Enhancing Customer Engagement

By Tamy Duplantis, VP-IT, Main Event Entertainment

Enhancing Customer EngagementTamy Duplantis, VP-IT, Main Event Entertainment

With millions of demanding consumers, media and entertainment companies are leveraging their data assets to identify their core customers, engage with each on a personal level, extend offers that are meaningful, and deliver a guest experience that increases loyalty. While data has become a cornerstone of most retail industries, it is especially vital to those in the discretionary spend category who must create a value proposition while delivering an experience that will drive return visits more often.  Through the analysis of offers extended, how guests respond to each offer, and their journey through each experience, we better understand our guests and what really matters to each one.

Main Event Entertainment is the ultimate “entertainment” destination. We offer a unique experience that combines state-of-the-art bowling, more than 100interactive and virtual games, a multi-level laser tag arena, a challenging gravity ropes course and billiards. Dining options include an extensive chef-inspired menu featuring burgers, steaks, specialty pizzas and much more, and a full bar, surrounded by TVs, serves innovative cocktails, wines and craft and local beers. We are the destination spot for FUN, where people of all ages can play a variety of games, eat great food and create memories with families and friends, whether they’re five or ninety-five. Our broad appeal requires that we really understand our guests’ needs, preferences and behavioral patterns to meet their expectations. We collect data throughout the guest journey including the offers and messages we send out as well as each guest experience touch point from the point of entry to the point of purchase at our bowl desk, bar, restaurant or kiosk, to the point of fun at each activity throughout our center. This data drives business strategies including games we add to our center, menu evolution, and offers that bundle food and fun in a way that puts Main Event Entertainment at the top of the consideration set for our guests.

Enriching the Guest Experience

Like most companies, we have migrated to a cloud computing model to reduce internal overhead, ensure business continuity, and scale easily with growth.

The goal is to create a frictionless experience for our guests and to literally put the control in their hands on their mobile devices.

Running our core platforms in a cloud enables a data-driven mobile architecture which – when combined with our Wi-Fi solution in the center – will allow us to create an interactive guest experience. We’ve delivered an online booking platform for birthday parties and bowling lane reservations, adding more ease and convenience to the guest experience via their mobile devices. In fact, most of our guests do engage with us on their mobile device, which is driving us to leverage our cloud and Wi-Fi architecture to deliver an enhanced FUN account to purchase, reload, check balance and redeem offers right from their mobile device.  The goal is to create a frictionless experience for our guests and to literally put the control in their hands on their mobile devices.

Wider Perspective: The Challenges in the Industry

As we are rapidly growing and evolving to next-generation solution platforms, there is a need to have an integrated infrastructure. The biggest challenge that the media and entertainment industry is currently facing is the need to build integration between multiple platforms and systems. Since there are no out-of-the-box solutions for our unique business, we must build integration between several operational platforms comprised of point of sale, bowl scoring, gaming, ecommerce and online booking systems, and multiple back-end cloud systems that run our business. As an emerging industry, media and entertainment lacks the power of analytics, which is vital for building business intelligence (BI) in today's world of big data and real-time metrics. As such, more companies, big and small, are pushed to build their own BI solutions in house, which requires significant time and investment vital for business growth. As an industry, we need a platform that integrates all the data points delivering data in a single pane of glass, enabling strategies, decisions and guest engagement. BI is crucial to empower critical operations insights through not only operating and financial analytics but more importantly via mobile metric apps, which allows our teams running operations to keep their finger on the pulse of the business in real-time. 

We’re continuing to deliver against a well-defined technology strategy that includes a secure infrastructure layer to implement integrated next-gen applications, which produces a gold mine of BI.   

The CIO’s Changing Role

There have been many shifts over the 20 years I have been leading technology in the hospitality and entertainment industries.  We have evolved from building in-house to buying subscriptions, moving from point solutions to integrated platforms, from investing in servers and IT engineers to hosting in the cloud, and from IT owning all systems to business power users owning cloud apps with IT in a supporting role. Like most CIOs, my role has changed from managing a large department of programmers and server engineers to leading a lean IT team that manages strategic partnerships with business leaders and solution providers. What we produce is no longer internally developed applications and databases, but instead tightly integrated cloud solutions with mobile enablement and real-time information.  My highest priorities are security, mobile and BI, which makes the guest the most important focus of a CIO.