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More ski resorts going to RFID

marzNC

Angel Diva
But in chairlift ride today it was mentioned that they are also mask police, social distancing police and traffic control.
Can still have people doing those functions when using RFID gates for access to a lift. The lifties at Alta have no trouble getting people in line to mask up as they get closer to the loading zone. The liftie who was checking a tablet as people went thru the Bridger gondola RFID gate was also actively asking people to wait if there wasn't enough room between the gate and the stairs leading up to the actual loading zone.

Some people who haven't used RFID gates that much think it means there aren't any lifties any more. That's not the case.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
:bump:

Running out of places to add to this thread but there are still a few notable ski areas that haven't spent the money to implement RFID yet. May still be a while for Taos.

RFID will be new at Greek Peak in central NY for the 2021-22 season. Has been in the plans for a while. Quite possible that the pandemic pushed the project up in priority. Can be used year round to make online ticketing easier, not just during ski season for lift access.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Found out recently that two small mountains in the mid-Atlantic are adding RFID for 2021-22: Montage and Massanutten. Montage is in eastern PA (near Scranton). Massanutten in northern VA is my home mountain. Adding RFID is just one major change that will make their 50th season special.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Not much of a surprise that Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands in MI will have RFID for 2021-22. Boyne Resorts spent a fair amount of time and money coming up with a proprietary approach to RFID a few years ago. RFID was installed at Big Sky in 2019.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Camelback in PA is going to RFID.

Also Tamarack in Idaho, which is on the Indy Pass.

Red River in NM is adding RFID. I don't think Angle Fire has gone that way yet. I know it's not happening for Taos this season.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Add Monarch in CO to the list of of old school ski areas that will have RFID going forward. The investment in RFID might have been planned for a while, but I would guess the pandemic may have changed the timeline for installation.

September 15, 2021

Had a chance to ski a bit at Monarch last season on the way between Dillon and South Fork. It was great fun, especially since it was a powder day and still snowing as we pulled into the parking lot at lunch time.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Bristol in NY is moving to RFID for lift access for 2021-22. Bristol has 138 acres so I'd call it a medium size ski area.

There are a few ski areas/resorts in the southeast and PA that are smaller than Bristol that have RFID. The list of places without RFID is going to be very short in another year or two.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Red River is the first ski resort in NM to install RFID ticketing. People will be getting used to the Axess gates in 2021-22. I hope Taos will be the next.

Screen Shot 2021-11-21 at 8.54.57 PM.png
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Stuart of Storm Skiing worked to come up with a list of ski areas that moved to RFID for 2021-22. The pandemic clearly pushed the idea across the country.

Tamarack, ID (Indy)
Snowy Range, WY
Sundance, UT
Monarch, CO
Red River, NM

Boyne Mountain, MI - Boyne
Boyne Highlands, MI - Boyne

Greek Peak, NY (Indy)
Butternut, MA
Mohawk, CT (Indy)
Camelback, PA
Montage, PA (Indy)

The Snowy Range FAQ included a new question I haven't seen before. The question was about washing an RFID card. The answer was: "If you accidentally wash your pass or ticket it should be fine. They are designed to survive wear and tear. If your pass/ticket no longer works at the lift we can issue a new card at the ticket office for $2."
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
After the 2021-22 season, there won't be much reason to update this thread any more. RFID has moved into all regions in the USA. Might be more interesting to have a thread to note the places that don't have RFID by the 2022-23 season. Taos would be at the top of that list.

Between the Indy Pass and the pandemic, quite a few small mountains in the northeast and mid-Atlantic installed RFID in the past year or two. Being able to allow guests to use a machine to get their RFID card for the first time after buying in advanced online, or simply reloading online later on, really makes ticket lines much shorter even on weekends.

I would guess that cost of installing RFID has decreased in the last five years as the technology has improved and become more common. N. America was way behind Europe in any case.

For example, Montage has two ticket machines near the parking (avoids walking down the stairs to the lodge) as well as outside the lodge. Massanutten has two ticket machines just in front of where the line is set up for the ticket windows, as well as over near the entrance to the rental/tuning shop.

Once people get used to RFID, the added bonus is that the RFID gates make it easier for people to get organized for loading the lift. Meaning even if there isn't a liftie actively matching up strangers when there is a lift line. At the small mountains on the Indy Pass in MA/PA with RFID (Berskhire East, Catamount, Montage), that was a clear difference from 5-6 years ago.
 

CindiSue

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I asked Sun Valley last year when they would be getting it and that person thought never because it is too expensive for small resorts. We don't have lift lines though, and I think they like lifties to be there to help keep things moving along and for the personal touch.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
I asked Sun Valley last year when they would be getting it and that person thought never because it is too expensive for small resorts. We don't have lift lines though, and I think they like lifties to be there to help keep things moving along and for the personal touch.
Note that Solitude and Alta were first adopters of RFID over 15 years ago. Solitude was not much of a destination resort at all back then.

Snowbird delayed installing RFID for years after Alta. Wasn't until a few years after the Mountain Collective Pass was created before Snowbird finally went to RFID. It was quite annoying to have to show the MCP RFID card that worked at Alta to load lifts at Snowbird. Especially when the MCP worked as a combo Alta/Snowbird pass so skiing between the two was possible when staying slopeside at Alta.

It's not about the cost, it's about priorities and understanding how to make use of RFID technology to make the experience better for the target market. Sun Valley and Snowbasin weren't a good fit for the MCP. They are Epic Partners but obviously have no interest in the capabilities that EpicMix provides at Vail Resorts locations. I would guess that the seniors who line up early to ski the Sun Valley groomers before 11am are perfectly happy without RFID gates.

Wachusett (near Boston) and Jiminy Peak (western MA, NYC market) installed RFID and detachable high-speed lifts years ago, long before other small mountains in the northeast thought it was worth the money. They also have stellar snowmaking infrastructure. The families that are the owners/operatores had a very good long term business plan that has proved to be sustainable.
 

SkiBam

Angel Diva
All the les Sommets hills (St. Sauveur, Morin-Heights, Olympia, etc. have the gates) - and they're pretty small places. Tremblant no - dunno when that might happen. I've heard it's due to the unions that they don't have it. Personally, I prefer a person scanning my ticket/pass and giving me a cheerful greeting. But hey, I'm probably old-fashioned.
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
All the les Sommets hills (St. Sauveur, Morin-Heights, Olympia, etc. have the gates) - and they're pretty small places.
I'll have ask some Edelweiss people if they have it there. Same owner group. I know that Calabogie has some kind of permanent ticket, but I think it's still scanned like our Ikon ones at Tremblant. I saw a lot of dated lift tickets last weekend with the Ontario holiday and the American one.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
All the les Sommets hills (St. Sauveur, Morin-Heights, Olympia, etc. have the gates) - and they're pretty small places. Tremblant no - dunno when that might happen. I've heard it's due to the unions that they don't have it. Personally, I prefer a person scanning my ticket/pass and giving me a cheerful greeting. But hey, I'm probably old-fashioned.
I would guess you don't ski on busy weekends much.

There are plenty of friendly lifties at Alta. Not having someone scanning a lift ticket didn't change that too much. It didn't reduce the number of staff since there is always someone with a tablet checking season passes and MCP that have pictures in the pass database.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
An RFID pass can either are scanned with a gate mounted scanner or with a hand scanner. Depends on the system. The systems used for Epic passes, Aspen passes, Boyne Resorts RFID at Big Sky, and so on are all a bit different from a technology standpoint.

Little Timberline in WV uses RFID for lift access and for credits good for food or stuff from the resort shop. They even rolled over a credit I had leftover from last season to a new card since I forgot to bring it. The pricing model is unusual in terms of how discounts are handled for half-day skiing and midweek tickets.
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
RFID technology and digital scanning are 2 different technologies. In RFID there is chip implanted in the card. That is why THEY place the hole for the holder in it. If you hit the chip you destroy the works. They might have hand held RFID scanners, but most hand held scanners are reading a digital print out. Digital scanners are the same type as you have at the grocery store to read the UPC. Not sure about Epic, but my Ikon pass has both. RFID and digital scanning. Tremblant uses digital scanning for lifts, discounts, resort charges. But there is gate that if you own a place on the mountain, are snow school or just want to pay extra you can pass through. Those are RFID readers.

At Whistler, after you past the scanner, an employee is looking at a picture of you that comes up on their tablet to ensure you are the pass holder. After you pass through base area, you don't get that again. But every lift has a scanner. I assume that's for the skier/rider tracking.

Hotel card keys are RFID too. The lock reads the chip and lets you in.
 

SkiBam

Angel Diva
I would guess you don't ski on busy weekends much.

There are plenty of friendly lifties at Alta. Not having someone scanning a lift ticket didn't change that too much. It didn't reduce the number of staff since there is always someone with a tablet checking season passes and MCP that have pictures in the pass database.
Don't get me wrong. It does seem a little quaint that at a large resort like Tremblant a person still scans each ticket (except for those holders of special passes who go through a special gate, as @Jilly described). I'm sure the resort will go to gates at some point but I can't see how it would mean lines would move any faster, busy weekends or not.

I skied the other day at a small resort with gates. It was actually the first time I had used the pass this season and the gate did not open. There didn't seem to be a person overseeing any of this so I was quite stuck, unable to get through the gate and feeling somewhat stupid. Ended up going to the ticket office where the woman assured me my pass was fine and I should just try another gate. I did and it worked.

Gosh, I remember my first season's pass (at Chicopee Ski Club in Kitchener, Ont.). I'm probably dating myself, but the pass consisted of a paper sticker that you attached around your ski pole - hardly a secure system! And I expect I'm REALLY dating myself when I say this season's pass cost something like $10.
 

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