CEM’s 2015 Hospitality Operations Technology (HOT) Awards

The sixth year of Casino Enterprise Management’s Hospitality Operations Technology (HOT) Awards presents a new group of this year’s hottest, most innovative products for hospitality settings. The awards drew a number of companies to submit their best products, with some new names earning well-deserved awards.

The HOT Awards honor outstanding products that make a positive difference in gaming and hospitality operations. One winner was selected from each of six different categories, reflecting a range of products to increase a casino-hotel’s efficiency and enhance revenue. The categories were employee productivity and efficiency, revenue generation, guest experience enhancement, self-service products, media and content management and Internet services.

A panel of judges faced the difficult task of selecting winners from many nominations. This year’s judges were Bob Ambrose, instructor of gaming and hospitality, Center for Hospitality and Sport Management, The Dennis Gomes Memorial Casino Training Lab, Drexel University; Wendy Reeve, CEO, RRR Consulting; Donald Kneisel, vice president and chief information officer, Resorts Casino Hotel; Arte Nathan, professor and executive director of The Center for Professional and Leadership Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; and Bruce Rowe, president of Renaissance Casino Solutions.

Each one of these winning products ranks among the best and hottest new technology available for casinos, hotels and resorts. We look forward to what these companies come up with in the future. Read on to learn more about this year’s winners.

Employee Productivity and Efficiency
VizExplorer—hostViz

Revenue Generation
Duetto—GameChanger

Guest Experience Enhancement
Scientific Games Interactive—SG Universe

Self-Service Products
VizExplorer—patronViz, powered by JOINGO

Media and Content Management
CastNET—CastNET SocialView

Internet Services
Traffic Generation—The Hub

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Employee Productivity and Efficiency
VizExplorer—hostViz™

VizExplorer’s hostViz, a productivity tool that empowers hosts with real-time data, won this year’s Employee Productivity and Efficiency HOT Award.

With hostViz, marketing and player development executives are able to focus and engage with those patrons who will provide the most ‘lift’, be more efficient and able to provide the right attention to a larger portion of their patrons’ list, and also create a unique and personal customer experience by having the right patron data at the right time. This allows casino hosts to identify and nurture more player-relationships and improve the casino’s bottom line.

One of the ways the hostViz system accomplishes this is by leveraging existing data maintained by the player tracking system, including Active Directory Identifiers, Players’ Assignment and Coding, Comps information, event information and any other available player data. The desktop and mobile versions operate on a VizExplorer data-analytics platform that easily accesses data from these sources without having to build a dedicated data warehouse.

Instead of manually checking multiple spreadsheets and systems for each player’s information, hostViz collects all casino player information into one convenient system to give hosts everything needed to offer the right customers the right offers at the right time. Hosts are then able to plan and execute player development strategies more efficiently.

A primary advantage of hostViz mobile is its ability to refresh compiled data and provide real-time performance information and metrics. It puts the power of real-time information such as call lists, RSVP data, comps, patron profiles, player pictures and trigger notifications directly in the hands of hosts, no matter where they happen to be on the floor.

This ability to analyze all player and gaming activity means hosts are able to spend more face-to-face time with prime customers. Hosts can interact with patrons right on the casino floor, with the ability to access those patron’s player activities from the convenience of their mobile devices. As John Fernandez, director of player development at Downstream Casino Resort, said, “hostViz provides us with a powerful, mobile tool to improve our hosts’ player-development efforts without the need to send data to the cloud. This capability was paramount to us as we sought to purchase a software solution that would increase profitability while protecting tribal sovereignty.”

In addition to enabling hosts and player development managers to offer more personalized service to patrons, hostViz also provides host managers with a strategic tool that enables them to measure host performance metrics with several management components. The contact and communication management components give hosts the ability to review player information and access calls, logs and emails. The task management component lets host managers create, assign and prioritize tasks for hosts who are then able to view and execute those tasks. Host performance gives host managers the ability to set and track the progress of goals for their hosts. Reporting includes the host managers’ abilities to review and analyze host performance reports, tasks completed, player calls made and more.

Already installed at 10 properties across the United States, the customizable hostViz software is changing the way hosts interact with players on the casino floor. By allowing users to be more proactive with customers and players who might have otherwise gone unnoticed, hostViz assists in boosting sales performance and improving the casino’s bottom line with efficient, real-time data.

VizExplorer expressed its honor and excitement at hostViz receiving the Employee Productivity and Efficiency award. VizExplorer’s Chief Technology Officer, Andrew Cardno stated, “These awards, in combination with the overwhelmingly positive customer response these products have received, validate our decision to expand beyond desktop-based data analytics solutions into mobile-enabled operational tools that enhance player engagement.”

Revenue Generation
Duetto—GameChanger

Duetto GameChanger has earned the Hospitality Operations Technology (HOT) award for Revenue Generation this year.

Duetto GameChanger is a revenue strategy technology that provides casinos unmatched flexibility and control, revealing new opportunities to increase revenue, enhance resource and business mix decisions, and to optimize total resort profitability. GameChanger uses new consumer-centric data to more accurately forecast demand and then makes it possible for casinos to price all room types, channels, dates and promotions independently of each other to maximize revenue and open the doors to all prospective business. This method is called open pricing and it can take an all-inclusive approach, dynamically determining the total value of each casino hotel guest by prospective gaming and non-gaming revenue potential.

For casinos that collect customer spend at the tables, slots, spa, restaurants, golf courses and retail stores, GameChanger can calculate the total value of each customer and customize offers and room rates based on each customer’s values. This helps casinos build customer loyalty and capitalize on non-gaming revenue channels. This is particularly important as non-gaming revenues account for increasing amounts of total resort revenues.

In a press release, Duetto’s Co-founder and Chief Analytics and Product Officer Marco Benvenuti said, “We see enormous potential in every aspect of pricing at casino hotels and integrated resorts. For example, complimentary rooms: Legacy systems follow a simplistic comp or ’no comp‘ criteria. Isn’t it better to offer a valued guest, who would not otherwise qualify for a free night, a discounted room or some other incentive instead of nothing at all? Casino hotels are also failing to leverage the value of various room types. The goal is to always get the right guests in the right rooms at the right times, maximizing all potential revenue. GameChanger empowers its users to achieve all this, and more.”

In addition to being a pricing tool, GameChanger can also be used across departments to best leverage valuable intelligence and collaboration to achieve better decision-making. GameChanger observes web-shopping behavior by looking at lost business regrets and denials, social review, air traffic, weather and more. The technology is then able to forecast far enough out that sales and marketing departments can target campaigns to address need periods and pull unnecessary offers. This allows casinos to fill rooms with gaming guests and increase revenue during peak off times. As Kenny Epstein, owner and CEO of El Cortez Hotel & Casino, said, “The Duetto solution has completely transformed our revenue strategy… Before implementing the system we didn’t have the visibility to understand where we were giving up margin and profit, and in a competitive market like ours, we could no longer afford that.”

As a completely cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) solution, Duetto GameChanger requires no installation or maintenance, which lowers the total cost of ownership for casino hotels. Users are able to access the software from any browser on any device without plugins. Updates are free and often, providing all users with the latest product instance. Additionally, GameChanger’s smart alert engine monitors, interprets and highlights areas of need so casinos spend less time collecting data and spend more time responding to market conditions and making the most of all potential revenue channels.

On winning CEM’s Revenue Generation HOT Award this year, Benvenuti said, “This is an incredible honor that further validates all of the team’s hard work. It is great to receive such high praise from both our customers and such an esteemed panel of judges. We really feel our revenue strategy technology can be a ‘GameChanger’ for this industry and are excited to help casinos truly optimize revenue across their entire property.”

Guest Experience Enhancement
Scientific Games Interactive—SG Universe

Scientific Games Interactive’s SG Universe won this year’s Guest Experience Enhancement category with its elegant and easy-to-use interface.

SG Universe is a product suite comprised of independent product verticals, each powerful in its own right, but even more so when operating as an interconnected offering. Three of the key SG Universe products include Play4Fun Network (P4F), Mobile Concierge (MC) and VenueBet (VB). In aggregate, they provide casinos the ability to engage their players with social casino gaming, mobile marketing and on-property mobile wagering (respectively), increasing brand loyalty and allowing casinos to build engaged online player communities anchored by a strong mobile platform and an unrivaled portfolio of slots and table games found on casino floors around the world.

The full-featured and multiple jurisdiction-approved VenueBet platform provides several functions including player account registration, ewallet, bonusing, deposits, withdrawals, accounting and reporting. The same game vendors and themes available on the gaming floor are available on mobile devices and tablets with the integration of SG Interactive and third-party content servers to the platform. Class III, Class II and community gaming contents are available to various markets via the SG Interactive servers and Bally, Barcrest, Shuffle Master and Williams game libraries are exclusively available to land-based casinos through SG Universe.

With SG Universe, each player’s personal mobile device can be used to experience their favorite games in wagered format anywhere on the casino property or in social casino format anytime, anywhere. Players can play in complete comfort and in the company of their friends, all with the assurance of a true quality gaming experience that includes the best content, best bonusing and best winning experience. The goal of SG Universe is to extend the gaming experience and to present gaming in a friendly and modern way in order to attract new players who may be unfamiliar or uninterested in traditional slot machines or physical table games.

The flexibility of SG Universe’s product design and user interface allows it to operate in multiple modes simultaneously so as to satisfy the maximum amount of player gaming preferences. Players are able to interact with SG Universe on their personal mobile devices anonymously, using a kiosk to deposit funds to use on devices. Players can also create an iGaming account, deposit funds, access the devices to play games and earn iGaming loyalty awards. For the ultimate interactive experience, players with an iGaming account can choose to link their land-based player card account to their iGaming account and earn rated play, land-based loyalty points, land-based rewards and experience all of the same table game and slot bonusing on their mobile or tablet device.

This integrated interface offers benefits for casino operators. Integrating SG Universe to a land-based casino management and loyalty system, all of the gaming floor benefits follow the player as he or she continues the gaming experience on a mobile or tablet device. This allows returning players the familiarity of their favorite games and benefits and, additionally, introduces new players who wouldn’t visit the gaming floor to the operator’s loyalty program. Operators are given new marketing opportunities to engage new players and grow the casino’s client base.

Scientific Games Interactive expressed its pleasure at receiving CEM’s Guest Experience Enhancement award and stated, “This award is a strong testament to the ability of SG Universe to empower casinos with cutting-edge digital gaming and marketing technology to increase the ROI they see on their biggest investments and value propositions—their casino property and their player databases—by providing the types of casino entertainment modern players prefer in a format with which they’re already familiar, anchored by the casino games they know and love from the Bally, Barcrest, Shuffle Master and Williams game development studios.”

Self-Service Products
VizExplorer—patronViz™, powered by JOINGO®

It was a close competition in this year’s Self-Services Products category, with each nomination coming within a point of another. However, VizExplorer’s patronViz™, powered by JOINGO® came out on top. patronViz is a player-facing application available on iOS and Android operating systems that allows players to directly connect with casino brands from any location using a mobile device. Currently there are six core features available, including the Mobile Players Club, Game Finder™, In-Casino Services, Targeted Messaging, Geofencing and property information content.

With the Mobile Players Club, players can log into their loyalty account and get information regarding their balances, offers, coupons and promotions, tier level and host information. Game Finder provides an interactive display of the casino’s gaming floor, all optimized for mobile. With Gamefinder, players can easily search and find their favorite game(s) on the floor. Casino Services can support property services such as valet pick up, drink orders and F&B orders. Targeted Messaging and Geofencing allow operators to target players based on location and send the right message at the right time. The ability to interact with uncarded players allows operators to provide information about signing up for loyalty programs, as well as informing them about promotions at the property. Finally, patronViz can offer directions to the casino, means to contact the various departments within the casino and the ability for players to review and share offers via email and most popular social networks.

Taking advantage of the integration of mobile phones in our daily lives, patronViz helps players to find the information that they are looking for, ask for assistance, review their balances and offers and more without the need to stand in line at a player’s club or a kiosk, thus increasing their time on device in the casino.

The product was rolled out as part of an OEM agreement between VizExplorer and JOINGO in March 2015. patronViz doesn’t require direct access to sensitive databases and requires no special changes to existing architecture for use. Additionally, VizExplorer manages all licensing requirements from both VizExplorer and JOINGO.

The existing Data Integration Hub from VizExplorer integrates seamlessly with patronViz, allowing operators to take advantage of the VizExplorer architecture and dataflow, combined with the JOINGO mobile loyalty product. For those already using VizExplorer products, patronViz also integrates with crmViz™, floorVizPLUS™ and hostViz™.

VizExplorer was honored to win two awards in this year’s award series. “These awards, in combination with the overwhelmingly positive customer response these products have received, validate our decision to expand beyond desktop-based data analytics solutions into mobile-enabled operational tools that enhance player engagement,” stated Andrew Cardno, VizExplorer’s chief technology officer.

“patronViz powered by JOINGO is set to revolutionize the way casinos interact with their patrons on mobile devices by combining the robust data offered by the VizExplorer Integration Hub and the JOINGO mobile loyalty system. We are extremely proud of the patronViz product and honored to receive this award,” said JOINGO Director of Field Operations Danielle Parsons.

Mickey Presiach, VizExplorer’s director of products, added, “We are thrilled and honored to win this award in the self service category. It reinforces our belief that mobile apps play a vital role for both casinos’ players and operators and continue doing so in the future. With the patronViz product, operators can seamlessly integrate with the VizExplorer platform and start utilizing its advanced capabilities such as targeted messaging, geo-fencing, mobile player’s club and game finder. For players, it is the perfect companion to instantly find information and get service without the need to stand in line at the player’s club or at traditional self service kiosks.”

Media and Content Management
CastNET—CastNET SocialView

This year’s winner of the award for Media and Content Management is SocialView from CastNET, a one-of-a-kind suite of digital signage products with two primary purposes. The first is to display tweets and Facebook posts from approved social media accounts. Once an approved social media administrator posts to Facebook or Twitter, the content is displayed on designated digital signs. Other digital signage operators have shown interest in these capabilities of the signs.

With SocialView, the information is streamlined to display on digital signage, websites and social media. Social media messages are displayed in eye-catching digital signage, all sent from one place. The digital signage can be branded for each specific location with matching colors and logos.

The second purpose was developed specifically for the gaming industry. CastNET SocialView supports tweets and Facebook posts generated by the slot machine or gaming device after a jackpot is won, without the need for human interaction. If the player used a player rewards card, the tweet or post includes the name of the game, first name of the winner, jackpot size and a hashtag. If the player did not use a rewards card, the announcement includes only the game, size of jackpot and hashtag.

CastNET SocialView has the ability to flag keywords to ensure tweets and posts containing those words are not accidentally displayed. The screen provides fresh content that can be set to scroll at specific time periods. The company can show it values its customers, and customers are encouraged to follow and friend the company every time they see a screen.

It can be a challenge to keep content updated and accurate on all of the different forms of social media used by a property. Entering the content multiple times on each different format takes up time and reduces employee productivity, during which time the employees could be interacting with customers.

Multiple approved accounts can post to the SocialView signs at the same time. These screens can be displayed in any location, including lobbies, event areas and waiting rooms. Patrons passing by can see the excitement on the gaming floor and may be encouraged to spend their own time on the floor as well.

The product is already installed at the Winstar Casino in Thackerville, Okla. The property is “extremely pleased with how CastNET SocialView encourages its guests to stay longer and play more,” said Lance Hutchinson, CastNET vice president.

The Winstar Casino no longer requires a digital signage administrator to schedule and monitor social media and jackpot related content, as CastNET SocialView is able to monitor alerts and signals from other software and support systems on the property and then broadcast jackpot celebration content to the video walls and monitors on the property. CastNET’s team of motion graphic designers and Alpha Video Creative Services worked together with the casino to design content for the video wall and monitors, ensuring a one-of-a-kind experience.

When asked for the company’s reaction to winning the award, Hutchinson said, “We are extremely honored and delighted to have been chosen as a winner by such a distinguished panel of gaming industry experts who Casino Enterprise Management selected as judges for this contest.”

Internet Services
Traffic Generation—The Hub

The award for Internet Services went to The Hub from Traffic Generation. The Hub collects information on casino customers’ online and offline activities, presenting it to clients in a series of marketing tools to drive player engagement and revenue. The Hub can help properties in a number of ways, including consistent and profound scrutiny of players’ online behavior; social community management; digital casino optimization; individually tailored experiences based on user data; improved communication with customers; game optimization; and digital marketing advisory services, including CRM, online acquisition marketing and player segmentation.

“This is a fantastic acknowledgement of the unique value The Hub delivers to its land-based casino partners. We designed The Hub with a clear purpose in mind: to make holistic, convergence marketing and player development work for casinos in an increasingly digital age. It’s so wonderful to see the CEM judging panel recognized our accomplishments, and we are incredibly elevated and grateful,” said Andy Caras-Altas, CEO of Traffic Generation.

The Hub provides useful information, including player demographics such as age, gender, purchase behavior and location. The program can also use emotional sentiment data to determine the player’s emotional state in social channels, allowing properties to engage with players who are having positive experiences or contact a player who is dissatisfied to address grievances or disputes.

If the casino offers a digital gaming platform, The Hub can track which games a player chooses; how long that player stays on the game; how many credits were wagered, lost and earned; and the amount monetized from every game. The information is displayed via interactive heat maps, allowing for optimal online game positioning for each player, just as would be done on a physical casino floor. These analytics make it possible to make player-favorite games more easily accessible.

Properties can use information collected on social media to defend brand reputation and address the needs and expectations of its different types of customers. As the only gaming-focused CRM system to include emotional sentiment, The Hub can track positive feedback, allowing the property to reinforce elements that are working, and any negative feedback can show what needs fixing to provide the best possible experience.

Players leave extensive trails of information about their preferences, which The Hub can aggregate and interpret. This information can be used to individualize guest experience on a property. From there, the information can optimize future guest experiences.

Additionally, The Hub enriches communication between property and customers, and allows for the identification of a customer’s preferred communication channel. Customers can therefore communicate with the property on their own terms. Properties can better cater to preferences and expectations of VIPs or handle crisis control more effectively.

Traffic Generation clients have reported an increase in all KPIs, including 20 percent increases in active player base, 30 percent increases in marketing ROI, 50 percent increases in average revenue per year and 60 percent increases in VIP average revenue per year. The Hub relieves properties of many expenses, and that increased revenue can be productively reinvested in the property.

“I remember being so impressed by The Hub when I first saw it that I decided this was a company I wanted to be involved with. This award is a wonderful legitimization of the work we have done in this space so far—and the perfect inspiration to continue,” said Jeff Connors, president of North American sales, Traffic Generation.

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