Valley, and Vail. The topic regarded a company in which I started and how they could use it. It was a web-based company which enabled prospective students to find the right Ski and Ride instructor for them. My company was called SkiPros.com, it has now morphed into MySnowPro.com. At that time, and several years after they said, “No” they don’t see a commercial use for the internet, nor did they see how they could generate ROI. Oh, boy how things have changed.
Vail Resorts has come with a tour de force of social media, skier/rider statistics, friend logistics/locations, etc. within this platform. It has been a long time coming, but it is here and will be developed.
The EpicMix features to the guest are vast:
- Automatically tracking data of vertical feet, days on the mountain
- Digital pins for special achievements
- Mobile phone integration
- Social Media platform integration
- Coordinating with friends on the slope
- Weather Reports & Traffic updates
- Integrated EpicMix website for adults and juniors
- Keeping track of lost children and members of a group
The EpicMix has a phone app for iPhone and Android phones. Are you ready for lunch special alerts being sent to your phone? Would you like to have alerts sent to you based on your ski terrain preferences? I have little doubt that these shall come too. Many people may.
In short, it will be a fun product for many guests.
As for privacy concerns, resort spokesmen say that the information belongs to each individual and they don’t have to choose to share it via social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. The resort already knew when skiers and snowboarders were riding the mountain in previous seasons because that information is recorded when passes are scanned.
As for my general industry-wide privacy concerns, there are MANY and I will address just a few here.
- RFiD allows a resort to know if you are riding on the mountain on a given day, but they don’t know where you ski during the course of your day. There used to be scanners only on the base mountain lifts.
- A resort using a resort charge type system has the ability to know where you eat and what you eat. Now it can be easily linked.
- The information is your own…. And the resort’s as well!
- With several scanners linked, speed of skier can be determined.
- Which secret run did you ski? If there is a sensor, you can be tracked.
- Where and how much did a person ski/ride? Now this information is cataloged and archived for later retrieval.
- Playing hooky from work, or taking a break from your work day… if you are linked to Social Media, everybody knows.
- Autonomy on the mountain.
- The more scanners placed around the mountain, the more you will be tracked.
The list goes on for me.
I like skiing with friends, and if they can find me easily that would be great.
And if they are my friends they probably have my cell phone number and they can text or call. But on many days I don’t want to be found or tracked. I would like to have an easy way to use the RFID enabled Lift Ticket, as a lift ticket only.
Push a button (even through clothing) and let it be scanned. Release the button and have the RFID blocked. I just want to enjoy a day on the mountain to relax and get away from it all. With the new system, that is impossible without completely disabling the RFID chip in the pass.
The SkiPassDefender Classic allows me to place my pass in the defender and use the pass as I intend it to be used. As a lift ticket. If I have the option to ski “Tracked” or “Untracked”, I prefer to ski untracked!
Jonathan Lawson has been an expert in the field of Identity Theft Risk Management since 2005. Mr. Lawson has held dozens of education seminars for minors, adults, and seniors regarding identity theft and risk mitigation.
Zip down your jacket so that your ski pass can be checked.What a hassle. Carry money while you ski or ride, and forget which of the 27 pockets you put it in. Why bother? We want convenience, we want simplicity, and we assume security.
I shall go on record to say I love the “idea” of RFID on the ski slope. The pass around my neck or in my pocket without having to pull it out from beneath layers of clothing. Fantastic. And if that was all it was I would be fine with it. However, having knowledge of the information to which the ski pass is linked, I am less enthusiastic. Name, address, birthdate, billing information, etc is only 2 steps away from having the RFID code. This code can be easily skimmed.
Some of the largest ski areas in the world are doing it. Under the banner of customer benefit and convenience. And why not, even the top consumer financial firms are driving RFID and consumer tracking. What they don’t share, is how the market data you provide adds to their customer behavior models. Nor do they share how easily this information can be skimmed without your knowledge. No need to worry about the bandits taking skis and snowboards off the racks at the bottom of the mountain. There are much easier, and profitable endeavors to be had in the age of RFID. Read the rest of this entry