RFID and Social Media at Vail Resorts

Last year, we discussed how Vail Resorts implemented an RFID system by using Intermec CN3 Mobile Computers with IP30 RFID Readers. After the system was implemented, skiers and snowboarders could easily pass through lines without ever having to take their passes out of their jackets.

Now, Vail Resorts has decided to take their RFID system a step farther by connecting to social media. Patrons will be able to use their RFID-enabled lift tickets to connect with one another through a variety of different social media outlets, in addition to tracking their metrics, which can be broadcasted over the internet for all to see.

As patrons pass through any of the ski lifts, EPC Gen 2 RFID readers and antennas will be mounted, capturing their tag ID. Through the platform EpicMix, in combination with the RFID technology, patrons will be able to easily interact via their phones. As skiers/snowboarders visit lifts throughout the day, their ID will be captured, allowing the system to calculate the number of feet they have traveled based on the distance between chairs. The results are added up throughout the day, and at the end of the day, the user’s data is reflected on his or her profile.

Similar to the Foursquare “badges” concept, users can earn electronic “pins” when they reach certain milestones throughout their stay. For example, if someone rides three different chairlifts in one night, they can earn the “Nightrider” pin. Once pins are earned and/or stats are recorded, visitors can publicize their information via Facebook or Twitter. They can even compare stats with other Facebook friends. If a group of skiers or snowboarders are at the resort together, the application can also show their friend’s last location on the mountain, in addition to sending messages to their group at the resort.

While Vail’s RFID implementation last year was definitely a step in the right direction, their addition of social media this year truly sets them apart from other resorts, allowing them to become a trendsetter. In addition to being one of the only resorts with this implemented, I think the combination of RFID and social media is refreshing. Typically, QR codes are paired with social media, but the RFID solution at Vail doesn’t require as much action from the user, making it easier to use and adding the element of surprise. In addition, rather than having typical social media implications, this solution transforms Vail into its own hyper-social microcosm.

I hope to hear that more resorts implement similar solutions. But why limit it to ski resorts? Hotels and beach resorts could also partake in something similar using key cards, etc. How else do you think places could combine RFID and social media in order to create, in a sense, their own social network? Let us know your thoughts by commenting here, or on our Facebook or Twitter pages.

If you’re still intrigued as to what RFID technology actually entails, learn more here.