A wide range of different businesses have started accepting Bitcoin as a currency. After a lot of horeca, online webshops, it is also coming up in other innovative shops and services. Now it is even possible to pay with digital coins at great highs in the mountains. For example the Rojacherhütte, a mountain hut at 2718 m (8917 feet) in Austria made it possible to pay your stay there with Bitcoins. To be able to enjoy this, you have to walk a couple of hours up to a mountain first, as there is no normal road going up. Maybe a great goal to reach this place for a Bitcoin weekend out. A pity is, that you have to wait till June to try if internet works up there, as it is just open for guests in summer, due to the long term snow conditions in the Alps.
If you want to spent your Bitcoins on a place in the Alps during winter times and into the snow, you can go to Obertauern in Austria, to the first skischool of the world accepting a crypto currency. CSA Skischule Grillitsch & Partner made it since last month possible to pay ski and snowboard lessons with Bitcoins. Obertauern is one of the most beautiful winter sports areas in the Alps and just one hour’s drive away from Salzburg, the world famous birthplace of 18th century composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. According to coinmap.org there are already 36 points now in Austria where you can pay with Bitcoins, but just one skischool. So let’s get active!
Christien Havranek:Congratulations with being the first skischool in the world to accept Bitcoins! Why did you start accepting this crypto currency?
Silvia Grillitsch: Thank you! As being an innovative Skischool, we are always open for new stuff. And when one of our teachers started to tell about the digital currency, I was immediately interested in it. We always want to serve our guests something new. Next to the normal ski- and snowboard lessons, we teach cross country skiing and guide backcountry tours. For a couple of years we expanded our offer and started for example with air board lessons, offering helicopter flights and organizing special winter Olympics for companies. As this delivers us a wide range of guests, we want to offer them as much as possible.
CH:A skischool and Bitcoins, that looks like a strange combination. Especially that a lot of the work is being done outside, on the slopes. Is there any connection with skiing?
SG: We got around 100 ski teachers. Many of our employers have a professional background and are for example also working as an IT- manager, or independent in communication or graphic design. But they do the job as a ski teacher because they love it. We want to show, that we are not only a skischool. We dispose over a wide range of other knowledge as well. Quality has many faces. We are living this slogan and that’s why we try to use as much as possible core competencies of our employers in many ways, also away from the slopes. The skischool talks much with its teachers to get to know them as well as possible. This personal contact gives us a lot of advantages, also for the teaching, because we can offer our guests the ski teacher who perfectly fits to him or her.
Ski teachers don’t always have the best image up to the mountains. They are regularly seen as a bit crazy people who like to party a lot and are not afraid of drinking some Austrian schnapps. What people sometimes forget is that they can handle a lot of responsibility and make a family’s winter sport holiday unforgettable. On the first place this is because of the learning how to ski, what can be an amazing experience, especially for people who are not used to snow. But also a good guidance of kids during a ski holiday can be worth gold, even as having a guide, who gives you insider information about the area or takes you around for a great après-ski, an Austrian party phenomenon happening after a skiing day (read more about this crazy habit onWikipedia) . Not only just sometimes good friendships arise during the lessons. There are a lot of guests, who return to Obertauern and to our skischool every year because they became good friends with a teacher. As Bitcoins are an open, innovative, quick, modern and easy currency that is cool and a bit crazy, they carry a bit of the same profile as a ski teacher does. There is an over average risk in handling the coin, as this is also the case with doing winter sports. Next to that Bitcoins perfectly fit to our innovative image.
CSA Skischule Grillitsch & Partner
SG: No. It was rather an interesting process. It took some time because implementing them was new for all of us, and a lot of people needed to be informed about them, as some of the staff never heard about Bitcoins. That’s why we offered the staff a workshop, where they learned about the coin from the beginning on. Where it comes from, about the ‘production’ of them, the advantages of them and the risks, also compared to other payments like normal euro’s, PayPal and credit cards. Of course the highlight was how to pay with them. The workshop delivered a lot of fun and the girls in the office were laughing a lot about going to a small mountain bar with the proposal to pay all the beers just with Bitcoins.
CH:And what about the ski teachers, did they ever heard about Bitcoins?
SG: As we got a wide range of teachers from everywhere over the world, some of them did. Others not. But we did an introduction about our accepting of the digital currency, as we sure want them to be able to tell at least a bit about Bitcoin and being able to explain what it is, when a guest asks them about it. On the door is also a big sign that we accept them as being on the website and of course on facebook. So we can expect some questions about the currency. There is also a printed Bitcoin guide in the ski teachers room, and they are always welcome to ask us questions about them as we like our employers doing their best about they know how in the Skischool. As we got a lot of ski teachers with an academic background, they pick it up very easily and that is of course good to see.
CH:This week the Bitcoin was turned into a black light due to the closure of the most widely used Bitcoin currency exchange market, MtGox. What are the consequences for the skischool?
SG: A couple of days ago one of our teachers received a worried phone call from his father about that ‘there is something wrong going on with Bitcoins’ and that he should inform us about it. Although we keep an eye on the coin all the time and knew about the position of MtGox, we did some extra research to the current situation and discovered that there were no problems for us as a skischool to accept Bitcoins. We think that a lot of people lost their trust into the digital currency and want to spent their Bitcoins now and see the positive side of this consequence. People are very much welcome to change their Bitcoins at the skischool for one of our nice teachers, to help them with the improving their ski – and snowboard skills. Of course we hope that there will be a good solution around the case of MtGox. It is very bad that people lost their money. And reminds us even of the closure of a normal bank. Which is originally something where Bitcoins just didn’t want to have to deal with. It is really bad that this happened, but that is one of the risks of a free coin. And in this way, Bitcoin also fits very good at our image, as skiing is very risky as well. The difference is that the people at MtGox somehow seemed to stay on track with trying to organise their money by using this exchange market and that with skiing the danger on organised tracks is lower than when you go off-piste. Because there you can catch an extra risk with the possibilities of avalanches.
Last year the skischool was one of the first skischools in the world with a Harlem Shake. See here for the result: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eq5Rs8Eg4Ek ).
This year the ski season in Obertauern will go on till the 4th of may. If you want to keep yourself up to date with the latest news and innovations of the skischool or just some more information, follow them on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SkischuleObertauern or check the website of the skischool: http://www.skischule.co.at/