Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Experience Pass

It's a bit alarming to think that I first went ski-ing 40 years ago. But maybe less alarming to think that I'm still keeping it up, with a trip or two almost every year. There have been huge changes, of course, in that time - with the equipment for a start. Skis are short and light and nippy these days, and boots warm and hi-tech and moulded to your feet if you so desire. It's difficult to spot someone without a helmet these days. And let's not get on to the fashions.

The lifts, too, have changed beyond recognition. When I started, there were drag lifts, single chairs or double (like the one above) if you were lucky, and a packed cable car to get everyone up from the valley. These days, chairlifts and gondolas have heated seats and probably Glühwein service.

In all this, we don't think much about the once-humble lift pass. These used to be a bit of card with your photo, which the lift operators checked manually to allow you on the lift, or not. But these days, the lift pass has evolved into more of an Experience Pass.

In combination with the SmartPhone, or even without, the lift pass can get you a printout at the end of the day about how many km you've skied, how many lifts you've used and many other metrics. If you wave the thing around at various photo locations, you don't even have to fumble around in gloveless hands for your camera or phone - holiday snaps will be delivered as though by magic.

All of this reminds me about how marketing people are talking about cities in the context of future mobility and urbanisation. Look at Urban-X (a MINI-backed start-up) for example who are 'Engineering the City as a Service' and whose Mission is:

We believe in a world of abundant, accessible technology that connects and empowers urban life. We believe every city will be a platform upon which the tools of the metropolis will be built. We are Engineering the City as a Service to meet the challenges of rapid global urbanization. We will achieve this via hardware and software that provide necessary infrastructure, technologies, products, and services.”


A ski-resort is, of course, a microcosm of a city, brimming with early adopters, be it for the latest ski equipment or the latest technology.

But in all of this connection and participation and technology, I wonder if something gets lost. I love the action and bonhomie of a ski holiday as much as the next one, but I also love the silence of the mountains.

It's telling that the strapline on the Ischgl website is almost portentous: Relax. If you can ...


Barbara said...

I don’t know how I missed so many of your posts Sue. I suppose Christmas and the New Year does go on much longer these days (or I tend to take more time away from the Internet). However, that is no excuse, so I’m having a catch up. I won’t comment on all the post I missed, but I will be reading them.
This one frightened the life out of me. I’m one of those people who would still like someone to put petrol in my car, bank tellers to know my name and money to be of the paper kind. Everything is just moving too fast, and I can’t keep up. This must be what happens to all of us as we get older but probably more so now than ever before.
Why can’t we go back to the days of the humble lift pass and an operator to check them and maybe smile and say hello? Plastic and machines are just not the same.

Sue Imgrund said...

I agree that good old humanity gets left out in a lot of these futuristic ideas. The one that I would most like to see is 'driverless cars' - OK, for some reason I don't mind planes on autopilot, but the unpredictability of the world makes me worry how that can work in practice.