Vail Resorts has announced they will introduce new technology for the 2018-2019 ski season in order to improve navigation and communication on the mountain. Earlier this week, Vail Resorts launched the first digital mountain assistant, Emma, which can answer any questions mountain visitors may have on their ski trip. Skiers and snowboarders can text Emma a question and will receive an answer in real time for up-to-date information on the mountain. Questions can be about snow conditions, lift wait times and even where to eat on or off the resort. In the future, Vail Resorts anticipates Emma will integrate with Facebook messaging, voice assistance, wearable technology and integration with Vail’s EpicMix app.

Emma will be available to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone, as well as mountains in Utah, Tahoe and Canada and will debut in the 2018-2019 season along with info on how to access it. 

Like Apple’s Siri, Emma will use a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) to answer a wide variety of questions skiers and snowboarders may have. If Emma can’t answer your question, she will connect you to a live agent you can talk to for further assistance. The more Emma interacts with people, the more knowledgeable she will get and will learn from humans and machines. 

Chief information officer for Vail Resorts, Robert Urwiler, said Emma isn’t the only innovative first Vail Resorts has achieved. “Emma is the first application of AI and NLP in the mountain resort industry and will offer our guests access to information that is authentic to each resort,” said Urwiler. “Through innovations such as Emma and many others, we continue to pioneer new guest service standards for the mountain resort and leisure industry, using state-of-the-art technology to seamlessly improve the guest experience.”

Back in the 2015-2016 ski season, Vail Resorts was the first company in the mountain resort industry to use real-time lift wait times with EpicMix Time on the EpicMix app. Next season, along with Epic Mix Times, Vail Resorts visitors can ask Emma how long the lift wait times are and will receive a text back with real-time answers.