Ski Resorts in Alps & Pyrenees Use RFID Tickets from Axess

RFID is the enabling technology for ticketing solutions

RFID Tickets

RFID is the enabling technology for ticketing solutions in tourism and event management. Over 600 ski resorts in the Alps and more in the Pyrenees use RFID access solutions from Axess. Access, payments, parking and other services are conveniently handled via an RFID card.

The machines for segmenting the RFID chips come from Rinas Gerätetechnik.

Access Management with RFID Tickets

Success Story powered by: the Think WIOT Group, Rinas Gerätetechnik and Axess

Axess is an international leader and trendsetter when it comes to access, visitor and guest management. Around the world, the systems are strongly represented in popular ski resorts, stadiums, exhibition centers, amusement parks, museums and in tourist transport.

The Austrian company Axess AG was founded in 1998. Its products and services include ticketing and access solutions for ski resorts, stadiums, amusement parks, tourist attractions, exhibition centers and tourist transport. Since its foundation, Axess has replaced the existing 3-arm turnstile with a 2-arm servo turnstile. Around ten years later, Axess presented the Flap Gate to the market as an ergonomic and user-friendly alternative.

Today, Axess is an established and globally active provider of checkout systems, smart gates, and RFID and BLE access solutions. The Salzburg-based company operates 21 subsidiaries in 15 countries. Around 460 employees are part of Team Axess. To enable convenient storage of ski tickets on mobile phones, the company launched the 'Ski Wallet' solution based on BLE technology in 2019.

Axess solutions are implemented in a variety of application areas. These include complete system solutions for mountain railroads, amusement parks, museums, exhibition and convention centers, and stadiums. For access control, Axess offers a comprehensive portfolio of products such as gates with various separation options, ticket scanners and printers.

Software for customer data management as well as CRM solutions complete the portfolio. The integration of parking facilities or parking lots is also offered. The wireless technologies used include RFID, NFC and BLE. So far, RFID technology is still most commonly used. Axess has been offering solutions based on BLE technology since 2019.

RFID tickets score points for convenience when used in ski areas. The hassle of searching for the card is eliminated, as the RFID ski ticket also transmits the access authorization from your jacket or pants pocket. The gate or barrier opens on the basis of contactless identification. The ski ticket can remain in the ski jacket for the duration of its validity and does not have to be presented. This works because the hardware has an IT interface that is networked with a high-performance database.

Large ski resorts such as Dolomiti Superski, which comprises 450 lifts with several hundred access points, use this system. The reading range of the RFID gates is about 40 centimeters. The challenge: only the ticket of the person directly at the gate should be recognized. The quality of the antennas and RFID chips must therefore be impeccable.

Rinas Gerätetechnik, a machine manufacturer based in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, produces machines for segmenting RFID cards. The machine applies the defined data structure developed by Axess to the RFID chip, which divides it into segments.

Segmenting the RFID chip allows different applications, such as access, ski rental and parking, to be stored on one chip. The number of segments can vary depending on requirements. For a simple ski pass without additional functionality, segmentation is not necessary. It is, however, necessary for the complex system solutions from Axess.

Axess is located in Anif, Austria

Axess is located in Anif, on the outskirts of Salzburg.

Axess Plant in Innsbruck

All products are manufactured at the company's own plant in Innsbruck. These include 35 million RFID cards per year as well as RFID gates and POS systems.

RFID Cards for the Ski Industry

In 2023, the vast majority of tickets were based on RFID technology. 99.8 percent of tickets were contactless.

Ski passes

Ski passes can allow access not only to lifts, but also to ski schools, ski rentals and parking.

Ski passes with RFID chips are valid for periods ranging from one day to one week and are personalized when issued. To enable contactless access to the lift facilities, the gates are equipped with long-range RFID antennas. The antennas detect the validity of the RFID card in a fraction of a second and open the gate.

A new form of access is made possible by the BLE functionality of the smartphone. In this case, the ticket is stored on the mobile phone and functions like an RFID ticket. The BLE ticket can be purchased in the online ticket store. It is then stored in the Axess Ski Wallet app.

As soon as the skier steps into the gate's reading area, the mobile phone automatically connects to the gate via Bluetooth. The ticket is checked on the mobile phone without contact and the gate opens.

RFID ski passes can also be equipped with a payment function.

Additionally, payment cards are offered for use by children, for example. Payment functions can be set up quickly with the CLICS administration software. CLICS is a web tool that enables the setup and maintenance of system information, provides an optimal overview with dashboards, and displays sales and access information.

Renting skis, reserving parking spaces, booking ski lessons and even the payment function are all handled via a single IT system and the associated RFID card. For this solution, Axess was awarded the "Digital Transformation of the Year" award by the German Design Council in 2018. Justification: The multifunctional solution is characterized by the intelligent interaction of hardware, software and services.

The N'PY ski resort in the Pyrenees was one of the first to implement this system. The RFID card "Club No Soucy" from Axess functions there as a membership card that allows direct lift access in eight ski areas. The costs incurred are debited automatically.

Transformation via BLE & NFC

Axess is the world's leading provider of BLE solutions for ski resorts. The first ski resort to be converted to BLE was Koprivná in the Czech Republic. BLE is recommended as a future technology, because the ticket is conveniently stored in the smartphone. In terms of performance and convenience, RFID and BLE technology are comparable.

The reading range is identical at around 40 centimeters. The smartphone can remain in the jacket when passing through the gate. Conversion to BLE is not costly. Existing RFID antennas can be easily expanded.

The RFID and barcode card is increasingly being replaced by the smartphone in the stadium. Axess uses the NFC interface here to authenticate the ticket during the access procedure. However, the convenience of being able to leave the mobile phone in the jacket is lost, as the phone has to be held very close to the NFC reader.

On the other hand, there is the advantage that the mobile phone is always carried along and there is no need to print out tickets. Borussia Mönchengladbach, for example, uses mobile NFC tickets and smart scanners from Axess. The stadium visitor purchases the ticket in the club's web store and stores it in the NFC wallet.

The "Theme Parks, Museums & Attractions" business area is again recording major growth after the quiet pandemic years. Digitization projects from this sector are on the rise.

Salzburg Zoo, for example, has upgraded its entrance area with the latest technology from Axess, and in Abu Dhabi on Yas Island, access systems are already using facial recognition technology, which is banned in Europe. Growth rates of five to six percent are expected in the leisure industry in the coming years.

The future: The ticket in the smartphone.

Axess is located in Anif, Austria

In 2022, Axess recorded the largest business growth in the business area "Stadiums & Arenas". In 2022 alone, 25 projects were installed in the USA.

The ticket in the smartphone

Low Maintenance Machines "Made in Germany"

Technological transformation is also affecting access solutions in ski resorts. RFID & Wireless IoT Global spoke with Armin Rinas, Managing Director of Rinas Gerätetechnik, about card encoding machines and the future of the RFID card.

"The company Axess has been using several segmenting machines from Rinas for the production of RFID tickets for more than 20 years. There have hardly ever been any defects on this machine, a fact that makes us very proud." - Armin Rinas

We provide several card segmentation machines for Axess. These are essential for the comprehensive RFID solutions that Axess offers. The machines apply a structure to the chip that divides it into segments. Segmenting the RFID chip makes it possible to integrate different applications – for example, access, ski rental and parking – on one chip.

The number of segments varies depending on requirements. In principle, no segmentation is necessary for a ski pass without additional functions, but it is required for the comprehensive ski resort solution from Axess.

As a matter of fact, we manufacture several types of machines. Card encoding machines include the CS-DOD, a piezoelectric printing system that, coupled with intelligent software, can personalize up to 15,000 cards per hour. It can be supplemented with RFID readers or other modules to become a complete solution for RFID or magnetic stripe card production.

The CS-LWR is another encoding machine that personalizes, prints and separates RFID, magnetic and chip cards. Depending on the additional modules used, a throughput of up to 3,500 cards per hour is possible with this machine. The RFE encoding machine was developed for encoding perforated or continuous RFID tickets.

Depending on the equipment, the CS-SWR can produce up to 6,000 RFID or magnetic cards per hour. The machines are used wherever magnetic stripes, RFID cards or smart cards are required. Applications include healthcare, banking, access solutions, event management and tourism.

We develop the machines together with the customer and directly in line with the customer's requirements. We then manufacture them "Made in Germany" near Lake Constance. We carry out the commissioning ourselves onsite at the customer's premises. This way, we are able to immediately understand any questions that may arise. Full support is not a problem, because we have developed most of the parts ourselves.

If our customers have purchased spare parts, they can also replace components on their own under our guidance. Most repairs happen within three days – although I must say that our machines are extremely low-maintenance. Defects rarely occur.

The technological transformation from RFID cards to mobile tickets in cell phones has already begun. This is something we see and experience as card users ourselves. But a complete changeover will not happen overnight. As far as I know, in 2023, with a few exceptions, all ski resorts in Europe will still be using RFID as the base technology, for example. Access via NFC interface has not yet replaced RFID, not even in the other application areas.

BLE will also not become the leading technology within the next five years, at least not on a wide scale, as retrofitting the existing infrastructure is time-consuming and cost-intensive. However, the low power consumption of BLE, the ease of programming and the long ranges are major advantages of this technology. I expect that BLE will become the dominant technology in the long run.

Rinas Gerätetechnik

Rinas Gerätetechnik is a second-generation family-owned company. Since 1984, Managing Director Armin Rinas and his father Wilfried have been developing and manufacturing high-precision OEM and stand-alone card encoding systems.

From the basic idea of the machine, to the circuit diagram of the electronics, to the individual components, Rinas develops and designs everything in-house. All types of RFID cards, magnetic cards and smart cards can be personalized with machines from Rinas.

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