As has been said so many times in so many different contexts, the four most dangerous words in the English language are: “This time, it’s different.” Innovation and driving down costs are what made America the economic colossus that it is. These are among the immutable dynamics that must and will be observed. Lower operating margins combined with revenue growth attracts capital and creates winners and losers. The scope and pace of change might be different today, but the basic dynamic is as old as commerce. 

Of course, even the winners can make costly mistakes. Henry Ford revolutionized the world with standardization and mass production, but he got so hung up on costs that he only had one product (the Model T) in one color (black, because it was the cheapest) which opened the door for General Motors to use the same manufacturing processes to give people more choices and relegated Ford to second place permanently. Ford was a genius, but GM had a better idea of what people wanted.

There’s no template for success in an era of rapid change, but you could do worse than take a few days to learn from your peers about what may and may not work. In gaming, the humans and machines discussion is playing out in many different ways. This July, we’ll look at it from the point of view of owners, employees and customers at the Casino Marketing & Technology Conference at Caesars Palace, July 23-25. At last year’s event, one of the best-attended and highest-rated sessions was called, ”Maintaining the Human Touch in a Technology-Saturated Age,” not least because we got attendees involved, asking them to take the side of a human-first intervention or technology-first given specific guest situations such as ordering a drink, hotel check-in, restaurant recommendations, etc. One of our speakers from that session, Casey Cohen, CMO of The Hippodrome in London, will be delivering the opening keynote, entitled “Enabling Intuition in a Digital Age.” Here’s the description:   

As Casino Marketers are we posing the right questions around technology and innovation? And more importantly are we posing them as a society, economy, company, or individuals, and, what are our boundaries around technology?

A great casino marketer should want to be held accountable for their poor performance and conversely rewarded, for great performance. This requires certain uses of technologies, of course, but let’s be careful to ensure we don’t stop seeing the guest experience through the eyes of the customer. Where does the guest stop wanting technology to be their touch point and start wanting a real human being to help them? 

Most often we are not the first person a guest meets at our properties, but it is our responsibility to ensure we know our most loyal and valuable clients the deepest. We are the representatives and leaders of that segment of our guest population, and as marketers we should have a seat at the table and collaborate with leadership on the involvement of human vs machine when it comes to our guests’ touchpoints. This requires a level of balanced leadership that isn’t always easy to find.

Elsewhere, chatbots are catching on and in gaming Caesars Entertainment has led the way with their Ivy virtual concierge service created by Go Moment. In, “Ivy is in the House, Now What?” we’ll look at the issues facing regional casinos, who are drawn to the service’s multiple ways of improving the guest experience. Topics to be covered in this session will include how Ivy works; internal resource and organizational requirements; measuring the quality of guest interactions with Ivy and course correcting; and the habits of highly successful Ivy users. Trevor Taylor, vice president, managed services and consulting, VizExplorer will lead the discussion and the panelists are Raj Singh, founder and CEO, Go Moment; Brenda Barré, manager, mobile and digital innovation, Caesars Entertainment; and Leana Schlect, director of marketing, Lake of the Torches Resort Casino.

Of course, this is just a sampling of the event, which kicks off with a two-day Loyalty and Player Development Conference presented by Raving Consulting and will include a Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony for Robert Hamman, president and CEO, SCA Promotions as well as the Romero Awards for Excellence in Casino Marketing.

Full info is at www.casinomarketingconf.com