Rolling the dice on AI is a winning proposition for Grand Sierra Resort
Guests at Grand Sierra Resort (GSR) have no reason to leave the sprawling complex until it’s time to go home – and that’s a grand competitive differentiator in the Biggest Little City in the World. Reno is also home to the largest gaming floor in Northern Nevada, which just happens to be in GSR. The property, owned and operated by Alex Meruelo, who also owns the legendary Sahara on the Las Vegas Strip, has nearly everything a resort dweller or event planner dreams of.
That dream includes 2,000 hotel rooms, a resort & adults only pool, 50-lane bowling alley with adjacent eight-lane VIP bowling experience, multiple restaurants, 200,000+ sq. ft. of convention space, an arcade, movie theater, abundant shopping, casino gaming, and more. But what really sets this entertainment extravaganza apart is a relentless emphasis on delighting their guests.
“We truly believe that we have a culture of improvement when it comes to our guest service. We focus on anticipatory service, so we understand what the guests want before they actually want it,” said Danny Britson, the resort’s Senior Vice President of Gaming Operations and Guest Experience.
His primary focus is on gaming and revenue generation and providing guest experiences that draw return business. “Every property in town has the same slot machines and the same tables. We like to think we're a little better. Our owners aren’t afraid to spend money on our gaming products, and we believe that a healthy rebuild every year is vital to keep guests coming back and spending time at the resort.”
The casino is staffed by nearly 2,000 team members and hosts 3,000-4,000 guests on busy weekends. Britson oversees the guest experience team and is passionate about creating memorable guest experiences. He’s also keen on building teams that generate fantastic results, and on using language that supports them.
“Everybody that works here is a team member and every person that comes onto our property to visit us is a guest. If we think of people that we work with as team members rather than employees, we're going to treat them better without even realizing it,” he noted. In addition to spending millions on the property and buildings, the company is investing heavily in its team members, engagement, and providing a quality working experience.
The organization also bets heavily on leading-edge technology to improve casino performance. GSR uses the gaming industry's leading AI platform, Gaming Analytics, to analyze what's going on in the casino in real time. “We've been able to utilize those tools to really streamline the way we make our moves on the floor.” Britson estimates that GSR is the highest in the market when it comes to terms of moves and conversions on their slot floor.
Doubling down on tech has dramatically boosted their operational speed and agility. Actionable insights on database management, player analytics, and slot floor analytics enable them to make complex changes in 15 days rather than 30 to 45 days. “We're really able to focus on what's going to make us better and what's going to make us better more quickly.”
GSR also uses Gaming Analytics in the marketing department to better understand their guest desires and attract new and repeat business. Certain data, such as what kind of games attract non-smokers willing to sit in a smoking section, is only one example of how granular it can get.
“The faster we can react, the faster we get even better and the less chance we have of losing a guest that didn't have the experience they wanted,” Britson acknowledged. “Where is our business coming from? Where is our business lacking? The amount of data, the way we're able to look at it, and the speed at which we look at it is a huge benefit.”
AI helps Britson make crucial operational decisions, such as ways to vary games between volatile (think blackjack, baccarat, or craps) and nonvolatile (think slots and I-games), the denominations to use, and refine drop schedules. One of the casino’s AI needs was an electronic slot dispatch. In the past, the slot floor had been monitored remotely: a dispatcher would watch a panel of lights that indicated a change or a guest request on the floor and would radio an associate to provide whatever assistance was needed.
Now, associates on the gaming floor use handhelds to monitor and respond to those lights much faster, without the need for a dispatcher. The result: reduced labor costs and greatly improved efficiency.
“Our tech team is one of the best I've ever worked with. It's absolutely a joy to be with them and strategize about how we're going to get things done.” No matter how challenging the project, they always make it happen. “I couldn't be prouder of this team and everything they do for us because they make us successful and they don't always get the credit, which is a shame.”
Communication is essential to providing quality guest services, particularly at the superior level at which the casino resort operates. “My team does a phenomenal job at that, and we focus on it every single day,” he said. He insists that his managers talk with their teams about guest service daily. “The day you don't talk about it is the day guest service drops just a little bit,” he asserted.
In his view, when it comes to continuous improvement even a fraction of a percentage point is worth striving for. “If we try to be 1% better, it's going to be incredibly difficult. So let's work out how to be 1/10th of a percent better. If we can do those 10 times, we'll achieve the overall goal,” he said. “We are trying to achieve a lofty goal that's really unachievable.”
GSR’s market leading position and revenue growth has paved the way for a massive $1 billion future development project. GSR plans to add a 10,000+ seat arena, aqua golf experience, a water show, residential units, a new hotel tower and up to two parking garages in the coming years.
A native of England, Britson is a huge soccer fan and Manchester United supporter, which also influences his management style. Sir Matt Busby, a legendary Man U team manager from 1945-69, provided words that he lives by and encourages his teams and the organization to live by as well. “We strive for perfection, and if we fail, we might just have to settle for excellence.”
Grand Sierra Resort is the leading resort, hotel, entertainment, and meeting and convention space in Reno-Tahoe. With nearly 2,000 hotel rooms and over 200,000 square feet of meeting and convention space we offer the area’s most complete resort destination. The property offers a wide variety of accommodations for the everyday business traveler to the complete family vacation with amenities and unique venues that include 11 restaurants (such as Charlie Palmer Steak) retail shopping, headliner entertainment, a 2-screen movie theater, a 50-lane championship bowling center, outdoor thrill rides, aqua golf driving range and more. Reno-Tahoe has favorable weather year-round and more than 300 days of sunshine. Let us show you why we are the destination for exciting vacations and unconventional meetings.
2500 East 2nd Street
Reno, NV 89595
Homepage Link: http://www.grandsierraresort.com
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