Allegiant Stadium has embraced Cisco technology to enhance the guest experience.

Jun 06 2023

Cisco Live 2023: How Technology Is Enhancing the Guest Experiences in Las Vegas

The NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders and MGM Resorts International are rethinking how fans and guests interact with their facilities.

Businesses that cater to in-person guests, including retailers, restaurants and hotels, sports teams, and entertainment venues, are scrambling to transform the experiences they deliver. They are beginning to recognize that technology can provide a competitive advantage — if they execute correctly.

For sports franchises in particular, this represents a marked difference from the way owners thought about technology just a few years ago, said Ken Martin, the director of global sales for sports and entertainment solutions at Cisco.

“When you’re sitting in front of these owners, a lot of them would just say, ‘You know what? We’re not going to invest in technology unless there’s a clear ROI behind it. Because we can just barter for it. You give us your technology, we’ll put your name in lights in the stadium somewhere and we’ll call it even.’”

That mentality has changed in recent years as owners have recognized that return on investment, said Martin, speaking at Cisco Live 2023, the large conference of Cisco customers, partners, analysts, journalists and others taking place in Las Vegas through June 8. The biggest difference is that technology is now seen as an enabler of sales and marketing by sports teams and entertainment businesses rather than as a cost center.

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Allegiant Stadium Is Packed With Behind-the-Scenes Tech

One organization that has embraced technology — especially Cisco’s — in a big way is the local NFL team, the Las Vegas Raiders. Matthew Pasco, the Raiders’ vice president of IT, who worked for the team during the years when it was based in Oakland, Calif., said the difference between running IT in the Raiders’ new Allegiant Stadium and running it in “the oldest, most dilapidated stadiums in the league,” the 57-year-old Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, is stark.

“It was a really old stadium with a lot of problems, and we were a co-tenant” with MLB’s Oakland Athletics, Pasco said. “We didn’t get to put in nearly the infrastructure that we wanted to in the stadium because we were only there one-tenth of the time that the other tenant was there.” (The Athletics are now also seeking a move to Las Vegas.)

Pasco said he spent a great deal of time during the planning stages of Allegiant Stadium traveling to other NFL stadiums, as well as those of teams in other sports, meeting with fellow technology leaders to understand what kind of fan experiences they were delivering with tech. “I was just soaking up the fan experience and seeing what worked for those teams, so that when we got this opportunity in Vegas to build from the ground up, I knew what kind of technology I wanted to put in to deliver the best guest experience in sports.”

Allegiant Stadium boasts cutting-edge Wi-Fi, cashless transactions for concessions, the ability for fans to have orders delivered to their seats, and the ability to order merchandise before a game and pick it up in a dedicated locker at the stadium. Allegiant also contains more than 2,000 screens with Cisco Vision.

The goal was to keep the tech in the background while empowering modern experiences, Pasco said. Rather than deploying “tech for tech’s sake,” he wanted the infrastructure inside the stadium to be “solid, seamless, and almost just go away,” allowing fans to enjoy the experiences the technology enables while keeping the customer at the center.

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Every Guest Experience at MGM Is Being Transformed

MGM Resorts International is also in the midst of a comprehensive digital transformation centered on the guest experience, said Jeff Crist, global CIO of the hospitality chain, which is hosting Cisco Live at its Mandalay Bay Convention Center. 

“It’s a completely changed dynamic from what it was just a few years ago,” Crist said. On casino floors, the mechanical devices that once dominated have been replaced by digital technologies. MGM’s mobile application is being infused with new capabilities that allow users to manage their entire on-site experience. Mobile check-in is also a major focus of MGM in order to reduce lines and streamline experiences.

“Across a number of verticals — hospitality, retail, gaming, food and beverage, entertainment, just to name a few — it’s all undergoing rapid digital transformation,” he said.

Whether you’re attending Cisco Live or not, follow us on Twitter at @BizTechMagazine and the official conference Twitter account, @CiscoLive, and join the conversation using hashtag #CiscoLive.

Photography by Bob Keaveney

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