Me, I like to fish. Any type of fishing will do—surfcasting from the shore, wading into a stream to flycast, even sitting on the shore of a lake or pond bobbing for sunfish. But there is one form of fishing I like more than the others; offshore, with my brother-in-law on his center-counsel fishing boat, zipping from spot to spot attempting to catch whatever might be biting at the moment.
One of the ways we are able to do this is through technology, specifically, through the use of the boat’s fish finder. It works much like sonar, which it essentially is—it detects schools of fish and tells what depth they are at. Then it’s just a matter of determining the type of fish they may be, selecting the right bait or lure that will attract them, and dropping the line to the proper distance to entice a strike.
Soon, this type of technology may be at a casino near you; at least that is the information I took away from a session at EMPOWER Systems User Conference 2014 hosted by Bally technologies last month at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. I sat in on a session entitled, “Emerging Technologies: Shaping the Future of Gaming” where Bryan Kelly, senior vice president of technology and systems gaming for Bally Technologies, discussed mobile wallet, cashless technology, Cloud applications and other innovative goodies that are making their way into the casino environment. The part of his presentation that interested me the most involved location and context awareness technologies, and how they could impact casino gaming and marketing going forward; specifically the possibilities with Apple’s iBeacon products.
For those unfamiliar with the technology, the iBeacon is a form of geo-location device for an indoor environment—it allows an operator to track and individual throughout a facility through the patron’s cell phone. It is already in use at retail establishments such as Walmart, where it is part of an indoor navigation and self-service checkout package, and Macy’s, where it is used to monitor traffic flow and send offers to customers via the cell phone when they are close to certain types of merchandise.
Kelly believes service-oriented industry will profit most from technologies such as the iBeacon, and envisions it being used on the casino floor as a customer relationship tool. “It lets you know who is on your casino floor in real time,” Kelly said. “It allows you to do things like send a host to a high-roller as soon as they walk through the door, or help track the behavior for uncarded players, which is a big deal for operators.”
In this month cover story on loyalty marketing, Stephanie Maddocks, founder and owner of Power Strategies, also alludes to an interesting casino marketing future involving mobile technology. Much like Macy’s, she sees casino resorts tracking a player throughout the property and sending special messages and to encourage play at a particular slot when the patron actually walks past it, or a coupon offering a 10 percent discount at the gaming resort retail outlet they happen to be in at the time. “You can geo-locate me throughout the casino, know exactly where I am as I walk through the property,” she said. “So why not go ahead and push offers to customers at the point where they can use them?”
Makes sense to me, and it’s much kinder than laying a baited hook in from of their path.