IT innovation at MotorCity Casino Hotel

May 17, 2018
Jacqueline Emigh

In the fast-paced world of casino gambling, David J. Nehra, CIO of the MotorCity Casino Hotel, uses innovative solutions with the help of CBTS to meet the needs of casino customers, management, and his technical staff.

MotorCity is one of three casino complexes in the Detroit metro area. The car-themed casino includes a 400-room hotel, ample convention space for business meetings, and special spaces for theater, musical entertainment, and private parties.

Nehra has responsibility for IT in addition to all AV, and intelligent lighting at the casino and hotel. He leads a team of more than 50 associates.

Lessons learned

Nehra worked in IT for several consultancies before joining the casino industry in 1999.  He was named to his current position at MotorCity in 2005.

Nehra is deeply familiar with many different IT systems and technologies. During his time as a technologist he learned the importance of thinking like a customer and personally engaging with the technology he uses.

Before instituting changes in technology, Nehra personally tests the new features along with his technical staff. MotorCity also conducts surveys and focus groups among casino patrons and hotel guests to gauge their interest in new technology.

Nehra is also keenly aware that while consumers expect the latest and greatest in electronic wizardry, they don’t necessarily care very much – if at all – about the technological underpinnings.

“I need to be a technology geek, but this doesn’t mean that they need to be,” the executive says.

‘Alexa, turn on the lights!’

As part of an upcoming renovation at the hotel, Nehra and his team are experimenting with an Alexa-enabled voice system for guest management of the casino’s luxurious hotel rooms.

“If we do our jobs right, when guests enter the room, they’ll be able to say, ‘Alexa, turn on the lights!’ or ‘Alexa, turn down the heat,’” he said.

Before testing the voice system with hotel management and IT staff, Nehra implemented the system in his own home and vacation cabin in the Michigan woods.

“My wife and my 72-year-old father needed to be able to use this automation system before we would proceed at MotorCity,” he said.

Keeping the noise down

A major problem for hotels is complaints from guests about noise levels. It can sometimes be tough to tell which room the noise is coming from, Nehra says.

Consequently, he is now rolling out various IoT devices capable of identifying a room that’s generating too much noise when guests are watching a ballgame on TV, or celebrating a successful night in the casino.

When fully deployed, the technology will monitor noise levels in each room and allow hotel staff to proactively engage with guests, and politely ask them to lower the volume or celebrate a bit more sensibly.

Nehra is also preparing to deploy a video management system, which will employ a variety of professional services from CBTS, with an eye toward possible expansion of that relationship into other areas.

Recruiting topnotch staff

Nehra has high expectations, but is flexible when it comes to employees who need to change shifts or work at home certain days of the week.

“We treat everyone with dignity and respect,” he said.

Nehra also mentioned that MotorCity offers an elaborate associate dining room, with all meals included at no charge, so they can take advantage of the excellent food at MotorCity.

“Turning mealtime into something really nice, offering perks, and being flexible helps mitigate the burden of work for your staff,” Nehra said.

To learn more about the CBTS Professional Services team, please click this link.

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