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Blurring the Lines

By Abe Hong, SVP & CIO, Station Casinos

Abe Hong, SVP & CIO, Station Casinos

In the casino and hotel industry, mobile applications are blazing a trail to make the guest’s experience more interactive, convenient, and intriguing in all aspects. Various companies have rolled out applications that will allow the guest to access information about their venue without requiring them to set foot on the property. It is no wonder that the mobile device has evolved in so many ways since its conception. What was once a device created for telephone calls on the go has now evolved into a personal assistant for many-—whether it is for work or leisure. It fits in the palm of your hand, allows for multi level communication across the world—booking a vacation from the convenience of an app, while simultaneously updating social media platforms, thus announcing to all of the internet that you are Vegas bound—it's just another common daily activity.

"The push notifications through the app to the guest’s mobile device pull them into the casino to take advantage of the offers that are available to them in person"

Station Casinos is forging beyond the trend of the basic informational mobile applications for its 19 properties across Nevada and one managed property in California. Abe Hong, Senior Vice President and CIO, has envisioned a distinct path of digital ventures since assuming his role with the company almost four years ago. His digital strategy was designed to create valued connections with our guests, “at home, at work, on the go, and into our properties.” Two highly integrative products have recently been deployed to push forward this initiative and open an endless set of doors between the worlds of mobile and brick and mortar establishments for our company.

The self-service loyalty Kiosk that lives on the casino floors provides its user with the look and feel of a mobile device or tablet, creating familiar workspace in which our guests can interact, both comfortably and intuitively. The touch screen user interface responds to swiping motions that move through individual modules and menu choices providing simple and well-understood access to Kiosk functions. Each module is a defined category (i.e. My Points, Today’s Offers or Promotions), and allows the guest to complete transactions that otherwise would typically take place requiring human interaction at our loyalty assistance center. This is beneficial considering that the loyalty assistance center, unlike the Kiosks, is not available 24/7 and often involves significant delay times to get to an agent. In addition, the kiosk includes highly interactive marketing games that feature exciting guest interactions and full screen animation, bringing the kiosk experience to a different level.

The Kiosk provides our guests with a number of options for collecting and displaying information. A magnetic card reader and a bar-code scanner are offered as options to scan account numbers from guests’ loyalty cards or account numbers can be retrieved by the Kiosk from our mobile app running on the guest’s phone through either a QR code or Bluetooth low energy. Secure PIN entry, required for guest authentication can be performed through our encrypted physical pin-pad or through a virtual on-screen encrypted pin pad. An optical scanner is integrated to allow input via printed documents (OCR), bubble cards (OMR) or barcodes.

While on the go, the STN Mobile app encourages the patrons of Station Casinos to use the application intuitively and in conjunction with the onsite patron loyalty kiosks. At a glance, the guests simply download the STN Mobile app to their smart phone device or tablet and signs in with their established loyalty club card information. The option to sign up for a new membership is also available to the guest, allowing them immediate access to all of the ‘perks’ having a loyalty card entails without requiring them to visit the casino in person. The uniqueness of the app is the interchangeable ways in to use our products. There is a strong link between a mobile and what we provide on the casino floor. On the mobile application, the guest can access status level, receive promotions, rewards, make restaurant reservations, purchase movie tickets, and other features straight from their device. Many of these functions can also be accessed on the patron loyalty kiosk as well. However, some features work together. The push notifications through the app to the guest’s mobile device pull them into the casino to take advantage of the offers that are available to them in person. The guest can conveniently complete actions that affect their loyalty account from their device from the comfort of their home. Incentives are location based so that the guest can take advantage of them with just a few footsteps toward their favorite on site restaurant or slot machines.

The blur between the ability to access items from a mobile perspective as opposed to in person is what drives industries from a technology perspective. Also, it can be seen in other paths of business that are adopting this model by offering their services and products on the go. No waste of time at the guest’s expense waiting in lines. Nor is there a waste of money on additional hardware for a physical Kiosk. This practice of allowing guests, customer’s, or whomever the end recipient might, be- to utilize tools at their disposal to their utmost benefit is in the interest of everyone. This is not a new discovery about how businesses should move forward when introducing products. It is to acknowledge how technology has evolved in our society.