Blog Post / August 19, 2020 / Industry Voices

Innovating Food & Beverage Strategy for the Guest of the Future: A Discussion with MGM Resorts

by Mikayla Walzog
Mikayla Walzog

What happens in Las Vegas (thankfully) doesn’t always stay in Las Vegas. Recently, SevenRooms’ Head of Enterprise Success Alexa Detzi sat down with MGM Resorts International’s Vice President of Food & Beverage Strategy, Andreas Reich to discuss food and beverage innovation for the guest of the future. Throughout the course of their conversation, they touched on many topics facing hotel operators today. These included how he and his team helped mitigate COVID-19-related concerns across their portfolio of properties, how SevenRooms’ guest experience platform is helping them build direct relationships and deliver exceptional experiences, and what the new era of hospitality will look like.

Let’s rewind to late 2019. MGM Resorts had one of their best years yet. To be more specific, 37 million customers were served within the four walls of 450 outlets, generating a whopping $2 billion in revenue. (Fun fact: A contributing piece of that revenue stream was 1.5 million pounds of crab legs that were served to guests!) 

In early 2020, MGM Resorts began exploring how to further leverage technology data in order to better their guest experience. Rumblings of a flu-like virus were making their way out of Asia, but few could have predicted that a global pandemic was about to hit. Come March 2020, MGM Resorts was forced to fully shut down their properties in Las Vegas for the first time in history. In doing so, they furloughed 63,000 employees, contributing to some of the nation’s highest unemployment percentages, topping around 30% in Nevada. For anyone who has been to Las Vegas, they understand “that these buildings are not meant to be shut down,” Reich said.

SevenRooms’ Head of Enterprise Success, Alexa Detzi with MGM Resorts International’s Vice President of Food & Beverage Strategy, Andreas Reich

From that point on, the gears were turning at full speed. Companies in every industry were propelled to create “initial response protocols” to stay above water. Part of MGM Resort’s response included charitable contributions. This included donating over 600,000 pounds of food to local food charities, and more than $11 million dollars given to staff through their emergency relief fund. Not one to miss an opportunity to take lemons and make lemonade, Reich looked forward to each new day because, as he stated, “there [was] something new to do and figure out” at every moment. As part of their response protocols, the MGM Resorts team started with creating a comprehensive safety plan to address changes across their properties for both staff and guests.

In Reich’s 20 year tenure at MGM Resorts, he’s seen more technology changes implemented in the last few months than what has been accomplished in the last few years combined. Keeping safety protocols top of mind, the MGM Resorts team tapped into SevenRooms to marry innovation and creativity with social distancing and contactless technology. Together, they created 1,000+ contactless payment options, 350 QR menu cards, 200 mobile ordering stations and 165 virtual waitlists between May and July. This technology touches every point of the guest experience at MGM Resorts, including their restaurants, cabanas, pool service and in the future, potentially casino table reservations. The data collected throughout the guest journey, ultimately, helps MGM personalize experiences and target guests with special offers tailored to their preferences.

Sadelle's at Bellagio’s Safety Practices in Action

The hospitality industry is resilient, and that’s not changing anytime soon. Continuously nurturing an adaptable mindset and implementing technology to help deliver insights for an exceptional guest experience are just two small ways operators can maintain success. Integrated technology enables MGM Resorts and other operators around the world to provide the same level of service, if not better, than guests received before COVID-19 hit. Though no one can guarantee what the future holds, we’ve been continuously shown the creativity and innovation of the hospitality industry, and know that the future looks bright.

About the Author

Mikayla Walzog

Mikayla Walzog writes about the intersection of technology and hospitality for SevenRooms. Her passion includes all things food & beverage and chipping away at her ever-growing bucket list of new restaurants to try.

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