1on1 with Teri Howe at Agilysys

1on1 with Teri Howe at Agilysys

Monday, July 17, 2017 Posted by James Walker
Teri Howe: ‘Our industry is going through a major shift’

US-based Agilysys develops next-generation software solutions that address the entire casino guest lifecycle, specialising in property management, point of sale (POS), inventory and procurement, analytics, payment processing, and mobile and wireless solutions.

These hospitality technology solutions are designed to streamline operations while helping operators create lasting connections with their guests.

With 2017 marking the 30-year milestone for Agilysys’ award-winning InfoGenesis POS solution, TotallyGaming.com caught up with the group’s principal product manager, Teri Howe, who looks back on the company’s past successes and ahead to the future of high-tech gaming hospitality solutions.

Totally Gaming: Agilysys celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. What are the most significant changes to have taken place in the POS technology sector during this time?

Teri Howe: InfoGenesis was originally created 30 years ago to meet the mission-critical 24/7 demands of the Las Vegas Strip and the gaming industry. Seamless offline capabilities are part of the InfoGenesis DNA. As networking technologies advanced, this became less important – until recently.

For decades, the focus was optimising operations. As technology increased in speed at a rapid pace, so too did POS applications. Screens were streamlined and optimised for different venues and workflows. Introduction of hosted POS allowed IT departments to relieve some system maintenance.

More optimised, efficient performance resulted in cost savings and, for many, additional revenue. Servers, bartenders and cashiers alike could complete POS transactions faster, which increased revenue, especially at locations with seemingly endless queues – buffets, popular lounges, concert concessions and coffee shops.

Recently, POS technology is focused on guest experience – whether it’s empowering servers to personalise interactions by accessing guest data and suggestions from POS to transformational impact of POS Mobility.

The award-winning InfoGenesis Flex enterprise POS Mobility solution is dramatically impacting speed of service and server availability, and this is having significant impact on guest satisfaction and revenue.

TG: Why is it important for gaming and hospitality businesses to ensure they have the latest POS technology integrated into their operations?

TH: Before POS Mobility, servers were well aware that the extra time spent running back and forth between guests and POS terminals orders would negatively impact the overall experience for guests. As the server smiled and did their best to get the orders efficiently and pleasantly, an invisible stopwatch was ticking in their head.

Gaming properties often have large service areas with obstacles or people to manoeuvre around. In these areas, mobile POS technology increases accessibility of service staff and optimises their workflows.

Perhaps the most notable improvement is the empowerment of front-line staff to bolster the property’s brand and service reputation. The payback for many gaming properties deploying a mobile POS solution can have a significant ripple effect. According to one study, a single happy customer inspires three brand new customers, while one angry customer scares away 10 potential customers.

TG: What are the main challenges currently faced by POS technology firms, and how is Agilysys working to overcome these hurdles?

TH: Our industry is going through a major shift. Tablet software and hardware providers see gaming as one of the top industries to report real value and reflect real need for mobile POS. Their requirements are informing the designs and plans of mobile POS developers.

As POS mobility and tablet software and hardware solutions finally meet the enterprise demands, even more opportunities and ideas will surface.

The latest changes to PCI protocols, and the constant adaptation of hackers that present security risks for POS technologies, are pushing the industry to evolve its technology capabilities at a rapid pace. Many POS technology firms are still facing the switch to the Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV).

For Agilysys, the switch to EMV means developing new technology standards, updating internal systems, employing specialised staff, complying with new liability rules and educating hospitality operators about the new requirements and their options to safeguard guest data.

Although these changes are seamless to guests, they are having a big impact for brands in terms of their payment security, EMV readiness and even their internal workflows.

TG: In which direction is the sector headed? Does mobile POS represent the future? What key trends do you expect to take place in the sector over the medium term?

TH: Throughout all the changes, the single constant is our focus on the guest and providing an increasingly more holistic guest experience. Combining player tracking and POS transaction history, servers can learn how often the guest has been at the property, what they ordered in the past, guest spend and possibly even the guest’s past reviews.

Servers will have information and tools to suggest items based on past orders, or their allergies or preferences. Properties will be able to personalise, creating richer, more lasting connections with guests, resulting in higher guest loyalty, guest ratings and greater revenue lift.

Mobile POS allows this great guest data to be readily accessible to servers at the point of interaction. Not only does it dramatically improve speed of service, mobile POS – especially when combined with runners – turns wait staff from order takers to becoming brand ambassadors.

Untethering POS allows operators to provide services and products where guests are located, being more attentive to guests while opening up new revenue streams.

Technology is finally catching up to take guest satisfaction – and revenue – into the next generation. There’s never been a more exciting time to be in our industry.

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