Vail Daily letter: EpicMix critique
Vail, CO, Colorado
EpicMix was introduced to pass-holders and visitors this year. What was great about it? Built to grow revenue, how could it be strengthened?
The Facebook integration was genius, making it easy to connect with my friends. Many of my friends enjoyed seeing what days I was on the hill and what days I was actually working. If I couldn’t make a powder day, I stewed in envy viewing which lifts friends were taking throughout the day. The integration made it easy to set privacy settings so customers of mine couldn’t see the days I was enjoying the hill. (Those Denverites can’t quite understand the way we live up here!) Posting accomplishments was exciting too! My favorite was checking in at Vail in the morning and riding the Beav in the afternoon. My out-of-town friends just don’t understand how easy and awesome that is!
I admit there were mornings I didn’t have the greatest urgency to get on the hill, but the Facebook postings would often give me my motivation. There was nothing like opening my home page and seeing a friend on the hill I hadn’t seen in awhile followed by gearing up to go meet them.
The vertical feet tracker was something I followed the most. When I put in a hard day riding, it was awesome to see how it compared to other days on the hill. My groomer days really would rack up the vertical feet, but I knew when I passed 25,000 vertical feet on a powder day I was really pushing it! It didn’t feel like a day of riding unless it was over 15,000 vertical feet.
My Android app was something I checked daily to see if I had friends on the hill. As my familiarity with the app increased I started using it for business. So often with my business, I have to make the dreaded drive to Denver. EpicMix streamlines how I receive weather and road conditions. The app even includes cameras.
This is convenient when planning my girlfriend’s visits. She would have to drive Vail pass frequently, and I wanted to know if she would be safe. It also streamlined my curiosity about snow conditions. I could open the app while I was sitting in the office and see if it was snowing after all the lifts had closed. If it was dumping, I quickly would hit work deadlines so I could grab first chair in the morning.
As a small business consultant, I imagine this program is built to increase traffic and thus revenue to Vail Resorts.
EpicMix needs more users! Currently 30 percent of my friends who have an Epic pass are also on EpicMix. That’s not enough! Entering people into a contest for $100,000 in which one person wins won’t do it. If they enter, give that pass holder 50 percent off three of their guest passes, or a 10 percent dividend at the end of the year for their resort charge. For one-time ticket purchasers, give $10 off the pass for signing up. If EpicMix encourages them to visit one more time or to visit a resort restaurant, the incentive is paid for.
Although Facebook has wonderful features, not all my friends are on Facebook. EpicMix could build its own networking platform to build your own profile, thus allowing the user to build their profile the way they want it and not automatically adopt your Facebook profile. Doing this would allow more users into the fold and to preview upcoming events, friends they know on the mountain, etc. This alone would increase traffic to the hill.
EpicMix also needs to have the ability to communicate with other riders and skiers about snow conditions, events on the horizon, pins they are trying to achieve, etc. This would allow EpicMix users to communicate without becoming friends on Facebook, or build relationships with folks on the mountain who eventually become Facebook friends.
EpicMix could also integrate each mountain’s Facebook calendar. For most people their Facebook calendar updates their phone calendar. If you are a fan or friend of EpicMix on Facebook, each event should be preloaded into the EpicMix customer’s calendar. Concerts, giveaways, discounted friend day, etc., will drive more traffic to the hill. As it stands now the points and pins have little or no value! This would completely change if points, vertical feet and pins had a value associated with them. For example, if reaching 100,000 vertical feet came with a $10 coupon to a resort restaurant. How much more likely will the individual make that extra trip? They also will be more likely to go into a resort restaurant and spend money. Extra visits mean extra revenue!
Let’s say you pass 500,000 vertical feet and you are entered into a contest to receive a free Epic pass for the following season: these vertical feet accomplishments could even have other pin requirements associated with it, such as the individual needs to have checked into all five mountains in combination with 500,000 feet. The idea is more traffic means more dollars spent.
Pins need value to be similar to a video game. It needs to be worth tracking and seeing your accomplishments. Involve local stores and restaurants to participate to keep costs down and even produce an advertising revenue stream. There doesn’t need to be many tiers to reach; in fact less is more. It keeps customers intrigued. Rank people the same way you do your slopes: Easiest to experts only. Nobody knows or cares if they are in the 99th percentile.
Add text notifications as an option when you reach a coupon level or enter into a contest.
Android and IPhone apps have the ability to notify customers of so much more. Please add the snow notifications. However, when doing so, add how much it snowed after the lifts closed in addition to the 24-hour report.
Vail especially needs this for the Denverites who ultimately won’t visit because they feel Vail cried wolf. Believe it or not, you discourage more people from coming by crying wolf. Again the goal is to increase traffic and not detour it.
Add a Blackberry app!
Push notifications should also be included. When a certain coupon, point total, vertical feet accomplishment has been reached, the app should notify you.
For a first-year program it is a very nice product! In fact, the strengthening it section feels like complaining about chocolate cake! I look forward to what Vail Resorts produces next year with EpicMix.