Thursday, May 27, 2010

Casinos: More Techie Goodness

Yesterday, we took a look at some new, exciting slot technology coming into the casinos. Well, it looks like the casino floor won't be the only part affected by new technology. Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas gave a sneak preview of what's to come at this week's Gaming Technology Summit.

Cosmopolitan’s chief information officer, Marshall Andrew, said during a technology executive panel at Tuesday’s Gaming Technology Summit at Green Valley Ranch that the resort is using technology create a “wow factor.”

Andrew said people will have to wait for a public relations blitz for specifics, but he said the technology will focus in three areas: server-based gaming, mobile apps and in-room technology.

The property’s website, which will be launched in June, will detail the technology better, Andrew said.

Like its neighbors Aria and Mandarin Oriental at CityCenter, Cosmopolitan’s in-room technology will feature a central remote controlling all of the room’s devices, Andrew reluctantly shared.

“They are going to have more features and functions,” Andrew said of the Cosmopolitan rooms. “Aria kind of laid the groundwork. A lot of us went over there and stayed in the rooms to check it all out. We saw things that we liked, but we saw things that we could improve upon, and that’s what we’re working on right now.”

So a Cosmo guest will be able to turn on the TV, open the drapes, turn off the iPod stereo, and handle every other electronic device/equipment with just one remote control. WOW!

And there's even more hi-tech goodness awaiting us outside the casinos!

Harrah’s put its first app for a property on the market in February 2010. Ceasars Palace allows users to check property maps, make restaurant reservations, check out current events at the property and even dig into the Caesars Palace history with photo galleries.

The app has 588 ratings in Apple’s App Store, with an average rating of 2 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Lane said the company developed the app to help its customers make decisions on things like shows and restaurants while on the property.

“Most decisions with our guests happen on the casino floor. That’s where you have to reach them,” Lane said.

Along with the Caesars app, the Harrah’s technology team also created a mobile site where customers can check their players club point balances in real time, a mobile slot game called iSpin and an initiative Harrah’s is calling “textpress” that lets guests bypass the check-in process at Caesars Palace.

MGM Mirage recently rolled out some mobile apps of its own. During April and May, the company released property-specific apps for MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, New York-New York and the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Miss.

More are under way for MGM Mirage Las Vegas properties, company executives said. The apps do similar things as the Caesars Palace apps — guests can make restaurant reservations, navigate their way with property maps and watch previews of resident shows on property. It also lets customers access the property’s Twitter feed so they can see what others are saying about the resort.

All three Las Vegas property apps have a rating of three out of five stars in Apple’s App Store.

And now, MGM Mirage is upping the ante with its own "Vegas Reality" iPhone app:

OK, so not everyone is excited about MGM Mirage's new app. Hunter at RateVegas explained the limitations of augmented reality (AG), and why most tourists probably won't be interested in holding their iPhones in front of them. Oh, and the app only provides details on MGM Mirage casinos... Understandable, but a little frustrating if one was expecting to use this somewhere like The North Strip, where there's only one MGM Mirage casino (Circus Circus).

And with all these technological advances, we'll have to wait and see how tourists react. So far, Aria's "fully integrated room technology" isn't getting overwhelming rave reviews due to the constant glitches. If Cosmo and other hotels are hoping to go in this direction, it will be crucial for them to ensure that everything actually works.

Otherwise, the future looks bright for more geeky techie goodness coming to entertain us, comfort us, and inform us here in Las Vegas. :-)

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