Letter: ‘Like Nothing on Earth’ experiences

The new Vail Mountain opening program of using Gondola One to the upper slopes Is terrific. But for me, after two days out, with one run each, my “experience” was not off to a good start with four near misses. Two in areas of high congestion, one out of the blue and one where an instructor set up each of his young students for a collision with the public. Whether its out-of-the-box thinking or just common sense, here’s my take on things the Vail Resorts team might want to consider.

  • Forget hard-line/command-type safety signs — they don’t “sell.” Consider two types of signage: courtesy-related — they actually work because they get conversations going and shame-into-better- behavior and/or humorous messages such as, “Real snow riders know how to give the slower, less skilled their space.” Let the kids come up with the messages for your signage.
  • Take slow zones seriously. For example, on lower Flapjack, install an entry gate and intermittent, fall line fencing all along, allowing slower folks to get to the bottom in one piece. Then monitor these areas with retrained information folks as on-slope ambassadors with a new color jacket. Forget the yellow jackets notion.
  • Injury statistics don’t cut it. For every injury, due to collisions, there are probably hundreds of near misses. In short, VR needs to understand volumes of these near misses as perfect candidates to feed into analytics — much of the world is guided by these techniques these days. You can capture data points from CCTV films from high congestion areas, deputizing folks as roaming reporters of incidents and have a system for anyone to record event scenarios. This would allow VR to better understand the things their guests “experience.” 
  • Again, instructors should be used to leverage messages — spreading the word about achieving good guest “experiences” in their classes and other opportunities such as talking to the public on chair lifts. 

No easy answers, but always new things to try, many costing very little. 

Paul Rondeau


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