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Crunching Numbers

Data analysis is the key to building customer loyalty

Crunching Numbers

What do the numbers say?

And how fast can we sort them out?

These major considerations confront hotels and casinos under the broad hospitality umbrella. Each segment remains an autonomous component within the same sphere.

Casino operators need to know a player’s favorite game. Hotels need to know the customer’s favorite room type. If both are part of one company, the entity needs to know the relationship between gaming and non-gaming spend. Online properties bring even more significance to quick, accurate, information.

That’s what makes the data solutions world a burgeoning enterprise for several companies.


A Wave of Innovation


Provide resources. Untangle the mess.

They are two core functions of Cendyn, a leading cloud-based software and e-commerce services provider for the hospitality industry.

“One of the biggest challenges facing casinos today is the sheer volume of data points being captured across their tech stack,” says Aileen Gerla, the company’s director of product management. “Without a way to wrangle this fragmented data and unite it into a single view, casinos are unable to truly leverage their data insights. The inequitable distribution of data across departments can lead to blind spots that leave potential revenue on the table and negatively impact the guest experience.”

While traditional segments of leisure and business certainly apply, casinos can get much more granular with their data than the average hotel, Gerla indicates.

There’s more information available, primarily because of how guests spend throughout a property. This ranges from customers who only gamble to patrons who regularly dine at restaurants and bars and those who spend heavily each time they vacation at a property.

“To tie all of your data together, consider adding a customer data platform (CDP) to your tech stack,” Gerla says. “The two-way data sync means that a guest’s on-property activity, from gaming and F&B to retail and the spa, is aggregated into a data-rich profile that when combined with other guest profiles, reveals valuable segments.

“You can then drill down even further to see how much money each of those segments typically contributes while on property—and optimize accordingly—giving you a go-to guest intelligence resource for personalizing the guest experience and optimizing revenues.”

Cendyn recently added another player into its lineup for this sector, launching the Cendyn Hospitality Cloud (CHC) in April. It has already generated excitement and interest, according to Gerla.

“What makes it a game changer is the ability to provide casino resorts with a vertically integrated, cloud-based platform that empowers revenue, e-commerce, distribution, marketing and sales teams with everything they need to drive profitable revenue across the guest journey,” Gerla says.

The CHC offers a unified view of every guest, and a system of record for rates and reservations. By combining these critical data elements in one platform, teams across the business can act on their data to automate, personalize, and transform the experience for every guest at every step in their journey, according to Gerla.

The company is actively working on even more features and enhancements to explore the platform’s full potential.

In conjunction with the launch of the Cendyn Hospitality Cloud, Cendyn has also released the platform’s first applications—its website CMS and Starling, its customer data platform (CDP). The seamless integration between the CMS and CDP sets Cendyn apart to leverage cleansed and de-duped data from the master guest profile, Gerla asserts.

“Built using award-winning designs and powered by Starling CDP, our enhanced CMS enables hotels and casinos to recognize returning website visitors and deliver the most targeted personalization available on the market,” Gerla says.

“Instead of one-size-fits-all content, the website application will serve tailored messaging to personalize every interaction a customer makes on your site, including content, visuals and offers based on their preferences and behavior. This new era of personalization allows hotels and casinos to drive guest engagement, loyalty and profitable revenue growth on their own direct booking channel.”

Along with unveiling new products, Cendyn builds on its significant business move last November. The company entered into a merger agreement with Pegasus, a leading provider of revenue and distribution solutions for the hospitality industry. The combination of the companies provides hoteliers with a platform to maximize their direct-booking channel and enhance the guest experience across every touchpoint.

At the heart of this merger lies Cendyn’s Customer Data Platform, Starling, and Pegasus’ CRS, which, combined, provide hoteliers access to a true system of record for profiles and rates for every guest. Leveraging the alignment of these key data points puts hoteliers at the forefront of personalization to enhance the direct-booking experience.

“So far, the results of the merger have exceeded expectations,” Gerla indicates. “The Cendyn Hospitality Cloud platform now benefits from over 400 integrations with more already in the works. We’re entering a new phase of growth as a single company, and we are excited about building on our success and finding new ways to bring the Pegasus and Cendyn products together for our customers.”


On-Demand Marketing


Officials at VizExplorer believe industry changes over the past couple of years involve the need for automation and simplicity. Most operators’ resources are limited, making it hard to do all of the work and analysis themselves, and they want their solutions to be not just descriptive but prescriptive, officials say.

Here is a further sector overview according to company reports compiled for GGB:

With the advent of sports betting and iGaming, many operators have woken up to the fact that the sheer volume of data requires a trusted data partner to bring everything—bricks and mortar and digital—together to understand player behavior and their marketing efforts.

VizExplorer also perceives a greater receptiveness to cloud solutions. The company’s solutions can be either in the cloud or on premises. Its latest entry into this space is VizOnDemand Slots, Player Development & Marketing. It brings simplicity and automation to the operators through powerful reporting and recommendation engines.

These capabilities are designed to serve every area of the business and answer key business questions. That includes whether one wants to see high-level performance metrics or drill down into granular detail of games and players. The software makes it simple to arrive at these insights and make revenue-driving decisions from them.

Its reporting suite, ease of use and flexibility are big differentiating factors, as well as the ability to rapidly develop custom reports and leverage both customer and machine data. This provides an extraordinary level of insight into customer behavior.

The Slot Recommendation Engine is leaps and bounds ahead of the pack. It works because it is based on a robust dataset and built by experienced operators. The product is road-tested with multiple customers and it has already delivered tremendous value in the field, VizExplorer officials say.

The “wow factor” is the breadth and depth of its solutions. The focus is on taking large amounts of data and presenting it in a clear, actionable way.


The QCI Platform


“The data solution space has become essential tooling for operation of the business in a modern gaming operation,” says Andrew Cardno, co-founder and chief technology officer of Quick Custom Intelligence (QCI). “It is now recognized that the nature and type of tooling required to operate a business is different from the transactional systems that run them.”

Cardno says the company has deployed its data-driven operational tooling in over 100,000 gaming machines including 55 North American resorts. The QCI product line represents the latest iteration in the data space from Cardno and Ralph Thomas, who have been in this space for 15 years.

“The big trend is finding tooling that can assist with team member acquisition and retention,” Cardno asserts. “We are seeing team members expecting to be able to operate in an environment where the data flows are part of easy-to-use and data-enriched processes. The QCI platform is extremely high-performance and has enabled a new generation of tooling that uses algorithms to assist in the day-to-day operation of the business.”

Cardno says the company’s top-performing tool in this sector is the QCI Platform, a marketing tool. This core technology layer allows the company to provide a dynamic tool set that is fully empowered with the depth of the data.

“The QCI Platform is the one of the most difficult areas of technology within the QCI stack,” he says.

Among the key features are interface layers to the majority of gaming systems, data streams and related data such as hotel and food and beverage. An extremely robust layer of data cleanup handles the trickiest parts of the data consolidation, such as applying algorithms to clean up the gaming machine attribution.

A robust API layer used by the entire application stack provides for consistent and correct tooling regardless of the user.

Cardno makes a further analysis based on his interactions with the QCI gaming math team.

“Gaming is an industry that is extremely data-rich, and we are proud to build a community of users who are truly empowered to interact and apply this rich data to meet their individual brand goals,” he says. “We strive to build the technology, the team and the business model that allows us to partner, effectively removing the traditional blockers such as statements of work and charges for training.

“We are amazed at how this innovation in how we are doing business has allowed us to focus on delivering value and ensuring our community is realizing that value.”


The ADM Advantage


“The market for ever-increasing data needs and requirements seems to be growing daily,” says CasinoSoft owner Matt Montano. “Upstart slot machine communication systems now can deliver every SAS signal from the slot machine directly to a database for a variety of systems.

“This is a night-and-day increase in data from what the legacy slot systems do. The vast increase in the volume of data requires more sophisticated tools to analyze and make sense of the data. Tools such as Excel and CSV are completely ill-equipped for this increase. At CasinoSoft, with our SAR analytics, we focus on a single slice of this data being suspicious activity patterns that may be happening every day inside the casino with no one noticing. But the data doesn’t lie.”

The company’s biggest products are its Title 31 and Tablet Taxforms modules. Its recently added Automated Document Management (ADM) module is quickly rising as the newest hit with casinos, Montano asserts.

“Although casinos are not completely going away from paper documents anytime soon, our ADM system has successfully improved work flow and organization, saving casinos valuable time, resources and money,” he indicates. “CasinoSoft’s ADM system uses embedded barcodes to automatically identify, organize and file documents including end-of-shift paperwork and various tax documents.

“It also has the ability to scan in IDs front and back to quickly update or create a new player’s profile. Gone are the days of staff members needing to pre-organize and scan in one document at a time to each file or profile. With our ADM, you can take a stack of pre-barcoded various paperwork in any sort of order, plop them in a high-speed scanner, and simply click a button.”

According to Montano, what makes the company’s ADM hardware a dream to casino IT departments is the network-driven, driverless high-speed scanners, that do not need to be plugged into each desktop nor have complex driver settings configured.

“You can have one single scanner in each department area across the floor with multiple desktop stations wirelessly communicating with it,” he says. “What used to take supervisors of staff members hours to scan and file documents, now takes less than five minutes.”

Throughout the industry, the race gets faster, operators seek the latest new edge, and companies need to provide them. The ones that can place a decipherable customer profile at an executive’s fingertips find the sweet spot.

Data is their entry.


Fast Data for Markers

Joe Pesci would love this.

A scene from movie Casino illustrates the age-old dilemma of waiting for money in a casino. Pesci tells someone he can’t leave the area for a few minutes “because I’ve got a marker coming.”

He wouldn’t wait now.

Marker Trax ushers in the new realm of instant marker access. Patrons can apply for a casino marker through its mobile app or are instantly approved through the Marker Trax verification process.

The Marker Trax system allows players to be scored and given access to their markers in minutes.

It will be a revolutionary product and concept, according to company founder Gary Ellis.

Marker Trax’s entire evolution is based on data solutions.

“With traditional casino markers, there’s no way to fully track those funds, to make sure they’re staying within the resort and not being taken to a rival resort, or even—most importantly for the operator—actually being paid back,” Ellis says.

“At the same time, customers—and not just casino gamers—have been demonstrating through their purchase activity across all sectors that they want their entire consumer experience to be more convenient and streamlined. Specifically in gaming, they want their funds immediately available; they don’t want these big delays between when they apply for the marker and when they can get back to enjoying themselves, and they want an easy process to pay their markers back.”

Marker Trax eliminates logistical obstacles, enabling operators to reach customers more efficiently. “They’ve wanted this technology, this ability, for so long, but there have been too many roadblocks, from the cost of complicated, expensive infrastructure overhaul to, frankly, getting customers comfortable with using the technology,” Ellis says.

“And getting customers comfortable with the technology is no longer a concern, because they’re practically begging for it. Things like digital wallets, touch to pay, and other things like that are more accepted now. We’ve grown so accustomed to that technology in our everyday lives, and to how much more convenient it makes the consumer experience, that we’re wondering why it’s not available everywhere we spend our time and money.”

The company’s primary product is its namesake: Marker Trax. It’s a triple-patented casino advance line system that reduces operators’ risks in issuing markers, while simultaneously creating a more convenient and accessible gaming experience for customers.

The Marker Trax system utilizes cutting-edge fintech solutions to help operators optimize their business, through risk evaluation, compliance, data analysis, or creating a frictionless gaming experience. Marker Trax also provides underwriting and advanced financial support for notifications and billing. Operators are provided with a central dashboard, through which they can view all transactions and connected account balances, and have access to robust activity reports.

“But what we’re doing that really separates us from everyone else is looking at the customer experience at the same time and with the same weight,” Ellis asserts. “It’s an instant approval and fund-drawing process, so it maximizes playing time for the customer by eliminating extra time in the cage waiting for funding approval.”

Ellis says the next evolution wave is making technology available in multiple resorts within a single company. If a company owns five casinos and a customer gets a marker in one of them, the patron currently can’t take that same marker to one of that company’s other casinos.

“But imagine if you could take that marker to the operator’s other properties, either directly across the street, or even miles away,” he says. “That’s where we’re going next.”

Ellis recalls the first time he watched a customer have to stop play, make their way to the cage, fill out forms and wait for a marker. A vision became clear: improve the process for everybody.

That was 20 years ago.

“Every day since then, I’ve been working to make it happen,” he says.

Casino Connection Sports Editor Dave Bontempo is an award-winning sports writer and broadcaster who calls boxing matches all over the world. He has covered the Philadelphia Flyers in the playoffs, as well as numerous PGA, LPGA and Seniors Golf Tour events, and co-hosted the Casino Connection television program with Publisher Roger Gros.