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How MGM Resorts leverages in-room tablets to fuel impulse purchases

NEW YORK – An MGM Resorts executive at Forrester’s Marketing 2016 Forum revealed how the hotel marketer uses in-room tablet devices to send trigger and time-based messages to guests, serving them personalized content and inspiring last-minute purchases that make their stays more enjoyable.

During the “Customer Understanding” session, the executive detailed MGM Resorts’ journey to leveraging tablet devices and data analytics to optimize guests’ experiences and collect valuable information about the amenities and activities they seek during their getaways. The brand wanted to undertake a more human approach to targeting consumers with relevant content, prompting it to tap a slew of mobile-first tactics – such as trigger-based messaging – to ensure that guests feel as though their stays have been tailored to their interests.

“We are reimagining what the hotel room should look like,” said Lilian Tomovich, chief experience officer and chief marketing officer of MGM Resorts.

Driving more profitability
MGM Resorts, which owns approximately half of the Las Vegas strip, sought to revamp its methods of collecting guest data, especially upon taking a closer look at the segmentation of its customers. Thirty percent of the company’s revenue stems from gamers – or consumers who visit for the sole purpose of gambling – while 70 percent comes from non-gamers.

However, its loyalty program was specifically geared toward its casino customers, which resulted in a missed opportunity to optimize the program for the majority of visitors.

“We have very, very little room for error,” Ms. Tomovich said. “Three hundred and sixty-five days a year, every hotel of ours is at 95 percent occupancy.”

This helped MGM Resorts realize it knew little about its primary customers, and that it needed to look at new channels of content and information sources to rectify this issue and drive more profitability.

MGM Resorts’ ARIA hotel in Las Vegas now boasts the largest installation of advanced touchscreen hotel technology in the world. Whereas six or seven years ago, consumers could use an in-room tablet to control the lights and drapes, the possibilities nowadays are much more prolific.

Guests can leverage the tablets to control their room temperature, television sets, do not disturb requests and lights and drapes, among other aspects.

MGM Resorts also significantly increased sales of room service orders by displaying enticing photos of meal options on the tablet devices.

Personalized sales triggers
The brand also discovered that guests are interested in receiving tablet content somewhat personalized to them. Consequently, MGM Resorts worked on customizing the welcome screen based on individuals’ reason for visiting, such as attending a bachelorette party or speaking at a conference.

It can then personalize the feed that appears for guests. For example, if the resort sees that a consumer is searching for entertainment options in Las Vegas, it can send him or her discounts for tickets to a Cirque de Soleil show.

MGM Resorts also leverages trigger and time-based messaging. The company found that the tablets are frequently used as personal alarm clocks, which helped it pinpoint consumers’ average waking times. This enables the brand to adjust its on-site personnel accordingly by ensuring it has enough bellhops and front desk clerks on staff at peak checkout times.

Even more importantly, the company uses this data to effectively message individuals about breakfast options. Time-based messaging has helped MGM Resorts see a 600 percent increase in breakfast orders, underscoring the lucrative potential of serving consumers the right content at the right time.

Additionally, MGM Resorts uses the tablets to remind customers that they cannot receive room service deliveries if their “do not disturb” signs are up. If a guest with his sign enabled attempts to place an order, the system will remind him to change his status so that he may receive his meal.

The brand also tests out new products and services by advertising them on the in-room consoles. It recently developed a miniature hangover kit – consisting of helpful items such as ibuprofen and water – and served messages to Las Vegas guests to offer them this product. It is currently one of the most popular items at the ARIA hotel.

Ultimately, marketers that tap into valuable customer data and use it to develop relevant services will be well-poised to garner more revenue.

“It doesn’t matter how much data you have, it really matters what you do with it,” Ms. Tomovich said.