Gaming and non-gaming realms reflect the urge to merge. Their shared world stimulates earnings, enhances the operator’s menu and may, collectively, enlarge the mega-resort revenue pie.
The tandem thrives by revealing multi-faceted, reward-worthy customers, like conventioneers who gamble or players whose betting history warrants hotel-tier, restaurant and entertainment discounts.
Some companies approach operators with products addressing one side of the equation. Some target both. Their overall efforts reflect a reality operators increasingly grasp. The big picture should not highlight gaming versus non-gaming spend. It ought to blend both.
Konami Gaming, the Las Vegas subsidiary of Japan-based Konami Holdings Corp., has been in the casino systems business since 2001, and its core technology supports nearly 400 venues. The company has thrived with Synkros, one of the industry’s leading casino management systems. Synkros supports a spectrum of large destination properties, cruise ships, local casino stops and entire multi-property portfolios.
“Synkros’ ability to deliver comprehensive enterprise-wide data analytics is what benefits our casino customers the most,” says Steve Walther, senior director of marketing and product management for Konami Gaming. “It pushes the industry forward by capturing and compiling data from across all connected areas of the property to create more meaningful customer relationships and experiences. It enables the industry operators to reach diverse player demographics with relevant communications and offers to drive targeted actions.”
Konami impacts gaming and non-gaming sectors. The company enjoyed a prosperous spring. In late May, it announced the launch of Synkros at Emerald Island Casino in Henderson, Nevada. Featuring more than 400 slot machines, Emerald Island is a high-traffic locals casino in the heart of downtown.
In April, Konami reported that Synkros had been selected by Tahoe Biltmore Lodge & Casino, a Northern Nevada resort property in Crystal Bay. With more than 200 casino slots and table games, Tahoe Biltmore is the first property on Lake Tahoe to introduce Konami’s leading systems advancements.
Synkros marketing solutions are powered by its Advanced Incentives Bonusing Engine. This rules-based system allows operators to automatically reward players based on a multitude of criteria. That includes patron loyalty tier, geography/demographic, events, historical wager, birthdays and anniversaries, with defined award types and amounts, through several communication touchpoints.
Yet developments like this only cover part of the patron spending dynamic. Walther considers the industry more conscious than ever about combining gaming and non-gaming efforts. The two sectors carry a significant benefit to revenue potential, property efficiency, data analytics, marketing effectiveness and player loyalty.
“Not all casino management systems are equipped to measure and analyze gaming and non-gaming spend in a single ecosystem, which prevents many operators from observing and implementing a cohesive total property marketing strategy,” he asserts. “But through technology such as Synkros, it’s available in real time so that operators have the most accurate and up-to-date information to identify and capitalize on opportunities.”
Walther says one of Synkros’ big values for casinos is its arsenal of tools that include floor-wide bonusing, targeted offers/incentives, kiosking functions, drawing tickets and integrated mobile touch points. The operator can watch these activities work together, and then leverage Synkros’ powerful business intelligence engine to optimize future marketing and operational activities.
The role of Synkros becomes more prominent in the integrated-resort era.
“By tracking a customer’s spending behavior via loyalty program-enabled devices at all customer touch points—restaurants, spas, golf, retail, entertainment, etc.—that information can be combined with the customer’s gaming activity to provide powerful insights that span all areas of operation,” Walther says.
“If, for example, one guest is strong on concert attendance and another is a core slot player, Synkros allows different carded player demographics to receive promotions and offers that are customized for their respective areas of spend. Various player segments can receive targeted offers which appeal directly to their purchasing behavior.”
Revving the Economic Engine
The Rainmaker Group, a leader in profit optimization and intelligence solutions for the gaming and hospitality markets, rides an optimistic streak.
In late May, the Alpharetta, Georgia company received an endorsement from the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino regarding the suite of revenue management and business intelligence solutions it deployed there late last year. Rainmaker officials say their innovations produced a significant increase in year-on-year revenue at Westgate, a popular casino resort featuring suites, on-site amenities and a prime location adjacent to the Las Vegas Convention Center. The sentiment was expressed roughly six months after Westgate bought Rainmaker’s guestrev, grouprev and revcaster solutions to optimize property pricing and revenues. Grouprev aided the team in managing its 200,000 square feet of meeting space.
“We have a multi-faceted business that requires a keen and detailed understanding of every area at every level,” says Geno Iafrate, president and general manager of Westgate. “This is of utmost importance in our revenue management practices, as it helps us to both forecast accurately and to turn the data that the system provides into actionable strategies.
“To get the granular-level view of the integrated data we need, a seamless and solid integration between our PMS, our revenue management system and all other systems relevant to the process is a critical factor. This ability to integrate with existing disparate systems is something that Rainmaker does exceptionally well.”
The unique math and science-based algorithms of Rainmaker’s revenue optimization and intelligence platform exponentially boost profits while providing revenue managers with an understanding of overall demand by value-based customer segments, Rainmaker officials say. With the guestrev solution, Westgate can optimize room pricing based not only on room revenue, but on the total value of the guest, processing data from multiple sources to forecast demand and set room rates.
The grouprev solution provides the tools to maximize revenues from group business, helping revenue managers navigate the complex and intricate data. The revcaster rate shopping solution provides deep insight into varying rates, shopping multiple channels to see what’s happening locally so hoteliers can monitor parity and maximize ADR.
In early May, Rainmaker announced record-setting growth during the first quarter of 2017, welcoming more than 200 additional properties to its rapidly expanding global client base. In addition to growing the number of users for its comprehensive platform of pricing optimization and intelligence solutions, many existing Rainmaker clients also expanded their agreements during this time period, with several hotel groups taking their current solutions portfolio-wide or implementing additional solutions from the Rainmaker platform to augment those already in use at their properties, company officials say.
“We are true believers in the positive results that our solutions bring to each hotelier and casino operator who entrusts us with their business,” says Tammy Farley, president of Rainmaker. “Our growth trajectory is a testament to our unwavering commitment to growing our platform.”
A Gem of an Idea
Alpharetta, Georgia-based Agilysys, a stalwart in the hospitality industry, has placed increasing emphasis on gaming in recent years. The era of integrated resorts plays into its original hospitality strength.
“The non-gaming guest plays a critical role for resort operators large and small,” says Darren Student, director of gaming sales for Agilysys. “Non-gaming is more relevant than it has ever been, driving occupancy at hotels and spending at food and beverage outlets, spas, retail outlets, entertainment, etc. Operators must not underestimate the importance non-gaming guests have on gaming revenue, not to mention overall brand loyalty.”
Student says the industry has reached a pivotal time when businesses must shift their approach to revenue growth. Transforming the guest experience is the new path to maximizing revenue, he asserts.
“Sometimes referred to as GEM (guest experience management), this transformation is essentially about creating a uniquely memorable time while on property,” Student says. “Positive experiences from available activities such as golf, spa, entertainment or dining will translate to improved brand loyalty, repeat business and increased wallet share. That’s the end game. To do this, we must see beyond the single transaction and instead have a 360-degree view of guest interactions at every single touch point throughout the property.”
How properties approach GEM is significant. For some large resort operators, non-gaming spend contributes more than 25 percent of the resort’s net revenue, Student says. And the integration into gaming becomes seamless when a hotel stay or coffee-shop purchase using a rewards card, for example, earns guest points that can be applied to casino credits, retail entertainment and other amenities. Student believes operators should consider digital programs that offer the added advantage of electronically capturing guest preferences and spending habits.
Speed, in a that-was-so-five-minutes-ago world, is a goal operators pursue to please patrons. It also has the flip-side benefit of quick feedback.
“Guests are always connected,” Student says. “Whether just arriving, at the restaurant, poolside or even after departure, they’re eager to be social about their whereabouts, their meals and their experiences. Properties that keep an eye on the popular social review sites for feedback will have an advantage in delivering quality GEM. These sites are a gold mine of guest stories that operators may not otherwise hear. Stories about what people like most, what they like least and occasionally, surprising feedback that requires the simplest operational change to correct.”
Student offers some tips for setting up the service. To utilize the innovation, properties must do some homework.
“Prior to implementing technology that supports GEM, consider the data that is readily available about existing guests,” he says. “Review this information and assess how well it informs the business about guest preferences and habits. Identify the top three to five initiatives that will allow the business to create an ideal experience. What else may be needed to be able to deliver on these initiatives? This doesn’t mean a unique guest experience is necessary for every single guest profile, but being prepared to select the most appropriate experience for the given profiles you’ve identified is key.”
The technology used on property must take into consideration the end-to-end guest experience, from recruitment to post-departure, Student asserts. There are certain technology solutions that will enable guest satisfaction and business objectives, but more than thinking about technology, operators should think about the experience they want to create for the different guest profiles. Once that’s established, he says, look at the technologies that will support those service levels and help meet business objectives better, faster and maybe even at a lower cost.
The non-player ratings world is extremely timely for Kahlil Ashanti, the founder of Vancouver-based SpendSight Technologies. Ashanti was tapped to host a panel on player development in the digital realm for the Canadian Gaming Summit in Vancouver June 19-21.
It focused on tools, trends and information to better understand our players in a digital world without losing the personal touch, Ashanti says.
“Panelists invited core discussion about the challenges we’re facing, given the increase in non-gaming spend, and we responded to them in a responsible, innovative manner,” he says. “The discussion included case studies, customer feedback and anecdotes from similar conversations from which we can learn.”
Ashanti was joined by fellow innovator Omer Sattar of Sightline Payments.
Like Sattar, who forged a niche in the loyalty-card market and then annexed the muscle of major companies like Vantiv, Ashanti espouses the responsiveness of smaller companies.
“One of the biggest complaints we hear from operators is that they go to some bigger companies, pay well into five figures to get something installed, and they get a ridiculous level of support, like what you and I get from a cable company,” Ashanti says. “Casinos are going to thrive in an ecosystem in which the software is agile and connects to other systems.”
Spendsight’s primary target is non-gaming spending, an appropriate focus in the ascension of that industry area.
“We help you track what I’d call the invisible whales,” he says. “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?”
Non-gaming’s emergence continues piquing the interests of casino suppliers. Large companies champion their array of tools. Small outfits pitch the absence of layered encumbrance and faster operations. However they approach the industry, companies understand that the wall between gaming and non-gaming concerns has come tumbling down.