The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas reimagines high-touch hospitality With Philip Irby, CIO of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas


Your Las Vegas experience is carefully designed for your enjoyment. It's in the grand gestures: the extravagant hotels, the spectacular scenery and the world-class food and shopping. But it's also in the little things, where you might book your day's adventure from your smartphone, adjust the air conditioning in your room without ever getting out of bed and play the slot machines with a bluetooth-enabled account connected to your device.


You take for granted that this is just "how things are" in Vegas — better somehow. But behind each of these pleasing micro-moments lies thoughtful, well-orchestrated, technology-driven processes, always with your security and privacy in mind.


One of the leaders of this mission is Philip Irby, CIO of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, a luxury resort and casino on the Strip named one of the "Top Hotels in the World" by the Condé Nast Traveller Gold List. Irby oversees roughly 270 different systems that must cooperate to run the entire property — a property with 3,027 hotel rooms, a 110,000-square-foot casino and abundant space for retail, restaurants, a spa, theater and conventions.


"A resort is not just a hotel with rooms," Irby says. In fact, it's an enormous operation with a lot of moving parts and disparate systems, and his job is to keep information flowing and everything running — a high-stakes endeavor. "We're essentially ten different lines of business in one building, so there's no one business driver." Each of those lines of business has its own expectations of what technology need to enable. With the hotel, technology is invested to enhance luxury guest experience. For the casino, ROI is critical — how to generate interest to get high-worth individuals onto the property. The food and beverage area of the business seeks to amplify efficiency, creating business processes that help turn over tables faster.


Yet, as Irby says, "we can't go out and get ten different technology solutions, so we have to find economies of scale. Which solution will provide us with continuity across lines of business and be applicable to each?" This investigation is what led Irby and his team to Box and other best-of-breed solutions that integrate well together to provide a cohesive, cloud-based technology stack.


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Security: one thing that can't be gambled on


In a highly regulated world like hospitality and gambling, corporate and guest data must always be carefully safeguarded even as information is made more accessible and usable, and the guest experience more and more mobile.


"How do you provide the quick innovation and provide people access to anything anywhere in the world, and still provide a strict environment and meet our governmental regulation? That's the struggle."

— Philip Irby, CIO, The Cosmopolitan


While in pursuit of the goal of creating a highly functional, cloud-based ecosystem of best-of-breed products (Box being one of them) — one where information is made more accessible and usable — corporate and guest data must always be carefully safeguarded. Irby's team keeps compliance in mind and is thoughtful about how they port both business and customer data to the cloud. Irby says, "The consumer market is bursting with innovation. You can do anything with your mobile device. On the flip side of that, we're a regulated business. We have to have very stringent controls on customer data and all the data in our environment." 


This is why building a secure content platform with Box has been a key strategic point for Irby. With Box, Irby can make content of all types accessible and usable for all users within the company while also governing and securing that content. 


"We set a standard that Box is the solution that we use. From the CISO perspective, it's much more robust in terms of the governance platform."

— Philip Irby


The next step to Irby's governance project is to revamp the litigation-hold process, a huge administrative burden for a company beholden to regulations. The biggest risk in litigation is not the lack of documents. It's that you have too many documents or files that should have been destroyed but are now available for discovery. "We expect Box Governance to be a key part of our governance strategy going forward. Eliminating that risk is hugely important for us," says Irby.


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Customer service elevated by the digital workplace


All guest experiences trace back to the employee experience. You have to create ways for employees to function efficiently and smoothly in their everyday processes. Especially in the hospitality industry, where staff turnover is high and the ability to serve guests quickly critical, the technology and processes that lie behind everyday tasks are pivotal. The 250 staff members who make The Cosmopolitan go round — aptly named "CoStars" — have a huge impact on guest experience, so in turn, they're an enormous focus of Irby's work.


To better tune in to the needs of the CoStars, twice a year, Irby's IT team interviews all 115 departments within The Cosmopolitan. They seek to find out how staff do their day-to-day jobs, what their processes look like and where they need help and improvement to optimize their digital business processes. "The whole process gives us a lot more visibility," Irby says. "We're not just reacting to the service desk or someone's pet project; we're looking at what's impacting them on a day-to-day operational basis, and then trying to take that business analysis and turn it into something — either a standard operating procedure, automation, standard provision or a drop-shipped device."


"Everyone wants ease of use, ease of access, ultimately they want to their job to be as frictionless as possible. We try to provide a reliable and secure platform to give them what they need."

— Philip Irby


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Building a digital business with best-of-breed applications 


"We're always looking at how we can make our processes more efficient as part of that effort," says Irby. Using Box for Cloud Content Management helps him to get there. He's in the process of building an integration framework that will be the key piece to providing what the CoStar workforce needs to do their jobs with ease of access, and at the same time, to create better guest experiences that straddle high-touch and personal convenience. 


One example is the Box and Jira integration. The IT team leverages Jira to manage requests, and Box is the single source of truth, the repository for all content. The combination of the two has helped greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to onboard new IT CoStars, because everything is in one place, and there's a standardized taxonomy and folder structure. Permissions are built out correctly on platforms that are flexible and configurable, but still provide governance, security and access controls.


"That's how I run IT: single repository, single set of permissions, visibility into the entire organization."

— Philip Irby


Beyond native integration,  Irby is a big supporter of open platforms: "There's a flexibility and a capability that comes from having API-driven, mobile-first solutions — plus the automation capability that comes behind that." One example of the automation capability Box's APIs provide is flat-file transfer. Where in the past Irby's team would have had to set up FTP servers to transfer the files, now, automations that leverage Box APIs move the files from antiquated providers to the end platform seamlessly and much more securely. Irby explains, "We've circumvented the whole FTP piece and all the security implications that come with that, and built it all with automation tools and APIs."


Getting more value from unstructured data 


The Cosmopolitan has also recently upgraded the guest experience with Rose, a proprietary AI-driven chatbot programmed to address customer needs in areas like housekeeping, room service and concierge. Rose enables a delightful experience for guests, who are increasingly part of a generation as comfortable with technology as with human interaction. Irby says, "A lot of what we're seeing across the consumer market is that they really don't want to talk to anyone, which is a hard position for us, as a luxury brand trying to create connection with guests. So we have to try to create that connected luxury experience with technology, too."


Rose also frees up employees from being solely responsible for customer service. With more and more options arising to get value from unstructured data with AI, there's a world of possibility ahead for the hospitality industry to improve both guest and employee experiences.


philip irby

The blueprint for better customer and staff experience:


  1. Create digital experiences that marry high-touch with mobile convenience, meeting the mobile generation where they're at.
  2. Go directly to staff to find out what they need to do their jobs more efficiently, and with less friction.
  3. Use Cloud Content Management to build efficient, reliable processes with 100% governance over content.


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