Bracketbuster

I haven’t been writing much lately about the perils of being a PA Announcer with a lingering combination of sinus and ear infections. But the man who sits to my left in The Jungle, voice of the Jaguars Scott McCauley, wrote about his travels—and travails—with the IUPUI Jaguars. Good stuff.

Bracketbuster.

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improving the process.

Hundreds of years ago, in an effort to streamline check-in at hotels and inns, managers developed a system called a “line.” And that’s about as good as it gets.

Early last year I had cause to observe check-in processes at several Las Vegas properties: Venetian, Palazzo, Imperial Palace, Flamingo, Bally’s and Harrah’s. Regardless of amenities and opulence (or lack thereof), all had a common thread at the reservations desk: you stand in line. You wait your turn. The end.

It didn’t matter if it was the posh Palazzo or budgeteers’ favorite Imperial Palace, you have to wait in what can be a long line until it’s your turn to check in.

During my 31 days of living on the Strip last year, I had plenty of time to ponder while waiting to check into my hotel room. Surely there’s got to be a better, faster, more efficient way to do this, isn’t there? After all, you can print boarding passes to get on a plane these days. Shouldn’t I be able to get into my room quicker?

During my most recent trip to Vegas I spied self check-in kiosks at the Flamingo. Nirvana! They sat unused while a line of arriving travelers snaked through the lobby. Perhaps they were too new, too hidden or too scary. Nevertheless, I’m a fan. Here are a few untested, unresearched ideas I had for innovation at the check-in counter:

Self Serve Kiosks. So many processes can be automated. Why not this one? Instead of three or four warm bodies behind the desk, how about a bank of 10 self-serve kiosks with one or two CSRs to monitor and assist where needed.

Concierge-Level Service. This is a bit of a reach and will require some examination. But imagine walking into your hotel lobby and being greeted by a host (similar to a restaurant) who is holding all your information on an iPad and personally walks you to an agent (or kiosk, if you will) or bellhop to get you to your room? Given the level of technology we use to book our trips, shouldn’t we be able to walk into the lobby and get our keys immediately? Seriously, why can’t we do this? What’s so cost prohibitive about it?

Take-A-Number, BMV Style. Not really an improvement, but better than standing in a line. Okay, not an improvement at all. Never mind.

Eliminate Check-Out. Right here, you save resources at the front desk. In my estimation, there is NO NEED EVER to physically check out at the front desk. Leave your keys in the room and you’ll either be billed in the mail or the charge will appear on the credit card you used to reserve the room. The end. Fortunately, most Strip hotels already do this.

Just a few errant thoughts on a hot, Sunday afternoon.

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las vegas rock stars.

I’m heading to Las Vegas in a few days as a tourist for the first time in awhile. So I bumped around the Internet to catch up on attractions, places to go, things to see. There is no shortage of consumer reviews. But for all the oohs and ahs about Cirque du Soleil shows, nightclubs and restaurants, there’s one thing missing from all this: the human element.

Are there no websites out there where people can sound off on their favorite dealers and their favorite bartenders? Or concierges and hosts?

Las Vegas is a town driven by customer service. The better they take care of you, the better you take care of them, or so the axiom goes. Think about it. When you go on vacation to Vegas, you’ll talk about everything you saw and did (well, almost everything). And if you’re a gambler, you’ll talk about your dealers. You’ll talk about the cocktail waitresses. You’ll talk about the bartenders. So why don’t we have user forums to share those experiences with the wider audience?

Here’s a good example: every blackjack player who’s been to Vegas in the past 10 years knows Chicago Ken at the Imperial Palace. The guy is legendary, honestly. But why don’t we know any of the other dealers up and down the Strip? Good question.

Bill Simmons at ESPN.com’s Page 2 said a few years ago he things the big joints should let groups of players select their dealer for the night a la Bunny Ranch style. He makes a good point. If you’re a good dealer and you’ve got a group who wants to play with you and are willing to shell out the bucks to do it, why not? Everybody wins.

My proposal is an extension of that. Give travelers a better sense of the human element that drives Las Vegas. Granted, it’s tougher in the corporate culture out there, since that human element has been overcooked into metrics by bean counters. But it’s not impossible.

I’m wise to the fact that dealers and service types themselves would troll the site to either pimp themselves or throw others under the bus, so it would require intense moderation.

As much as I love the resorts, the shows and the sights, I love the people even more. It’s time we treat them like the rock stars they are.

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lv2k10.02: the return engagement.

I’m heading back to Vegas for a quick weekend in November. We’ll call this one lv2k10.02 (Version II). What was Version I? Living there.

I’ll be leaving on a jet plane from Indy on Friday, 19 Nov 10 to land at McCarran at about 10 p.m.; just as it’s about to start poppin’ in Vegas! I’ll go all out for about 36 hours before hopping back on a plane on Sunday morning, 21 Nov 10 and be home in time to catch Football Night in America from my living room.

Why the shorty? Because I miss Vegas.

And it misses me.

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