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More ski resorts going to RFID

With the addition of 17 locations to Vail Resorts because of the buyout of Peak Resorts announced in July 2019, there's been some discussion of RFID and EpicMix. The fact that the VR RFID passes can be handled using hand scanners is making it possible for VR to get new resorts onto the VR system very quickly because RFID gates do not need to be installed. For instance, the sale of Triple Peaks was finalized Sept. 27, 2018. Okemo and Sunapee were on the VR system for the 2018-19 season based on using hand scanners.

RESORT OPERATOR DELIVERS 'EXCEPTIONAL EXPERIENCES' WITH INNOVATIVE RFID LIFT ACCESS - 2008
 
Deer Valley is installing RFID for the 2019-20 season. The timing is clearly related to the fact that Alterra bought DV. In a local news article, the cost of converting to RFID is noted as a reason DV hadn't done it before. With record snowfall plus Ikon passholders, DV was dealing with liftline issues in 2018-19. The fact is that DV doesn't have good historical data about number of people actually on the slopes. Only hit the cap of 8500 skiers on 6 days, all during the Christmas holiday period.

https://www.parkrecord.com/news/bus...-valley-resort-wants-to-better-manage-crowds/ - April 2019
" . . .
The resort plans to install RFID gates in the summer.

“We will be able to better control the numbers on the mountain,” Reardon said. “We don’t have a lot of data right now, but we will next year.”

The gates will also allow the resort to see what areas of the mountain have the most traffic and where the resort should focus its renovation projects.
. . ."
 
These days, most resorts aren't charging for RFID cards. Used to be $5 pretty much everywhere. Even had to pay $5 at JH for a card linked to the MCP several years ago. Alta doesn't charge for a new MCP card. Alta does charge $5 for a new day or multi-day card. Can re-use any type of card from a previous season or trip. No cost at Wachusett or Waterville Valley for a single day or multi-day ticket/pass.

I think the cost for the blank cards has probably dropped. There is more than one version. There are more permanent RFID cards that are hard plastic, cards that are essentially stiff cardboard with a plastic coating, or even a version that can be stuck on a helmet. At Alta last April they were out of the hard plastic MCP logo cards, so I was given a basic card instead.
 

fgor

Certified Ski Diva
Oh, I so don't miss having to show a lift pass to someone so they could manually scan it and let you through. Ski resorts here started switching to RFID cards (at least the ones I've been to) a few years ago, and it's fantastic. So quick! I just keep mine in my sleeve pocket, which luckily is on the same side as the reader. They do have staff watching with tablets when it's really busy.
 
SKIDATA is one of the vendors that works with ski resorts for RFID gates for lift access. But there are three businesses for which SKIDATA has installed systems in Jackson, WY. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is one, Snow King in town is another. Turns out that the Jackson airport is the third business that works with SKIDATA. SKIDATA supports the parking lots at the airport.

From comments by a local about the implementation of RFID at JH in 2013, sounds like there was a history of some season passholders thinking it was okay for someone else to use their pass.

August 2019
https://airportimprovement.com/news/skidata-completes-parcs-project-jackson-hole-airport

August 2017
https://snowkingmountain.com/skidata-announces-new-partnership-snow-king-mountain/

December 2013
http://www.themountainpulse.com/2013/12/hundred-days-new-rfid-gates-at-jackson-hole-mountain-resort/
 
Gore in NY will have RFID gates for 2019-20. I would guess just at the base lifts.
Missed the fact that not only is Gore going to RFID, also happening at Whiteface and Belleayre. Not too surprising since all three are owned and operated by ORDA, a part of NY State government. Can find mention of RFID pass cards on all three websites.

Folks driving north from NYC/NJ/CT should be pretty used to RFID by next spring. Windham installed RFID gates a few years ago. Hunter will have Vail Resorts RFID starting in 2019-20 based on hand scanners for lift access. Jiminy Peak has had RFID for quite a while.
 
It's happening! Boyne Resorts will roll out RFID at Big Sky and Loon for 2019-20. Like Alta just over 10 years ago, Boyne partnered with Axxess to come up with a new variation for RFID at a ski resort. Alta insisted on RFID gates that could move, both rotating out of the way for grooming and up-and-down as the snowpack increased. Boyne wanted both long range (UHF) capability and short-range (access gates). Vail Resorts opted for UHF a decade ago, which is why Epic passes are hand scanned for lift access but EpicMix gets data from gateless readers. Boyne has been working towards RFID for a decade apparently.

https://www.prweb.com/releases/boyn..._dual_frequency_lift_access/prweb16524114.htm

" . . .
Last season marked Boyne Resorts’ first installation of access gates that utilize a new UHF technology that provides guest-centric benefits. The gates were manufactured and installed by Axess and each is equipped with a special long-range antenna and RFID (radio frequency identification) reader that detects chip cards such as RFID-enabled lift tickets and season passes. UHF technology enables a less invasive experience for skiers as compared to the short-range equipment more commonly deployed by ski resorts operating gate systems. The UHF read range is also wide and early model gates proved a need for greater precision. The design installed last season by Axess captures that precise read, operated successfully.

“Thinking long term, our commitment to use only long-range technology came easy, yet many resorts—including our partners, use short-range readers, and leaving skiers to carry the burden of our decision wasn’t an option,” said Dan Beeler, chief information officer of Boyne Resorts. “Axess assembled a project team who fully adopted our guest-centric approach and we share great pride in what we have achieved. Whether it’s a season pass from our resorts, an Ikon Pass or other partner pass, or a daily lift ticket the skier is wearing, fast and hands-free lift access powered by the world’s first dual-frequency gates can be experienced this next season at our Big Sky and Loon Mountain resorts.”

Skiers will benefit from the many conveniences of RFID technology as well as more efficient flow in the lift loading areas. An additional benefit is more personalized communication from the resort while at the resort, such as special offers and conditions updates and eventually providing wait times for restaurants and activities such as ziplining.

“We are proud of being chosen by Boyne Resorts to be partner in the development of dual-frequency lift access,” said Claudia Kopetzky, chief marketing officer of Axess. “With this new product, we and Boyne Resorts are a step ahead of other companies and resorts and skiers can enjoy so much more benefit out of it. Even more is possible. With UHF technology, resort management is able to check and announce wait times at the lifts and even monitor occupancy rates of their restaurants.”
. . ."
 
It's happening! Boyne Resorts will roll out RFID at Big Sky and Loon for 2019-20. Like Alta just over 10 years ago, Boyne partnered with Axxess to come up with a new variation for RFID at a ski resort. Alta insisted on RFID gates that could move, both rotating out of the way for grooming and up-and-down as the snowpack increased. Boyne wanted both long range (UHF) capability and short-range (access gates). Vail Resorts opted for UHF a decade ago, which is why Epic passes are hand scanned for lift access but EpicMix gets data from gateless readers. Boyne has been working towards RFID for a decade apparently.

https://www.prweb.com/releases/boyn..._dual_frequency_lift_access/prweb16524114.htm

" . . .
Last season marked Boyne Resorts’ first installation of access gates that utilize a new UHF technology that provides guest-centric benefits. The gates were manufactured and installed by Axess and each is equipped with a special long-range antenna and RFID (radio frequency identification) reader that detects chip cards such as RFID-enabled lift tickets and season passes. UHF technology enables a less invasive experience for skiers as compared to the short-range equipment more commonly deployed by ski resorts operating gate systems. The UHF read range is also wide and early model gates proved a need for greater precision. The design installed last season by Axess captures that precise read, operated successfully.


“Thinking long term, our commitment to use only long-range technology came easy, yet many resorts—including our partners, use short-range readers, and leaving skiers to carry the burden of our decision wasn’t an option,” said Dan Beeler, chief information officer of Boyne Resorts. “Axess assembled a project team who fully adopted our guest-centric approach and we share great pride in what we have achieved. Whether it’s a season pass from our resorts, an Ikon Pass or other partner pass, or a daily lift ticket the skier is wearing, fast and hands-free lift access powered by the world’s first dual-frequency gates can be experienced this next season at our Big Sky and Loon Mountain resorts.”

Skiers will benefit from the many conveniences of RFID technology as well as more efficient flow in the lift loading areas. An additional benefit is more personalized communication from the resort while at the resort, such as special offers and conditions updates and eventually providing wait times for restaurants and activities such as ziplining.

“We are proud of being chosen by Boyne Resorts to be partner in the development of dual-frequency lift access,” said Claudia Kopetzky, chief marketing officer of Axess. “With this new product, we and Boyne Resorts are a step ahead of other companies and resorts and skiers can enjoy so much more benefit out of it. Even more is possible. With UHF technology, resort management is able to check and announce wait times at the lifts and even monitor occupancy rates of their restaurants.”
. . ."

Yay for Loon, they need it soooooo bad!! I want Sunday River too though! lol
 
Yay for Loon, they need it soooooo bad!! I want Sunday River too though! lol
I would expect that Boyne plans to put the RFID system into all their resorts. But since they are using gates, that requires both money and construction. From my experience at Loon and SR, Loon needs it more. My sense of Boyne Resorts is that they think long term. The priority at Big Sky was clearly lifts first, then base village, with RFID to come when it was ready.

Powdr chose to build the Summit Lodge at Snowbird for a few million dollars before installing RFID gates in 2017. Neighboring Alta and Solitude beat them by about ten years. :wink:

Hopefully with RFID at Big Sky and Loon, Ikon passes will be direct-to-lift for 2019-20. A nice feature of Ikon over MCP is not having to spend time to initiate an Ikon pass on the first day.
 
Since I started this thread in 2015 and haven't skied at Brighton since the 2012-13 season, I missed that RFID was installed for the 2013-14 season. So that's where Boyne has been being getting experience with the pros and cons of RFID passes/tickets.

That means for 2019-20, all the resorts in the three canyons near SLC will have RFID. Park City uses VR UHF system that mostly uses hand scanners for lift access. I think all the other resorts use Axess gates. Snowbasin (and Sun Valley) also use RFID.
 
I would expect that Boyne plans to put the RFID system into all their resorts. But since they are using gates, that requires both money and construction. From my experience at Loon and SR, Loon needs it more. My sense of Boyne Resorts is that they think long term. The priority at Big Sky was clearly lifts first, then base village, with RFID to come when it was ready.

Powdr chose to build the Summit Lodge at Snowbird for a few million dollars before installing RFID gates in 2017. Neighboring Alta and Solitude beat them by about ten years. :wink:

Hopefully with RFID at Big Sky and Loon, Ikon passes will be direct-to-lift for 2019-20. A nice feature of Ikon over MCP is not having to spend time to initiate an Ikon pass on the first day.
I agree, Loon definitely needs it more than Sunday River right now, so it is a good choice! Last season the scanning at Loon drove me nuts. I also really disliked having to get tickets versus direct to lift at those places last season. This year I have the New England Pass so it’s a moot point in that regard at least!
 
It appears that Mammoth picked SiriusWare software for their RFID system back about ten years ago. It's a little less common. Although Snowbird also works with SiriusWare according to the vendor's website. So did Crested Butte at some point, but that's probably been replaced after the sale of Triple Peaks to Vail Resorts. For ski lifts in the U.S., Axess and SkiData are the most common vendors for RFID gates for lift access. But can use Axess hardware with software from a different vendor.

Doesn't make any difference to folks buying tickets/passes which RFID vendor is used. But after understanding that Vail Resorts depends on hand scanning for lift access and that Boyne Resorts is implementing a system that includes high and low frequency, it's clear that behind the scenes there is a big long term impact on the type of data that is collected. Perhaps more importantly to VR, the decision made before 2008 to go with a custom system based on UHF and avoid RFID gates has made rolling out RFID to newly acquired ski areas/resorts much easier and quicker.
 
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