Ramesh Srinivasan was named president and CEO of Agilysys in January. Before joining Agilysys, he spent nine years with Bally Technologies, where he was instrumental in building a small systems unit into a $300 million annual powerhouse. He was later promoted to president, COO and finally CEO. At Agilysys, he is keenly focused on leveraging his comprehensive background in the gaming industry to drive the company forward as the industry’s leading hospitality technology provider. He spoke with GGB Publisher Roger Gros at the Agilysys offices in Las Vegas in October.
GGB: Agilysys has a lot of technology solutions for the gaming industry. But there’s other companies that do that, too. What is it that differentiates Agilysys from your competitors?
Ramesh Srinivasan: Especially with respect to gaming, our history includes a lot of gaming DNA. For example, our InfoGenesis POS solution started with casinos as the primary users, and shortly after that, we added LMS property management with a large gaming customer base. In fact, nearly all our products have some measure of the gaming industry’s needs built into their DNA.
This gaming-centric focus is not just evident in our products, but also in our people. You will find a lot of the Agilysys team has 10, 15, 20 years’ experience in gaming, and that includes me. Of course, this deep industry experience also applies to the non-gaming hospitality industries we serve. In addition, Agilysys is the perfect size for our markets. We’re in the $100 million to $300 million annual revenue bracket, which means we provide a higher level of customer service than very large vendors. We are very close to our customers, and they each get a personal level of attention that only a company of our size can provide.
Lastly, the breadth and depth of the products and services that we offer also sets us apart. Many of our solutions have been in the marketplace for well more than a decade, and we are constantly adding new features and capabilities. This, combined with the fact that Agilysys is the only comprehensive solution provider to focus exclusively on the hospitality industry, is how we provide a clear advantage for our customers.
Even before you left Bally, there was a strong trend toward non-gaming revenue. How important do you think that is today?
It is no longer only about gaming spend; it’s about non-gaming spend as well, and that has always been the key area in which we play. Between our solutions for the non-gaming parts of the casino resort and our robust integration with casino systems, we understand what our casino customers need in order to track and grow non-gaming revenue.
To accomplish this, our customers tell us they need a single view of the guest. They need to understand how much the patron plays in the casino, and how much the patron spends outside the casino. At Agilysys, we offer not only hotel property management and point-of-sale systems, but we also have software solutions for managing golf, spa, retail and food service. So, we are in a position to bring all that patron data together to facilitate the desired single view of the guest.
In addition, we have integrations with casino management systems, and other solutions that our customers use. With a product like rGuest Seat, for example, we can help customers to better understand the guest. When a patron comes to the restaurant, we provide the ability to address them by name, to understand their preferences, their allergies, their favorite table, and the food they prefer. So, as non-gaming is becoming more and more important, our role becomes more and more important as well.
In evaluating gaming and non-gaming spend, profit margins in a restaurant are smaller on food, but larger on alcohol. How do you balance that, and give the casinos a good picture of their non-gaming spend?
It’s about understanding the guest’s behavior, understanding their preferences, and thus their value. The casino industry—as is true of other industries—is only scratching the surface to address this challenge today. We have not yet taken it to where it needs to be.
With our products, we already provide a lot of information about guests, but we plan to do a lot more. Currently, the value of the guest is directly proportional to their spend. Agilysys’ technology is capable of providing insight into whether a guest normally stays in your hotel on a discount day, or even on a premium day.
Customers also want to know more about their guests. How often they play golf, for example. And what they prefer to do after golf. Access to this data is available, but the way each operator wants to look at it varies. We are progressing toward helping more of our customers access and analyze this information. That said, we acknowledge there’s still a long way to go.
Agilysys has been very good at buying companies, and also partnering with companies. How important is that to Agilysys that you acquire and partner with these other top-line companies?
We have very good partnerships with solution and service providers in every area. And we are good partners with competing companies as well. Not only companies that compete with each other, but also partner companies that compete with some of our ancillary products. Our philosophy and vision clearly is that we want to help our customers improve their guest experience and guest loyalty. That’s why we are in business. In fact, where we provide our own solution in some of those areas, but the customer happens to choose another product, we gladly integrate with them. We will do whatever we must to provide value to our customers so that they can increase their guest experience and loyalty. That is the only reason we are in business.