“In Las Vegas, no day is ever like another,” said Andreas Reich, vice president of food and beverage strategy at MGM Resorts International during a recent webinar with its technology partner SevenRooms. “I look forward to every day, because every day there is something new to do and figure out.”
Those words have never been more true for Reich than when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the hospitality brand was forced to shut down its properties in Las Vegas for the first time ever.
“Anyone that has been to Las Vegas understands that these buildings are not meant to be shut down,” he explained. “And it was devastating to see so many workers furloughed. Between March and May we furloughed 63,000 employees.”
At first, the company focused on what it could do to help, which included donating food – close to 600,000 pounds of it – to food charities and disbursing more than $11 million dollars in grants to staff members through its MGM Resorts Emergency Relief Fund.
But during the month of May, Reich saw the possibility for reopening some of its properties and knew that to do so the company would need to completely change the way it was using technology.
“Now was our chance to do things the way we wanted to and to rewrite the way we use technology,” he said.
MGM Revamps Its Tech Offerings
The brand had already been using April and May to rethink how it would serve guests and employ staff safely. That Thanksgiving buffet which served five thousand guests and had them waiting in a three hour line? Postponed indefinitely. Instead, MGM was searching for ways to disperse crowds and prevent them from forming in the first place.
Enter SevenRooms, a technology company that provides reservation, waitlist, seating management, contactless order/pay, guest engagement and marketing technologies – among others – to restaurants. SevenRooms and MGM already had a solid relationship prior to COVID-19, but the pandemic helped propel that relationship even further.
Between mid-May and the beginning of July, MGM worked with SevenRooms to deploy 165 virtual waitlists, 350 QR menu cards, one thousand tableside payment options, and 200 iPad/mobile ordering stations at 30 venues.
“We looked at this as an opportunity to change things up,” Reich said. “I’ve worked for the company for 20 years, and what we’ve accomplished in the last few months has been incredible and more than what we’ve done in the last few years.”
Reservations Aren’t Just for Restaurants
MGM went on to expand that waitlist and reservation technology to its pools, which was seeing a spike in demand – especially since the entertainment brand has had to put a moratorium on shows. Using SevenRooms software, guests can reserve pool chairs, cabanas and more. MGM is even toying with the idea of reserving spots at casino tables. Why?
Because “this is our new normal,” Reich explained. “This is not going to change any time soon. This is not just for the next six to 12 months. All the things we are doing right now is setting us up for the future.”
Plus, when used correctly, this technology improves the guest experience. It helps MGM get to know its guests in a truly meaningful way. It will help the brand recommend when they should make restaurant reservations, make it easier for the guest to navigate through its properties, see personalized messages from their favorite chefs, offer a fountain-view table, or even recommend a new dessert, etc. The technology offers an integration of marketing with data and provides the guest with a truly special experience.
“Customer experience is our North Star,” Reich said. “We’ve gone through excruciating detail to make sure our technology is intuitive, easy-to-use and does not require many steps. We don’t want our guests distracted by technology; it should be seamless.”