BITAC Casino Resorts Panel: Creating Immersive Experiences in Hospitality

By David Berman | June 16, 2023

At casino resorts, and throughout hospitality, each property looks to make its mark on guests to keep them coming back. Immersive experiences, where consumers are transported to a new place using all of the senses, are one way to capture audiences’ attention.

Attendees at BITAC Casino Resorts, which took place from June 12-14 at the Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa in Las Vegas, experienced a discussion about this topic titled “Creating Immersive Experiences in Hospitality.” Shannon Kim, Vice President of Hospitality at figure3, moderated a 25-minute session with three panelists on the afternoon of the 14th. 

Alvaro Amador, Senior Principal/Landscape Architect at Lifescapes, talked about how every element of a property should carry a story. He cited Vegas properties such as the Bellagio and The Mirage, saying that each of them carry their own personality that’s transferred to the guest during their stay. 

Amador said creating these experiences is even more important for the younger generations, as many are looking to capture and share their travels on social media.

“Now we have different ways of capturing that, in creating what we call ‘moments’ where they can capture and display that, ‘I’ve been here. I’ve been there. I’ve tried this,’” he said.

Selena Durbin, Executive Director of Global Interiors at Las Vegas Sands Corporation, said creating immersive experiences doesn’t end at the design stage. Every department on the property level needs to be committed to immersing the guest. 

“We talk about design excellence all the time, and then we also have taught our partners in our hotels to talk about operational excellence, IT excellence, service excellence,” she said. “You can’t just build something and then not support it appropriately. I think that’s a huge part of just the experiential nature of what we do.”

Kim asked Cynthia Milow, Executive Vice President and COO of Purchasing Management International, how she takes experiences from design to execution. She said she tries to find talented artists who can take high quality materials and turn them into something special.

Technology has leveled up what an immersive experience can look like, Kim said. She cited a popular immersive Vincent Van Gogh exhibit that allows guests to step into Van Gogh’s paintings using thousands of screens, virtual reality and other tech.

Durbin said that technology can be a great tool to enhance and create new immersive experiences, but that it can often get in the way of creating memories for people. 

“It’s all about the service and making your guests feel something. I think sometimes technology gets in the way of that. It creates a barrier between your five senses and really just feeling and experiencing. If I go to one more concert, and I see a person looking at it through their phone …  it drives me insane. I’m like, just be in the moment and experience it. I think technology can be a great benefit, or it can be an inhibitor.”

The panel then talked about whether technology was the future of immersive experience design. Milow said she feels food is an avenue to create new experiences through creative presentation. 

“A chef told me years ago that you eat with your eyes first, and when you think about it, it’s true,” she said.


David Berman

David joined Hotel Interactive at the start of 2023. He previously worked as a page editor for Gannett’s Design Center and the editor-in-chief of The Daily Nebraskan. He graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with degrees in journalism, marketing and advertising/public relations in 2022.

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