Ski resorts will have undergone a technological revolution by 2025, according to new research.
A study commissioned by Mastercard interviewed more than 50 winter sports experts with the aim of finding out the challenges ski resorts face due to Covid-19, as well as the opportunity for change after the pandemic.
More than half (56%) of the experts, which included resort representatives, athletes and media experts from 15 countries, predict that the pandemic will have a long-term impact on ski vacations, with forced changes to action during the past year. stick around – the most important of these is the way ski resorts and businesses use technology.
While some believe that Covid-19 will have a negative impact on the ski industry in the long run, the majority say it will change things for the better.
Historically, technology and skiing have had a turbulent relationship as people turn to the slopes for a “ closer to nature ” experience – indeed, resort bosses in the United States initially said that skiing during and after the pandemic would be a more “ old school ” experience.
However, the new research suggests that a digital revolution is brewing, with the aim of bringing stations and operators, many of whom are proud of their traditional offering, into the 21st century.
The majority of experts surveyed (56%) predict that technology will influence the comfort of a ski vacation, whether in accommodation, ski lifts or in equipment stores. More than 70% of experts expect a further increase in the use of contactless technology at resorts over the next four years – in fact, they predict that most ski resorts can deliver an entirely zero-touch experience. contact to customers. most likely by 2025.
There are already examples of this emerging trend in resorts needing to adapt during the pandemic. In the United States, the owner of several resorts is Vail Resorts, which operates major destinations such as Whistler and Vail. It launched its industry-first online reservation system this winter, requiring visitors to pre-book their lift passes and a slot on the mountain each day to avoid overcrowding. The system provides live updates on which days seem “ busy ” and those which are not – it also saves skiers from queuing for a ski pass at resort offices or ‘make same-day payments.
The contactless approach has already started to spread throughout the ski vacation experience. Rental stores, like Intersport, are further developing the ability for customers to pre-book and pay for and collect equipment using self-service kiosks and by appointment, limiting their interaction with staff . Ski schools do the same. The Ecole du Ski France has launched a new application that allows students to book lessons, track their progress and receive information on meeting points via their mobile.
In addition, 41% of those involved in the report believe that a digital revolution in particular will allow ski lifts to perform better, while minimizing the spread of the virus. In Andermatt, Switzerland, a reservation system, similar to that used by Vail Resorts, has been put in place to help lift operators comply with the two-thirds capacity cap rule.
Stations are also turning to technology to improve the experience on the slopes. For example, Les Arcs, which is part of the giant Paradiski ski area, alongside La Plagne, is using its Yuge app this year to keep skiers informed of crowds and queues on the slopes, as well as digital signs on the ski area in real time. information, thanks to 28 sensors that monitor skier traffic. He hopes that by having direct access to this information, skiers will be able to get away from high traffic areas and keep social distancing under control.
The app, which was used by 700,000 last winter, also allowed users to track their skiing, participate in a play experience on the slopes and renew their ski pass, without having to go to an in-person office.
It looks like resorts will have time to embrace these new technologies before ski vacations return to their pre-pandemic levels. Half of industry experts predict that the number of visitors to ski resorts will not return to pre-Covid levels until 2023.
Technology investment has reached new heights in Val Thorens. The resort became the first in the Alps to use a drone to assist mountain rescue teams. The new DJI drone allows the ski patrol to identify possible avalanche risks in record time. Equipped with thermal imaging to remotely locate victims who could be trapped and a camera that can zoom in on specific locations, the drone also has a speakerphone to communicate with the public while awaiting the arrival of rescuers. .
When it comes to the equipment that skiers use and wear on the slopes, the study predicts that by 2025, leading-edge innovations such as GPS plotters on skis, in-helmet displays, and analysis of Biometric data via portable devices could be one of the biggest innovations. – but experts interviewed agree that the cost and desire to keep skiing as “naturally” as possible will mean that these trends will be more difficult for the masses to embrace.
Carv is one of those technologies. The world’s first artificial intelligence digital ski instructor uses an ultra-thin insert in your ski boot and a matchbox-sized sensor records your skiing technique with precision. This type of technology is increasingly used by professional athletes to optimize their performance. In fact, more than half of the experts in the Mastercard study predict that coaching, data and digital insights will have a significant impact on athlete training in the years to come.
Mastercard, which sponsors the Hahnenkamm World Cup race in Kitzbühel, also asked experts about the rise of virtual sports – an opportunity to introduce skiing to a new market. More than a third of experts predict that by 2025, esports will have opened up tracks for more people around the world, while in physical races, which take place behind closed doors this winter, the biggest change in the fan experience will be the detailed display of the performance of athletes during races, according to three quarters of experts.