HOSPITALITY UPGRADE: Tell me how you got your start in the hospitality industry.
CHRIS: I actually wanted to write and direct and began my college career in communications. I ended up in computer science after determining that the career path for writing and directing was extremely difficult. Computers allowed me to still be creative, so it was great fit. I began my career writing video games (of all things!) but soon moved through a couple of companies and ended up at AT&T Bell Laboratories where I stayed for eight years. I supervised some of the product manage- ment aspects for AT&T WorldNet Service, which was a career highlight for me. Helping to launch one of the first internet providers back in the days of dial-up was not only a huge project for me personally but also a life-changing effort, as it opened up the world-wide web to millions of people.
HOSPITALITY UPGRADE: So, let’s talk about what you’re doing now. Technology is changing rapidly, especially in the gaming industry. What do you see as your biggest technology challenge?
CHRIS: The challenges surrounding data are huge, and that will always be the case, particularly when it comes to large-scale data systems. Two of the biggest issues surrounding data are quality and accuracy. Data must be accurate if the business is to make correct decisions. And proper governance over that data — everything from availability to access control — is paramount to a successful strategy. Constantly evolving technol- ogy also presents its own set of challenges. As you mentioned, technology is changing rapidly. It reminds me of the saying: ‘There’s always time to do it over but never time to do it right.’ A lot of companies are forced into a particular paradigm and it can be difficult to get out of it, especially if legacy systems and processes are systemic across the enterprise and those systems weren’t designed to insulate the property from a lot of changes.
HOSPITALITY UPGRADE: Where do you find new technology? In other words, where do you get your ideas?
CHRIS: I get a lot of ideas from reading, talking with other professionals, and participating in efforts to pilot innovative ideas into the mainstream. In many ways, technology today is more evolutionary than revolutionary, and it builds on past successes and failures. I learn a lot simply by being open- minded and listening. You never know when something will click..
HOSPITALITY UPGRADE: A big focus in gaming today is the ‘hybrid journey’— the blending of gaming and non-gaming guest experiences. How difficult is that to achieve?
CHRIS: The Las Vegas of today is vastly different than it was a number of years ago. Today, the city offers so much more than gambling. For many consumers Las Vegas is about shows, events, concerts and dining. In fact, many visitors come here with no intention of gambling; they just want to hit up a show or a restaurant. So, the guest journey is a driving force in all of that. It’s our responsibility to find ways to make every guest journey effortless and eliminate any barriers that might prevent that guest from having the best possible experience. This requires properties to change how they perceive guest value, as people visit for a variety of reasons. In other words, guests have value that far exceeds the number of coins they stick into a slot machine. This problem hasn’t been fully cracked; it requires us to think differently about what we offer. Making guests feel like they are all that matters is vital to return visits. Guest feedback is also extremely important as they know exactly what they’re looking for in an experience. If we don’t listen, shame on us!
HOSPITALITY UPGRADE: Tell me about your digital concierge, Rose. How did she come about?
CHRIS: Rose was initially pulled together by our marketing department. Her ‘mischief maker’ personality was carefully crafted to reflect The Cosmopolitan’s image and persona. Rose can provide updates on when rooms are ready for guests, offer recommendations and answer guests’ questions. Guests can also find special offers and access to various aspects of guest loyalty accounts with Rose. She is an important part of The Cosmopolitan’s history and we’re proud of how she has elevated the level of services for our guests.
HOSPITALITY UPGRADE: Which technologies do you see as changing the gaming industry within the next three to five years?
CHRIS: In my opinion, artificial intelligence will have an enormous impact on the gaming industry. I believe technologies that remove barriers to entry for guests and allow them to be fully connected with the property will also become more important. It’s going to be exciting to see what innovations our industry will come up with and what will resonate the most with our guests. As always, our priority is our guests and making sure they’re having the times of their lives while staying with us.
HOSPITALITY UPGRADE: What technologies excite you the most?
CHRIS: 3D graphics and virtual reality are appealing to me because I love the idea of simulated worlds. Robotics is another area I find interesting, especially when it’s combined with some of the other cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence. Augmented reality is also exciting. The idea that you can wear AR glasses or use an app to merge the real world with computer-generated content is amazing. AR can be used for so many things, from ads and games to online shopping and product design. It offers a terrific way to engage users and enhance their experiences.
+ Family:Marriedwithagrownson. “My wife is an avid equestrian and loves riding in dressage competitions. My son works for a company as a video game designer. He started there a year-and-a-half ago and is already pushing his career forward.”
+ Go-To Periodical or Website: Slashdot and Ars Technica. “Both sites offer up-to-date technology news.”
+ Book: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, an epic high fantasy novel. ‘It’s a masterpiece of writing that touches on a number of themes, including the battle between good and evil, death and immortality, and fate and free will.”
+ Hobby: Designing and programming video games. “It’s challenging and fun.”
+ Music: Classic rock,withsome metal thrown in. Favorite groups are The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Metallica.
+ Travel: The Caribbean. “I love cruising and experiencing the various islands.”
+ Advice to Young People: “Always challenge yourself and try new things. Book learning will only take you so far and it doesn’t always align with real-world scenarios, especially in the IT industry.”
+ One-on-One With: Steven Spielberg. “I love movies, and I think he would be someone I’d enjoy talking with.”