Fran Worrall
Oct 23, 2022

Influencer Q&A with Eric Bowers, Boyd Gaming Corporation

Influencer Q&A with Eric Bowers, Boyd Gaming Corporation

Fran Worrall
Oct 23, 2022

Eric Bowers, Boyd Gaming Corporation

Eric Bowers is vice president of innovation & architecture at Boyd Gaming Corporation, where he oversees Boyd’s innovation roadmap, existing technical architectures and the assimilation of new technologies and capabilities across the enterprise. He began working at Boyd more than 12 years ago, leading product management and software development. Prior to joining Boyd Gaming, he was with global gaming company IGT and prior to that, MGM Mirage. He got his start in the hospitality industry as a director in the Las Vegas office of Deloitte after almost 10 years with Andersen Consulting and Ernst & Young.

Hospitality Upgrade recently sat down with Eric to discuss technology challenges in the gaming industry, technologies that will transform the industry, and areas in which Boyd Gaming is making investments. We also covered a few non-business topics, too.

HOSPITALITY UPGRADE: First, let’s talk about technology and the gaming industry in general. Do casino properties face a lot of the same challenges as other hospitality venues?

ERIC: Both casino hotel properties and traditional hospitality venues face a lot of the same challenges when it comes to technology innovation. But the casino industry, as compared to pure hospitality, has the additional challenge of blending gaming and non-gaming experiences and understanding the sentiment of the customer between the two verticals. So, a great deal of our technology focus is on incentivizing guests to engage in a hybrid journey across both aspects. And because our properties are more regionally focused, we must be highly creative in doing that.

HOSPITALITY UPGRADE: What do you see as your biggest technology challenge right now?

ERIC: Our biggest technology challenge isn’t the hospitality systems themselves or the integration of those systems. From a technology architecture perspective, we’re doing everything on par with other hospitality companies. Our challenge is making sure that our digital strategies, and the resulting digital experiences of our customers, reach parity or even surpass the everyday digital interaction from other cross-industry mainstream brands. That’s what consumers are accustomed to and what they expect.

HOSPITALITY UPGRADE: Which technologies do you believe will transform the gaming industry in the next few years?

ERIC: Cashless transactions and the universal integration of single-wallet systems across both online and land-based customer touchpoints are significant transformation aspects in the industry. Although cashless is still in its infancy with respect to customer adoption, it’s critical that operators control their own customer experiences with frictionless digital payment options moving forward. Another transformative capability that is already on the forefront of the industry is related to iGaming. It’s not the iGaming platforms alone that are major movers, but the surrounding offering of differentiation options, such as online skill-based games, multi-player experiences, head-to-head challenges, social communities, and other unique acquisition capabilities, which will transform the industry beyond traditional ‘games of chance’ expectations. It’s about having a digital experience that bridges the digital-to-physical guest journey. I also think that in three to five years, this mindset will evolve to support a more robust conversion to iGaming in the metaverse as well. The bar will continue to rise as to what customers expect in an immersive online gaming experience, and traditional two-dimensional digital platforms won’t be enough in the long run.

HOSPITALITY UPGRADE: Where do you find new technology? Where do you get your ideas?

ERIC: A lot of our ideas come from outside the industry. For example, through our relationships with media and game publishers across the country, we gain unique insights about many of the trends in experience and technology outside of the traditional chance-based gaming industry and outside of our average demographic reach. We’re constantly researching and conceptualizing in multiple verticals of technology and functionality and then iteratively challenging what we think is our limitation. We also believe in long-term partnerships with proven leaders in innovation as well as co-leadership of greenfield opportunities that stretch the realm of possibility. This includes leveraging academia. In partnership with UNLV’s Black Fire Innovation Center, we’ve created the Boyd Innovation Lab which functions as an incubator for many of our ideas and prototyping. In addition to contributions from our own architects and engineers, we have the opportunity to integrate with UNLV students and staff as well as key cross-industry technology firms to execute capstone projects and advanced study internships.

HOSPITALITY UPGRADE: Discuss the importance of data analytics to your overall technology strategy.

ERIC: This is a major focal point for us. We’re using mixed load processing methodologies to blend historical analytical data with near real-time land-based and online transactional data. This creates a hyper-personalized digital guest experience by allowing us to understand what, where and how much a customer is engaged at any given time, either online or on property, and dynamically compare it to their past engagement track record. Of course, we’re still using direct mail and other marketing tools, but our online business is accelerating our use of real-time streaming information. Customers expect an immediate interactive relationship with us on our digital platforms, which demands up-to-the-minute digestion and analysis of guest behavior. If customers are on property, we want to touch them through their digital platforms to extend their engagement. And if we can’t extend their physical engagement, we want them to remain engaged in our digital ecosystem off property. If we don’t meet their expectation of ‘treat me as an individual, not as a segment,’ we’ll quickly lose their attention and their online business.

HOSPITALITY UPGRADE: Discuss the importance of open technology to your digital strategy.

ERIC: Gaming operators aren’t development shops. What we do well is integration. How we integrate and how we converge the data is our secret sauce. So, when it comes to an open platform, it’s key. Typically, one platform will talk to as many as 10 different endpoints, so technology openness is a critical architectural requirement for us, much more so today than it was a decade ago. Now, we have hybrid strategies that require entire cross-cloud ecosystems, with multiple digital endpoints, to interact seamlessly with both centralized and geographically dispersed land-based systems and components.

HOSPITALITY UPGRADE: What’s the next big IT project at Boyd Gaming? Where are you making your biggest investments?

ERIC: We’re continuing to focus on driving the digital experience and creating a digital ecosystem that is part of our customers’ everyday lives. This includes maintaining frictionless customer journeys while iteratively materializing our innovation roadmap capabilities into reality. We will continue to invest in building both our online business and land-based digital experiences. We’ll also continue to create a moat of differentiation and community around our core digital platforms. This moat extends our digital footprint, protects our profitability, accelerates customer acquisition, expands our demographic influence, and separates us from the increasingly diluted online gaming and mobile wagering verticals. It will distinguish us from ‘the pack.’


+ Family: Married with five children, four parrots and three dogs.+ Go-To Periodical or Website: Gizmodo, a technology, science and science fiction website. “It provides a great diversion from the more traditional technology culture and analysis.”

+ Book: The Art of War by Sun Tzu. “Although this is an ancient Chinese military treatise, it’s filled with useable components you can apply to both business directives and technology strategies alike.”

+ Hobbies: Boating, ATV off-roading, drones, crossbows and videography. “It’s important to have an appreciation for outdoor activities and creative outlets.”

+ Music: 90s alternative rock. “Depeche Mode and The Cult are at the top of the list.”

+ Travel: Mazatlán. “It’s a little offset from the mainstream, but it reminds my wife and me of what Mexico used to be like.”

+ Advice to Young People: “As you explore opportunities in today’s technology landscape, understand that there is a significant difference between a technologist and an innovator. Strive to be the latter, as society already has enough technology consumers. Consumers operate within preestablished technology platforms and cliché experiences. Innovators operate outside these conforming boundaries and have the opportunity to establish a true legacy.”

+ One-on-One With: Arnold Schwarzenegger. “I appreciate how he has reinvented himself multiple times outside of bodybuilding — as an actor, businessman, film producer and politician. He came from very humble beginnings and has proven you can accomplish anything through will and determination.”


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