Perhaps it’s time to formally name kiosks. Give them identities.
These versatile, de-facto casino hosts have become heavily engaged team members. They handle expedited check-out and dinner reservations, they show options and rewards redemption. Wayfinding, promoting new offers and facilitating tournament entries fall under their domain. So do the nuts-and-bolts functions of cash dispensing, ticket printing, bill breaks, jackpot rewards and marketing.
They are freestanding, wall-mounted or hand-held forms of customer service. Casinos use kiosks in corners, on walls, in lobbies, or near the gaming action. They represent a personalized yet unobtrusive helping hand, take on more duties, and never call out sick.
Like all workers, kiosks face the numbers game. Their space must be justified. Their deployment may slowly lessen with the age of electronic loyalty systems and mobile-phone technology, but like brick-and-mortar properties in the online gaming era, they will remain prominent.
Diversification remains their job security. Some industries, like phone companies and rail services, assign names to their automated personnel. It would not be surprising for gaming to catch up. This is not just a kiosk. It’s Mr. (or Ms.) Kiosk to you.
This is a fertile period for Michigan-based Atrient, which offers gaming operators custom-developed software solutions and a suite of applications. It also designs and manufactures the hardware, producing the kiosks that grace casinos floors, walls and free-standing areas.
Atrient unfurls several products in this realm, which include the wall-mounted and card-printing, enrollment sectors. They round out a collection that includes floor-standing and mobile-app kiosks.
The company has been a rising star, embracing both the new craze of mobile apps and the classic versatility of a stacked lineup. Its omni-channel marketing platform PowerKiosk is used by MGM Resorts International, California’s San Manuel Casino and Cherokee Nation Entertainment in Oklahoma, among others. The new Hard Rock in Atlantic City, opening June 28, recently contracted to deploy Atrient’s entire product suite, according to company reports.
Jessie Gill, Atrient COO, believes its power can lift large and small operations.
“Whether they are looking to relieve stress on their players club, automate processes, or responsibly reinvest in their patrons, savvy operators understand the value Atrient provides,” Gill asserts. “We recognize the international market doesn’t currently have a product that can provide the flexibility or reliability of the PowerKiosk solution, and we look forward to helping a growing list of international partners achieve their marketing initiatives.
“The most uncommon, yet powerful, benefit our partners experience is the flexibility our solutions afford them,” he adds. “Casino operators must be elastic when developing their marketing strategies, and they deserve a reliable solution that is limited only by their imagination and creativity. Atrient’s PowerKiosk platform provides this flexibility, which is why you see it installed by some of the world’s largest operators, but also some of the smallest.”
For Atrient, the power is everywhere. PowerKiosk can be deployed on mobile devices or on slot-machine screens. Besides offering promotions, it can be used as a self-service tool for account management.
The award-winning solution provides an extensive platform that not only rewards patrons with promotions but integrates wayfinding, calendars, social media and many other functions into a single kiosk. With options like the ability to query multiple databases including data warehouses, hotel information systems and point-of-sale systems, it can evaluate patrons beyond just their ADT and current point or tier status.
PowerKiosk also features a large games portfolio with various themes like holidays, birthdays, sports and other game types, such as “play up,” “play more” and hurdle promotions. The operator decides how to deploy features to a kiosk, enabling a property to designate certain kiosks for certain functions, even for a specified period of time with just a few simple clicks on the control panel.
A property can use PowerKiosk for slot tournament registration and designate specific kiosks for that purpose, and then have them automatically revert to their full features after the registration period is over.
This solution has several modules managed through its control panel. They include promotional games, virtual drawings, account lookup, comp redemption, wayfinder and casino maps, calendar services, slot-machine concierge and idle screen digital signage.
PowerKiosk integrates directly to the patron management system, with systems developed by Aristocrat, Scientific Games, IGT and others, officials say.
“One of our most recent successes has been the deployment of 12 Enrollment Card Printing Kiosks at the MGM National Harbor in Maryland,” Gill says of the new, luxurious property outside of Washington, D.C.
“Since opening in December of 2016, these units have accounted for nearly 60 percent of all enrollment transactions and over 75 percent of all reprint activity, heavily reducing the stress on their new Mlife Rewards desk. The success of the kiosks is great to hear, but when senior leadership publicly declares the installation process as ‘the most dedicated customer service I have ever seen in my career’ in a white paper, we understand we have done our job and delivered a product that provides tangible value.”
How Suite It Is
Las Vegas-based MGT unveiled a game-changing philosophy several years ago. It shifted customers from long redemption lines to the expedited comfort of a kiosk. Now it transfers kiosk content back to the players, via the phone.
Welcome to the Application Programming Interface feature, enhancing the company’s signature Promo Suite. MGT offers a groundbreaking product consisting of several integrated computer applications and one of the industry’s most advanced kiosk marketing software systems. API provides the communication enabling the phone to become an extension of the kiosk.
The result: a comp-wielding kiosk, in the palm of one’s hand.
MGT has long championed the philosophy of delivering promos through a game format. It has an extensive list of them, from board games to collect-and-win competitions and guessing games, a la The Price is Right.
Patrons earn loyalty points, discounts and rewards based on game results and tier status.
Travis Carrico, the company’s sales and marketing vice president, espouses the benefit of winning the same offer that once was mailed to a person’s home and could have been thrown away.
“This approach helps the casinos get patrons actively involved in the outcome of the promo,” he says. “This is something we are now able to deliver in electronic fashion through the kiosk.”
And the phone. Carrico says research indicates the value of the kiosk and its remote mobile-phone satellites.
“In some of the case studies we observed in Reno, we found that with just over 85 percent of their carded players, the first thing they do before stepping into action is to swipe their card at a kiosk,” he says. “They can self-comp, they can participate in contests, especially popular ones like picking the winner of every NFL game… any type of sports or marketing competition. We also found that well over 70 percent swipe the card at a kiosk before leaving.
“The same convenience can be available by phone.”
Loyalty customers can download an app to engage in contests on their phones. Carrico says casinos have already determined reward parameters by using their database analysis to lay out tiers and segments, allowing the rewards to stop on $50 for one person, $5 for another.
“The excitement for us is helping casinos maximize their marketing dollar,” he says. “This also helps them in the sense that as technology changes, it is the customers paying for the hardware by use of the phones or whatever device they are using. Compare that with how expensive it is regarding the slots, for example, whereby technology advancements mean that the casinos have to pony up for hardware.
“Think about the iViews, the picture-in-pictures, etc., that properties use to market to their players. That is an expensive capital outlay for them.”
Carrico considers the mobile age a relative infant. He thinks it owns less than a 5 percent stake in the relationship between phones and kiosks. Over time, the mobile devices may obtain more than half the action, a prominent shift. Casinos thus may gain an inexpensive ride for the next leg of this technological journey.
Carrico says MGT continues to thrive, gaining 20 percent revenue hikes each of the last several years.
He says the company has 260 installs in the U.S., and the properties using MGT represent more than 50 percent of slot machines available in the country.
“Long ago, we recognized that people were not only constrained by the budget of the wallet, but also a budget of time,” he recalls. “Customers stuck in line for 15 minutes translates into a lot of lost revenue. Getting people out of line over to an a automated, touch-screen kiosk was our way of solving that problem.”
The realm of touch screen may slowly go hand-held.
MGT Promo allows the casino marketing department to easily create and set up any type of promotion, including electronic drawings, scratch cards, swipe-to-win, new member bonuses, bounce backs, age or other demographic-based promotions. The system operates through an interface to the casino’s player tracking system and touch-screen kiosks. When players swipe their card at the kiosk, the system instantly evaluates them and determines the right reward from a prize matrix based on the reinvestment rate that was predefined for the player’s tier in the setup of the promotion.
Epicentral has been TransAct Technologies’ entry into the kiosk convenience game. The Hamden, Conneciticut-based company views it as an additional marketing tool to enhance communications with players, all while sending them directly to the game.
TransAct touts Epicentral as the gaming industry’s sole enterprise-level promotion and bonusing software suite able to target customers in real time at any slot machine or electronic table game, regardless of manufacturer.
“Epicentral now has over 20,000 networked connections in the U.S., Latin America and Europe,” says Tracey Chernay, the company’s senior vice president of global casino, gaming and lottery. “The current Epicentral version 3.9 incorporates all of the feature improvements we have made over the last several years of working with our casino customers. From improved diagnostics to added campaign criteria and qualifiers to automated slot move synchronization, we have learned from our customers and continue to evolve the product.”
Chernay gleaned an interesting trend from a recent tour of Epicentral casino customers. Operators can not only engage the customers they know, but woo the ones they don’t.
“The most interesting thing discovered is the value to the casino of Epicentral’s ability to market to both carded and uncarded players,” Chernay says. “At a kiosk, the player must be carded in order for the casino to understand the value of that player and make the appropriate offer. With Epicentral, promotions can be earned by both carded and uncarded players based upon actual play metrics such as coin-in or time on device—while the player is playing. While the goal is to drive more carded play, the casinos appreciate the ability to market to that player who is not yet carded or who simply does not want to join the loyalty program.”
Chernay says Transact recently completed the second installation and works on the third implementation of the relatively new Epicentral SE
(Systems Edition). This enables the host casino management system to drive printed offers or comps through Epicentral utilizing the host system’s marketing engine.
“This is allowing us to print playable free play tickets that can be selected by the player at the game and then fed directly back into the bill validator on the machine for immediate play,” Chernay indicates.
Gaming-world kiosks remain potent ambassadors. They emerged as a future generation of ATMs and became highly specialized. Industry estimates place the number of TITO kiosks versus freestanding ATMs at 8-to-1. And while the mobile age presents a burgeoning niche, the next new wave, kiosk functions, anchor the customer-service philosophy.
Sightline and Worldpay form powerful partnership
Talk about wheeling and dealing. Sightline and Vantiv, two strong performers in the loyalty card and connectivity realm, have completed significant mergers and acquisitions.
Sightline, developers of the Play+ platform, joined forces with NRT Technology, a leading provider of integrated ticket redemption and payment services to global casino operators. Now known as NRT Sightline, the company is slated to become one of the largest pure play payment technology companies with an equity value of more than $300 million. Increased payment service always means something relevant for kiosks.
Vantiv, a powerhouse company providing the connectivity for anyone wanting to use a card for gambling purposes, is now literally a world player. Or perhaps Worldpay-er. The Cincinnati, Ohio outfit purchased London-based Worldpay, expanding its reach to 146 countries. The deal was completed in January for an estimated $10.4 billion. The company annually handles more than 20 billion payment transactions for about $726 billion.
Amid the major moves, NRT Sightline and Worldpay remain prominently placed in the kiosk-casino realm. Omer Sattar, executive vice president of strategic relationships for NRT Sightline, linked his loyalty card with the connectivity muscle of Worldpay. Joe Pappano, senior vice president and managing director for Worldpay, has seen the company place increased emphasis in this area.
“When you look at what the system providers have done in the gaming industry—and we’re talking Scientific Games, IGT, Intralot, etc.—they are embedding payments and security aspects of payments within self-service kiosks,” he says. “The benefit of that? They are modernizing kiosks that have historically been cash-driven to offer the latest payment technologies and alternative payment methods.
“Look at state lotteries, the advanced deposit wagering (ADW) industry and integrated casino and resorts. They’re seeing kiosks as a way to expand their business model and as an extension of their core, driving new revenues and giving consumers a better way to leverage a financial instrument.”
Pappano says a massive gaming expansion is unfolding through the utilization of payments, one common denominator in driving revenue. Biometrics also impacts the kiosk realm.
“Both organizations—NRT Sightline and Worldpay—are taking a detailed look at how cryptocurrencies and alternative payment methods are consumed or utilized in a kiosk-type environment,” he indicates. “We’re looking at blockchain technology, and how that can be seamlessly utilized by a consumer within a kiosk environment.
“Kiosks are absolutely critical to gaming expansion and to drive consumer revenue. We see a kiosk no differently than we see a mobile device, as an extension of a brand experience. We need to think about the disparate points of interaction as self- service kiosks.”
For Sattar, the kiosk is one key venue supporting the loyalty card. The Play+ card has significant use there, although it spread to use in department stores, Nevada sports wagering facilities and others.
“In the gaming world, our kiosks are multi-functional, more interactive and there are more things for people to do,” he says. “We’ve spent a lot of time on how to create a kiosk ecosystem where people can interact and get done what needs to get done.
“Look at sports betting and the functionality a kiosk can provide. You can enroll a person into a sports wagering account; you can accept their money by cash or a form of electronic payment; they can pick the wagers they want to make; and, theoretically that kiosk can either push money back to them electronically or disperse cash.”