Casinos, Technology and the Guest Experience

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Casinos, Technology and the Guest Experience

02/09/2018

Almost everything we do in life, and especially in casinos, has a technology component.  In our attempts to create the ultimate guest experience, the technology we deploy, and how we deploy it will make the difference between a “Meh” and a “WOW!” experience.  Casinos must work to find the right balance between too much technology (too much that it takes away from or complicates the experience) and not enough technology (where the experience is slow or it underwhelms). This article from WhiteSand Gaming, will discuss how casinos can offer guests a great technology experience.

A guest experience technology platform must incorporate people, process, information and the technology itself in order to deliver the ultimate guest experience.  The goal of guest technology should be to allow guests to “craft” their own experience, utilizing technology where, when, and how they want to incorporate it into their experience.  This allows for a customized experience for each guest, making it as individualized as each person desires.  Getting to this solution is much easier said than done.

As a first step, the IT organization needs to evolve from a centralized support center to an active member of business teams working to deliver the ultimate guest experience throughout the casino resort.  This will empower various departments to deploy guest experience technology with the support of IT instead of IT controlling the use of the technology. 

The casino resort world has always been a 24/7 business, and now digital technology has made almost every industry 24/7 – this bodes well for casino resorts.  The CIO must work with the digital team (or CDO if you have one), to deploy technology to reach not only customers, but employees and business partners in this “always on” world.  Some of the latest technology is combining smart-phone apps with in-room technology.  For example, OpenWays can ask you to send a text when you land, and then check you in, send you your room number, and let you use your smart-phone to open your hotel room door.

Control4 provides an app allowing you to control the curtains, climate, lighting, “Do Not Disturb” notification, and request a lounge chair or cabana at the pool. Guest “Scenes” can be created to set a mood or, arrange your wake up with an alarm which will open curtains, turn on lights and more.

Casinos are quickly deploying technology (and apps) to allow you to order room service, bring your car up from valet or even schedule wake up calls.  Apps can let you pay (or comp using points) your meal, buy tickets for the show or even hold your place in line for the nightclub.  Many resorts are even utilizing RFID Technology to capture and post retail and F&B charges to the guest’s folio. This interface also provides the resort with the guest’s name and profile information allowing them to personalize the experience and track various data associated with the guest on a real time basis. This information can be used to continually update their overall guest profile for both guest services and marketing purposes.
 
Guest technology exist and it works – it’s not vaporware that we hope to have one day.  It can readily be deployed and provide guests with efficiency and speed, and a cleverness that enhances the guest experience. But it doesn’t come cheap and it’s doesn’t happen overnight.  It requires a financial, resource, and time commitment in order to design, deploy, and incorporate it into the guest experience.

Each casino resort will need to determine how much and which technology to deploy, and how to deploy it.  The biggest challenge most often is that no one person steps up to lead the effort and see it through completion.  CIO’s are focused on running their department and supporting the technology that already installed or coming down the pike.  Marketing is focused on generating revenue for the casino and just starting to think about guest experience.  Operating departments are chomping at the bit for the new technology to enhance the experience and lower their costs.  But none of these people or departments have the time to lead this effort.

So how can this be accomplished?  With many casino resorts including a VP or Director of Guest Experience now, this is the right person to carry the torch for this effort.  But the person needs to have a strong understanding of technology, in addition to customer service and creating memorable guest experiences.  They must form partnerships with the CIO, VP of Marketing and operational leaders in order to identify the right technology and incorporate it into the guest experience they are creating.