Meridian Indoor Navigation Adds Las Vegas Hotels To Client Roster

Starting today, the Venetian-Palazzo Casino and Hotel (owned by The Las Vegas Sands Corp.) is beginning to employ an app technology by Meridian as their indoor navigation service of choice in order to help you get around their casino more efficiently. This new “wayfinding” technology will reside in the resort’s new app called VP Pocket Concierge.

I first covered Meridian back in March of 2011. At that time, the company (formerly called Spotlight Mobile) had just completed wayfinding pilots at Powell’s Books and the Portland Museum of Art in Portland, Oregon.

If you’ve never used the company’s flagship app (also called Meridian), its main function is to let merchants or property owners create extremely granular, indoor maps of their stores or properties. This allows consumers to more easily find products or locations within that property, even though these locations could be off-the-grid with other typical GPS applications.

Relying on a combination of GPS andWiFi/Cellular triangulation, Meridian can pinpoint a single piece of merchandise you are looking for (as is the case with Powell’s Books) or can direct you to a sub-location inside of a larger location–like a bathroom in a football stadium.

In the past, the Meridian app has worked as a portal, where multiple brands can provide their store maps to consumers, but today’s launch ushers in a new era for the technology as they are white labeling the service to be distributed directly in The Venetian-Palazzo’s own native app.

Lost And Found

Speaking from my own CES experiences of being lost in a mass of slot machines and blackjack tables, it would be tempting to think that a casino of all places would want you to remain adrift in their never-ending sea of excess in hopes of more conversions.

But the point of my original story was that I think there is much more purchasing potential when a location guides, directs and assists consumers instead of carpet-bombing them with un-targeted attempts to keep them lost, searching and shopping. These days, consumers are just too smart for that.

But casinos are pretty smart too and this move by the Venetian reminds me of insights penned by Stephen Baker in his now slightly dated yet still fascinating book The Numerati where he posits that increased, granular data collection by merchants will give them the power to be more profitable than ever. His thesis notes that “as merchants learn more about us, it’s going to be easier for them to figure out which customers to reward and which ones to punish.”

Data, after all, lets a merchant reward active spenders and ignore thrifty hangers-on.

I’m not suggesting that The Venetian wants to punish anyone (other than maybe card counters), rather, they are likely employing Meridian’s technology in order to present the most accurate maps while still being able to collect as much consumer data as possible. In short, create a win/win situation for the consumers and the casino itself.

A B2B Approach

As a company, Meridian is approaching the location-based services market from an enterprise software perspective. When a location uses Meridian, they are getting the benefits of a custom installation and all the control of the data that goes along with that methodology. This is an important distinction. Their model is a B2B play instead of a consumer focused strategy.

“Other location-based services have tried to create one consumer app that rules them all” explains Meridian VP of Business Development Jeff Hardison. “However, locations themselves have been slow to adapt from their end because they have little control over how their brand appears. Conversely, Meridian gives those locations tools to take control and make the experience better for their visitors using smart phones to find their ways around.”

So rather than relying on consumer led identification and validation of locations, a la Yelp or Foursquare, the Meridian team have instead focused their efforts on building an intuitive Content Management System (CMS), that businesses can control and use to set up their own points of interest. They control all the data.

This CMS tool lets a business upload their own location maps and then associate their own item locations with the map either by importing them (if there are many) or assigning them manually if the number of locations is smaller and more manageable.

The Las Vegas Sands Corp. is the second business to launch using the new Meridian Editor 2.0, which is more user friendly than previous versions and incorporates drag and drop functionality.

Apparently this business-friendly approach is paying off. In my brief conversation with Jeff and founder Nick Farina, the team hinted that this CMS licensing approach has been much more profitable for them than relying on the typical advertising models like some other app developers.

You can actually give the technology a spin in the maps section of the Venetian app (there is an iOS version and an Android version). As I noted in the first story, the system is built to still work even when your location can’t be registered by GPS or WiFi/Cellular triangulation. The lowest common denominator in that scenario is self selecting your current location and desired location from lists. When you do this, it indeed draws the route from one place to the other. If you had the benefit of actually being at the hotel, your location would be plotted relative to the route.