Vail Resorts has announced that Emma, the world’s first digital mountain assistant, has begun her inaugural winter season, launching in beta at Keystone Ski Resort in Colorado, which opened ahead of schedule this week. Emma is using the early season to better understand how guests ask questions while at the resort and will launch at eight additional ski resorts later this season: Vail, Beaver Creek and Breckenridge in Colorado; Park City in Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in Tahoe; and Whistler Blackcomb in Canada.
Through simple text messaging, Emma (your Epic Mountain Assistant) offers guests real-time information on everything from snow conditions, parking and personal performance stats to recommendations on rentals, lessons and dining options. This first generation technology uses artificial intelligence (AI) through natural language processing (NLP) to answer questions, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through short message service (SMS) text. As Emma interacts with guests, she will get smarter, expanding her knowledge base and insight throughout the season.
“We are excited for Emma to launch in beta at Keystone. The earlier Emma can interact with guests on a variety of topics, the faster she will learn and adjust to guest preferences,” said Kirsten Lynch, chief marketing officer for Vail Resorts. “Emma is the world’s first digital mountain assistant and continues a decade of pioneering technological firsts from Vail Resorts to enhance the guest experience.”
Among Emma’s many capabilities is her connection to EpicMix, a ground-breaking technology from Vail Resorts, originally launched in 2010, which allows skiers and snowboarders to track their days and vertical feet. Guests can retrieve their EpicMix stats by texting Emma simple questions like “How much did I ski today?” or “What are my stats?”
Additionally, Emma can answer questions on weather conditions, grooming, lift line wait times, parking, ski school, lift tickets, equipment rental options, dining recommendations and more, serving as a one-stop source for the information guests need, when they need it. If Emma cannot answer a question, she will connect guests to a live agent for further assistance. In an effort to continuously improve Emma’s capabilities, guests can text “feedback” to share their open-ended ideas and comments for Emma.
Emma is the latest innovation from Vail Resorts. Since developing the industry-leading season pass, the Epic Pass, 10 years ago, the Company has introduced RFID technologies in passes and lift tickets to enable the “Easy Scan” process and power EpicMix; launched the EpicDay Express Lift Tickets program, which allows guests to skip the ticket line completely; and last year introduced EpicMix Time Insights, a website that gives guests a historical look at lift line wait times for any day throughout the season, using data collected from its real-time lift line feature, EpicMix Time.