We announced the kick-off of the “RFIDea” Spotlight series in June, and are excited to feature Vail Resorts, Inc. in our second post as an example of an organization that uses RFID to transform the way it does business.
Vail Resorts, Inc, through its subsidiaries, is the leading mountain resort operator in the United States. For properties in the Vail Resorts family, the accolades never cease! In fact, all five Vail Resorts ski destinations rank in SKI Magazine’s top 20 resorts in North America. Skiers concur, with 10.2 percent of all skier visits – 6.2 million – taking place at the company’s resorts.
In 2008-2009, Vail saw an opportunity to improve guests’ experiences as they prepare to board ski lifts. Instead of replacing aging handheld barcode scanners, Vail looked into new technologies for scanning guests’ season passes. In past ski seasons, guests needed to physically present their season passes for bar code scanning which oftentimes required them to unzip their jackets and fumble for their season pass.
Based on the maturity of the alternatives and Vail’s specific needs, the evaluation team selected ultra high frequency (UHF) RFID tagging with handheld scanners/computers. The resulting solution is unlike any currently available in the ski industry today:
- UHF cards instead of HF tags – UHF offers greater flexibility due to longer read ranges. The company can inexpensively add and move read points and gather group data without guest interaction.
- Handheld scanners instead of gates – Using handheld scanners significantly reduces costs and impact to the mountain, as well as enhances the guest experience.
- Passive detection in specialty areas - Passive scanning via an overhead antenna for on-mountain lifts allows resorts to read RFID-enabled passes as guests board lifts without any proactive guest interaction.
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