Alpha Video is nothing if not unique. The Eden Prairie, Minn.-based integration firm was quick to recognize enormous opportunities related to digital signage. It even launched CastNET, a manufacturing brand for its own digital signage software solutions. That focus led it to another unique focus: the casino market.
During Digital Signage Expo 2016, VP of CastNET Group Lance Hutchinson chatted about integration opportunities related to the casino market.
Does the market play to Alpha Video’s strengths in digital signage and broadcast solutions?
I think it’s more that we play to their needs. When we first started, our first digital signage customer in gaming was Harrah’s Atlantic City. When we first went onto the property we saw that they had seven different digital signage systems in use. They had one in the convention center, one in the hotel, one on the gaming floor, etc. So what we started back then was the goal of looking at all the different places they used digital signage and doing all the integrations that are necessary to easily facilitate all those systems working under one digital signage system.
Does Alpha Video see a big upside, a lot of growth potential in the casino market and with those customer relationships?
We do, because we still see a lot of customers who are in this horrible situation [of having multiple digital signage systems in one facility]. Maybe they only have three [different digital signage systems], but even three is bad.
The reason they have three is because not every vendor takes the time to serve all the needs that casinos have in a particular area. We continue to see a lot of potential for growth primarily because we continue to add those integration links with other systems. When we go in, customers love having one system, one place to call for help.
What are the big trends and priorities when it comes to what a typical casino customer might demand for technology?
It really has to do with being able to change the guest experience. You have to create a guest experience that’s different than the place across the street or down the road or even 50 miles away. You have to positively influence those guests.
For example, when we integrate with gaming systems and we celebrate a jackpot by playing it on the media systems on the floor, you’re influencing the guests because you’re telling them things that they’re not seeing at the other property.
So the perception of luck and winning is different at your property than it is somewhere that they’re not using digital media the way it should be used. So where are [the customers] more likely to go? If they think more people are winning at property A vs. property B, where are they going to go back?
Who is typically making purchasing decisions for casino customers?
It’s usually a C-level executive. More and more it’s the IT director. It still sometimes comes from slots, too. Especially because AV is, more often than not, being rolled into IT, we’re seeing a move towards the IT director being the decision-maker.
Will a casino tend to purchase a service contract or managed services offerings?
Yes, they do, but they have to see a value in it. It can’t just be software updates. You have to be able to advise them. You have to have help desk personnel that can actually give good advice or solve a problem. So if [casino customers] see value they will buy [managed services]. If they can reach us 24/7/365, they’re in. Many companies are not ready to commit to that. A digital signage provider might say, ‘We’re here from 8 o’clock in the morning until 5 at night. You’ll have to wait until Monday.’
Can you think of any unique aspects to working with casinos that integrators might find interesting?
Casinos are still in the 1960s and ’70s in their technology in many respects. If you can help them understand new technology and weave it into their day-to-day work life, that’s a huge thing that they’re looking for. But so much of what is in use today was approved or was regulated, and because of that it doesn’t change quickly. This can present huge roadblocks or huge opportunities, depending on how you approach it.