Lifts management as a key factor of successful ski operations

Lifts operations and lifts management are an essential part of mountain business. The primary objective of each ski resort should be based on safety, comfort for the clients and efficient operations.

Key factors in this regard are an optimal location, type of lift, correct implementation and strong leadership. Ski lift system is one of the most expensive parts of the business. Before making the acquisition decision, it is worth drawing up a case-specific calculation, and also examining maintenance and operations management.

Upon completion of the recommendation within the lifting operations field we provide in this post, you can improve safety, efficiency, and profitability of your ski resort.

Most common problems

  1. Wrong choice of lift type

The first problem is a wrong choice of type, being inadequate for volume and / or profile of skiers.   This might cause incoherencies with skiers flow (too much or too few capacity), which may result in unnecessary extra costs at the investment and maintenance.

  1. Inappropriate location

The second one is inappropriate location where the lift is built.  This often causes problems related to avalanches, operation stops due to strong winds, skiers congestions and incoherencies with the offer of the ski resort, such as restaurants, parkings, activities, ski school and rental, among others.


  1. Accidents / technical failures

Technical failures and accidents, which could be caused due to inappropriate maintenance and operation stops. This might result in legal consequences and loss of customers, because of a bad brand image.

Key Success Factors

Since lifts area has a great impact on the business, a remarkable performance in this area is required, highlighting 4 main aspects:


  1. Optimal location

When we talk about optimal location for lifts, it is always welcomed to start with climatological conditions study, included wind and snow information. The second step is to protect the place of wind and avalanches. Then you guarantee that the corrective action is planned and implemented by active measures (Gazex, Catex) and passive measures (fences, wind breakers, etc.).

To select optimal location for lifts installation you also need to take in account traffic and flow of skiers in order to avoid congestion in some areas.

Install lifts in a location that allows easy access to the main areas, for example, close to the parking areas.

Finally, it is necessary to complete a study of the mountain and the slopes when designing the installation of lifts, in a way that, with a minimum number of lifts, slopes length achieved is maximized.

  1. Type of lift

The selection of the best type of lift is done, once demand (current and future) and waiting time are analyzed. It is important, however to understand that there might be differences among geographic markets.

The second step would be analyzing the type of skiers: type of lift aligned with skiers level (e.g. carpet, gondola) and with related slopes.

Another important decision is to estimate capacity by definition of slopes to be used from the lift, level of the slopes and connections with other lifts or areas.

The strategic framework might include the future ski resort development and predetermine the potential ski area extension. You might need to increase the capacity if some enlargement of the ski resort is planned.

  1. Correct implementation

To consider and implement lifts successfully, it is mandatory to contract drafting and project definition. It should contain the legal status and technical input, including operator point of view in a long term.  The next step is to set up a system for following-up, which would include the starting date, works schedule and weekly and monthly follow-up meetings.

As essential requirement, all the work processes should be well completed, enclosing load tests and handover.

In addition to above-mentioned, it is necessary to elaborate the emergency and evacuation plans, which includes plan design, training and drills.

  1. Professional operation

There are some essential aspects to operate lifts successfully. One of them is to design a lift maintenance plan which allows enlarging lifts life and reducing failures, as well as stressing preventive maintenance.

The second step is to design lifts manuals that support efficient functioning for operations, maintenance, emergency and customer service. Then it is recommended to develop a training plan, by preparing yearly schedules training plan and career plan.

Knowledge and efficiency based on good methodology have a direct correlation to optimize operating costs and reliability, which results in a higher return on investment. As a result of the above-mentioned recommendations, you will obtain a higher customer satisfaction and make increased security for emergencies.