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The underappreciated city of Minneapolis served as host for the 2019 edition of HITEC (produced by HFTP) which wrapped up its most recent four-day run on June 20, 2019. In the days and weeks leading up to the event, meeting solicitations and party invites filled my inbox at a growth rate any VC or entrepreneur would envy. As a first-timer to this international hospitality technology behemoth, it became apparent that HITEC actually begins a few weeks prior to when that first request or invitation lands in your over-stuffed inbox.

Time is limited. Once it’s gone, you can’t gain it back. Similarly, once a room goes unsold for a night, it will go unsold forever. There’s no way to recover that loss, because there’s no way to go back in time.
Many hotels fight this limitation by trying to sell as many rooms as possible. If all the rooms are completely booked, time no longer becomes a factor. But most don’t have the luxury of being at-capacity every single night. That’s why last-minute booking apps are growing in popularity in the industry, where hotels can make the most of each day. These apps specifically target guests who don’t plan far in advance, seeking accommodations from one week to one minute later.
There are several different ways your hotel can benefit from using last-minute booking apps in your business strategy.

IoT is Coming, Jon Snow…
Posted: 05/21/2019

Hospitality is prime for the coming advent of the various devices that make up the Internet of Things. Estimates show the industry now represents 17.5 million rooms worldwide and savvy guests are demanding more personalization and an overall improved guest experience along their connected travel journey and belief is that IoT can bring this to reality. 

The forces driving local search rankings are constantly changing. But recent studies suggest that in 2019, four key factors make up the local search algorithm. 
The most significant factor is Google My Business (GMB). If you’re not on it, get on it now.

The robotic revolution in the hospitality industry might seem to have taken a step back. This January, the famously quirky Henn-Na Hotel in Japan fired half of its 243 robot staff. The robotic workforce reportedly irritated guests and frequently broke down.

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Leveraging Guest Analytics Using Onsite Digital Signage Networks


I have been preaching for several years now the unrealized potential of analytics as it pertains to digital out-of-home networks. Because I run a 52,000 digital display network on the Las Vegas Strip, which is clearly the largest of its kind, the horsepower I am able to tap into may not translate to a smaller or fragmented system, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t test a tiny installation and gain a wealth of information if you plot your course correctly and track the results. The biggest value to smaller networks is the ability to control the entire process from inception to deployment.

Having such a large network might sound sexy but coordinating a strategy with large corporate departments along with individual property operators at times feels like turning a battleship around in a bathtub. Getting agreement across departmental lines with a marketing or advertising executive, a entertainment or food and beverage executive and a financial executive thrown into the mix and you are now attempting to make savory dish out of onions, ice cream and rubber boots. With that said let me lay out a few simple campaigns we’ve done without getting too technical.

Summer in Vegas, as in many destination cities, is mainly what we refer to as our leisure customer segment. (This as opposed to the fall season when our business is predominantly from the convention side.) Our goal was for the summer leisure season was to target someone on vacation onsite who likely had a limited spend (not on a corporate credit card) to see if we could push those guests to purchase a specific product. Out of 14 showrooms we decided to focus on the Cirque du Solei show LOVE at The Mirage. We worked with the entertainment, ticket sales, graphic arts and finance departments along with property operations to come up with a $79 “summer of LOVE” offer.

The program was to run during a specific 10-day period in August on two distribution channels: the IPTV screen in the guestroom and digital end caps on the casino floor. An individual code was assigned for each of the two types of displays to give us the ability to track the results. The offer directed the guest to mention either “summer TV,” which ran in the IPTV displays or “summer” which ran on the end caps.

The results were quite astonishing. Over the 10-day period we sold an additional 1,089 tickets, and yes we accounted for cannibalization of the other shows in our portfolio. This was an increase of close to $90,000 in additional revenue!  One more detail to note was that this offer was inserted into the regular schedule rotation of content so as not to be over exposed, which is what really surprised us when we saw the results.

“This was an increase
 of close to $90,000
in additional revenue!”

Now imagine if we had been able to push that offer from a display directly to the customer’s mobile device without having to rely on the interim step of calling or walking over to the ticket office.

The second example is one specifically focused on the convention customer, which entailed precisely displayed timing. Once again we met with property operations, adverting and food and beverage personnel and formulated an end of day appetizer and drink offer, you might call it happy hour.

We targeted one of our large convention groups and noted the specific time that the convention would wrap up their meetings. Ten minutes prior to the meetings breaking for the day we flooded every display in convention space with a single drink offer at a single outlet, the next day we did a food offer at another outlet.

Once again the results were staggering. The venue with the drink offer saw a 37 percent increase in drink sales from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. the day of the offer and the appetizer offer saw a 24 percent increase. Keep in mind alcohol has a much better yield than food. 
These two relatively simple exercises have created a flurry of requests internally.

“The drink offer saw a 37%
increase in drink sales.”

As great as the results were, what troubles me going forward is the potential of a flood of requests from several verticals internally that could overwhelm the system, or become a wash of offers that diminish the “special nature” of any single offer and requires internal guidelines to prevent this from happening.

These were two relatively simple campaigns that had amazing results, but the biggest value was the affirmation to everyone involved was that our digital network is a viable tool and our biggest mistake would be to overlook its full impact.

Author Randy Dearborn will be a panelist on the Digital Signage Federation’s December “Hangout” discussion entitled, “DSF State of the Industry,” on Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 2pm EST. Anyone may join this scheduled Hangout conversation for free – but registration is required. Please visit

About The Author
Randy Dearborn
Vice President, Multimedia & Guest Technology
MGM Resorts International

Randy Dearborn is vice president, multimedia and guest technology, MGM Resorts International, a board member of the Digital Signage Federation and serves on the Digital Signage Expo 2014 Advisory Board. He will be presenting a roundtable discussion entitled, “How a GM or CIO of a Hotel can Benefit or Better Serve their Guests with Digital Signage Technology,” at Digital Signage Expo 2014 at the Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas, which runs February 12-13. For more information about DSE or to register for this or any other educational seminar or workshop and learn about digital signage go to

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