Finding Your Way in Sin City

Finding Your Way in Sin City

Digital signage stands out even amidst the glitz and glare of Las Vegas

PROJECT: Wayfinding and communications at The Mirage Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV

Randy Dearborn, VP of Multimedia for MGM MIRAGE

EQUIPMENT: NEC Display flat-panel LCDs, ranging in size from 40 inches to 57 inches

lot of time thinking about the guest experience and how to maximize the enjoyment of guests and the effectiveness of conventions and meetings. One of the key elements of success revolves around communication — presenting the right information to guests at the right time in a format that catches their attention. In Las Vegas, there are a lot of things to look at, and capturing viewers’ interest can’t be accomplished with a static poster or a flyer at the front desk. The Mirage is a good example of “too much good stuff,” where guests rarely learn of all the choices they have for entertainment. Therefore, improving the guest experience is largely a matter of helping them find just the right activities and hidden gems.

Hotels of this size present logistics challenges for management and navigation challenges for guests. There are challenges with staff coordination as ballrooms and meeting rooms are refreshed for new meetings. Guests face many options for dining and need easy access to menus. People need way-finding systems to direct them to their destinations. The many entertainment and club alternatives can go unnoticed by guests who are looking for activities.All these communications challenges must be addressed in a casino atmosphere filled with slot machines paying off and the bright lights of Las Vegas. Communications solutions also need to fit the luxurious décor and add excitement of their own.

MGM Mirage addressed many of its communications challenges by installing a digital signage network, using flat panel LCDs from NEC Display. This allows flexible content to be scheduled throughout the hotel, with riveting live video in colors bold enough to hold viewer interest. An in-house team does the deployments and manages content. RESTUARANTS: Menu boards were one of the applications for NEC digital signage. NEC products such as the 40-inch LCD4020 are fitted with touch overlays for the hotel by Richardson Electronics and prior to that from Horizon Technology. Restaurant staff is also able to change specials and line items in the menu on the fly in a simple Excel spreadsheet, which then automatically updates the signs without needing to engage the content management team. The next project in the implementation is to allow reservations to be made right on the screen,

which becomes very helpful in the mornings, for example, when dinner restaurants are closed. This allows guests to review the menu, see pictures of the interior, and decide in the moment to dine there.

In the casinos, NEC digital signage was installed at the endcaps of rows of slot machines, visible to guests who are following the curving carpet walkways to their rooms. These screens promote in-house attractions and run advertising. Enclosures for the displays were carefully considered to give the right appearance, fit and finish. At the entrances to the hotel’s nightclubs, there are also large screen 40-, 46-, and 57-inch NEC LCD4020, LCD4620, and LCD5710 displays. These show video of the club experience to help guests think about the night ahead and pick the ambiance that best suits their tastes. These screens run 24/7 in many cases, so commercial-grade equipment is a critical consideration.

CORPORATE: Dearborn installed a digital signage system specifically for the hotel staff that pumps out employee information such as health benefits, 401K program details, employee discounts, and highlights upcoming employee events like blood drives, book fairs, and other fun diversions. It is known as ME-TV, or MGM MIRAGE Employee Television, and it includes live data streams to show traffic reports and other useful information.

EQUIPMENT NOTES: “I love NEC products, they’re rock solid, reliable and have great image quality,” says Randy Dearborn, VP of Multimedia for MGM MIRAGE. “I’ve had trouble with other vendors due to poor video scaling and burn-in issues. With NEC, it’s nice to buy something and not have to worry about it.” As an example, when the new Lion King signage was installed, some of the design team initially specified another brand, but Dearborn took the designers on a tour of other hotels to show them the problems such as burnin that can occur. They selected NEC as a result. As part of the focus on quality, the NEC displays are driven by digital DVI interfaces to create sharp, high definition images.

PROJECT NOTES: Looking towards the future, digital signage may be used to help the event staff in the employeeaccess areas, with diagrams and pictures on the screens showing how rooms are to be setup for specific meetings. MGM MIRAGE is also looking at enhancing communications options like sending offers to guests on their iPhones or portable devices, using optin marketing so those guests who want the information will get it. This builds on the overall philosophy of enhancing guest awareness of the options for their stay. MGM plans additional NEC digital signage through its properties this coming year and continues to test new uses for the medium.