The Crystal Ski Industry Report today was less about the state of the market and more about their own digital innovations.

Market size down 3.6%

Perhaps it was the right decision not to focus on a market that was estimated to have fallen another 3.6% since 2012/13.

Simon Cross, President of Crystal Ski, commented that the late Easter hadn’t given much of a chance for recovery, but believes that ‘we can get back to where the market was’ (at its peak in 2008), but that ‘it will take a few seasons’.

total ski market


Digital Revolution at Crystal

Cross and Tamsin Todd, MD, focussed instead on their multi-million pound ‘Digital Revolution’ that they plan to bring to the market.

We were genuinely impressed – their developments show a real commitment to and understanding of digital technology.

The enhancements due to be introduced this season include:

  • All 700 overseas employees will be equipped with iPads loaded with custom-built software to help deliver ‘personalised and real-time customer service’
  • If guests request it, that service will include a pre-holiday video call from resort staff, where they will be able to ask questions about any element of their trip
  • Ski hire requirements, such as size/ability level etc, can be registered in advance, meaning the correct equipment can be collected on arrival at the hire shop, speeding up the process.

crystal industry report 2014

Video calling – the bane of every rep’s life?

Some of these are great ideas, although it remains to be seen how practicable a video call to clients before they arrive is.

If the take-up is good, it could tie up a lot of the staff’s time. Having worked out in the Alps ourselves, we know that resort staff value their free time and handling calls like this is likely to mean less of it.  Crystal admitted they have no idea how many guests will take advantage of the service.

On the other hand, all staff will be able to use their work iPads for watching movies, checking email and browsing the Internet and will help them stay even more connected.


‘Ski Explorer’ app

Their commitment to digital doesn’t stop at video calls however.  Version 2.0 of their existing ‘Ski Explorer’ app – that guests can download before their trip – has been enhanced significantly.

As well as the standard information you’d expect, such as snow conditions, the new version has several pretty special additions.

crystal ski explorer app

Find Your Friends

Using GPS, the app will allow you to see where your friends are on the mountain.

To use this feature your friends (selected from Facebook) need to have also downloaded the app, as well as giving you permission to track them.

This is a great feature for groups, who might use it to decide where is the best place to meet up for lunch, or to help guide back or find a member of the group who is lost.

crystal ski friend finder app

Parents of young teens might find this feature helpful when letting their children ski on their own for the first time. While the kids might not be so keen on the idea of being tracked (or even of  being friends of their parents on Facebook), it might be a deal-clincher that allows them to ski off on their own.

One very important consideration for users is that this feature of the app does require roaming to be enabled.  The cost will typically depend on how much data you use, and if you do not monitor it, there is the potential to rack up a large bill (say, if your phone automatically downloads email as well, while you have roaming enabled).

However, there are various packages that make roaming decent value and the costs will fall further as new EU legislation continues to be implemented.

Live updates from staff

Resort staff will also be able to use the app to send live recommendations for lunch  or good runs to guests

This video shows how the app and pre-holiday technology might be used


‘What type of skier are you?’

In addition to the customer service innovations, we were also very impressed with Crystal’s new Facebook-driven quiz, that went live today.

Using a Woobox plugin and created in-house, you answer eight simple and quite amusing questions and answers.  Any parent of young children will appreciate this one:





The quiz then delivers you a result, with another amusing summary of your skiing life (in my case, almost spot on!):

Social sharing is clearly signposted and a quick look around shows that it’s working superbly already.  The quiz only went live a few hours ago and there are already plenty of shares on Facebook and Twitter.


Funny and Informative

If you create content marketing that is both funny and informative then you’ve hit the jackpot.

What we particularly like about this app is that when you are given your final category, it preselects five resorts that it deems are suitable for you.  These appear slightly further down the page:



The selection covers a number of price points and countries and following the positive sentiment generated by the quiz is likely to lead to a good CTR and possible business.

Even if it doesn’t lead to business straightaway, it will have increased the relationship between user and brand and the virality through social shares will bring in even more users.

We make no apologies for the credit we are giving Crystal here.  At Skipedia we call it as we see it.  This is a cracking piece of content marketing and deserves to be recognised as such.

And a new mobile friendly site…

Finally, we have been critical of Crystal before for not having a mobile-friendly website.  That too has now been corrected – unlike many press release claims Crystal genuinely is seeing in a digital revolution…

mobile crystal

Article by Iain Martin