Ski Resort Races Toward Efficiency With POS And AIDC
Replacing a hard-to-maintain, proprietary point of sale (POS) system with a PC-based one, ticketing software and bar-code printers help POS VAR stay ahead in the ski resort market.
Imagine issuing ski passes and tracking the purchases of more than 300,000 skiers in a five-month period. Crystal Mountain ski resort does just that, and does it much more efficiently, thanks to POS VAR/software developer Siriusware, Inc. of Taos, N.M. Siriusware President Mark Danemann says word-of-mouth referrals from the tightly-knit ski resort market led him to Crystal Mountain, two hours outside of Seattle, WA. Siriusware is an eight-year old company with nine employees. The company develops ticketing, credit card processing and access control software for ski resorts, amusement parks and entertainment facilities such as zoos and museums.
Proprietary System Was Unsupported
While Crystal Mountain's former POS system was adequate, it was difficult to maintain, explains Danemann. The resort had up to three employees assigned to support the 16-terminal, UNIX-based system. And, in addition, the proprietary POS software Crystal Mountain used was no longer being upgraded or supported by the company that developed it. Because of this, the resort's parent company, Boyne USA, decided to change Crystal Mountain's entire POS system. Danemann was not surprised. He says ski resorts are usually quick to adopt new technology to help them stay ahead of the competition. Crystal Mountain wanted a PC-basd, open architecture system to print tickets and receipts, produce ski passes and memberships with photos and process credit card transactions.
New System Offers Open Architecture
Danemann provided the hardware components along with his company's ticketing, season pass and credit card-transaction software. The hardware components included an APG Series 186 cash drawer, Star SP 300 receipt printer, and EloTouch touch screen monitors. In addition, Danemann supplied a Hewlett-Packard server, Welch Allyn credit card readers, Pentium 75 CPU's running Windows 95 software and APC power protection. Also used was Cognitive Solutions Barcode Blaster Advantage bar-code printer for ticket printing. Other components include off-the-shelf keyboards and video image capture equipment. All the hardware was purchased through Penstock/ECR and Ingram Micro distributors.
Siriusware provided its TIX automated ticketing sales software. TIX allows for flexible pricing of rates for early season, late season, weekend only and special rates. Crystal Mountain also uses PassEZ software to generate one-time, multi-use and season passes. Because PassEZ maintains a file of member photos, season pass holders can renew their passes each year by mail. With a transaction time of eight seconds, the CC-EZ-Credit card software helps Crystal Mountain move its customers to the slopes faster. A single dial-out phone line serves all 16 terminals in the resort. Siriusware provides all software support, including a 24 X 7 help desk, free for the first year. It also maintains a Web page (www.siriusware.com), with links to all its customers.
The installation was done over a two-month period during the resort's off season. Little end-user training was needed because the system uses Microsoft Windows, a graphical user interface and a touch screen.
According to Danemann, Crystal Mountain is pleased with the new system. The ability to re-sign season ticket holders by mail is especially welcome, says Danemann. The resort is able to maintain a database of all its customers to use for promotional mailings. The system has reduced the amount of time it takes cashiers to reconcile receipts at the end of the day. The new system provides detailed cash drawer reports that list items sold and discounts taken. Danemann says Crystal Mountain is planning to expand the system to include its bar and restaurant, as well as its ski rental shop.