I thought a lot last winter about lift access and how people pay for skiing. Certainly the way I tend to ski doesn't fit well with the current lift access model, but then again, I don't really care since my pass is free. This whole ticket/pass model hasn't changed drastically in 60 or 70 years. Oh, sure, there's now multiday tickets with savings, and everyone once in a while you see a ticket that's a reduced price for access only to a learner's area.
If I had to pay for skiing I'd be unhappy the way things are.
If you could redesign how we pay for skiing, how would you do it? Can you think of a model that works better for you or your friends? Can you think of something on the access side to completely prevent fraud, but get away from having pass/ticket media?
So let me back up a bit. I'm not entirely sure when the ticket/pass idea originated, but I know it was long before I was born. I'm going to specifically use the word "tickets" now, but what I really mean is something like "tickets and passes", or to be even more correct: "media". These days, there are 3 main computer systems used to sell and validate tickets: RTPOne, Siriusware, and Comptrol. Some areas choose to use other systems, some of which are proprietary. The first two are pretty enterprise-aware applications and used by all the big guys. All three of them have pretty rigid rules about how lift tickets work. Yes, you can do a lot of tricks with RTP regarding access, but it gets difficult to come up with a new kind of model because it really has a lot of preconceived ideas about how access works. (And yes, I realize someone will probably say RTP can do anything, but unless you want to manage thousands of different ticket products or access rules, it would be hard to implement some of the ideas below. Multiday sucks enough.)
Here's some random thoughts of mine based on the questions above, do you have any others?
1. I think it would be interesting to see a ticketing model where you pay per ride. Want to ride a lift? Well, maybe Chair 1 costs $3 a ride. Maybe chair 5 costs $6 a ride. This fits pretty close to how I like to ski. Charges are accrued based on scan.
2. Or, perhaps paying completely based on time would be interesting. Maybe I just want to ski for a 1.5 hours in the morning. Or, if I show up at the resort late on Friday after driving in, maybe I can pay a few $$ just to get that last half hour of skiing in. I'm certainly not paying for a half day ticket for that.
3. A real family package - let a family purchase some passes that are transferable within the family or something.
4. Let me pay to ski just part of the mountain.
5. Let the skiing and lift ride be free, but make me pay if I stop moving. (Ok, that one is a joke.)
6. Pay-per-feature in the park.
7. Get rid of barcode/mag stripe media for passes, get rid of ticket scanning. I have my phone on me, so just detect that using NFC or something. Don't want to ski with a phone? We can issue RFID passes. Yes, I realize RFID has existed for a decade in the ski industry, but I think it also still hasn't been perfected. It's still way too expensive to implement.
8. Similarly, move validation to the cloud (yeah, I hate that word sometimes too) and have an app on your phone for validation. Tie it to the mechanisms above, and I walk straight to the lift and get charged per lift ride.
9. Purchase access at the lift. Why haven't we done this yet? Surely someone has. All those software systems above suck at kiosks. Heck, purchase access ON the lift.
(I realize someone will probably point out something like, "NFC isn't on most phones so it won't work." That's not the point of this discussion - the point is to come up with new ideas. If you want to get technical, replace "NFC" above with something like, "detect it using a custom built, low power cellular device that can read an MEID".)