|By Liz Benston, Las Vegas
SunMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
June 22, 2011--A mere six months after its opening, the Strip's newest megaresort has a new chief information officer.
Kris Singleton started work this week at the Cosmopolitan, replacing outgoing CIO Marshall Andrew.
Though not as high profile a position as that of many executive roles, CIOs are of growing importance in an industry that is increasingly using technology to eke out incremental profits in a tough economy.
Singleton is returning to Las Vegas after spending the last 3 1/2 years as CIO with Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants in San Francisco. She was I.T. vice president of business solutions at MGM Mirage from 2006 to 2008.
Though turnover is common in the corporate world, industry observers were surprised at the speed of Andrew's exit. Besides touting an indie music and art scene unique to the Strip, the Cosmopolitan has also boasted the arrival of the casino industry's most advanced technology, including a cutting-edge loyalty program called Identity, in-room technology and free Wi-Fi throughout the property.
Insiders say Andrew's departure follows a disappointing rollout of ambitious technology programs. In online reviews, some Cosmopolitan customers have reported problems accessing the property's wireless Internet network and Identity accounts as well as glitches with the high-tech, remote-controlled hotel room technology, including minibars with ultra-sensitive sensors that resulted in unwanted room charges.
Cosmopolitan executives declined comment on Andrew other than to say that turnover is par for the course when opening a new resort. Glitches have since been addressed, and the Identity program is off and running, they say.
"With the opening of any new state-of-the-art resort, there are going to be technological challenges," the Cosmopolitan said in a statement.
Unlike most gambling-centric rewards programs in the casino business, Cosmopolitan's Identity program aims to reward non-gamblers at a level comparable to what gamblers receive in return for casino losses. Spending $300 on a hotel room should be just as valuable to the resort, executives have said, as the customer who loses $300 at the blackjack tables.
To accomplish such goals, casinos must cobble together software systems purchased from various companies rather than relying on the advanced systems they already use to track what gamblers spend on the casino floor -- a difficult task made even more challenging at a $3.9 billion resort with 2,995 rooms.
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