While the Backroom and B2B applications for RFID have finally started to make waves in the Auto ID industry, it has still been a challenge to create widely accepted uses for RFID in more consumer-focused industries.
But have you been skiing lately? The skiing industry has quietly been finding RFID technology to be a fantastic way to bring speed, efficiency and security to the most valuable part of the business – the lift ticket.
The Stickiness Factor of Old Processes
A busy ski area used to need a few attendants at every line to check on the validity of everyone’s lift tickets and passes. With tickets coming in all different colors and typesets to represent single day, multi-day or Junior vs. Adult or daytime vs. nighttime, etc. it was also a challenge for a human to keep track of all the options and monitor them effectively.
In addition, lift tickets were a messy business – wires were needed to hang a sticky tag to a zipper or hook on your coat, tags had backing paper that needed to be disposed of, and the tickets required printers with the ink as another consumable to be procured in addition to the labels themselves.
When The Chips Are Downhill
But how does an RFID lift ticket work? In many ways, they are the perfect way to run this business: With all the important, yet highly variable, data regarding the duration and type of lift ticket stored in the chip –including the user’s name and even credit card info if desired – the ski lifts only require a scanning device to monitor those passing through for a valid lift ticket. And yes, the need will remain to have an attendant in place to help troubleshoot miscanned tickets or deal with someone not carrying a valid ticket, but the benefits of RFID suddenly appear to be completely obvious once this system is implemented.
Extending the Model
Can the ski resort extend this model into other areas of operations? Perhaps. What about rental equipment? Or perhaps an option to turn your lift ticket into an in-resort credit card that allows you to keep your wallet locked away? And from a marketing perspective, having everyone in your resort all carrying an RFID chip that is regularly scanned gives us some interesting possibilities for real-time promotions as well.
What is your favorite consumer application for RFID?