How Interior LED Design Elevates the Casino Guest Experience
For casinos, a captivating and exceptional guest experience drives success by immersing visitors in the environment, differentiating the casino among its target audience, and reinforcing the perception of luck and winning. LED’s visual impact, along with the technology’s flexibility, customizability, and the wide variety of content it can communicate, makes LED a uniquely effective tool to elevate the guest experience. And there’s no better way to realize the potential of interior LED than by incorporating it into casino architecture and interior design.
An elevated approach to casino design
Before LED evolved into the scalable and highly customizable tool that it has become, the technology was often seen as just another way to display information and enliven a casino’s ambiance. Today’s displays, however, combine ever-finer resolution and increasing brightness with the ability to display an endless variety of content in executions ranging from video walls to LED-wrapped pillars, concave and convex curved displays, custom-designed floors and ceilings, glowing archways, attention-grabbing marquee screens, and much more.
LED is so effective in the casino environment that industry pros have even coined the term – “techorating” – to define the practice of designing and decorating spaces with LED. Part of what distinguishes it from other display technologies and non-digital design elements is the flexibility and seamlessness with which LED integrates into architecture and design to enhance the guest experience.
Alpha and its content-creation partner, Render Impact, regularly collaborate with architects and designers to realize the potential of LED in enhancing a casino’s ambiance. But it’s also effective in targeted, strategic applications. LED can add excitement to a live performance space, transform structural columns into pulsating design elements, or change an anonymous vestibule into a realm of intrigue or a source of essential information.
Whether you’re building a casino from the ground up or updating an existing facility to stay ahead of the competition, LED provides new opportunities to deliver profound, and enduring, visual impact. Imagine you have a space to fill on a wall of your casino lobby. You could commission a mural for it – a true work of art. But no matter how impressive a non-digital design element can be, with repeated exposure guests will come to see it as wallpaper. LED “techorating” can evolve instantly in response to the time of day, day of the week, or the audience at hand. The experience is always new, and thus consistently powerful.
Imparting information vs. creating an experience
It’s natural to ask how interior design with LED departs from traditional AV installations. The answer may best be understood by asking another question: “What’s the difference between imparting information and creating an exceptional, memorable, captivating guest experience?”
The scalability, versatility, and seamlessness with which LED can be incorporated into a variety of environments make it a true game changer. “This technology goes well beyond individual TV monitors whose purpose is simply to convey information. When architects and designers collaborate with expert integrators and content creators, LED becomes a stunning, custom-fitted digital canvas that delivers truly memorable experiences,” says Todd Rickenbach of Render Impact, a leading creator of custom LED content for casinos and a longstanding partner of Alpha.
“Traditional LCD displays, even when connected to create a large, tiled viewing panel, are usually perceived as something attached to a wall,” adds Alpha design engineer Michael Redding. “Bezel-free, bendable, custom-shaped LED technology actually becomes the wall.” Or the ceiling. Or a ring or globe suspended from above. It can be a seemingly endless ribbon that curves with the contours of a space. LED’s flexibility, combined with the variety of images it can display, makes all the difference. Beyond mere décor, LED becomes a totally integrated architectural and design element.
LED not only impacts guests’ perception of a property, it can drive key behaviors. After all, the more immersive the experience a casino provides, the more time guests will spend not just on the casino floor, but in food & beverage outlets, performance venues, stores, and elsewhere. Guests will also return more often to the property and be more likely to share their experience off-premises.
Applications in the casino environment: The Muckleshoot Casino Resort
For a dramatic example of interior LED design, look to the Muckleshoot Casino Resort in Washington state, where Alpha and Render Impact recently employed cutting-edge LED technology to provide a stunningly memorable guest experience.
Visitors arriving at the main entrance are greeted by a 40-foot by 50-foot oval LED display cut into the ceiling of the porte-cochere and extending into the casino lobby, where two 165-inch wall displays and five LED-wrapped pillars immerse guests in custom, synchronized content. People entering the property from the parking facility pass under a series of LED archways, each displaying custom content driven by Alpha’s Scala digital signage system.
“Salmon fishing in the White River Valley at the base of Mt. Rainier is a key element of the Muckleshoot Tribe’s history,” explains Rickenbach. “In one of our very first meetings, Tribal leadership expressed a desire to use the archways to create an experience of being underwater, with salmon swimming all around you. Elsewhere in the property, guests are treated to a photorealistic CG rendering of Mt. Rainier, complete with meadows and an eagle flying overhead. Much of the LED techorating on display at Muckleshoot infuses nature, Tribal history, and artwork in a way that was very intentional and important to the client.” The experience is dramatic, memorable – and utterly unique to the property.
Solving design challenges with LED at the Route 66 Casino and Coushatta Casino Resort.
Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Route 66 Casino faced a critical design challenge: how to promote its Route to Riches cluster of progressive slots with a display that would be ultra-visible and clear to everyone in a large and crowded environment. Alpha proposed a 360-degree circular sign featuring dynamic content that alerted guests to the jackpot totals and directed them to the new Route to Riches Zone.
Route 66 Casino’s 360-degree LED display
Created with Planar’s CarbonLight™ CLI Flex™ bendable LED modules, the solution offered excellent off-angle viewing clarity, smooth playback of motion video, and high brightness. The display’s small pixel pitch also provided optimal clarity even from short distances. For the structure to display it all, Alpha turned to Draper for a custom-curved supporting structure that combined structural integrity with the seamless aesthetics demanded by architects and interior designers.
At the Coushatta Casino Resort, the principal design challenge involved introducing a true Las Vegas-style sportsbook venue in a crowded and contained environment. Close consultation with the casino resulted in a suite of tightly integrated features, including a spectacular 30-foot, 1.5mm Planar LED video wall and custom sports ticker display, complemented by a 70-inch curved sports ticker outside the venue.
The 30-foot, 1.5mm Planar LED video wall and custom sports ticker display at Coushatta Casino Resort’s sportsbook.
Experiential vs. Informational: 3D displays on flat surfaces
“Techorating” with LED provides an opportunity to create experiences that are surreal and Instagrammable. “We often do 3D displays on flat surfaces of 10 feet or more, with a fine 1.2mm pixel pitch,” says Render Impact’s Todd Rickenbach. “The illusion of depth causes people to stop in their tracks. They feel a need to test reality by touching the screen. The ‘wow factor’ is so pronounced that guests invariably record it. That’s one of the unique attributes of the technology. Many people simply don’t encounter it in the course of everyday life.”
3D content on fine-pixel pitch LED displays often has to be seen to be believed. One client of Render Impact wanted a “living wall” of plants as a backdrop in its lobby. Rickenbach and team instead proposed an LED video wall whose 3D imagery created a virtual jungle behind the receptionist. Visitors “could barely believe their eyes,” says Rickbenbach.
Balancing technical and design elements in LED design
An important advantage of LED technology is its modular, bezel-less design. “Bezels are a challenge that dispel the illusion and take away from the experience,” says Dan Jared. But a seamless digital canvas is just one example of what’s needed to deliver a truly immersive guest experience.
More important than any single technical or design feature is your choice of technology partner to bring that experience to life. Interior design with LED transforms the casino guest experience by integrating technology and design into a unified whole. Anyone can sell you the physical hardware that allows for LED implementation, but very few integrators combine the end-to-end capabilities needed to create an experience that guests perceive as utterly seamless.
So how should a prospective client balance technical requirements with the design aspects of a space? Beyond choosing a partner with a demonstrated history of making its clients’ vision possible, it’s important to collaborate as early in the process as possible, when there’s still time to create a seamless integration.
“If we’re brought in at a point when hardware and design have already been spec’d out, there’s only so much we can do. For example, if you want an animated 3D scene that guests can walk right up to, but your gear has a 3.9mm pixel pitch, that’s not going to support the kind of detail you want. It won’t be photo-real,” says Todd Rickenbach.
A qualified technology partner will – as early as possible – also engage the client on budget. Say you want a 3D wall of crashing waves and you assume your off-the-shelf media player behind a 4K screen will do the trick. You’ll quickly discover that the player is unable to handle playback of massive, pro-resolution lossless files at a high bit rate. That’s going to change your budget dramatically.
Cost concerns go beyond hardware, too. For a new integration, clients should devote a portion of their first-year budget to content creation. “This consideration speaks directly to the importance of partnering with a technology provider who brings end-to-end capabilities to your project. Alpha, for example, has the gamut of technical expertise needed for effective interior design with LED and its close relationship with Render Impact ensures the smooth integration of technology and content,” explains Jared.
Leading-edge casino design requires up-to-date experience
As in other aspects of casino technology integration, interior design with LED takes advantage of fast-evolving technology. That means it’s important to choose a technology partner who not only stays abreast of the latest developments but is a leader in their own right. “You need a breadth of knowledge to reap the full benefits of interior design with LED,” says Alpha vice president Lance Hutchinson. “The technology options are always changing, and prices are also in flux. Just in the past few years, the cost of traditional LED has become more affordable. The right partner will know how to combine cutting-edge tech with the tried and true to provide maximum value.”
Perhaps most important, choose a casino technology partner who understands the level of finesse required to achieve great results – and has the partner relationships to provide a total solution. The potential of designing interiors with LED is too great not to seek out a partner who can fully reap its benefits.
How can LED interior design be used to elevate the guest experience?
Beyond their amazing resolution and brightness, LED displays boast scalability, the ability to show a vast range of content, and the flexibility to be integrated in a wide range of applications. You can bend and twist it. You can shape it and extend it. You can use it in ways limited only by your imagination. LED is so effective in the casino environment that industry pros have even coined the term – “techorating” – to define the practice of designing and decorating spaces with LED. A signature feature of the technology is the seamlessness and completeness with which it integrates into architecture and design, thereby helping to create a truly immersive and memorable guest experience.
Why are casinos adopting custom LED designs?
Casinos have embraced custom LED designs as a way to elevate the guest experience because the more memorable, satisfying, and immersive that experience is, the more likely guests are to stay and play for longer periods of time, the more frequently they’ll return to a casino property, and the more enthusiastically they’ll speak of the experience to others off premises.
How does Alpha make unique experiences possible with custom LED displays?
Alpha makes unique experiences possible with custom LED displays by collaborating closely with clients via a process that begins with in-depth discovery to understand their vision for what they want to achieve. Based on that understanding, Alpha leverages its end-to-end capabilities and multi-industry mastery to create exceptional, captivating experiences that advance each client’s strategic objectives. Many integrators can sell you the physical hardware that allows you to implement LED, but Alpha is one of very few technology partners able to provide a complete solution that fully realizes LED’s power and potential to make each client’s vision possible.
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Jul 13, 2023