Question of the Day August 23, 2016
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Q:I recently stayed at the Flamingo, and used their self-check-in kiosk, which was awesome! Less than five minutes to check in. Why don't MGM Resorts and other properties offer this? I have spent hours standing in line at the MGM and Mirage when I could have been gambling.
A:What you saw was beta-tested at Caesars Palace "months ago," according to a company source (we first heard about it back in January of this year), the goal being to broaden and implement the technology at all Caesars-owned properties. Cost savings aside, the immediate consequences of taking check-in clerks out of the loop will include putting a crimp in the old Vegas tradition of trying to get a room upgrade by slipping the clerk an extra $20 at the desk.
We can certainly understand why Caesars would go this route, having witnessed some dispiriting backlogs (pre-kiosk) at the Flamingo and Harrah's Las Vegas. As for MGM, early in Aria's history its check-in computers crashed on a Friday afternoon, causing a human backlog that grew so large it spilled onto the gaming floor. An LVA staffer who was there to enjoy a comped, one-night stay opted to sleep in his own bed at home instead. (Whether completely automating the system would eradicate or exacerbate the number of similar technical "fails" remains to be seen, of course.)
Currently, three Caesars properties utilize the kiosks – Caesars Palace, the Flamingo, and The LINQ, with five more scheduled for conversion this year (Bally's, Paris, Harrah's, the Rio, and Planet Hollywood). "The kiosks rolled out last month at Caesars Palace, which is sometimes infamous for slow-moving lines at hotel registration. Hopefully the self-service option will speed things up," reported the Los Angeles Times at the beginning of the year. (Note that if housekeeping hasn't made your room ready by the time you check in, you'll be obliged to wait for an e-mail notification to that effect.)
While this mechanization trend may, on the whole, be good news for customers, it's very bad news for check-in clerks because Caesars' goal is "to completely automate the check-in process." We suspect the impulse for this conversion came from equally new CEO Mark Frissora, who knows a thing or two about the check-in process, having come to Caesars from the car-rental industry. He has certainly been vocal already about bringing the casino industry into the 21st century, particularly with regard to the slot machines it offers.
We surveyed other casinos, per your suggestion. The Downtown Grand has no plans to automate (and its small check-in staff handles customers quite promptly in our experience). SLS Las Vegas staff are not aware of any plans to automate. Ditto Treasure Island and the Golden Nugget. Station Casinos did not reply to our query but Boyd Gaming says it has no near-term plans to automate the check-in process.
MGM Resorts, with 4,000 rooms to fill at Aria, has already gone over to the automated check-in kiosk and plans to introduce them at "some" other properties. The timing of that move is yet to be determined. Wynn Resorts says "we are considering the option but do not have a timeline associated with it." That leaves, of the heavyweights, Venetian/Palazzo owner Las Vegas Sands. "As a general rule, we do not talk about our IT infrastructure," wrote Executive Director of Public Relations Keith Salwoski, "including future products. To that end, we do not wish to comment."
So, except for MGM, which has already dipped a toe in the self-check-in waters, Las Vegas resorts are uncharacteristically letting Caesars lap the field.
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