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Customer Stories How Inntopia Commerce is Helping Ski Resort GM Bernice Later Navigate Both a Pandemic and a Drought

photo of holiday mountain in manitoba canada

photo of the author Gregg Blanchard

 Oct 14, 2021

Holiday Mountain in Manitoba is not a mega resort. And Bernice Later is not a mega resort GM. When her father built the resort in the 50s, Bernice started on a path that would give her a unique set of skills to efficiently run a smaller ski operation as well as anyone. It’s why, when her father passed away and the resort was sold, the new owner only signed on the dotted line once it was agreed that Bernice would stay on as general manager.

One of the most important skills Bernice has is the ability to make things work no matter her resources. This was especially true during the pandemic. Bernice teamed up with other local resorts and businesses to create a plan and get it signed off by local government leaders. As a result, they were able to tally up a 120-day ski season when others were limited to short, sporadic openings. Their food and beverage operations are another example of her resourcefulness. With little budget, she found simple, affordable software that did the job.

And so it was with part of her agreement with local government leaders to open Holiday Mountain. Her proposal was approved only with the stipulation that contact information would be captured from every guest in case contact tracing was required.

Bernice knew she needed to sell tickets online, but she didn’t have a way to do that. She didn’t even have a traditional point-of-sale for tickets.

So she turned to Inntopia.

When people first learn about Inntopia Commerce, they might learn that, yes, Inntopia can integrate with a POS and PMS and pull inventory out of those systems so a resort can sell them side-by-side either online or in the call center. But they’ll also learn that the products don’t have to live in those systems. They can be built and managed right inside of Inntopia with the same volume, pricing, data-capture, waiver, and promotional features of any other product that flows through Inntopia.

In Bernice’s case, this was her solution. She needed a way to sell tickets online without an integration and Inntopia could do exactly that. And with quick onboarding, she was able to do so with her limited budget and resources.

And Inntopia did exactly that and worked seamlessly all season long to help Holiday Mountain sell 100% of their tickets online, capture all the data they required, and achieve the season they did under the constraints and challenges and circumstances in which they found themselves.

Unbeknownst to Bernice, however, those challenges were just beginning. By the time summer rolled around, a regional drought had become so severe that she saw the writing on the wall: there wouldn’t be enough water for snowmaking. Not even close. And there were no peers or government leaders she could link arms with to change it. So, she pulled the plug on the season, crossed her fingers, and hoped the 2022 season would look brighter.

Luckily, across the country in New Brunswick, Mont Farlagne was coming off a string of ownership and management changes and needed someone just like Bernice to run the show.

Mont Farlagne is similar to Holiday Mountain in many respects. The resort is a similar size, has similar plans, and a similar number of employees. But she also found herself faced handcuffed by clunky software, challenges leftover from previous owners with enthusiasm but no experience in ski, and a pandemic that refused to give up.

So one of the first things she did was work with local leaders on an agreement that would let them operate safely, and successfully, as the pandemic drags on. She knew this was key to a successful season. One of those points stipulated in this agreement was that all guests would be vaccinated. Which means that proof of vaccination would be required.

So, even before her first day on the job, she turned to Inntopia.

Once again, she’ll be building products directly in Inntopia and selling them online. Mont Farlagne will be able to sell tickets, vouchers for rentals, and lessons through Inntopia ecommerce. Guests can just show up to an outdoor ticket window and pick up and carry on. But because of the vaccination requirement, the flexibility of Inntopia’s checkout path will also be called on. Guests will be able to upload a photo of their proof of vaccination to help Bernice’s team more easily and quickly verify that everyone who comes to the mountain has checked that box on Farlagne’s operating plan.

I sometimes get carried away in the power of our integrations and depth of Inntopia’s features, but as an ally of small ski areas and a proud passholder at Utah’s smallest – Nordic Valley – it’s awesome to see how resorts like Holiday Mountain and Mont Farlagne can use Inntopia Commerce with no integrations at all to take advantage of the same features, security, and power of Inntopia even if they don’t have the deep pockets of other mountains.

Welcome (back) to Inntopia, Bernice, and best of luck at Mont Farlagne this season!

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