Home CEM’s 2014 Hospitality Operations Technology (HOT) Awards

CEM’s 2014 Hospitality Operations Technology (HOT) Awards

The HOT Awards honor seven outstanding products that make a positive difference in gaming and hospitality operations. Nominations were divided into six different categories, with one winner selected from each (with the exception of the employee productivity and efficiency category, which includes a tie), and they reflected a range of products that make a positive difference in a casino-hotel’s operations. The categories are 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 poring through nomination materials to select a winner in each category. The judges deemed the winners were full of great potential to contribute to efficiency, performance and guest experience. These esteemed judges were Bob Ambrose, Drexel University instructor and independent gaming consultant; Drexel University; Wendy Reeve, chief executive officer, Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort; Donald Kneisel, vice president of information technology and marketing analysis, Resorts Casino Hotel; Charly Paelinck, chief information officer, Caesars Entertainment; and Toni Pepper, chief information officer of Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. and Ameristar Casino.

Each one of these hot companies absolutely deserves to be an award winner this year. They are at the forefront of new technology, and we’re excited to see what they come up with in the future. Read on to learn about these award-winning products and how your floor could benefit from them.

Employee Productivity and Efficiency (tie)
Casino Essentials, LLC—Customer Loyalty Online Training Program

NEWave—Audit Manager

Revenue Generation
Bally Technologies—Pro Wave

Guest Experience Enhancement
Bally Technologies—Take ‘n Play

Self-Service Products
Bally Technologies—Mobile Credits

Media and Content Management
Bally Technologies—CoolSign® 8K Video Wall Controller

Internet Services
Bally Technologies—Elite Bonusing Suite™ Social Link

Employee Productivity and Efficiency
Casino Essentials, LLC—Customer Service Loyalty Online Training Program
Casino Essentials, LLC’s Customer Loyalty Online Training Program, an interactive training solution created specifically with the casino industry in mind, won a Casino Enterprise Management Hospitality Operations Technology (HOT) Award for Employee Productivity and Efficiency in a tie.

Mindy Letourneau, managing director of Casino Essentials, said the team is thrilled to have won the award. “We are very grateful to have received this award and honored that we were considered alongside other prestigious gaming companies,” Letourneau said. “We are passionate about our industry, and excited that we have the ability to share that passion with others.”

The Customer Loyalty Online Training Program allows new team members to experience scenarios in an online environment before they occur on the casino floor. This allows casinos to supply new team members with the skills they need to provide exemplary customer service, develop customer loyalty and create a welcoming atmosphere. Team members can interact with virtual environments including, among others, the casino lobby, the gift shop and the cage with a cashier, creating valuable experience they can take to the casino floor.

Featuring ongoing customer support and user-friendly courses, this program revitalizes the learning experience. The content can be easily updated online to provide easy retraining or refreshing of current team members, providing casinos with a cohesive training system for all of their team members.

Users are presented with lessons, which are currently available in both English and Spanish, including the identification of different types of customers, identifying and handling customer needs, the importance of customer safety and handling conflict with empathy. In working through these lessons, the team member can even interact with on-screen patrons to provide a realistic and engaging training experience, making this one of the most efficient training programs available. These lessons are available 24 hours a day, including holidays and weekends, streamlining the user’s ability to work through the lessons at their convenience. At the end of lessons, users are presented with games and multiple-choice or true/false questions to provide immediate feedback.

The results of these quizzes can be accessed at any time to track how a team member is progressing through the lessons, as well as identifying specific areas with which a team member may be struggling. Trainers can restrict access to areas of the course once a specific number of failed test attempts have been reached to provide additional assistance. The program automatically provides certificates once the course has been completed. Real-time messages go out to learners, trainers and supervisors to alert them to enrollments, overdue and failed courses.

“The most common feedback we receive is related to cost savings,” said Letourneau. “The online learning programs have saved our casinos time and money, giving them the freedom and flexibility to focus on enhancing other programs.” There is no need to schedule team members for training with the Customer Loyalty Online Training Program, reducing expenditures on trainers and additional floor staff. This eases the difficulties in managing schedules of trainers and new team members, reducing the need for overtime and typically reducing the cost of training by 50 to 60 percent.

The implementation of the Customer Service Loyalty Program is “seamless and worry-free,” Letourneau said. “Even before training begins, we partner with the Casino to create a customized, consistent and coherent Customer Loyalty Program; allowing for a unified message, and ensuring exemplary customer service.” The system is managed entirely by the Casino Essentials team, freeing casinos from the necessity of hiring additional staff or training existing team members to use the program. Everything from new employees to training enrollments is managed by Casino Essentials based on the requirements of the casino.

Once the Customer Service Loyalty Online Program has been implemented, the Casino Essentials team works with the casino’s training staff to ensure the program is working successfully and plan for any future needs. The Team also provides “ongoing support and maintenance,” Letourneau explained. “Our team is dedicated to ensuring that the Customer Service Loyalty Program is a success and enhances your Casino’s service needs.”

Employee Productivity and Efficiency
NEWave—Audit Manager
Part of NEWave’s myRevenue Manager™ software, Audit Manager, which can be used at casinos large and small for gaming and nongaming operations, has won a Casino Enterprise Management Hospitality Operations Technology (HOT) Award for Employee Productivity and Efficiency in a tie.

Audits are tedious yet important functions with which all casinos are familiar. Audit exceptions can even determine whether a casino opens on time, reinforcing the fact that they must be handled efficiently. NEWave’s Audit Manager streamlines this entire process for any type of audit by digitalizing audit functions and making audit exceptions easy to find and correct.

“NEWave’s Audit Manager software makes a digital molehill out of mountains of paperwork,” said Chief Operating Officer Tom Bechtel. The software allows staff to digitize their paper records, turning it all into images and totaled columns that can be easily searched to find whatever is needed with only a few, simple keystrokes. This software makes it easy for operators to save money and reduce waste, while at the same time increasing employee productivity and efficiency.

It all starts with a checklist. With the new Audit Check List function, included with Audit Finding/Exceptions Reports, E-Forms and Workflow options, Audit Manager can import existing Excel checklists and can create new checklists to be assigned to the auditors. From there, reports can be generated on a daily, monthly and quarterly basis to ensure the required audits have been completed. All audits are signed with electronic signatures, providing easy real-time tracking.

Bechtel said, “It’s fantastic [to have won this award], especially because the judging panel consisted of operators, who are Audit Manager’s users.” Not only does Audit Manager increase employee productivity and efficiency, it also reduces waste and supports companies trying to “go green” by replacing previously used Excel spreadsheets.

The automated system scans, totals, balances and archives slips, scrip, tax forms and tickets. Once these have been stored in digital images, this information can be used to identify and locate missing and unredeemed documents and balanced against the casino’s host system. Any exceptions found automatically send notices to users so the difference can either be reconciled or corrected straight from the user’s own workstation.

All scanned documents are stored securely in the casino’s own digital archive, making reporting, retrieval and reprinting fast and efficient. The daily reports are more customizable and complete, giving operators a complete audit of all gaming documents. Files are automatically indexed for electronic storage.

NEWave’s Audit Manager is “field-proven to reduce auditing time by 50 percent,” Bechtel explained. This saves time, money and space, allowing operators to focus on other aspects of their casino. Another time-saving aspect of Audit Manager is the unlimited 365-day, 24-hour one-call support line, where the NEWave staff provides any needed assistance.

Audit Manager is currently available in casinos all across the country. There are numerous advantages to using Audit Manager, as many casino operators in the U.S. have already experienced. It increases productivity and efficiency by reducing auditor’s manual work. Because it reduces the time it takes to complete daily audits, Audit Manager helps reduce casino costs. By digitally storing all data and making it easily searchable, the amount of paper used can be greatly reduced, helping companies’ “green” policies.

Revenue Generation
Bally Technologies—Pro Wave
Bally Technologies’ stylish and innovative Pro Wave slot platform earned the CEM Hospitality Operations Technology (HOT) award for Revenue Generation.

The ALPHA 2™ Pro Wave™’s unique 40-inch high-definition touchscreen monitor got the judges’ attention. With its sleek, graceful inward curve, the Pro Wave, one of five Bally products to win a HOT award, delivers a new look and feel to the casino floor.

But it wasn’t merely the platform’s trailblazing form factor that generated buzz from judges. The Pro Wave cabinet’s concave game screen offers optimal viewing and increased interaction for players, keeping them engaged and delivering increased revenue generation potential for casino operators.

Players are drawn to the unique-looking video slot cabinet and then discover, upon sitting down to play, everything else the Pro Wave offers, including an elegantly integrated LCD panel, custom, game-synchronized LED backlighting, and the  iDeck™ multi-touch button panel as well as an optional 22-inch Pro Digital Topper™, according to Bally.

“We are very honored that the ALPHA 2 Pro Wave won in the Revenue Generation category,” said Bryan Kelly, Bally senior vice president of technology. “The Wave is a stunning cabinet that gives a brand new look and feel to any casino floor with its 40-inch concave high-definition monitor. But it’s more than just a pretty face: the cabinet’s curved touch screen provides optimal viewing and increased interaction for players.”

Bally Technologies is proud of the fact that the company’s entire library of video slot games for the Pro Series™ V22/22 and V32 can be played on the Pro Wave. In addition, four initial games have been developed just for the Pro Wave to take full advantage of its advanced features—Fu Dao Le™, Dragon Rising™, Super Red Phoenix™, and Super Rise of Ra™. Some offer the Red Envelope Jackpot progressive, a four-level linked mystery progressive triggered by a red envelope on reels one and five that rewards winners with enormous jackpots.

Fu Dao Le and Dragon Rising offer players new ways to win as 243-way games. Both offer  Mystery Stacks™ in the base game, which are revealed once the reels have spun, as well as the Expanding Wilds™ feature on reel three, in which a partial stack of wilds expands into a full reel. Super Rise of Ra and Super Red   Phoenix include Mystery Stacks in both the base game and free games, and Radiating Wilds™ in the Free Games feature. Radiating Wilds expand vertical and horizontally to make all nearby symbols wild, possibly covering an entire reel.

Pro Wave is already present on many North American casino floors and is expected to be availably internationally in the coming months.

Guest Experience Enhancement 
Bally Technologies—Take ‘n Play
Bally Technologies took the Guest Experience Enhancement category in CEM’s Hospitality Operations Technology (HOT) Awards for its innovative Take ‘n Play™, a product that lets players take their game on the go and play a physical slot machine on a tablet.

Take ‘n Play™, one of five Bally products to earn a HOT award, helps casinos meet the needs of players who want to leave their machine for a variety of reasons, from wanting to smoke or get a drink or having to get up when their friend or partner is ready to move on to another part of the property.

What makes Take ‘n Play unique is that it’s the industry’s first technology that lets the same slot machine game be played in more than one location. This product allows game content to stream directly from the slot machine to a tablet, so the game still takes place on the slot machine, with the tablet replicating the game screen.

“We’re proud that judges recognized Take ‘n Play for enhancing the guest experience,” said Bryan Kelly, Bally senior vice president of technology. “As a first-of-its-kind technology, this product will revolutionize the slot floor by allowing players to take their game ‘on the go’ for the first time by playing a physical slot machine on the convenience of a tablet.”

Judges loved the fact that Take ‘n Play empowers operators to leverage the gaming machines on their slot floor to generate more revenue and improve the gaming experience for guests by giving them the freedom to take their game to a different part of the property.

Bally Technologies also noted that Take ‘n Play is particularly helpful in jurisdictions that ban smoking or alcohol consumption on the slot floor because their gaming machines can continue to generate revenue even when a player has left to smoke or drink. It also offers players more freedom, so, for instance, if a player doesn’t want to sit next to a smoker, he or she can leave the machine and play the game elsewhere. Or if friends are playing next to each other, and one wants to go get a meal, but the other doesn’t want to stop playing, that player can play that same game remotely at the restaurant. Often two friends want to play their favorite games next to each other, but the games aren’t located close to each other. With Take ‘n Play, they can sit together in a club, lounge, sports book or some other on-property location and play their games remotely.

Self-Service Products 
Bally Technologies—Mobile Credits
Bally Technologies earned CEM’s Hospitality Operations Technology (HOT) Award for Self Service Products with its revolutionary Mobile Credits™ product that allows players to add credits to their game right from their mobile device.

Judges were impressed with this industry-first technology—one of five Bally products to earn HOT awards—that allows players to load credits onto their game from a mobile phone or tablet, capitalizing on the global adoption of mobile payments. Bally has stated the product will help attract the younger generation of players who are used to using their phones for just about everything. The technology also eliminates the need for players to make trips to an ATM or carry TITO vouchers on the casino floor.

“We’re very excited for our Mobile Credits technology and honored that the judges recognized its groundbreaking ability to allow players to load credits onto their game directly from a mobile phone or tablet,” said Bryan Kelly, Bally senior vice president of technology. “With this simple and secure technology, casinos can increase coin-in by reducing the time players spend away from a game while visiting an ATM or redeeming vouchers.”

Mobile Credits allows players to manage funds by loading credits onto a game through a simple application on their mobile phone or tablet. Players open the Mobile Credits app and transfer funds, which instantly appear on the credit meter on the machine they’re playing.

Bally officials said this solution is designed to enhance coin-in by cutting the time players spend away from a slot machine to visit an ATM or redeem vouchers and to enable operators to transition from a cash to cashless gaming environment. Another benefit is that it will integrate with Bally’s new Take ‘n Play product.

Mobile Credits works on any Bally gaming machine and requires minimal or no retrofits to the machine, and no changes to the player club card. Eventually as mobile and online gaming grows, Bally officials envision players will likely be able to use Mobile Credits to manage their funds across land-based casino, mobile and online gaming channels.

After downloading the application from an app store, players configure the app to link to a banking or credit card account. They can choose up to four secure authentication methods to ensure that no one else can access the funds: four-digit personal identification number (PIN), security question, image recognition or voice recognition.

Casino operators may require a player club card to use this technology. In that case, no modifications to the machine are necessary and the player’s existing club card can be used with no additional chip required. Other operators may prefer the no-card solution, which requires installation of an inexpensive beacon inside their machines that would detect when someone was standing in front of it, similar to technology pairing a phone to a Bluetooth device. In this case, Mobile Credits essentially replaces the player club card, with casinos still tracking their players and players still accumulating points.

Media and Content Management
Bally Technologies—CoolSign® 8K Video Wall Controller
Bally Technologies’ high-performance CoolSign® 8K Video Wall Controller wowed judges in CEM’s Hospitality Operations Technology (HOT) Awards, earning the company the award for Media and Content Management.

The new controller quadruples the previous power of Bally CoolSign’s Video Wall Controller by enabling 4×4 video with multiple regions of content playback using any 1080p monitor—with no loss of resolution. With the upgraded controller, up to 16 individual screens can be used for an amazing 8,000-by-4,000 pixel quality, the company said.

The next generation of CoolSign digital media and content management is a more powerful instant communication solution that is revolutionizing how casinos market to and inform players and guests throughout their properties. The new tool, one of five Bally products to win HOT awards, helps casinos manage huge video displays, whether on an outside sign, or inside on the gaming floor, in a concert venue or in a hotel lobby.

“We’re honored that our CoolSign 8K Video Wall Controller won this award,” said Bryan Kelly, Bally senior vice president of technology. “This next-generation technology quadruples the previous power of Bally’s CoolSign media-management solution, while increasing efficiency and decreasing costs for casino operators because no intermediary device is needed.”

The CoolSign Video Wall Controller technologies link directly into casino-management and slot-management systems, and provide real-time alerts to players about promotions, winners and last-minute specials for items such as show tickets, dining and even discounted rooms. CoolSign’s scheduling platform, which permits highly customizable playback, ensures that the right message gets to the right party at the right time, according to Bally.

Bally CoolSign’s 16 output video wall Player Node is powered by NVIDIA’s Quadro K5000 and K5000SYNC graphics hardware. CoolSign digital signage leverages the features offered with NVIDA Mosaic Technology combined with NVIDIA Quadro K5000. These features include Frame Lock, Genlock, Bezel Correction and application spanning.

RJ45 Frame Lock provides the power to synchronize multiple workstation display channels to create one single large display. BNC Genlock synchronizes the graphics output with an external source. Mosaic Premium Technology allows the system to compensate for bezels in the video wall for proper alignment of content displayed across multiple displays. NVIDIA Mosaic Technology creates one large, single display.

Internet Services
Bally Technologies—Elite Bonusing Suite™ Social Link
Bally Technologies took the Internet Services category in CEM’s 2014 Hospitality Operations Technology (HOT) Awards with its Elite Bonusing Suite™ (EBS) Social Link.

The new Social Link, one of five Bally products to win a HOT award, allows casinos to integrate the bonusing suite—allowing floor-wide, personalized promotions, second-chance-to-win events and the ability to earn valuable rewards—with their social media in real time.

Judges appreciated that the company’s Social Link technology is the only product available that allows players to post directly from a slot game to a casino’s Facebook page, encouraging more player engagement and increased excitement for individual promotions.

“We’re proud that the judges recognized our pioneering new Social Link feature that is part of Bally’s Elite Bonusing Suite,” said Bryan Kelly, Bally senior vice president of technology. “Social Link enables casinos to integrate bonusing events with their social media, making it a cost-effective social media solution that encourages a whole new level of player engagement and drives increased awareness for promotions.”

Social Link is included in the latest version of EBS, which makes it a cost-effective social solution for casino customers that have EBS and Bally’s iVIEW or iVIEW Display Manager (DM) technology.

Social Link’s first two features include Share Your Wins, which gives players the option to post a screenshot of their winning EBS bonus game directly to a casino’s Facebook page, and Like This Game, which allows players to touch a “like” icon on the iVIEW or IVIEW DM during an EBS bonus game and the “like” is immediately posted to the casino’s Facebook page wall feed.

A Reno-area casino already has used Share Your Wins to engage with players on its Facebook page to differentiate its gaming experience from that of its competitors, according to Bally.

This player-initiated Like This Game social feature provides a casino with valuable “viral” marketing opportunities to reach new customers, and also gives players valuable user-generated feedback about casino promotions.

Bally is currently working on developing more features for Social Link to deliver even more opportunities for casinos to integrate their on-floor casino experience with their online social media presence.

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