Vail Resorts: “Live Your Customers’ Experience”

For Stacey Pool, Director Online Experience, at Vail Resorts, dealing with 5,000 employees during the offseason is nothing compared to the 20,000 staffers it has in-season. That’s why engaging Vail’s employees is the driving force behind providing superior customer experiences.

During a session with Brian Curran, Vice President, Customer Experience Strategy, Oracle, on Tuesday during the Forrester Research Forum for Customer Experience Professionals East 2013 at the New York Marriott Marquis, Pool’s takeaway theme was issued upfront and center.

“Live your customers’ experience and try to do it often,” Pool said. “It’s important for us to put ourselves in our guests’ shoes.”

Pool spoke about “intrapreneurs” – or people who drive change within an organization.

“It’s important to expose employees to the process and challenge the status quo,” Pool said.

Often, Pool said, Vail employees ride the gondolas with customers -- a somewhat captive area – to attain unique customer insights.

“They love to talk,” Pool said of Vail’s customers. “They are at the core of our decisions.”

Pool oversees the strategy and delivery of enterprisewide digital initiatives at Vail Resorts — the leading mountain resort operator in the U.S. Most recently, she is responsible for the delivery of Vail Resorts' social media application, EpicMix, and even more recently, EpicMix Racing. 

EpicMix Racing -- the latest evolution for Vail’s popular EpicMix social platform – allows skiers and riders at Vail,  Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone], Heavenly], Northstar, and Kirkwood to compete against friends, family, and even Olympic Gold Medalist Lindsey Vonn for social bragging rights.

Pool said the idea for EpicMix Racing came from a discussion with Vail’s Chairman and CEO Rob Katz and Chief Marketing Officer Kirsten Lynch about what the next big opportunity was for extending the on-mountain experience and capturing it digitally.  It was something that wasn’t captured in EpicMix and extended racing into the application.

Vonn sets the pace at the beginning of the season, and race pros on the mountain will race against Vonn to set their par times. Then on a daily basis, the race pros will race the course and based on where they land against Vonn, that will determine the par time for the race course that day.

Vail then provides adjusted times for the guests based on their age, gender, and discipline. Based on the way they run the course, they can see what they would need to get to meet or beat Lindsey’s time.

Pool also discussed journey mapping, which she said has been “transformational” for Vail and its customer base.

“It allows us to identify where we can drive our journey and elevate the experience with differentiation,” Pool said. “And we encourage people to join the journey. It’s very much a teaching tool.”

Pool admitted Vail had been “quite siloed in our thinking”, but we make sure now that we’re “more holistic in our approach and that gets us all on the same page talking about where we can take the experience to the next level.”

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