Hey Vail, Get Engaged

I think most of you know I’m a ski instructor for Vail Resorts. I am huge fan of Vail and that’s why I chose to Instruct for them. Besides having the best ski mountain in the world. I think they have the best professional ski program too. I feel pretty special to be a part of it.

This weekend, like every year, we had our annual new season kick off. We spent the entire day going over the new seasons objectives, goals, new rules and regulations etc. Two things stuck out this year. One is I have to wear a helmet. I know it’s “good” for me, but I’m just not a helmet guy. Not looking forward to that. I’ll be sure to post a pic of me in my trusty new helmet to my Tumblr page when I get it.

The second was this quote:

Vail Ski School needs to be seen as a vacation necessity, rather than a non-essential amenity.

I liked this quote. It’s ambitious. I think all companies need to determine ways to make themselves a necessity. It’s how you make your business grow. Knowing this, I didn’t hear anything different that could play a big role in making this goal happen.

That was disappointing. Because I think Vail has a huge opportunity to make this goal with their website.

Currently, the Vail Ski School website is informational. It is in no way “connected” to the ski school experience. It’s nothing more than how you can buy lessons. How to asses what level skier you are and what it costs. You don’t get to experience Vail Ski School when you’re on it. It could be any mountains site. If the goal is to be a necessity a Vail Ski School client or prospective client should experience Vail’s world class instruction the second they land on the site, not just when they show up for their lesson.

Professional ski instruction is a very robust process with in depth steps and concepts. Professional ski instruction involves teaching; tipping and edging movement, balancing movements, rotary movements, and pressure control. It includes ski performance like slipping, sliding, skidding and carving. It then brings all these things together for the right terrain to create a great skiing experience. Another component of ski instruction is movement analysis. It’s the skill of being able to assess the needs of a skier by simply watching them ski.

With the complexity and depth of ski instruction, I’d like to see Vail use it’s site for education and exposure to the experience of ski instruction. I think they should offer ski lessons right from the site, providing education and instruction for visitors, allowing them to become engaged in the teaching process the minute they land on their page. Vail could provide video clips showing common bad habits many skiers struggle with and provide simple drills to correct them. They could provide “stations” for each of the key movements (balance rotary, edging and pressure) explaining each and why they are important. They could have a client only section where guest videos could be uploaded and archived, so each year they come back they can see their progress, from previous years with a list of the areas to work on. The opportunity to make the Vail Ski School website engaging is endless.

If Vail Ski School wants to be a necessity rather than a non-essential amenity, they need to start engaging clients long before and long after they hit the snow. They need to give them more control over their own experience and educate them on the complexities of ski instruction. Let them touch and feel it 365 days a year and Vail will be getting closer to being a necessity. If not, it’s just more of the same.

I smell industry innovator all over this one. Vail, you in?