BANFF, CANADA – In a world-first, Ski Big 3 today launched a multi-million-dollar rebrand of Banff National Park ski resorts with one bold aim: “full-emojification”.
Ski Big 3 represents Mt Norquay, The Lake Louise Ski Resort and Banff Sunshine Village in Banff National Park.
From today, the three ski resorts will start rolling out “emojified” trail maps, trail run signage, and food and beverage menus at all on-mountain eateries.
The move follows this week’s Emoji 5.0 announcement by international authority Unicode Consortium, with 69 new emojis on the way by July this year.
Ski Big 3 General Manager Pete Woods said the goal was full-emojification by early November for 2017/18 season opening day.
“Dank memes may melt steel beams, but emojis are the future,” Mr Woods said.
The transition will also include overhauling SkiBig3.com to use emojis instead of plain text, and from today, online visitors can access the website via a new URL: ⛷??.ws
Mr Woods said while Ski Big 3 resorts had long been millennial-magnets, a crucial element of youth culture and global communication had been overlooked – until now.
“Independent research into millennial consumer behaviour reveals that emojis speak louder than words – but so often they are shackled to the confines of the digital world,” he said.
“Now the time has come to harness their full potential.”
The concept has attracted strong support from local millennials, with hundreds registering their interest as volunteer emoji signage translators for Baby Boomers and tourists.
Jen Young, self-described “Banff ski-bum-millennial”, is convinced Ski Big 3’s emojification will make life easier.
“Emojis are quick, effective and they have immense power. Whether you’re sending a text, email or social media post, you can ruin someone’s entire day with a single eye-roll emoji – or make their whole year with just one heart-eyes emoji,” she said.
“This new approach is a game-changer – and it’s long overdue. Skiers and snowboarders of all ages will be able to navigate the resorts so much more easily. Why read long words if you don’t have to?”
But for Jen’s parents and other Baby Boomers, adapting to the new emojified ski resorts may take some adjustment.
Elwen Young, Jen’s father, said: “I was cruising down a groomer when I saw a trail sign which said: ‘Slow down! [winky face emoji]’. I thought it was a joke because of the winky face… but there was a cliff drop.”
While Mr Young was a little shaken after his first experience with the new signage, he was unharmed: “I’ll admit that the only thing I bruised was my ego – I’d refused multiple emoji tutorials from my daughter,” he said.
But not all Baby Boomers are concerned about the brave new world of emojification.
Banff Mayor, Karen Sorensen, said she was keen to take Ski Big 3’s lead and steer the Town of Banff towards a similar communication transformation.
“In Banff, we’re always looking for new ways build on our success as a great place to live and a wonderful place to visit – and harnessing the power of emojis is a logical step forward,” Mayor Sorensen said.
Regardless of the generational divide, Mr Woods is aware Ski Big 3’s emojification won’t happen overnight.
“We know it’s a bold move. But the English language is continuously evolving – and we want to lead the ski industry to do the same,” Mr Woods said.
To prevent experiences like Elwen Young’s cliff drop confusion, the resorts’ volunteer guides – known as Ski Friends and Snow Hosts – will offer on-mountain emoji translation services to help guests with the new signage.
Customers will also receive a comprehensive Emoji Guide to Ski Big 3 when they book their vacation packages.