Skiers using social media, phone apps

DENVER — This season, there's more to technology on the ski slopes than new shapes in skis. As skiers and snowboarders head online to book vacations and then brag about it, Colorado resorts are amping up their social media and smart phone applications to reach them, offering everything from geotagging to automatic Twitter updates.

Vail Resorts Inc. and Aspen Skiing Co. are launching new apps, and resort employees industrywide are plastering Facebook walls and tweeting about recent snowfall and special deals that might not be available anywhere else but online.

"It's definitely part of this trend of 'marketing made personal,'” said Melanie Mills, president and chief executive officer of the trade group Colorado Ski Country USA. "Everyone is using technology to talk more directly with their guests and more individually to guests.”

Past seasons have had ski and snowboard manufacturers touting new equipment shapes. Now, techies are buzzing about Vail Resorts Inc.'s free new EpicMix mobile and online application, which uses radio frequency identification (RFID) tags on lift tickets and season passes.

The RFID tags and new scanners on lift towers let EpicMix track customers' ski days and vertical feet logged at Breckenridge, Keystone, Vail and Beaver Creek in Colorado and Heavenly in California, without a rider doing anything extra.

Aspen Skiing Co. hopes its upcoming mobile app, which would work on most smart phones, can provide updates on snowfall and trail grooming, and allow guests to make dinner reservations or buy lessons.

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