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Marketing Terrain Parks: are RFID Auto Photos the Secret Sauce?

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Vail proved a lot of things with their EpicMix 2.0 launch, one of them is that photo is big. Millions of photos are taken and uploaded to the web each day, and as winter arrives, a large number of those will be pics of skiers and riders ripping some line or jump. For that reason I’ve been intrigued by a product called Snapsportz. Combining a rider-worn RFID tag with a weatherproof camera triggered by these passes, Snapsportz system can take action photos of park-rats mid-trick.

A few months ago I was introduced to Ben Kottke, the man behind Snapsportz, and talked to him a little bit more about the product and how resorts are using it to market their parks. Things are still in the works for the upcoming season so he couldn’t disclose a lot of their new stuff, but well worth some consideration.  EpicMix may have photos all over the mountain, but they don’t have this:

Gregg: Ben, first, tell me a little bit about your background and how Snapsportz came to be.
Ben: I have a background in action sports marketing and professional action sports photography- worked as a marketing coordinator and Senior Photographer for Surfing Magazine and pioneered a hi-end digital-action vacation photo service at Namotu Island Resort (a private hi-end surf resort in Fiji).
Then parlayed the “Namotu” concept of enabling professional action photography to the average active “masses” with emerging technologies (like RFID), innovative marketing concepts, and the boom of social media into what is now Snapsportz.
Snapsportz’ mission harnesses emerging (cutting edge) technologies to automatically capture professional photos of people engaged in their action sports passions and enable them to immediately share their experiences via social networks. And furthermore allows top brands to connect their products and services with people who are engaged in action sports within their social networks.
Snapsportz is comprised of talented-experienced individuals all passionate in action sports- from software engineers, to photographers, to business development and marketing experts.

Gregg: In one paragraph, give me the 411 on how Snapsportz works.
Ben: Our patent pending SnapSportz system uses RFID tags worn by terrin park riders- the tag is read by strategically placed sensors which activate creatively positioned Snapsportz camera units to fire a sequence of action photos. The tag info and photos are paired together and relayed to the web in real time for viewing and sharing. Information on the RIFD tag tells riders where to retrieve their photos (a resort’s web url, embedded iframe within a sponsor’s Facebook page). RFID automatically sorts the photos and enables a rider to enter their tag and instantly view only their photos.

Gregg: From a marketing perspective, what does Snapsportz do for a resort and their terrain parks?
Ben: Snapsportz’ service and technology is valuable to Sponsors, Resorts (terrain parks), and the end user/consumer for the following reasons.

Corporate Sponsors:

  • SnapSportz embedded sponsorship and advertising service provides a unique platform for connecting with and engaging in the users socialnetwork.
  • The level of engagement is far deeper and effective than “banner ads” and more akin to search terms since the Brand message is delivered at a time when the user is engaged in their passion or reminiscing about their passion experience.
  • These Brand messages are embedded on the photos visually and within them through metatagging. These freely shared images are then broadcast across popular social networks.
  • More importantly they become part of user’s news feeds – a unique position for a sponsor or advertiser


  • SnapSportz delivers a value added service to their customers and enables the resort to begin a one-to-one dialog with their clientele.
  • This dialog has previously been limited to “season pass” holders. By implementing the SnapSportz service the resorts open a dialog with the other 90% of the customer base who have previously been invisible.
  • The resort owner will gain unique insights into the usage of their service and be seen as entering the social graph of their users.
  • User’s shared photographic experiences and commentary creates credible viral marketing for the Resort.

Terrain Park Riders

  • Can view images of themselves on their smartphone as they head back up the lift for their next run.
  • Can freely share these images and provide commentary about the experience via their social network in real time.
  • Can choose a few of the best images and purchase high resolution images and unique digital products for their digital library.

Gregg: Now, I’ve heard you’ve got a setup at Brighton, where other resorts are using SnapSportz?
Ben: We’re in the process of talking with a variety of resorts and supporting corporate sponsors for this 11-12 upcoming season both for seasonal use of Snapsportz as well as for events. Since our initial and main push is in terrain parks, we’re focusing our efforts on resorts and sponsors with large terrain park populations and interests. Things are still in discussions with these potential clients and locales- when we have things finalized with our seasonal and event schedule, I’ll relay those updates.

Gregg: In what ways (if any) have these resorts used this in their marketing and promotions as a competitive “add-on” other resorts don’t have?
Ben: The interested entities we’re in discussions with have relayed they plan to include Snapsportz’ service throughout all of their standard marketing outlets- via the web, via their social media outlets, and via on-mountain physical and digital avenues. One notable example of a unique on-mountain digital promo-add on is Snapsportz’ flat-screen instant replay feature and cafeteria “best of” slideshow.

SlopeFillers: What kind of pricing setups are resorts using? Included in season passes? Extra fee to add to a pass? etc.? And how are these SnapSportz passes offered…at the ticket window only?
Ben: We encourage resorts who are interested in Snapsportz’ technology and service to offer the RFID tags for free or for a very nominal amount ($1)- especially with the terrain park younger demographic. We believe the value to Resort and Sponsors from the marketing and social media ROI greatly outweighs the outdated business model of charging patrons large amounts of money for a photo. The fact that large trend setting entities like Vail seem to be following this same train of thoughts shows we’re moving in the right direction with our business model and using the right technology with RFID.
Snapsportz RFID tags can be offered/distributed at the base of the Mountain at lift ticket windows, at entrances to terrain parks, included in Season passes, or even at retail locations whereby the tags can as a driver to a specific resort (wear this free tag at resort X’s terrain park and all your photos are free).

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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