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USSA RFID-enables its Gold pass ski ticket

Skiers who fork over $10,000 apiece for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’s Gold Pass lift ticket will receive the additional benefits of RFID technology next season.

The USSA announced this week that its Gold pass, which provides unlimited, transferable access to National Ski Areas Association resorts coast-to-coast, will become the first pass in the world to fully integrate RFID, scanning and other lift access technologies into one pass.

The 2012-13 USSA Gold ski pass will be RFID enabled.

The single pass will integrate HF, UHF and barcode-based ticket solutions for access control, and will be accepted at 250 resorts that participate in the Gold Pass program in 35 states. Two-thirds of those resorts are already outfitted to allow guests direct-to-lift accessibility via RFID technology. The USSA sells about 400 of the special passes annually.

The Gold Pass is one of the largest fundraising tools to support Olympic skiers and snowboarders, generating over $3 million annually for athletic programs.

Ski resorts are continually turning to RFID-enabled ski tickets to allow skiers to communicate with other skiers and friends through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Vail Resorts has one of the most advanced programs in North America, combining RFID-enhanced tickets with social media.

“It’s just another reason to come to Vail Resorts,” Robert Urwiler, chief information officer for Vail Resorts, told RFID 24-7 last year. “By going to all hard card media, that will drive more social media impressions in a big way.”

For the 2010-11 ski season, Vail Resorts received 275,000 social posts on Facebook and Twitter and more than 35 million social impressions (based on Facebook’s estimate of 130 friends per person) through its Epic Mix program, which integrates with the RFID-enabled ski passes.

“Our resorts are making huge strides to enhance the experience of skiers and snowboarders through technology,” says Michael Berry, president of the National Ski Areas Association. “This year’s Gold Pass is an amazing demonstration of how far we’ve come by integrating multiple systems into one pass offering not only direct to lift access for pass holders but also the premium tracking services being put into place at leading resorts.”

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