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!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

To DMP or not to DMP?

There are plenty of brands that can benefit from plugging into a data management platform. But should you engage an agency to run one or bring it in-house?

Ben Willee and Richard Taylor

Spinach Advertising

Innovations in retail will bring creative and technology closer than ever

While approaching a customer in a shop and asking what you can help them with is Retail 101, how many of us actually enjoy being approached? Generally, you have to give the forced, fake smile and say, “Just browsing, thanks,” while screaming on the inside, “just leave me alone!” Maybe it’s just me?

Jason Dooris

CEO and founder, Atomic 212

There’s a brand in my digital soup

Not a day passes by in the life of business executives where digital innovation or the prospect of disruption is not front of mind. This in turn, drives an unrelenting flow of questioning, discussion and strategy papers.

Jean-Luc Ambrosi

Author, marketer

It is really inspiring to see that medial psychology & machines are going hand in hand to innovate new things and even are improving ...

CBT Professionals

How psychology is shaping better machine learning

Read more

Anything is achievable when you talk the talk .. good luck

Mo Al Hooti

Data Creative crowns Matt Bates as new CMO

Read more

Great hire and good luck Andrew. I am sure you'll do a fabulous jobRob

Rob

Amaysim marketing and commercial chief joins property tech investment startup

Read more

I need to be reborn before i can grow up & become a contestent.

Kaye Peterkin

Channel Nine's content now streamed digitally on 9Now

Read more

I hope The Block, will continue for many many more seasons.When i die, & grow up, I want yo come back as a contestent.

Kaye Peterkin

Channel Nine's content now streamed digitally on 9Now

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in