6 years ago

QR codes take to the slopes, is it just a ski thing?

On a family ski holiday last week I spotted what seemed like a simple and quirky marketing idea using Quick Response (QR) codes on skis and snowboards.

The codes have been criticised in various circles for how impractical they are as well as the general deal fatigue they add to where they just offer discounts.

But on the Austrian slopes they were used to drive consumers to one local ski shop’s Facebook page.

While some sectors are considering how to incorporate QR codes and there have already been some whacky ones or, even whether to bother, the ski industry seems to have been putting the technology to some good uses for more than two years.

So, that got us wondering whether the ski sector is ahead of the game when it comes to the use of QR codes and if so, why?

For example, does it follow that skiers are more tech savvy and faster adopters of new gadgets than the rest of the holidaying public – if the volume of iPads, iPhones and iPods on the outgoing plane was anything to go by, then the answer is yes.

In addition, recent research on luxury trends, although we are NOT grouping all skiers in this batch, shows more than half like to have the latest gadget and almost three quarters are active Facebook users.

Back in January EpicMix combined social media with RFID technology enabling skiers to share their experience with friends.

And, a quick trawl of Google shows quite wide-ranging QR code usage from equipment specialists such as Oakley and Brunotti (QR code on ski jacket) using them for competitions and to direct consumers to websites respectively, to the BBC using them to promote Ski Sunday.

Perhaps the only issue with the Sport Brugger QR code on skis is that in all likelihood you will have already have chosen and paid for your skis.

However, the man in the shop said the initiative was popular so in this case it is more about generating buzz on Facebook.

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About the Writer :: Linda Fox

Linda Fox is managing editor for Tnooz. For the past decade years she has worked as a freelance journalist across a range of B2B titles including Travolution, ABTA Magazine, Travelmole and the Business Travel Magazine.

In this time she has also undertaken corporate projects for a number of high profile travel technology, travel management and research companies.

Prior to her freelance career she covered hotels and technology news for Travel Trade Gazette for seven years. Linda joined TTG from Caterer & Hotelkeeper where she worked on the features desk for more than five years.



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  1. Kru

    I attached a QR code with my contact details to my business card. Its surprising how many people scan it, then throw away the card. It seems to be working as a lot of business i get, thet have my info saved on their phones.

  2. iain

    I like that Google screengrab above. Here’s the link you’re looking for 😉


  3. Don Birch

    How about QR codes as a security thing? Stop local opportunists from stealing skis because they can not prove that they are the legal owners when it comes to reselling? Indeed QR everything that moves!

  4. Eric Hoffman

    I don’t see this as a ‘ski thing’, more just an attempt at adopting a new technology without any innovation or truly practical application. To me, it’s starting to feel like QR codes have been a new thing for several years and I’m now waiting for NFC or real world search to gain traction and make QR obsolete. It always has seemed like a a hassle to have to scan some odd looking item and then take an additional action while NFC eliminates the scan step and real world search (ie Google Googles) allows for different actions from taking photos of buildings or storefronts, not just a barcode, and then providing for possible actions.

    All this said, I’m still looking for good applications of any of these in the ski biz, thanks for writing about our industry!

  5. Gary Grieve

    Linda, only kidding about the metrics! Rhen, yes absolutely! Technology seems set on sending folk round in circles, from Twitter feeds to FB pages to websites and back again and sometimes that is seen as an end in itself. If I have someone there in my shop I want to sell them something. Maybe a follow-up email when they get home to join the FB page but not now… Still very rarely seen good use of a QR code

  6. Rhen Wilson

    Though not about skiing, I wrote an article on my blog back in October about the misuse and poor practicality that is QR Codes. I think Gary would agree with a lot of it.

    If you’re up to it, take a look. http://blog.thenaturaltale.com/2011/10/please-dont-ruin-qr-codes.html

  7. Linda Fox

    Yes Gregg, that’s what I did on my return and so true on the ‘valiant attempt’ front. It’s all about trying simple things and seeing what sticks.

  8. Gregg Blanchard

    Linda, interesting use of QR though I think the ski industry is very much in the same boat as other industries: some adoption and uses here and there but not an industry-wide trend.

    I just scanned the QR code in your picture (after a little bit of photoshopping to make it readable) to see where it took me. The Sport Brugger page I landed on has 986 fans and 7 “were there”. If this is on all the skis and the call to action below the QR is to “tell your friends you’re here”, it looks like a valiant attempt but yet another under-performing use of QR.

  9. Linda Fox

    Thanks Gary – for the record I didn’t scan… just took a quick pick of the code and asked the guy whether people bothered. Nobody is claiming real metrics – just an observation on how one sector is using the technology where others are damning it

  10. Gary Grieve

    I can’t quite get why you would go to the trouble of getting out your phone and scanning a QR code to get access to a FB site which is a poorer version of the store you are standing in, where you are surrounding by actual skis, skiers and staff. ‘Main in shop said it was popular’ not the most analytic of metrics!


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