TransAct’s Epicentral coupon and promotion system keeps players playing and casino hosts hosting
TransAct Technologies launched its groundbreaking Epicentral™ Print System at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas.
Epicentral’s suite of software and hardware enables casino operators to create promotional coupons and marketing messages and to print them in real-time at the slot machine. Moreover, the system works with and enhances a casino operator’s existing player database, rather than trying to build a new database from scratch.
“Epicentral is a way for casinos to take their existing Epic 950 printers and turn them into networked printers that print promotional coupons, marketing messages and to communicate with the players directly at the game while the player is playing,” explains Tracey Chernay, Executive Vice President, Sales & Marketing for TransAct.
“Any number of incentives can be provided. It could be to extend a marketing campaign, where say the operator is already doing billboard and radio commercials and can add a coupon at the game. It might be to move an uncarded player to being a carded player. It could be for entering people into slot tournaments or keeping your players playing longer.”
‘Groundbreaking’ is a word that gets used a lot in stories about casino technology but in this case it appears justified.
“What casinos have been doing up until now is running a member of staff out to the player on the floor just to give them their comps,” states Ms Chernay.
Epicentral Mobile Host
“Epicentral Mobile Host™ is a way for your casino host, as he’s walking around the floor, either with a smartphone or an iPad, to choose from his library of coupons and reward the player, on the spot, with the type of coupon the player’s interested in.
“By talking to the customer the casino host can adjust the coupon offer issued. If the host thinks coupons for a complimentary dinner would be appropriate but finds during conversation with the player that he or she has just eaten, then they can offer show tickets instead. The host uses the hand held computer to print the coupon from the slot machine there and then. Or you might want the player to play a little bit longer, so you enter them for a slot tournament,” adds Ms Chernay.
“Epicentral keeps the host with the player, communicating with them, versus running back of house to get a comp or to pick up a pre-printed coupon that might not be relevant.
“The casino host can even be talking to one player in one location, and send an instruction wirelessly and remotely to a machine used by another player across the floor, to print a coupon for that other player. All the host has to do is select the asset number of the device you wish to print from,” she explains.
Epicentral Server Manager
The ‘back of house’ parts of Epicentral that allow the casino host to stay front of house on the floor–making the connection with the players and giving players appropriate incentives to play consistently and for longer–is the Epicentral Coupon Layout Generator and the Epicentral Server Manager.
Epicentral Coupon Layout Generator allows the casino’s marketing team easily to design and save on a computer desktop any number of coupons or promotions to be used later on the slot floor. The user can import logos or other graphics onto the coupon and create and embed common barcode types, allowing casinos to track who is using their coupons and the effectiveness of these new marketing programmes.
“What we found is that casinos don’t generally have a way of laying out coupon design. They don’t necessarily know how to actually make the coupons,” says Tracey Chernay.
“Coupon Layout Generator is an easy software tool to allow them to make a library of coupons. That’s sent to Epicentral Server Manager where a library of coupons is stored and can be managed, distributed and provided with security features, so that for example the right customer has access to the right level of couponing. The system also keeps track of those coupons.”
A crucial feature of the Epicentral coupon system is that it works with TransAct’s existing and widely used Epic 950® printer. All it needs to communicate with the printer is ServerPort™. The ServerPort device is easily added and eliminates any new programming or resetting of the Internet Protocol address if the printer is removed or changed. ServerPort allows casinos to tie the IP address to the slot machine.
“We’re simply asking customers to leverage the investment they have already made with their existing TransAct Epic 950 printers,” states Tracey Chernay.
“We’ve said all along that the 950 is dual port and will support coupon printing. So customers like Wynn, Harrah’s etc that made the investment in the Epic 950, now, with a simple upgrade–ServerPort–can upgrade their existing printer. They don’t have to take their existing printer out.”
Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut has already agreed to equip 300 of its slot machines with the Epicentral Promotional Print System, and may extend that trial on a permanent basis to the other slot machines at the property that also use TransAct’s Epic 950 printer.
“We believe it’s a slam dunk,” Kevin O’Sullivan, Foxwoods’ Senior Vice President of Gaming said on the eve of G2E. An important element in persuading Foxwoods and in likelihood other properties to adopt Epicentral is its competitive pricing.
“We’ve said to the industry, ‘We know times are tough for casinos in the States’, explains Ms Chernay.
“Everyone is trying to leverage their investment. We want to give them a tool to have their players play longer but we also want to do it in a really cost-effective manner. So we’ve gone on a daily fee model, so there’s little capital expenditure up front. We’ll use that model in Asia Pacific also, including Macau.
“Even if an operator has old, legacy, printers from our competition, we will be happy to take those out and put the Epic 950 in on a daily fee model.”
The desktop interface on Epicentral Server Manager allows casino staff to set the parameters for rewards and coupon issuance.
“If I’m back of house and looking at my casino management system, I may see I’ve got a hot player and want to comp him,” explains Tracey Chernay.
“I can set a date for those promotions to be activated; I can add a barcode that’s linked back to my restaurant and point of sale system. There’s any number of selections I can make, whether it’s in Las Vegas for a show such as Blue Man Group, or for a show or event in Macau. I as the casino management choose the appropriate coupon for the appropriate player.”
Leveraging casino infrastructure
Epicentral can be applied to uncarded as well as carded players, by setting triggers for rewards via the Server Manager interface. But TransAct points out that Epicentral’s ability to use a casino’s existing database ensures operators aren’t being asked to pay twice for infrastructure.
“We’re simply asking casinos to leverage the infrastructure that they’ve already made investments in,” states Tracey Chernay.
“They have already made a big investment in their casino marketing system, in their restaurants, in their point of sale system, and in show ticketing. So we’re saying ‘We’re not going to duplicate that system’.
“We’re simply going to provide an open applications programming interface (API) for those systems to interact with Epicentral. It’s similar to an iPhone environment where applications can be written to the server. That’s the connectivity part.
“Some other suppliers involved in coupon generation systems are actually building a separate database to reward players. We’re saying ‘Just link into your existing system’. What TransAct does is provide the final mile on the journey to connect the player with the coupon incentive. It’s an innovative approach and the casinos are responding very positively to it, and we’re excited about its prospects.”