RFID Technology Helps Casino Resorts Create VIP Lounges
Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort (Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort) will use technology to create what it believes is the best casino facilities and VIP lounges. The resort has deployed an RFID-enabled card system to identify its most loyal players, including gaming floors and lounges for guests with VIP privileges, as part of an $8 million revamp.
The RFID solution here includes passive RFID tags embedded in loyalty cards, as well as readers installed in lounges and car parks. RFID read points may expand over time in the future.
The southern Mississippi resort and casino is the newest resort on the Gulf Coast, just five and a half years old. “When we opened, a lot of people thought we were doomed because the market is crowded right now,” said Ben Koff, the resort’s vice president of marketing.
Until now, however, the resort's business has been booming. “We’ve really established ourselves as a boutique resort. The resort’s focus has always been on providing the kind of amenities that traditional casinos offer to the high rollers, whose loyalty ensures the casino’s long-term success. Our VIP players are our One of the most important resources."
Cove noted that the resort's owners are gamers themselves, so they understand the need for a positive player experience. In recent years, many casinos have dropped elements of the gambling experience, such as personalization or VIP service, to focus more on revenue. Ultimately, all casinos feature the same games, machines and restaurants. "The difference is how you deliver the experience. Anyone can gamble anywhere. The question is what kind of service do you receive - what kind of experience do you have?"
Over the past year, the company has budgeted $8 million to remodel its facilities, with a focus on the casino floor to improve guest services. Of that, $4 million was spent on a new VIP lounge for a more personalized service. The resort sought to create a system where players felt a sense of intimacy upon arrival without swiping a card or introducing themselves.
These RFID cards have been distributed to some of the casino's top gamers since the RFID system was rolled out in new VIP lounges from the start. Each credit card-sized card is imprinted with an individual's name and identification number, and comes with a magnetic strip that can be used in game consoles. It's also equipped with an RFID chip that responds to interrogations from the resort's readers. A unique ID number encoded on the chip is associated with the card's owner. The resort declined to say how often the RFID technology is being used or the name of the reader vendor.
The RFID system has multiple uses, starting with access to parking lots and restrooms. “We see it as an access technology,” Cove said. When VIP guests arrive at the parking lot, they wave their loyalty cards within about 6 inches of an RFID reader. This saves them from having to insert a card to swipe for identification. "Until you have an RFID chip card, you don't realize how annoying swiping is."
Readers will also be installed at the entrances to the new VIP lounges, allowing users to wave a card over the device and the gilded wooden doors will automatically open. The first benefit is the convenience of contactless transactions. With RFID readers, the company creates the infrastructure so it can expand the technology to other applications. A VIP's data is linked to its card's unique ID number, so the system knows who has entered the VIP space and when.
The software can personalize the customer experience by displaying information about the customer's arrival at the parking lot or lounge. For example, reading an RFID card sends a message to the resort host indicating that a specific VIP is in the casino. If the VIP customer has booked a hotel in advance, the resort can prepare room keys and check-in for them in advance. Resort owners can also reach individuals via text message, welcome them to the resort and offer to meet them.
If the RFID card is lost or misused, the background system can deactivate the card to prevent it from being misused. With the RFID data, "we have a much better understanding of what's going on," Cove reported. For example, if someone you've never met uses a VIP card to get in, an SMS notification could be sent to the card holder to indicate that the resort has detected fraudulent use of their card.
Employees can also provide a more personalized experience by viewing data in the system in real time. For example, resort executives can reach someone on site. The card enables proactive communication, where they can go up and say hello, 'Hey, I know you're coming,' Koff said. It's a way of saying "we know you're here and appreciate your coming."
In the future, monitors in VIP lounges could name people entering the room and provide information about those guests, such as their favorite drink, so bartenders can prepare drinks for guests as soon as they arrive. "It makes people feel special. That's what we're all about," Koff said.
About 1,100 to 1,200 people have carried RFID-enabled cards so far. The company could also use the cards for additional convenience in the future, offering them to non-VIP visitors at certain events. The resort envisions an integrated system that would use one card to provide its customers with a variety of services, from room access to reception in shops, restaurants and bars, and casino machines and tables.
"We're looking at systems that can plug into all of these special experience points. I think RFID is really ready for that," Cove said.