Technology-The third facet of Guest experience
By John De Angelis, CIO, The Star Entertainment Group [ASX: SGR]
John De Angelis, CIO, The Star Entertainment Group [ASX: SGR]
We know that the creation of a personalised and engaging guest experience is the key to customer loyalty. It’s something we try to master every day – via our hosts, our dealers, and our hotel and restaurant team members. In essence, to have our employees truly understand and know our guests and look after them as if they were family. The most significant change over the past 5 years has been the role of technology in guest experience, enhancing our ability to deliver personalised and thrilling moments at scale. We have approximately 18 million guests visiting our integrated resorts each year growing to an expected 30 million by 2022. It is our challenge to deliver a memorable and remarkable experience to each of them. Of course, the physical property is critical – the luxurious accommodation, award-winning restaurants and bars, high-end retail, theatres, event centres and nightclubs, and world-class gaming amenities. Then we have our people capability. Team members who create special experiences for our guests every day by hosting them for special occasions, welcoming them by name, knowing their favourite drink.
Now, with the emergence of new opportunities in big data, cloud, digital and artificial intelligence, Technology is becoming the third crucial facet of guest experience. Technology provides a crucial connector between the property and our service offering to elevate the overall guest experience at scale and, most importantly, in real time.
The most notable development has been the emergence of more affordable technology. We were always aware of the potential to drive guest loyalty and create more engaging experiences through better use of data. However, it came previously at such an unsustainable cost, and often with latency issues, meaning the opportunity to apply it during real time guest moments was lost.
The evolution of cloud technology (in particular in artificial intelligence and advanced data analytics) has been a game changer. It is now considerably more cost effective to house data and infrastructure, and we have more sophisticated software tools to put that data to use in real time.
Innovation around internet of things (IoT) introduces opportunities to use sensors, surveillance, wifi and operational technology to not only create personalised and in-the-moment guest experiences but also to make our properties safer. For example, sewing together our guest data with license plate surveillance delivers new opportunities to revolutionise the arrival experience for our guests.
Knowing when a VIP guest arrives means their personal host can be notified and a memorable arrival delivered, from preparing their favourite drink to reserving their favourite table.
This same technology also enables us to make our properties safer and more secure.
The digital landscape has changed the way most organisations use their online and mobile presence. API technology and software-oriented architecture is now expected and we have moved away from monolithic architecture. For us, the ability to quickly and easily integrate with external vendors is critical. There is always a new tool or gaming solution that none of our Australian competitors have, so we need to quickly integrate and have it in front of our guests as soon as possible to maintain a differentiated position in the market.
So, what’s next? Over coming years, it will be interesting to view the next wave of innovation. In particular, we will see big advancements in artificial intelligence to stay one step ahead of guest preferences. We will also see the emergence of new products in social and skill-based gaming and in-play facial recognition that not only more accurately recognises a guest but also their facial expression during play. It is hard to predict at this stage how these technologies will emerge or whether they will have true revenue driving potential. However, it is fair to say that Technology divisions have a big role to play in opening the door to new opportunities in guest experience and revenue growth.