New gaming programs drive casino profits

Dollars and data. Bonuses and bottom lines. Gaming resorts and hotels.

Revenue tools connect them all via new, cutting-edge software. Evolving business software aids savvy gaming and hotel operators, whose interests converge more than ever. Tablets enhance property-wide customer-service efforts. Information programs illuminate guest spending and room rates, hitting the sweet spot between under- and over-charging. Product upgrades enable multiple tournament floor promotions.

Operators blending hotel and gaming interests consider software enhancements invaluable. The products help them evaluate and apply critical information. The decisions must often be made quickly, for “real time” affects real money.

Pooling Resources

Agilysys, the Alpharetta, Georgia-based hospitality company, has vastly extended its gaming reach. The company’s major 2016 innovations included the tablet-driven mobility of InfoGenesis Flex and the business insights of rGuest Analyze.

Jan Larsen, the company’s senior director of product management and strategy, says the InfoGenesis Flex tablet has performed well for clients. In eight- or 10-inch models, the device helps hosts place high-scale attention upon guests, bringing mobile capability to the next level of customer engagement.

Larsen says InfoGenesis Flex recently enabled properties to service 30-50 percent more customers, obtain about 60 percent more spend because of customer convenience and generate a whopping 75 percent poolside uptick based on reduced order cycle time and increased interaction.

This underscores the concept that if it’s easy for customers to order poolside food and beverage, they will.

“We’re bringing service to the guest wherever that guest might be,” Larsen indicates. “This creates new revenue opportunities from little more than meeting existing, unmet demand.

“Take poolside, for example. Servers take and enter food and beverage orders while they continue to engage the guest in conversation. Implemented well, the order can arrive before the conversation is over. The outcome is more orders, happier guests and a cost-effective operation.”

While the tablet runs on Agilysys software, Larsen also touts its hardware. He says it’s a military-spec tablet certified for gaming use. The units are splash- and shock-resistant, meeting specifications for drop resistance.

The Flex tablets are available in different footprints to accommodate various environments. They provide a longer battery life and broader temperature tolerances to withstand challenging environmental conditions, Larsen says. They also remain flexible enough to accommodate the changing guest-activity flow. Whether guests are on the casino floor, poolside, at the convention center or using retail or food and beverage carts, they are served quickly and seamlessly, he asserts. Indeed, the outdoor use of InfoGenesis Flex brings the hardware-software world together.

Agilysys rGuest Analyze is a business intelligence solution helping operators discover and share significant insights. It uses the data that already exists in their fixed and mobile POS systems. There is little to no infrastructure required outside of a web browser and an internet connection.

The solution also is ideal for creating business dashboards, Larsen says. It is used to support loss prevention in quickly identifying fraudulent activity. Capabilities include staff performance metrics, to identify team champions and opportunities for training; and for on-demand data to assess guest traffic, table turns, tips and tender types.

Epic Results

TransAct Technologies thrives in software-driven technology and printing solutions for high-growth markets including casino and gaming, lottery, food safety, banking and hospitality. It has offices in Hamden, Connecticut and in Las Vegas.

Under the Epic brand, it has prospered since 2013 with Epicentral. This is the gaming industry’s only enterprise-level promotion and bonusing software suite allowing casino operators to deliver real-time promotions at slot machines and electronic table games, according to Tracy Chernay, senior vice president of global casino, gaming and lottery.

Two new Epicentral system versions, the v3.8 and SE, have enhanced the capabilities of the solution. They were announced at G2E 2016 and were recently showcased at ICE Totally Gaming.

“With new innovative capabilities, Epicentral v3.8 allows operators to run multiple promotions at the same time, create games within games, offer multi-user/multi-site promotions, run different promotions on different slot game banks, segment players by tier and promote to different levels of uncarded players,” Chernay says. “There’s nothing like it in the industry.”

Chernay considers Epicentral SE a unique upgrade for TransAct’s promotion and bonusing system.

“It will allow operators to use the existing bonusing capabilities found in their slot management systems to offer bonuses to players as a printed coupon by leveraging the Print Manager and Design Center modules of Epicentral,” Chernay says. “Epicentral SE also provides for an upgrade path to a full Epicentral implementation should an operator seek to expand the promotion and bonusing options beyond what the existing slot management system offers. Casino operators running Epicentral SE will be able to fully track and report on all promotions from their CMS, giving marketing teams and slot floor managers a true all-in-one view of the player environment.”

Casinos using Epicentral attain consistent floor-performance strength, Chernay says. That includes reporting a 60 percent increase in new player club registrations, an 87 percent bounce-back redemption rate, a 14 percent increase on time-on-device, a 100 percent increase in lower-tier average daily theoretical (ADT), a 46 percent increase in slot handle and a 37 percent increase in weekday afternoon play, according to her figures.

One major TransAct Epicentral customer is Foxwoods Resort Casino, the largest resort casino in North America.

“Foxwoods opted for a system that would provide them with the flexibility to connect directly and immediately with their players while they are playing at the slot machine,” Chernay says. “Hence, the creation of FoxPerx powered by Epicentral.”

The program was rolled out on 1,900 electronic gaming machines in two of Foxwood’s casinos last spring. Working with TransAct, the loyalty marketing team designed a promotion to randomly award slot players using their Foxwoods Rewards cards with a bonus ticket redeemable for cash payouts up to $500. Patrons could also receive gift cards for many of the over 30 Foxwoods dining outlets.

An Assessment Repertoire

The Rainmaker Group, also based in Alpharetta, Georgia (north of Atlanta), is a world leader in automated forecasting and profit optimization software and services for the gaming and hospitality industry.

Software prominence has never been more important to its customer base.

“We’ve seen a mix across the board depending on who the customer is, but in general, casinos typically track their gaming revenues most closely, leaving a sizable gap where they are not always analyzing the other segments of the property or business,” says Angie Dobney, vice president of pricing and revenue management strategies for Rainmaker. “Each revenue stream has different profits, and each one is important for overall success. We have the ability to take in any ancillary revenue a casino can track to help them understand the total customer spend across their business. This is an area where our casino customers can benefit from the data and info our solutions provide them.”

In that realm, Dobney says group business remains hot. Rainmaker will make a new product announcement in March, maintaining its development of new strategies. This continues the trend that produced previous rollouts like guestrev, grouprev, revcaster and revintel.

Guestrev focuses on the transient and/or gaming customer. Casinos can use the platform to capture, in real time, what the player and customer value would be. That gives them a tailored price based on this customer’s willingness to pay and value to the business, while also providing data based on market conditions and the overall forecast of that value.

Grouprev is a pricing optimization tool that analyzes each group lead by micro-segmenting the business, so sales managers can truly understand what the value of the group is and how it fits within the overall property strategy.

Revcaster and revintel have brought out another side of analysis.

“Revcaster has had a lot of success with rate shopping, and we are seeing more adopters of revcaster using it to help them improve and optimize their rate strategies,” Dobney indicates. “Due to this, we are also gearing up to layer some revenue management decision tools onto the revcaster platform—primarily for limited-service hotels.”

Dobney says revintel has been endorsed in the gaming world because it can tie in property management data with the revenue management and rate shopping data information.

“What revenue managers and casino operators love about this is the one-truth analytics it provides for them,” Dobney contends. “They receive important, consistent data across all segments of the business and identify trends in business, and make better, fast decisions that improve performance.”

Dobney believes that the more effectively hotels can predict their business—from all segments, not just one group—the more proactive they can be in managing future demand.

“We have seen a real appetite from our clients to expand from revenue management into demand generation—so much so, in fact, that last year, we launched demand generation services,” she indicates. “Hoteliers are looking more and more for new ways to drive direct bookings, increase their online presence and get a clear view of exactly where they are spending their money. Our demand generation can do all of this and more for them, and I’ve seen more casinos and hotels come on board and use this service to improve and strengthen their business through website and global search engine optimization, paid search, digital display and social media advertising, re-targeting and revenue data analysis.”

The Financial ScoreBoard

Duetto serves the gaming and hotel industries from its respective headquarters in Las Vegas and San Francisco. Two of its headlined performers are GameChanger in the price-optimization realm and ScoreBoard in the revenue intel category.

“There are a few topics that the industry has been talking about for a long time that continue to dominate the conversation—namely, tracking total guest spend and personalizing guest offers,” says Marco Benvenuti, a company co-founder.

“Unfortunately, everyone is talking about them but no one has been able to implement them well. Fortunately, over the past year, the technologies that power the casino industry have made major steps toward making these things happen. Specifically, cloud computing—moving all of our data, operations and integrations into the cloud—will pave the way for total resort spend and guest personalization.

“This might be slightly controversial, but the casino industry and the technology industries are not often on the same page,” Benvenuti adds. “The casino industry is a smaller vertical that asks for and needs dedicated products and services. But to provide that, the technology industry needs dedication from casinos that they can adequately fund and continually operate tools built specifically for them.”

Toward that end, Benvenuti says casinos need to break down departmental silos and install a revenue management structure that works with all other departments, including operations, sales and, most importantly, marketing.

Benvenuti believes two new Duetto products will help the gaming industry. Personalized Loyalty Price (in the GameChanger realm) “was a major accomplishment in 2016,” he says, because it allows casino hosts to offer a personalized room rate to individual loyalty members based on their worth to the property.

“We also released ScoreBoard, what we’re calling a revenue intelligence tool aimed at replacing Excel as a reporting tool,” Benvenuti asserts. “ScoreBoard allows casinos to compile and analyze reports that can be shared instantly with stakeholders throughout a single casino or across an entire organization that owns and operates several properties.

“In real time, casinos can frame the big picture of non-gaming revenue for the property and can drill down on how different customer segments are contributing to profitability. Management can then make better, data-driven decisions on the optimal mix between comp segments and its cash business, and it can quickly coordinate efforts between the revenue management and marketing departments to tailor better direct-mail offers.”

Benvenuti says a number of customers prospered with sophisticated implementation of his company’s products. He says usage at Affinity Gaming, across all 11 of its properties, ramped up throughout 2016.

“By looking at our internal data, we can see the most popular pages within the app and how much time Affinity users were spending in the app,” he indicates. “In January, Affinity employees spent 25 hours on the Managed Rates page, the page where rates are recommended and then locked in and sent to the PMS. In December, Affinity users spent 446 collective hours on the Managed Rates page.”

From whatever angle vendors approach gaming and hospitality, they must manage the term “more.” What they offer can’t simply be reams of information. It must be drilled down into a money-making tool.

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Up-And-Comers

Several new entries into the gaming industry have brought disrupting technology that creates profits

While some heavy-hitting companies bring software to gaming, the sector also welcomes up-and-comers.

One of them is SpendSight Technologies, a four-person Vancouver outfit bringing its product by the same name to the market. SpendSight has one major deployment each in the United States and Canada, according to founder Kahlil Ashanti. The product has a unique aim.

“We target non-gaming spending, which is quite significant,” he says. “We help you track what I’d call the invisible whales. You may have players club members who come to your property, have dinner and drinks, use the spa and perhaps spend $5,000-$6,000 a month, and you may have no idea where and how they spend their money.

“We have a proprietary algorithm that allows this software not only to predict the behavior of the players club members but to learn their trends over time. It’s also easy to use (cloud-based, accessible via computer, tablet, etc.). You can log in and

instantly get a picture of 40,000-50,000 players. We also customize it for you. Who are your weekend warriors, who are your most valuable, who isn’t as valuable to you as you may have thought?”

Ashanti says SpendSght will continue testing its new product generation, completed last August, throughout the next several months. After that, perhaps more casino whales will become visible.

Sen-Sen-Sible

SenSen is one of the leading suppliers of Smart City solutions. The products impact retail, parking and transportation realms, helping cities upgrade their operations.

The Australia-based company helps its customers improve decision-making speed and accuracy, and to automate business processes. The company’s groundbreaking software combines enterprise video and sensor data acquisition, data fusion and big data analytics into a highly scalable and configurable platform, officials say. Gaming fits perfectly into its lineup.

All solutions are configurations of the SenDISA platform (SenSen Distributed Sensor Analytics), with the Smarter Gaming version tailored for the casino market.

Via SenDISA, businesses can capture video and sensor data from many sensing devices including CCTV cameras, time-of-flight cameras, GPS, radar, heat sensors, motion detectors, etc. An operator can track people, vehicles and objects in real time.

From a gaming perspective, the solution can track bet size and chip counts, money flow, player statistics, gaming department performance, dealer metrics, theoretical edge monitoring and a unique item—staff fatigue. Besides having a marketing and player-development purpose, the solution helps with security.

Meet the New Host

GGH, a partnership of Morowitz Gaming Advisors and Global Gaming & Hospitality, continues its new joint venture with Magnifact, a leading technology industry solutions provider, to distribute Casino Host Manager (CHM). The new product, announced late in 2016, is a proprietary data analytics innovation designed to manage casino VIP or hosted play.

CHM is a daily operating dashboard that will help casino owners, operators and senior management monitor performance in real time, make more informed, data-driven decisions about the profitability of individual VIP players, and quickly evaluate the effectiveness of their hosts and casino marketing programs. CHM will enable management to more effectively target and control promotional allowance spending, deploy marketing spend more efficiently, and assist in identifying opportunities to reduce overall spending, company officials contend.

GGH is a private global merchant advisory and investing boutique with offices in Las Vegas, New York and Atlantic City. It is led by partners Cory Morowitz, Carlton Greer and Michael Kim. Magnifact is a leading technology industry solutions provider and developer of software-as-a-service (SaaS) programs.

Author: Dave Bontempo

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.