Technology Rock Stars ALEXANDER KOCH

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March 16, 2020
Technology Leaders
Fran Worrall

The People Leading the Industry

Although many people come to mind when considering technology leaders in hospitality, our HU panel — which consisted of hotel and gaming consultants and insiders — selected 10 visionary men and women who not only are driving change within their organizations but also are at the forefront of innovation in the industry. In this special report, we highlight these technology leaders, providing an in-depth look at their recent accomplishments as well as their predictions for technology’s future.

ALEXANDER KOCH
Vice President of Development
Eureka Casinos

Alex Koch is vice president of development for Eureka Casinos, a growing hospitality enterprise with four properties in Nevada and New Hampshire. He joined the company in 2009 after serving as director of financial planning and analysis for Las Vegas Sands’ U.S. operations and helping direct the analysis function at Golden Nugget Gaming. At Eureka, Alex oversees acquisitions, information systems and special projects.
Eureka Casinos has a reputation in the gaming industry for creatively using technology to improve both guest and employee experiences. A few years ago, the company partnered with Great Place to Work to measure staff satisfaction. “We discovered areas where employees were happy and areas where we could improve, and we immediately began making positive changes based on this new way to listen to staff,” he said. For example, front desk employees at Eureka Casino Resort indicated that computers were running slow, resulting in longer check-in times. So, the company invested in new PMS-compatible computers that shaved almost 15 percent off every guest transaction. When housekeeping staff at Rising Star Sports Ranch Resort wanted a better way to service guest requests, the property adopted robotics for the delivery of extra towels, pillows and blankets, making it the first hotel in Nevada to offer room service via robot. The result is happier staff and a more efficient workplace. So much so that Eureka Casino Resort has been included in Fortune magazine’s ‘Top 100 Medium Workplaces in America’ list for two consecutive years, landing the #35 spot for 2019-2020.
 
Koch also spearheaded the use of technology to create more compelling guest experiences. Under his leadership, The Brook – the company’s New Hampshire property – became the first casino in the state to deploy dealer-assisted table games. “Instead of the traditional Roulette table, the wheel and the dealer are up front and players use gaming terminals to place wagers,” he explained. The company also uses a loyalty system in its casinos to gather guest data and speed player pay-outs.
 
In 2018, Eureka became the first company in Las Vegas to deploy Yumpingo, a platform that enables restaurant guests to provide instant feedback on food and service. “At the end of the meal, the server simply introduces a phone-sized tablet that walks guests through their orders and asks about their experiences,” he said. The company uses the solution along with the Agilysys InfoGenesis POS system, which allows food and beverage managers to aggregate data and make quick adjustments to service and offerings.
 
Perhaps one of Koch’s most beneficial initiatives was the deployment of guest satisfaction surveys for casino customers. He tailored an InfoSearch Live application typically used by hotels so that it pulls information from the property management and casino management systems. Eureka now gathers feedback via email – often from local guests – about what players like as well as areas that need improvement. Managers review the data weekly and implement changes based on guest comments.
The bottom line for Koch is using technology wisely to boost staff efficiency and increase guest satisfaction. “We don’t implement technology merely for technology’s sake,” he said. “We do our best to use it in a smart way to ensure that employees are happy and guest expectations are met or exceeded. And if we do fall down, we have a way of knowing it. We can fix problems as quickly as possible.”

©2020 Hospitality Upgrade 
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