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Integrated Resort Technology: A Look Around and a Look Forward

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July 06, 2017
Gaming & Resorts
Heather Monteiro, MBA, PhD

©2017 Hospitality Upgrade
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As we come to the midpoint of 2017, the gaming and integrated resort industries are embracing many new technologies, and doing a great job of keeping up with other technology-savvy industries like retail. Some of these advances are organizationwide, such as an increasing use of Big Data in decision-making. Others are specific to the gaming floor and hotel portions. Guestroom automation has taken center stage, while social gaming, interactive gaming tables and anti-money laundering technologies are taking hold on the gaming floor. 

GuestRoom Automation
Integrated resorts and hotels are looking to automation to help personalize the hotel guest experience. They’re using intelligent personal assistants, such as Amazon’s Echo, Apple’s Siri®, or Google Assistant. Large brands like Marriott and Wynn are incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) technologies into hotel rooms. They’re currently in the testing and development phase, integrating the technology with audiovisual tools and room controls, such as curtains and temperature. Currently, Marriott's testing of Siri and Echo is limited. Guests can receive instant, personalized answers to questions about local events or the local area. The AI isn’t yet integrated with guestroom features like the thermostat or lighting.
Among the many gaming floor updates, some of the most interesting advances include:

Social gaming: Players access these games through social media platforms like Facebook. Players don’t receive money when they win, but they can spend money on in-game purchases like tokens or more lives. Casino social gaming, sometimes called interactive gaming, is similar, but mimics casino games like slots and video poker. Winners don’t receive money in these games either, but they can buy extra plays. These growing gaming formats add opportunities for casinos and game makers to interact with customers.
Interactive Gaming Tables: Guests can interact and try out casino games, like video poker, without gambling any money. As with social gaming, these machines help guests learn how to play with little risk. They also promote interaction with casino employees and representatives, and with other guests, onsite and remotely. The game publisher Gamblit™ has game tables that bridge the gap between gambling and video games. These games combine an interactive experience with the modern social aspect of video gaming. Currently, the Model G gaming table provides space for four guests to play video poker or the skill-based modern reinvention of blackjack. Gamblit markets these tables as the “perfect way to lose the intimidation factor of traditional [table games].” Harrah’s Resort Southern California has a table for players to try.
Anti-money Laundering (AML) Detection: The concept isn’t as flashy as interactive gaming tables, but the improvement and deployment of these systems is a major step forward for integrated resorts and casinos. But for some, upgrading existing IT to support this technology is as much a challenge as finding and reporting potential money launderers. Gaming organizations require sophisticated IT systems that are closely integrated with daily activities throughout the organization. A careful assessment of the organization’s IT systems is required to evaluate a legacy systems' ability to keep up with the requirements and expectations of AML governing bodies. Compliance and information technology departments as well as senior managers will need to work closely to shore up these systems. But the effort is worth it. Not only will an up-to-date system identify suspicious behavior, it will also provide valuable, improved understanding of all guests.
Impressive Advances, but Challenges still Exist
As a whole, integrated resorts are making impressive technological leaps, but there is still room to grow and some common challenges to overcome.
Caesars was among the first to embrace data-driven decision-making. Users can harness large amounts of data for the benefit of guests and the organization, but properties are challenged to develop insight from the data, integrate data sources, and create strong, useful data governance policies.(See “Desperately Seeking Data Science,” page 146)
Outdated and outmoded IT systems also make it difficult to draw true insight from the data. An integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) system can help, but may be hard to implement due to the scale.
Incorporating an ERP simplifies and streamlines data integration. This allows the organization to mine its extensive data stores. On a related note, organizations that use a variety of systems to store data often have insufficient data governance policies. These policies dictate data format, data path through the organization and identifies who owns the data. To make the most of data-based decision- making, analysts, managers and directors all need full access to all available data.
Retail has embraced a more tactical technology, the interior or indoor positioning system (IPS), and the resort space is showing interest. This benefits organizations as well as guests. An IPS canpush marketing messages to guests based on their behaviors, interests and current location. It can also enhance safety and security. During emergencies, the IPS can track guests to determine that everyone has reached safety.
Compared to other industries, hospitality organizations are often considered technologically behind the times, but that just isn’t the case. Hospitality is riding a fast-moving technology wave skillfully and keeping pace with, while learning from, similar industries. These advances have increased use of technology on the gaming floor.
Heather Monteiro, MBA, PhD, is the owner of and principal researcher at Hickory Ridge Group, LLC. which conducts analysis, research and corporate training in the areas of hospitality and transportation. 

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