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How Information Flows Through a Major Resort Hotel and Casino
Mark D. Smith
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Information Systems are all around us; they collect and report data, in order to provide management teams with the necessary information to make well informed decisions. I will focus on a specific market sector were Information Systems is an invaluable tool in providing Major Resort Hotel and Casinos and their management team, with data from their guests. We will start by taking a look at a brief history of Information Systems as well as a brief history of the Mega Resort Hotel and Casino as we know it today. From the time you make your reservation, drive into the Valet or the parking garage, to the moment you drive out, there is data being collected from you by the Resort.
Information Systems 3 How Information Flows Through a Major Resort Hotel and Casino So you and your Family have just driven up to the Valet line at one of the Major Hotel Casinos in Las Vegas. You step out and give the Valet Attendant your last name, and they give you a claim stub. The process has just begun. Now you stand in line for the next Customer Service Representative at the front desk. When you give them your driver¶s license and credit card, the CSR (Customer Service Representative) pulls up your reservation information, and then enters the information from your cards. All of this information goes into a massive information data base, and with that they make your room key, now the fun has just begun. Before we get up to our room and head out to the pool, let¶s look at a brief history of Computer Information Systems. Encyclopedia Britannica Online defines Information Science as ³The collection, classification, storage, retrieval & dissemination of recorded knowledge treated both as pure and as an applied science´. This is important to point out as every Major Hotel and Casino does this with the data they collect. As we will see, there are three major reporting sectors in any Resort. The information that is collected from them and turned into various different reports comes from the central data base. Modern Information Systems came online and started to evolve with the personal computer in the early 1980¶s. Remember when you received a printed ticket instead of a hand written ticket after you ate out at your favorite restaurant. This was due to the restaurant having a data base that talked to the cooks and kept tracked of your meal and drinks until it was time to pay the bill. The system would also print out reports for the restaurant manager. In K.C. & J.P. Laudon¶s book Management Information Systems. They break down the system this way. ³In the
Information Systems 4 Beginning there were systems that feed the company information, Transaction Processing, Management Information, Decision Support, and Executive Information.´ This process is the way that Resorts gather their guest¶s data and produce reports. I would add in marketing decision making as well, as this is the main engine that drives guests to the Resort. In 1987 a developer named Steve Wynn designed and built The Mirage Hotel Casino in Las Vegas, NV. This was the first Mega Resort Hotel Casino in the world. Steve followed that up with Treasure Island and then The Bellagio in 1998. (Since then Las Vegas has evolved into a quaint little resort town.) So now that we have a basic historical background of Information Systems, as well as a history of the Mega Resort Hotel and Casino, we can take a look at the current available Tracking Software on the market that all the Resorts here in Las Vegas use. Table 1. The available Tracking Software Systems on the market today. This data Was gathered from an article by Z. Wang, & H. Aquino. (2001). In Casino Technology: Player Tracking and Slot Accounting Systems.
Information Systems 5 Current Tracking Software on the Market Software Maker: Acres Gaming Inc. Alliance/Bally Gaming & Systems Casino Data Systems Software Name: Wizard/Acres Advantage Slot Data System Oasis/Windows Black Bart Slot Accounting CasinoTek Gaming Systems International International Gaming Technology Logical Solutions International Play Trak Casino Management System IGT¶s Gaming System Slot Marketing System Player Trak Slot Trak 2000+ Lodging & Gaming Systems System Source Inc. Mikohn Gaming Corporation Slot Accounting & Analysis Casino Management System Casino Link
Information Systems 6 As is noted, there are ten major software applications dealing with Player Tracking. If we look close, Slot Trak and Slot Marketing are integrated into half of the applications. This is because Slots are the top money maker in the entire resort, nothing else comes close to making the amount of money for the company than Slots. No matter which software package a Resort uses, they are a great tool for what has become Player Tracking, Accounting, and Player Marketing. So the next logical question is, how does the Resort track each player. The answer is the Players Card. You can go to the Rewards Counter at any Major Resort Casino and give them your name, address, and e mail. In return they will give you a card with your name on it, and a number on it as well. Every time you belly up to a 21 table, dice table, roulette table, slot machine, baccarat table, or the poker room, give the dealer your Players Card. By now we have checked in, relaxed in our room, walked around the Resort, and have signed up for our Players Card. Now before we have lunch or hit the casino, let¶s take a look at the major pieces of the Resort. There are three major reporting sectors in a Resort Casino. The first one is the hotel, second is F & B, (food and beverage), and the third is the casino. The hotel sector of the Resort will check a guest in, make keys, and check out a guest. The hotel will also assist with guest requests such as extra supplies for the room and room changes. Food and Beverage is a huge part of any Resort. It consists of room service for the hotel and all the restaurants and bars. However, the most action is in the casino. This is where you will use your Players Card.
Information Systems 7 Below is a chart of Player Card holders and the games they played in a given 24 hours. This data is what the Resorts Marketing department will use when they design and send out flyers with special offers on them. The data collected for this chart was from My personal employment with MGM Mirage. The numbers came from an actual report, using Acres Gaming Software; however that report cannot leave the Resort property.
Fig. 1. The actual totals for this data are from My personal employment with MGM Mirage. My position was Casino Floor Supervisor, which allowed access to this report. I was utilizing Acres Gaming Software at the time this report was printed. Now, as far as total players, if a player does not have a Players Card. That player will not get entered into the data base, or tracked by the software. The only information the casino will have,
Information Systems 8 is how much this player bought in for. Meaning how many chips did that player buy, and the Floor Supervisor will note what they are wearing. So if a guest does not get a Players Card, it will be difficult for the Resort to track them. However they will still get something in the mail from the hotel, because they do have information, and they will mail you something. Let¶s not forget the guest does get something out of using their Players Card, you will accrue points. With those points you can purchase food, or use them toward a room discount. This brings us to the Slots. There is no greater money maker at any Resort than Slots. Z. Wang, & H. Aquino. Talk about Slot tracking in (2001) Casino Technology: Player Tracking and Slot Accounting Systems article published in the UNLV Gaming Research & Review Journal this way. ³The player tracking software facilitates the casino in observing the habits of its customers. It essentially keeps track of the movement of the player on the floor by noting on what machine the player¶s plays, for how long, of what denomination, and what were his wins and losses. This gives management an excellent outlook on the type of machines that the consumer enjoys playing, as well as the ones that the player ignores.´ As we can see, the Players Card is networked with the 21 pit and all the Slot machines on the property. So the casino has fantastic records and knows exactly what you are doing as you build up points on your card. Speaking of networking, not all systems in a Resort talk to one another. A perfect example of this is made by Edward Watkins in a (1994 June) article in Lodging Hospitality called Betting on Casino Technology. Edward says this about having a networked Resort. "A player is at the tables all night and earns a high rating (making him eligible for a variety of comps and amenities). At dawn, he decides he wants to get out of town, so he goes to the hotel front desk to
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checkout, but the clerk doesn't know that his room and F&B (Food & Beverage) charges should be compensated. The clerk is embarrassed and the guest is mad, so no one wins. The problem could be avoided if the casino and hotel shared common files." This is very frustrating to the guest as is pointed out. The hotel and F&B and other departments in the Resort such as the pool and the spa are not networked into the casino and hotel. Nor does a guest use their Player Card at any of these areas within the Resort.
In order to be compensated, the manager of that department must pick up the phone and call the pool manager, and ask them to compensate Mr. Smith a large cabana for the day. The same goes for F&B compensation, the casino manager would need to write a voucher note for the steak house. If all the systems of the network could see each other, and be written to by each shift manager, for compensation, then Player Card points could be used everywhere in the Resort. As well as you would not have communication problems between departments, leaving the guest to be satisfied and make a return visit.
The departments that are networked are the hotel, food and beverage, as well as the spa. This is why a guest can charge to their room various things and activities throughout the resort. For the larger part, the major component that is not networked, is the casino and poker room. If all the components in the resort were networked, and available to all the shift managers, they would be able to compensate the guest and look at all their information. The operations would flow much easier and the guest would be less frustrated at times. This would also aid with the marketing aspect of operations. The managers and the marketing team would have a full view of the guest, and know
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everything they enjoyed at the resort, and what they paid. This would create even more focused marketing material, and allow both the resort and the guest an enjoyable return visit.
In conclusion, Information Systems are a vital tool for the entire management and marketing team within a Major Resort. The Players Card program allows the Resort to track and market to a specific player, and in turn, offer them special packages that are tailored to their likes. As with most companies, the data does not flow as seamlessly as we would like it to. Another obstacle that the corporate resorts face, is the fact that they have all the departments set up so that they must make a profit. This was not true 20 years ago. The owners knew they would make a huge profit from the casino, so they would compensate some food and rooms. As we now know how greedy corporations are, they rarely compensate anything. This has hurt business somewhat, on top of our worsening financial situation. That has put NV. At the top of the unemployment list, as well as nearly every resort losing between 5&7 million a month. This is of course an unsustainable path. But for the time being you will still have a wonderful time at any of the four and five star resorts, especially in this town. So as we drive out onto Las Vegas Blvd. and into the sunset, until next time.
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Information Science. (2010). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved July 11, 2010, From Encyclopedia Britannica Online: Laudon,K.C. & Laudon,J.P. (1988) Management Information Systems, Macmillan. Z Wang, & H Aquino. (2001). Casino Technology: Player Tracking and Slot Accounting systems. UNLV Gaming Research & Review Journal, 6(1), 43-56. Retrieved July 13, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID:110033813). Cash Systems Unveils Interactive Player Loyalty Product. (2003, August). Card News, 18(16), 1. Retrieved July, 2010, from Business Module. (Document ID: 380150331). Watkins, Edward B. (1994 June). Betting on Casino Technology. Lodging Hospitality, 50(6), 35. Retrieved July 14, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 23870).