The Gastein valley in Salzburg, Austria, is a year-round holiday destination. Famous for its fabulous skiing and snowboarding in winter, it welcomes about 14-15,000 guests a day.
To provide exceptional holiday experiences to their customers, they rely on systematic resort development and management and an accurate understanding of how visitors distribute across the resort at all times.
Gastein Bergbahnen employed Parquery’s visitor footfall analysis to gain an insight into people's movement on the mountain. We met Matthias Egger, deputy operations manager of Schlossalmbahn, and responsible for the project for an interview on how Parquery’s solution impacts their business.
With Parquery, we were able to analyze the flow of people in the ski area quickly and easily. Thanks to the data obtained, we can continue to optimize our ski area in a targeted manner.
Although cable car tickets give data about guest numbers, “the fact that someone gets on at 10 o'clock at the turnstile does not tell us what they will do on the mountain,” says Matthias Egger, “We wanted to compare how many people are at what location at which time.”
Matthias Egger summarizes the motive for choosing Parquery’s solution: “deliver the perfect mountain experience for every guest.” Gastein Bergbahnen achieves this goal by employing Parquery’s footfall data in several ways:
Smart Tourism: deliver an excellent service level through understanding the distribution of guests across the resort and its diverse offers
Which activities and points of interest are all the rage, which have more potential? Where do people crowd?
Match staffing and visitor demand
Where is the personnel needed right now? Are there repeating patterns in the demand?
Gather data for visitor management and a future people guidance system
How to balance visitor numbers across the resort to ensure a high level of service throughout?
Evaluate and optimize marketing campaigns
Did we reach our target audience with the last campaign? Was it effective? Which visitor group shall we target next? Where is more potential?
Monitor maximum capacity compliance with national Covid-19 regulations
Where are we standing with regards to national health regulations? How can we prove compliance?
Use a versatile footfall counter that accommodates privacy concerns
How do we record visitor numbers without compromising privacy and data protection?
Gastein Bergbahnen are one of the first Austrian Ski resorts to introduce visitor management through dynamic pricing and online ticketing. Their goal is a higher level of service due to a more even distribution of visitors over the day and season: Reducing crowds at peak times and substantially increasing the appeal during quiet periods.
how many people are where at what time
In parallel to this time-based management, they did a 1-year audit of their principal infrastructure of the resort. Using Parquery’s people counting, they analyzed how people distribute within the resort at all times.
The data provides information to plan how to orchestrate the activities on the mountain effectively.
People go to the playground, the lake, the via ferratas, or the hiking paths - those are roughly the monitored areas. [With Parquery’s solution] we know how many people are in each area every 5 minutes.
From this knowledge we can derive further initiatives, e.g. to bring more guests to the reservoir lake. The idea is to spread out guests, so one area is not overcrowded.
The findings were directly applied to dynamically allocating staff. It allowed Gastein Bergbahnen to react quickly and flexibly to changing visitor volumes, ensuring a high quality of service.
For example, cameras were set up in the ticketing area to monitor demand. Thus, they could respond in real time to building queues at ticket counters during the morning rush hour, one of the main factors of frustration for guests before they hit the slopes. So far, most guests buy their tickets at a booth rather than online, causing high demand, particularly on weekends.
When checkout lines are packed, let's staff another counter
In the future, a Gastein visitor guidance system could get guests to areas where capacity is free. The audit also allowed Gastein Bergbahnen to draw conclusions for a people guidance system in the future. Particularly “in winter, decent guidance systems are needed. People then know straight away where to go.”
Guests know where to go
Dynamic ticket pricing and guidance systems are complementary measures to balance guest numbers over time and across the site, contributing to an enjoyable experience for everyone.
The Gastein Valley offers varied mountain experiences, each catering to different audiences:
Gastein valley offers a range of activities for all ages and tastes. The footfall analysis shows where visitors go on the mountain.
The evaluation gives us an overview of the entire season - what is used, how, and how intensely?
Thanks to this diversification, the monitored locations effectively correspond to a target group each. Hence, Gastein Bergbahnen adopted the least intrusive footfall analysis using anonymized still images. No video, no tracking of people's movements or behaviors, no face recognition to determine demographics (age and gender). Footfall analysis with full yield and no compromise on privacy.
Marketing profits from the guest number surveys in two ways:
What is used, how, and how intensely?
How many people who took the lift then spent time at the playground? We could assess this very well [...] the playground was well frequented until 2 p.m. - then waning because people wander off.
We can’t find this out with the turnstile.
The Covid-19 pandemic brought uncertainty and quickly evolving rules to ensure people's safety. Austrian regulations were particularly rigorous and volatile: restrictions imposed on short notice and sudden lock-downs made it challenging to be prepared and plan.
Social distancing is all about keeping people apart to prevent the spread of the disease; hence, facilities are required to limit occupancy. "Particularly the small ski resorts near major metropolitan areas like Vienna had to introduce online ticketing [only, to limit guest numbers] - they were totally overcrowded," explains Matthias Egger. Thus, authorities forced strict distancing limitations on those resorts.
“For a long time, we didn't know whether the [social] distancing rules would be enforced [in our ski resort]. We would open for the season on Friday, and only on Wednesday beforehand were we informed of the rules” that would come into force two days later, Matthias Egger explains the urgent need for accurate occupancy data.
We were prepared
With the aid of Parquery's people counter, Gastein Bergbahnen had a record and live count of guest numbers in each critical location. Thus, they were ready to react to changing rules, implement measures promptly, understand where they stand concerning the regulations, and assess how they would affect them and what they mean.
Knowing how many people are in the ski area or on the mountain was vital for us in times of Corona: 'How many people are we talking about?'
It was a step in that direction: We were prepared, even if we didn't know if [distancing rules] would become effective. With the system in place, we could derive measures and move forward if necessary.
Getting the Gastein Bergbahnen team’s approval was crucial for the management. Although “initially, many employees were skeptical, it has proven its worth,“ emphasizes Matthias Egger,“we could alleviate the doubts by sharing comprehensive and sensibly prepared information.”
The turning points for acceptance were the facts that:
only pictures, no videos - that was fine with everyone
It has been a good cost-benefit balance for all of us [at Gastein Bergbahnen]. Technology is there for everyone, and we all benefit if it is used wisely for selected purposes.
Parquery’s people counter guarantees GDPR-compliance by design, it anonymously measures the footfall and no faces or personal data are recorded.
Following two challenging winter seasons in the Covid-19 pandemic and a successful summer season in 2021, Gastein Bergbahnen are looking forward to another good summer with the insights and knowledge gained in the past two seasons.
After Corona, we’re in a spirit of optimism, even if the economic situation is difficult. All cable car operators were severely affected.
The booking situation for the summer is excellent, and we hope for many guests to keep it that way. We are in good spirits.