Standards for Ski Resorts
There hasn’t been a really geeky post on the Resort Marketing Blog for a while, so here we go. I imagine that most people will not have ever noticed that there is a lack of ski industry standards in terms of lift/run status, resort events, news and in particular snow reporting. For each of these items, each ski resort seems to have its own way to offer this information.
There is a recently formed group called Mtn.Xml which was founded by a few resorts, interactive web companies, and one of the two main snow report aggregation companies that intends to offer “The universal standard for ski reporting data.” This mission statement cuts to the heart of what the real issue is – each resort has its own priorities and own way of checking off those priorities. To attempt to enact standards that are flexible enough for each resort to do this is in reality like trying to herd cats – it simply is not efficient nor effective. That said, I believe this effort can work for many resorts and it will make it easier to develop apps and other web services for those resorts.
But, will it work for others?
No. So,I know that the lift statuses the resort I work for are different from the lift statuses from other resorts, even when we use similar terminology it still isn’t the same, what is “scheduled” or “on hold” for us, might be “expected” and “delayed” for another. These are sometimes marketing related, but often driven by operational needs that are specific to that resort. This fragmentation continues with run status reporting, because some resorts report snowmaking, some report when a run was groomed and some even groom during the day – how can this be made consistently reportable? Finally, with snow reporting, it seems that the needs of resorts vary the most. Some report daily, some only when it snows and some seem to report with every inch that comes down. Snow reporting has definitely become more accurate with the advent of social media and the ability for anyone to Facebook or Tweet an image and report of actual conditions, but resort do have very different requirements and therefore report in different ways. Whether that be time of report, frequency of report, or even reporting from a variety of locations, the possibilities are quite varied.
But, I would love to see simplification of the reports that are now filed with SnowCountry, OnTheSnow (has some nice XML documentation of their own) and potentially with other local organizations (in Utah we manually report to SkiUtah each morning). This duplication of labors could certainly be made easier and more accurate through MTN.XML, but will enough resorts and syndicators sign on to make it worthwhile – that remains to be seen and in an industry as regionalized and fragmented as the ski resort business is, I don’t know that this can or will happen, and if anything it may need to be an outside force, such as an Apple, Google or Amazon that comes in and redefines how the travel space communicates in general – iTravel anyone?Photo credit: Flickr user Kalexanderson