GGB is committed to providing updated news and analysis on our weekly news site,

All Systems Go

Developing software solutions for casino resorts

All Systems Go

Twenty-first century casinos are comprised of many components: the gaming floor, restaurants, nightclubs, showrooms, convention centers, hotel rooms, spas and pools, to name a few.

Casino operators often find it difficult and time-consuming to manually sift through the millions of pieces of data produced daily by each department within their properties, which is why software developers are creating innovative ways both to manage data more effectively and to use data to boost a casino’s profits.

Management information systems like those developed by International Game Technology, Micros Systems and SAS are being implemented at casinos around the world, indicating that as gaming floors become increasingly networked, resort operators are moving to connect all of their properties’ elements with the push of a button.

Analyze This
Casinos are constantly churning out data, and operators are turning to management information systems to synthesize, integrate and analyze data to reveal the successes or failures in a property’s operations. Javier Saenz, vice president of management and marketing for IGT Network Systems, says the company developed its Mariposa suite of management information products in order to determine what changes need to be made for a casino to maximize its profits.

“We really recognized that casinos have a wealth of data, and we capture a lot of data about customers, about game performance,” Saenz says. “The challenge is making sense of that data and doing something valuable with it. So really, these products represent that tool kit for the operator-where they can go in; understand what’s working; what’s not working so well; what changes should they make; when they make changes. What’s the effect? Did it work? Did it make the game perform better, or maybe not so much? And really giving them the insight into the operation they need to make good operational decisions.”

As interconnectivity on the casino floor continues to increase with the prevalence of server-based gaming, Saenz says IGT is poised to manage the needs of a casino, not only with the Mariposa line, but also with sbX, a product that enables an operator to manage game content and pricing. The tool allows casino owners to ensure that unsuccessful games can quickly be replaced, and using IGT’s data visualization analysis product, that information is easily seen and changed.

Data integration is an important tool to use on a casino’s gaming floor, but it is also a necessary function for the rest of a resort. SAS produces a product called DataFlux, which imports information from all of a casino’s systems, then cleanses the data to remove superfluous information.

“What happens-and this is a very common problem, especially at casinos-is that there’s a hotel system, so there’s the central reservation system, then there’s the spa system, then there’s the player tracking system, and then they may even have a marketing database,” says Suzanne Clayton, director of hospitality, gaming and travel solutions for SAS. “None of these systems actually talk to each other, because they’re all different software.”

Controlling Costs
Data integration and analysis are central to any hospitality management system, but the ability to manage revenue via forecasting and pricing also is also an integral facet of information management. As part of its Opera Enterprise Solution software suite, Micros Systems offers the Opera Revenue Management System, which works in tandem with the Opera Property Management System and Opera Reservation System to collect data and create competitive pricing models based on present and future value.

“In the dynamic and competitive world of hotel reservations marketing, success demands a powerful, agile and comprehensive hotel revenue management system that helps hotel operators sell to the right customer at the right time for the right price, all while adjusting to the hotel’s particular business position as well as the dynamic marketplace,” says Karen O’Neill, vice president of marketing and of the hotel division for Micros.

The Venetian and Palazzo resorts in Las Vegas have recognized the importance of revenue management, especially with pressure to lower room rates on the Strip to draw value customers to Las Vegas. Rom Hendler, vice president of strategic marketing for the Venetian and Palazzo, says his properties use a revenue management tool provided by SAS subsidiary IDeaS to control room prices.

“The IDeaS system can project what kind of occupancy we are going to have, what is the value of the demand, and then there is some kind of algorithm to determine what is the best price that’s going to optimize profitability for the property,” Hendler says. “Talking to SAS and to the data warehouse, they can do two things. One is assist in the forecasting. The second thing is assist in the controlling. If we use SAS for the analytics and the classifications of the customers, then when the customer is trying to make a reservation, the revenue management uses controls, controls that are compared to the value that we are predicting for the customer.”

The Venetian and Palazzo also use SAS Analytics to market to customers, a tactic that, paired with revenue management, is expected to become a widespread strategy in the hospitality industry.

To Market
Once a casino operator is armed with data from each system within a property, the executive is then able to determine how to best market to the property’s patrons. Software developers include such tools in their management information systems to help streamline the marketing process.

Micros’ Opera Enterprise Solution includes two such tools: the comp accounting solution and the Opera Customer Information System. The two solutions allow staff to authorize comps and view player tracking information at any property within the company.

SAS offers a patron value optimization solution, which also works with a property’s established player tracking system to analyze data and market to customers. The Venetian and Palazzo use SAS in tandem with the revenue management solution from IDeaS to create marketing offers that won’t necessarily require the properties to slash room rates.

“We don’t want to lower the price below a certain level; that’s a decision that we have made as a company,” Hendler says. “So we’re trying to use our loyalty program that assists us in collecting data on the customer, and using SAS to predict the value of these customers and create packages that we will be able to offer to these customers that are not necessarily discounting.”

The patron value optimization solution automatically examines and cleans player tracking information to determine which marketing offers will suit each customer. SAS clients include Foxwoods Resort Casino, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and the upcoming Cosmopolitan resort on the Strip.

“It helps clients manage their customer information, keep their different systems in sync, make sure that you don’t have 10 different player cards for one person, but really bringing together the view of the customer, so when they’re looking at John Smith, they know that they have all of John Smith’s activity, not activity that might be sitting somewhere else in their organization because he was Johnny Smith somewhere else,” Clayton says.

“Then there’s customer segmentation, predictive modeling, really look at what the customer’s doing, look at trends, look for behavioral propensities, and then being able to tailor marketing communications to them. Is the marketing campaign actually effective or not? It’s really measuring marketing effectiveness and really having that total view of the customer, so when you do send them marketing communications, that you’re putting offers in front of them that they’re going to be much more likely to respond to and you’re not just inundating them with direct mail pieces that get thrown in the trash.”