Casino operators and suppliers must now attempt to take advantage of new global growth opportunities, adapt and respond to new online competitors, innovate to reach new audiences and develop features to enhance the player experience.

To address these trends, casino operators are being tasked with embracing many new or updated forms of technology. Whether on the gaming floor or in the count room, technology holds the key to delivering a more engaging customer experience, streamlining transactions and eliminating inefficiencies.

In a Las Vegas Sun article, Mark Yoseloff, executive director of UNLV’s Center for Gaming Innovation, has urged the creation of innovation groups within companies that “are dedicated to looking at ideas that are coming from outside the industry, from nontraditional sources.”  He explained how many of the recent examples of “true innovations” have resulted from looking outside of the “inner sanctum” and fostering relationships with forward-thinking companies.

Seizing first-hand innovation: In their efforts to innovate, casino operators should not overlook vendor relationships as a key tool for meeting their technology goals. By choosing vendors who invest in research and development (R&D) and possess strong patent portfolios, gaming organizations can reap some of the rewards of that innovation first-hand and more quickly accomplish their own goals.

While many in the gaming industry acknowledge that technology holds the key to overcoming current business challenges, others believe that the gaming industry has been slow to welcome technological changes over fear of alienating their existing customer base. Individual casinos typically do not have the staff or resources in place to fulfill all of their own technology goals. However, innovation-focused vendors feature large teams of engineers that are continually looking to develop the next big invention while enhancing current products to offer more features or make them more customer-centric.

Gaming and hospitality companies rely heavily on customer feedback, as that data can be used to tailor products, improve customer experience and spot trends earlier. Likewise, it’s critical that these companies share this feedback with their vendor partners to influence the development, design and engineering of new products.

Technology on all fronts: Looking to technology to improve security, efficiency and customer satisfaction has already paid dividends for the gaming industry, as casinos have embraced ticket technology and loyalty/customer tracking products. Further efforts to better the customer experience through innovation are surely on the horizon. We are already seeing properties add features to slot machines to make them multi-line profit centers capable of interfacing with smartphones via Bluetooth, vending and redeeming lottery ticket salong with race and sports betting, conducting real-time currency exchanges and streamlining tax form processing.

While new customer-facing innovations are important, casinos must also seek to become more productive in the back of the house. Innovative solutions for processing tickets, checks and currency continue to be developed and refined by partner companies, greatly improving productivity and cutting costs. By streamlining processes with advanced technology, operations can be positively impacted in the forms of increased speed and accuracy and a higher level of service, both internally and to customers.

Navigating your vendor options: With many vendor choices available, how can casino executives be sure that the companies they’re working with truly foster innovation and that they’re not purchasing outdated technology? The biggest clue can be to examine how much each company invests in research and development. By comparing R&D investments, examining patent ownership and looking at industry recognitions for innovation and product efficiency, casino operators can find trusted partners who can help position them for long-term success.

With innovation at the top of all gaming companies’ wish lists for the new year, it’s important to remember that these companies don’t have to do it all by themselves. Vendor partnerships can be an incredibly valuable tool, and this cooperative relationship can greatly aid casinos in meeting their goals.