Gadgets and Tech

Vail Resorts Introduces Emma, World’s First Digital Mountain Assistant

Artificial intelligence has made it to the ski hill.

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Introducing the newest addition to the Vail Resorts arsenal: Emma, the world’s first digital mountain assistant. Emma is here to provide real-time mountain information to skiers and snowboarders at nine Vail Resort-owned ski areas.

Emma, the Epic Mountain Assistance, is arriving for the 2018-19 winter season.
Emma, Vail Resort’s digital mountain assistant, is debuting the 2018-19 winter season.Photo courtesy of Vail Resorts

Like a ski bum who’s lived at Vail Resorts her entire life, Emma knows every trail, restaurant, rental shop, parking lot—you name it—at nine Epic mountains. She will deliver 24-hour on-demand access to all types of information, thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP).

Emma, Vail Resort's digital mountain assistant
Emma, the first digital mountain assistant.Photo courtesy of Vail Resorts

Guests will be able to text Emma any range of questions, from “What’s the lift line wait time at Rocky Mountain SuperChair?” to “How do I get to ski school at Heavenly?” Emma replies instantly, sometimes with some extra artificial wit. She knows if trails are groomed, what the weather is going to be like, and where the best spots for après are located. If she cannot answer a question, she connects guests directly to a live agent for further assistance.

“Vail Resorts continually enhances the guest experience across our mountain resorts through innovative firsts,” said Robert Urwiler, chief information officer for Vail Resorts, in a press release. “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. 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.”

Her knowledge base will continuously expand as she interacts with guests, using human and machine learning. It’s starting to look like the future has arrived at one of the final frontiers.

Emma will be available starting in the 2018-19 winter season at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and Keystone in Colorado; Park City in Utah; Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood in Lake Tahoe; and Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia.