See full article in Indian Gaming Magazine

As part of Indian Gaming Magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board, HBG Design Prinicipal Dike Bacon was asked to share his insights and predictions for the casino resort industry in 2019. Here’s what he had to say…

There is an old saying in the gaming industry – ‘The most important customer is the one you don’t have.’ This is just as true today as it was 25 years ago. It is important to constantly study social, cultural and economic changes in search of important influences that will guide client investment and design directions. 2019 will be an interesting year of contrasts. The gaming industry has had the significant benefit of riding a historic economic tailwind, but that may start to change.

As the national economy evolves and potentially tightens, so may the wallets of the guests. Discretionary entertainment purchase decisions will continue to be more informed and selective. Guests will be willing to indulge on some higher-end experiences, but only for very specific things. Luxury, or at the least the perception of exclusivity, will continue to be a resort differentiator. The caveat is that guests will desire a luxury experience, but won’t necessarily want to pay for it. They will be willing to make certain trade-offs. As an example, guestrooms will continue to trend smaller in square footage, but will have higher levels of design, finish, and technology.

Guests will continue to dine out. As resort operators curate and offer more unique localized food and beverage offerings, margins will continue to improve. But all F&B offerings don’t have to be custom. The inclusion of national chef-driven brands and emerging regional brands will continue to be a strong trend. Technology will continue to condition people to demand more convenience. In-room technology that is complex or confusing can have the opposite effect. The Guestroom technology should be intuitive and user friendly. Guests will continue to become more engaged with a property and will demand a more effortless and personalized experience.

In a recent national hotel survey, 60% of hotel guests said they want higher quality service and a better overall ‘experience.’ This has produced things like the artificial intelligence driven chatbot called ‘Ivy.’ Ivy has already been implemented in some casino resorts. Ivy is powered by IBM’s Watson platform and has the potential of handling over 90% of guest requests. Watson is a question answering machine. One of the most interesting results of the guest/Ivy interaction is the amount of valuable data gathered about the guest’s resort experience.

The future success of the Indian gaming industry will be dependent on providing experiences that have cross generational appeal. One of the most interesting emerging generational connectors is health. The flagged hospitality industry continues to devote more and more attention to wellness as a differentiator. Wellness attributes can include things like increased sound attenuation, better artificial lighting and natural lighting, high quality air filtration, and organic materials. Implementing products and experiences that have cross generational appeal will continue to be one of the strongest trends for years to come.