Guest post by Randy Dearborn, VP of Multi-Media and Guest Technology for MGM Resorts International:
I’m the VP of Multi-Media and Guest Technology for MGM Resorts International. It’s a mouthful, sure, and apparently nobody outside of my business knows what I do. Let’s take the international part out of the equation for a minute, and just focus on Vegas. My company owns the majority of the Las Vegas Strip. That includes 42,000 hotel rooms, 350 food and beverage venues, 450 Retail outlets, 3 million square feet of convention space, plus a handful of showrooms, arenas and 1.5 million square feet of casino floor space. It’s my job to ensure that all of those properties are engaging guests positively, effectively and efficiently.
Still, I get blank stares. So I simplify my explanation even more: I acquire content and disseminate it accordingly. I create, control, and monitor the hardware, software, and content for over 50,000 displays on the Strip. When I talk about displays, I’m talking about everything from table game signage, through interactive wayfinding, and even large format displays like the 250 foot tall LED marquee outside the Aria. That usually does it. After they hear all that, people basically understand what I do. Precious few understand why though.
I’ve been all-in with Visual Communications since the beginning. You see, I could tell that this digital form of communication held a massive amount of potential especially with the hotel and casino industry. I met with FWI about 10 years ago, and David convinced me that he was ready and able to deliver the software, infrastructure and service that I’d been waiting for. He carried out his end of the deal, and we’ve been partnered up ever since. In fact, we keep adding screens and coming up with new ways to leverage what we’ve already got.
The ROI on these screens is why I do this job. It’s ridiculous. Using only our static screens, we did a 10-day ticket promotion for one of our shows and sold over 1,000 tickets. We also leveraged tablets to display drink and snack menus in our lounge areas, which increased sales by 37%. These numbers are not insignificant increases. I could keep going on and provide more stats about the customer facing applications, but you get the picture. Those possibilities are essentially boundless. One of the most surprising uses of Visual Communications, however, is not guest facing.
We deployed over 200 screens in our back of house operations, all focused on keeping the staff informed, engaged and happy. We can easily display local event information, as well as benefits information, weather, news and traffic. We also rotate through relevant operational content so everyone working on a given day is aware of what’s going on at that property.
We’ve decreased turnover, which is a tough thing to do in this industry, but the other side of it is more impressive. We found that engaged and informed employees provide a better overall experience for the guest. Even when we’re not using our screens to communicate directly with them, our guests still benefit. The sheer number of possible business applications makes communicating visually a no-brainer, and every way that I’ve used these signs has paid dividends.
Vegas places a premium on guest satisfaction. We have to. We live in the desert; if people don’t have a good time here, they won’t come back, and at that point, we’re just another town in the desert with nothing to offer. That’s the reason why Vegas is so spectacular. It’s why we always have something to offer, and it’s also what keeps us on the razor’s edge of technology and communications. We can’t afford to be anything but one of the premier, exciting and fun destinations in the world. I use our Visual Communications network keep us balanced on that razor and ensure that Las Vegas remains a beacon in the desert.