MGM Mirage Leverages Digital Signage to Elevate the Visitor Experience

| May 27, 2010

MGM MIRAGE owns and operates the most prestigious and well-known hotels and casinos in Las Vegas, including The Mirage, Bellagio, Monte Carlo, New York -- New York, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, Circus Circus, and the new and unique CityCenter.

In years past, MGM MIRAGE relied on static signs, from paper posters to etched metal plates. This was less than optimal because of printing costs, lead time, paper waste and personnel required to update static posters. Furthermore, advertising with static signs didn't allow for the rotation of ads, and wayfinding was a challenge due to the size of the floor plans of the properties.

"One of the top challenges we wanted to address was making it easy for guests to view dinner options, peruse menus and even make reservations. As guests stroll through the lobbies, this needs to be a simple process that is both inviting and appealing," says Randy Dearborn, VP of multimedia for MGM MIRAGE.

Facing many competing entertainment options, MGM MIRAGE also saw the need to promote in-house clubs, bars and shows using live video and custom content, to best portray the choices and convey the fun atmosphere of those destinations.

"Static posters weren't giving guests the feeling that our clubs were alive and full of action," says Dearborn. "We wanted to use video clips to set high expectations and show each venue's unique flavor to help guests pick the club they would enjoy most."

On the convention front, MGM MIRAGE also wanted to set itself apart from the city's increasing number of venues for ballrooms, events and meetings. Even with good convention space design, there are still challenges for conference attendees to find the next speaker or session. Wayfinding assistance is critical, and because of the continually changing roster of events, static signs were not a good option.

Rotating content
MGM MIRAGE addressed many of its communications challenges by installing a digital signage network, using flat panel LCD displays from NEC Display Solutions. In all, there are more than 400 large-format LCD displays in the MGM MIRAGE properties, primarily in 32", 40", 46", 52", 57", 65" and 82" screen sizes. This allows content to be scheduled throughout the hotel with live video. The in-house Multimedia Services team is responsible for planning the digital signage deployments, installing hardware and software, and managing day-to day content creation and scheduling. The team relies on Apple hardware and software, including the Mac Mini for players connected to the displays, and a special Mac version of Four Winds software to schedule content on the network of displays.

Menuboards were one of the high-value applications for NEC digital signage, and currently MGM MIRAGE has 20 restaurant touchscreens at six properties. NEC products, such as the 40" MultiSync LCD4020, are fitted with touch overlays for the hotel by Richardson Electronics. Restaurant staff is also able to change specials and line items on the menu in real-time through a simple Microsoft 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 to guests in the mornings, for example when dinner restaurants are not yet open.

NEC digital signage solutions were also installed in the casinos to promote in-house attractions and advertising, as well as the increasing jackpot values on progressive slot machines. At the entrances to the hotels' nightclubs are NEC's 40" MultiSync LCD4020, 46" MultiSync LCD4620 and 57" MultiSync 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.

Wayfinding done right
Another project MGM MIRAGE has undertaken is to dynamically change wayfinding information based on time of day so the hotels can highlight activities at the appropriate times, such as the dolphin show during the day and clubs or shows in the evenings.

Within the convention facilities, NEC digital signage also provides wayfinding content in several of the properties. Bellagio, Luxor and other properties have convention wayfinding LCD systems with touchscreen access to help attendees find meeting rooms or navigate the facility. Now, attendees simply touch the screen where they see the words, "Map it!" to get custom directions to their events. Content is constantly being updated to tell conference attendees where the next session is located and how to get there. The internal Multimedia Services team accomplished this objective by writing custom software to pull meeting details directly from the Daylight software system, which is used by MGM MIRAGE to run its facilities. Now, even meeting room doors feature 17" displays that describe the meeting in process and what is scheduled next.

"In our original pilot tests with digital wayfinding, kids loved it and seniors were less engaged. But in recent months, we have noticed the comfort level has increased dramatically, and more people of all ages are using the touchscreens and enjoying the convenience of our wayfinding systems," says Dearborn.

Back-of-house applications
Turning his attention to the back-of-the-house logistics, Dearborn has implemented a digital signage system specifically for the hotel staff that delivers employee information, such as health benefits, 401K program details, employee discounts, and upcoming employee events like blood drives and book fairs. It is known as ME-TV, or MGM MIRAGE Employee Television, and includes live data streams to show traffic reports and other useful information.

Looking toward the future, digital signage may be used to help the event staff in the employee-access areas, with diagrams and pictures on the screens showing room setup for specific meetings. MGM MIRAGE plans additional NEC digital signage throughout its properties this coming year and continues to test new uses for the medium.

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