How Vail Resorts Uses IT to Profile Skiiers

The chief marketing officer of US-based ski resort talks about her relationship with the CIO and need for IT

Kirsten Lynch, CMO at US-based Vail Resorts, talks to Martha Heller about how a partnership with the CIO leads to better guest experiences.

How is Vail Resorts using technology to help guests with vacation planning?

For years, we've had a CRM system that gives us basic demographic and behavioural data. But this year, we've taken it to the next level, where we understand and can categorise our customers' attitudes. Skiing is such a passion-based business that we need to go beyond basic data to understanding why our guests come to the mountain.

We have the "Alpine A-Listers," who are hard-core about skiing and also passionate about the luxury experience. Then there are the "Village Sophisticates," who tend to care more about dining, shopping and spas than skiing. The "Shred Heads" care only about getting to the mountain and making the most of their ski day--it's not about luxury for them.

For each segment, we know how many days they ski a year, where they ski and what they spend their money on. We then gear our messaging to each group.

How do these personas affect the trip-planning experience?

At some point, our guests call us to book their vacation. We are piloting some new technology that pre-populates the agent's screen with everything we know about our guests. Because we know a guest's motivation, we can personalise what we talk to them about.

What are you doing with social media?

Three years ago we launched EpicMix, an application that allows our guests to track statistics on their devices, including which resorts they've been to, their total vertical feet accomplishments and their speed on certain runs. Skiing is all about coming down to the lodge and trading stories. We are bringing that heritage into the 21st century.

Once EpicMix had been in use for a year, we wanted to engage more people, so we stationed photographers all over our mountains. Guests can ski up to a photographer, who scans their ticket and takes a photo of them--or of their friends and family elsewhere on the mountain. The photos go to their EpicMix account, and they can share them on social media.

That requires a good relationship between marketing and IT. How do you achieve that?

Our CIO, Robert Urwiler, and I view our relationship as a partnership. We are always in each other's office, brainstorming new ideas and talking about problems. On critical projects, we meet weekly with our teams. If there are issues or trade-offs to address, Robert and I are right there in the room.

What advice would you give CIOs on partnering with their CMOs?

When an idea comes out of marketing, some IT leaders will first jump to potential hurdles. My advice would be to start with what's possible; that makes a huge difference to me.

What is next in the way of technology innovation at Vail?

We've just launched One Pass, where we use customer information to move our guests quickly through the ticket-buying, ski-rental and ski-school processes. I expect One Pass to be transformational: When we can keep customers from waiting in line or filling out paperwork, we are delivering on our mission of creating an experience of a lifetime.

Martha Heller is president of executive recruiting firm Heller Search Associates and author of The CIO Paradox. Follow her on Twitter:@marthaheller.

Read more about customer relationship management (crm) in CIO's Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Drilldown.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Conversations over a cuppa with CMO: Microsoft's Pip Arthur

​In this latest episode of our conversations over a cuppa with CMO, we catch up with the delightful Pip Arthur, Microsoft Australia's chief marketing officer and communications director, to talk about thinking differently, delivering on B2B connection in the crisis, brand purpose and marketing transformation.

More Videos

Great content and well explained. Everything you need to know about Digital Design, this article has got you covered. You may also check ...

Ryota Miyagi

Why the art of human-centred design has become a vital CX tool

Read more

Interested in virtual events? If you are looking for an amazing virtual booth, this is definitely worth checking https://virtualbooth.ad...

Cecille Pabon

Report: Covid effect sees digital events on the rise long-term

Read more

Thank you so much for sharing such an informative article. It’s really impressive.Click Here & Create Status and share with family

Sanwataram

Predictions: 14 digital marketing predictions for 2021

Read more

Nice!https://www.live-radio-onli...

OmiljeniRadio RadioStanice Uzi

Google+ and Blogger cozy up with new comment system

Read more

Awesome and well written article. The examples and elements are good and valuable for all brand identity designs. Speaking of awesome, ch...

Ryota Miyagi

Why customer trust is more vital to brand survival than it's ever been

Read more

Blog Posts

A Brand for social justice

In 2020, brands did something they’d never done before: They spoke up about race.

Dipanjan Chatterjee and Xiaofeng Wang

VP and principal analyst and senior analyst, Forrester

Determining our Humanity

‘Business as unusual’ is a term my organisation has adopted to describe the professional aftermath of COVID-19 and the rest of the tragic events this year. Social distancing, perspex screens at counters and masks in all manner of situations have introduced us to a world we were never familiar with. But, as we keep being reminded, this is the new normal. This is the world we created. Yet we also have the opportunity to create something else.

Katja Forbes

Managing director of Designit, Australia and New Zealand

Should your business go back to the future?

In times of uncertainty, people gravitate towards the familiar. How can businesses capitalise on this to overcome the recessionary conditions brought on by COVID? Craig Flanders explains.

Craig Flanders

CEO, Spinach

Sign in