Statement of Ethics for PD!

I have told you before about the new Casino Player Development Association, the C-PDA. The goal is to raise the profile of Player Development and gain more respect from Executives. More respect for this challenging job, will lead to better pay, increased support for your ideas, and stronger career paths.

How do we do this? By publishing standards, endorsing training, and creating ways for you to take a test, demonstrate experience, and obtain a qualification from the C-PDA.

Yesterday, we took our first big step! We released a Statement of Ethics for Casino Hosts and Player Development Executives. Click here to take a look. We talk about integrity, transparency, excellence, diversity, avoiding conflict of interest, and maintaining confidentiality.

So why have a Statement of Ethics? You already know that your integrity and your reputation are key to your career success! Why create a document?

Well, the point to show everyone else that you are a professional and you hold these standards!

Please print this one-pager and put it on your wall!

Please take it to management and suggest a team conversation. If you are the manager, then please take 20 mins at your next team meeting to talk about this in detail.

And consider joining the C-PDA on LinkedIn at

Be a Grudge Buster!

“As long as you stay on message, and remain honest, polite, and as accommodating as possible, you’ll have nothing to fear from someone with a grudge”

Let me know if you recognize it but I think this came from Gary Vee in the “Thank You Economy.”

If so, Gary was talking about retail and dealing with unhappy customers in a wine store. But this quote applies so well to Player Development. As a Casino Host, you are called on by everyone else whenever there is an unhappy customer. Does this quote suggest some tactics?

Stay on Message

With the Presidential election process underway, we hear a lot about politicians needing to ‘stay on message’ and not meander. If you are the Manager, do you regularly hold role-play sessions with your team, and talk about what The Message is? If not, then your team members are going to each give their own ‘message’ and the players will learn to play them off against each other.

In team meetings, talk about The Message for each of these situations:

  • I don’t like my offers. Why did my coupons change?
  • Why can’t I have a free buffet when you gave one to Mary?
  • I am one of your best players. What do you mean I don’t get tickets?
  • You have run out of gifts and I drove 2 hours just for that luggage set so I need freeplay.
  • The casino across the street sent me $75. You need to match that in freeplay or I am out of here!

Remain Honest

Some guests can be brutal, and even loud if they think that making a scene will cause the Host to fold under. It is tempting to use one of these tactics:

“Let me go and see what I can do…” Well, you can’t do much of anything so be honest.

“I’d love to but my hands are tied…” No, your hands are not tied. It is the policy and you need to own the policy and the message.

The challenge in ‘remaining honest’ is that you must support the Property and not throw it under bus. So being honest doesn’t mean sharing your feelings (or insight!) into the wrinkles in the decision making about comps, tickets, upgrades etc. Remaining Honest means being clear about the situation.

Remain Polite

Polite is an interesting word. We tend to use it as short-hand for not swearing, not being offensive, and not walking away in disgust from this greedy, demanding, impossible, guest!!!!

But one definition of polite is “having or showing behavior that is respectful and considerate of other people.”

Being polite is a proactive approach. We focus on Empathy (not Sympathy) and listen hard to the guest, to try to find an angle that will enable us to show respect and consideration. Often the important point is to listen well, repeat back to the guest what you are hearing them say, and let them express their frustration and anger. Once you move them past the outburst, or the hurt, then you have shown your respect and consideration.

Which leads to…

Be as Accommodating as possible

An experienced Host has built out a toolbox of tricks to use, that don’t go against policy, and don’t give away the store, but make the guest ‘feel better’. It could be to say “Hey, let’s go grab a cup of coffee and talk about this…’ (Which gets them off the floor and out of the middle of a scene!).

If you are new to Hosting, or on a new Property, then talk to your more experienced team members about tactics that work and are within Policy. Talk to the Manager. Find out what leeway you really do have.

“As long as you stay on message, and remain honest, polite, and as accommodating as possible, you’ll have nothing to fear from someone with a grudge

A grudge!

This is what you are trying to avoid the most. Player Development means developing the relationship between the guest and the Host, and between the guest and the Property. There is nothing like a grudge to ruin a relationship! Guests will get unhappy and you cannot avoid that. But you need to avoid the unhappiness festering into a grudge.


Make a note to circle back later and find them on the Casino Floor and touch base. Take them a cookie as a peace offering?

Call them that evening or the next morning. Let them know that you care?

Next time you see them, be sure to proactively go over and greet them?


So, take a pen and write this sticky note above your desk… No Grudges! Not on my Watch!


You Have The Potential…

I was reading an interview with an entrepreneur called Cam Kashani. She made some remarks that struck me as really relevant to you as Player Development professionals.

Here is the first thing that Cam said: “I believe that the human is the product.”

Think about that… yes, the guest is coming to the Casino to gamble but their interactions with you, their Host, can make all of the difference to their experience. And when everything is going well, the difference is because of you and the wonderful human being that you are, and not because of what you can give in freebies. So I encourage you to be bold and think of yourself as the product. What can you do to go above and beyond and make every visit special?

Cam then went on to say: “The more powerful and equipped you are as a human being, the more successful what you create will be as a natural result.You are the infinite possibility. If you have the tools and resources within you to tap into at any given moment, you’re going to be able to perform that much more powerfully.”

We all know that if we eat well and exercise our muscles then our bodies will glow with health. As we digest more ideas, and exercise more skills, then we will come over as ever more competent, reliable, and resourceful. Finally, if we constantly focus on our conscious mind and try to be open-minded and empathetic then we will immediately make an impression as having high integrity and being committed to fairness.

Healthy body, healthy mind, healthy spirit or whatever you want to call your consciousness.

Finally, Cam identified a challenge that you face every day. “I always say that as an entrepreneur the biggest fight you’re in is the one with yourself. It’s not about the challenges that show up in the outside world, it’s how you relate to them.”

Every day, as you walk into the Casino, you know that you will face a myriad of challenges from all directions. But the fight is the one with yourself and not with the guests or your co-workers or even your boss! You have a personal fight to keep your balance, to look for perspective, to act and not re-act.

And just like an athlete, you need to take care of your body (good food, water, sunlight, exercise), your mind (read, learn, practice new skills) and your spirit (friends, family, love, laughter, nature).

It can be a brutal lifestyle being a Player Development professional. Take care of yourself and, as Cam said, “The more powerful and equipped you are as a human being, the more successful what you create will be as a natural result.” I hope this email motivates you ‘to be all that you can be!”

Open and Closed Questions

How do you keep the conversation going with your guests?

We’ve all experienced that painful moment when we feel the connection breaking because there is nothing more to be said, and we end with a lame ‘Well, have fun!’

A Host reached out to me on Linked In for ideas on how to converse with a stranger, or even a regular that you see every day!

For me, the key to success is to avoid Closed questions.

What is a Closed Question? There is a limit to the answers to a closed question. It is a question that ‘closes off’ the conversation.

Here are some examples of closed questions on the Casino Floor:

• Are you having fun?
• Are you feeling lucky today?
• Did you try the new high limit slots?
• Did you see the promotion of the car?
• Are you going to the concert tonight?

These questions close off the conversation because the guest will answer with just one word: Yes or No.

If they say Yes, then you say Great! (and you’ve learned nothing about them). If they say No, then you ask Why? (and hear them complain). It’s such a boring pattern of conversation and it always leads to a negative conversation around the No answers.

By comparison, there are no limits to the answers to an open question. It is a question that ‘opens up’ the conversation and ‘opens up’ more insight into what the guest is thinking and feeling.

Here are some examples of open questions:

• How are you today?
• What’s happening with you?
• What did you think of the new high limit slots?
• What did you think of that BMW?
• The Beatle Tribute is tonight. What’s your favorite kind of music?

It is impossible for a guest to answer these open questions with Yes or No. It would make no sense whatsoever. They are going to have to reply with a little more information that you can use to ask your next open question.

Let’s try this open approach…

“What did you think of that BMW?”
“What a beautiful car. I hope I win it”

What do you say or ask next? If you say, “I hope so too!” then you just finished the conversation with a closing statement. The closing statement is your last sentence as you get ready to walk away with a smile a wave. So, closing statements definitely have their role to play, in helping you to move along to the next guest.

Let’s take this open approach even further:

“What did you think of that BMW?”
“What a beautiful car. I hope I win it”
“I hope you do too! Where are you going to keep it?”
“Ha ha. I will keep it in the garage and hide the keys from the grandkids”. (Now you know something about them!)

You can follow up with: “What grandchildren do you have?” (And that open question is sure to get an answer! Everyone wants to list their grandchildren.)

As you walk around on Property today, pay attention to your typical questions and responses, and see if you can score 100% on starting with an open question!

(A new Host might so frequently use closed questions and statements that, although they are touching base with a lot of guests, they are not having any meaningful conversations at all, and certainly not building relationships. The guests soon decide that the Host is just going through the motions and is not at all interested in them.)

Once you practice this approach enough, it will become a habit. And a very useful habit when you are on the phone because a successful phone call relies entirely on the structure and flow of the conversation.

Here is a useless phone call!

“Is this Mary?” Yes.
“Did you see your offer for the concert?” Yes.
“Will you be joining us for this exciting show?” No.

The guest could answer those closed questions without taking their attention away from their ipad!

‘Hello, Mary? This is Jackie.”
“Oh, Hi Jackie.”
“We have a great show coming next week, a Beatle tribute. Who was your favorite Beatle?”
“Paul, I guess.”
“Well, the guy who plays Paul is great. He looks just like him. We have a few tickets left for you that are really close to the front”.
(And then go quiet to see what they say… Open a silence and see what they come up with!)

Of course, because this is a sales call, you cannot chat all day and you eventually have to offer the closing question! E.g. “Can I book you two tickets?” It is a closing question because you want them to say Yes or No, so you can move on to your next call.

There’s nothing wrong with Closed Questions… it’s just that you, as a Masterful Communicator, need to be conscious about when you are using the open and closed approach.

Now you and I have to finish this conversation as well, and get back to our other tasks. I have a couple of choices. Which is the open question, the closed question, and the closing statement?

Do you want to buy my book the Strategic Host? Click here!
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Thanks for reading!

How Direct Mail and PD are different!

Here’s a topic that comes up a lot when I’m talking to new clients! How does the segmentation used in Direct Mail apply to Player Development? I don’t think it does.

Let’s say that the Direct Mail program at your Property uses these rules to classify players each month:

New – guests are New for the first month.
Active – played in the last six months.
Pending – no trip for six months
Inactive – no trip for twelve months.

(Each month, the Direct Mail team will pull a list of players, decide if they are Active/Pending/Inactive, and use the frequency of play and ADT to determine which offers to send out in the monthly mailer.)

We are often asked to configure our PowerHost software to match this same criteria but my argument is that these time periods are far too long for Player Development. Your coded players should be your best players and they should be playing frequently. Waiting six months without a trip for them to be considered ‘Pending’ is far too long in PD. A Host should be worried if they have not shown up for a month!

(I do realize this varies based on your location and market but the principle remains the same. PD works on much shorter time-frames than Direct Mail.)

I like to explain it this way…  Direct Mail is like a deep-sea trawler throwing a net over the side and catching several hundred thousand fish, big and small. Whereas Player Development is like fly-fishing. The expert fly fisher stands in a shallow river and closely watches the behavior of the big fish and notices what each fish likes and dislikes and realizes that a certain fish has not appeared when it should. PD should know when someone is NOT there and take action.

So, I recommend that Casinos keep the overall framework from Direct Mail, because we don’t need to create confusion, but add some extra classifications for PD.

Take a look at this diagram…










The column labeled Direct Mail shows that their segments are Active (1-6 months), Pending (7-12 months) and Inactive at 12+ months. The column labeled Player Development breaks this down into shorter time frames.

  • After a month without a trip, an Active player is considered Active-Due Back.
  • After 3 months without a trip, an Active player is considered Active – Fading.

The first three months without play are critical for PD because there is still an opportunity to place phone calls and find out what is happening. Is the guest unhappy with a service issue or gone to the competition? The Host can take immediate action!

We don’t want coded players slipping into Pending. (This is what Amy Hudson calls Pre-emptive Reactivation. Don’t let the player slip away, lose the loyalty, and then have to be re-activated.)

If the guest turns ‘Pending’, with no trip for 6 months, then the relationship between the Host and the player will have disappeared. Unless! The Host knows the guest is a snow-bird or is dealing with an illness in the family. A strategic Host will have found this out within 30 days and will be staying in touch.

In the picture, you see the Pending segment broken down into Pending and Pending Inactive. After 9 months without play, the guest is in the deep red zone and likely to fall out of the coded list.

I don’t understand why any coded list has Inactive players? If the PD program has been taking a strategic approach for a year or more then there won’t be.

I would love to see a manager have the courage to set this goal “Host will not allow any guest to go Pending without a recorded reason e.g. sickness or snowbird.” And have an associated financial penalty for every time that it happens.

With this goal in place, we would definitely all track our players that start to disappear (Active Fading) and try to get them back in!  And if we find a solid reason such as ‘This person lost their job’ or ‘This person has moved across country’ then we can lobby the PD Manager to decode the guest and clean up the coding list.

I doubt that I will someone be that aggressive… but it does make smile when I see a goal to reactivate Inactive players. (Because they should not be allowed to go Inactive! It’s like rewarding someone for catching the runaway horse instead of rewarding them for keeping the barn door closed.)  I’d rather see some retention goals such as ‘Contact 95% of coded players each quarter’ and ‘Drive 1+ trip from 80% of coded players during the quarter’.

Don’t leave the barn door open!

Are you a Shark or a Goldfish?

A VP of Player Development posted a meme on LinkedIn with the question “Are you a Shark or a Goldfish?” It caught my eye and make me ponder.

In our culture, a Shark seems a bit negative and aggressive versus the cuddly Goldfish. But the point is that a Shark is a hunter and will pursue its dinner. Whereas a Goldfish will circle around the glass tank hoping that someone will bring the dinner. The question is, do you make things happen?

I found out that the meme was based on a book “The Shark and the Goldfish“. I haven’t read the book yet but the blurb on his website says “Jon Gordon shares an inspiring fable about a goldfish who has always been fed, a nice shark who teaches him to find food and a wave of change that brings them together. The Shark teaches the Goldfish that the difference between a full belly and an empty stomach depends solely on your faith, beliefs, and actions.”

I think it’s worth challenging ourselves on these points.

1. Do you have faith in your ability to grow the business? To get more trips and play? (I am sure you have faith in your ability to ensure that your players ‘love you’) But do you have faith in your ability to not only meet but exceed your goals for this quarter? We are 63% through the quarter. Are you at 63% of the Total Theo that you have to deliver in Q1?

  • If you don’t have faith in your ability then why not? What are your fears or constraints that are holding you back? Who can help? Can you talk your manager into getting sales training for the team? Can you take some classes at your own expense?
  • If you do have faith but you are at less than 63% of your quarterly goal then you see yourself as a Shark but you must be acting like a Goldfish.
  • And if you smirked that the goals are impossible to meet because management is unrealistic then you just made a Goldfish excuse. (Why leave my safe bowl and go off into the Ocean just because management claims there are big fish out there?)

2. Do you have set of beliefs? Do you have your own theories about why people visit your property, about how you can influence their behavior, and about how you can grow your business? You can have faith in yourself but you need a set of concrete beliefs, theories if you like.

  • Where are those fish? Where do they like to swim? Are they visiting someone else’s pond?
  • What times of day do they swim?
  • How often should you contact them, and how exactly should you approach them?
  • What are some good opening lines to sign up new players?
  • What are your personal techniques to increase their trips and play?

You will never be a Shark and successfully fill your belly unless you create your own beliefs about how to grow your business. Read, talk to your peers and your manager, and brainstorm with close associates. Don’t rule out talking with Pit Bosses and Slot Directors for their ideas. (Most people love to give their opinion.)

And then go test your ideas and learn from your mistakes. Yes, a Shark has the courage to make a mistake and miss a catch but learn for next time. A Goldfish stays in the safe zone, and does not try a new opening line on a guest playing without a card. A Shark has an idea, tries it out, and learns from the result. A Goldfish sticks to the same old, same old, approach. When did you last try something new? If it was a month or more ago then you are acting like a Goldfish.

(Read this from Wikipedia! “Sharks constantly replace their teeth throughout life; some sharks lose 30,000 or more teeth in their lifetime. ” Take this as an analogy! You need to constantly replace your ‘teeth’ by getting stuck into new approaches and seeing what happens.)

3. And, lastly, do you act like a Shark each and every day? Are you constantly monitoring the situation and seizing every opportunity? For example, a Host is talking to a valuable player and they mention that their friend Vic likes to go to Vegas. A Goldfish will listen intently and may even make a note in the software that ‘Joe has a friend Vic that goes to Vegas’. Now that was going in for the kill! A Shark will immediately say – ‘Hey, let’s get Vic in here for your birthday party next month and have a good time!’. The Shark already had a belief, a theory, about what to try and do in this situation, so the Shark was ready to pounce.

And if you are a Manager then run through the list of your Hosts and PD Executives and ask yourself if they are a Shark or a Goldfish? Are they making things happen or are they waiting for things to happen? And what are doing, as the leader, to instill faith, create beliefs, and track actions? Are you, yourself, acting like a Goldfish, executing the same old same old approaches, or are you brainstorming with your team each month about how to act like Sharks?

63% of the Quarter already! Let’s get out into the waters and find the fish.

Get up! Stand up! 6 Reasons Why.

Your calls can improve if you stand up!


1. It’s Familiar! You are used to meeting people across the Property and talking to them face to face. If you stand up to make the call then you can ‘pretend’ that they are about to appear in front of you. This is a physically familiar posture and it will comfort you and bring you confidence. Because you are at your best when you are standing in front of the guest, face to face, and smiling.

2. It lets you breath! When you stand up, you open up your lungs and get plenty of oxygen. This will also help you to feel physically relaxed. It is stressful to make a call knowing that the person probably does not want to hear from you right this minute! If you sit with a hunched over posture then you compress your breathing and hold the stress. So stand up, get your shoulders back, make one deep slow inhale and exhale, and dial the number with a smile on your face.

3. You can stare into the distance! If you sit in a chair and stare at your PC screen, or down at papers on your desk, then you have stayed in your own little mental bubble. Instead, you should stand up and stare out of the window at the sky or at a tree. You want your gaze to move outside of your immediate world so that mentally you are more capable of imagining them in their world. Do they sound like they are in the car?, at home watching TV?, at work? What can you hear in their voice, and what can you imagine that you are seeing through their eyes? This technique will help you to understand what is going through their mind so you can react appropriately.

4. You can listen ‘harder‘! If you are standing up, staring at a neutral scene like the sky or even the car park, and breathing completely, then you can focus all of your attention on what you are hearing. Your brain is not distracted by trying to breath, or wiggling in the chair, or fiddling with a pen, or avoiding a sneak peek at that incoming email… without all of those distractions, you can give complete attention to listening. And the recipe for success in a phone call is to listen.

5. You are confident! When you are standing in that familiar position, with the imaginary customer standing in front of you, and with a smile on your face as you listen intently, then you are ready for all of the twists and turns of the conversation. You will be flexible in your response. By contrast, when you are sitting hunched over, and looking at the long list of other people that you need to call, or called without success, then you are setting yourself up for disappointment. The resignation will come over in your voice.. So stand up, smile, and be ready!

6. You can move! Think about how you behave when you are talking to someone in the lobby of the Hotel, or when you greet them at the High Limit room. You open your hands to welcome them, and you move your hands to emphasize your points. Get yourself a quality headset and free up your hands. Yes, even pace. But avoid the temptation to wander around the room and be distracted by other objects. Keep your gaze out of the window and keep your mind with them.

When we meet people, we get 98% of our information from what we see about them, and 2% from what they say. But with the phone, your guest cannot see you so they form an immediate impression from the tone of your voice and not from your actual words. When you are standing up, and able to breath, your voice will convey more energy and confidence.

So! Stand up, put your shoulders back, take a deep breath, think about someone who loves you unconditionally, smile, and make that call.

And when they pick up, stretch our your hand for the warm handshake and say a relaxed, confident greeting. Hi there! This is Jackie! Thanks for reading!

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Related Topics

8 Tips for Cold Calling – These are some more ideas on how to prepare and execute your sales calls.
7 Reasons to Make a Call – You want to stay in touch but you cannot keep calling just to say Hi. Here are some ‘excuses’ for making a call out of the blue.

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