Category Archives: Casino Host Excellence

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.

6 Things to Look for in a Casino Host New Hire

The truth is, it’s not an easy thing to quantify what you are looking for in a Casino Host, particularly if the candidate in question has never been a host before.  Read this summary, to see if you agree, and then and click to download the interview questions.

A People Person

When you interview any host candidate, the thing you are looking for is a natural tendency to be a “people person.”

Ask questions about specific customers the candidate remembers and why.  This sort of question works whether you are interviewing someone who has been a host before or not, even if the background of your candidate doesn’t include customer service.  Recent college graduates should have some sort of work experience (summer jobs, internships) where they had to provide a product or service to someone.  That is what you need to tap into to determine whether they are truly attuned to people as individuals.  If they are not, keep looking!

A Positive Attitude

Taking any new job can make someone anxious.  Taking a new job where one is responsible for the needs and wants of a casino’s very best players is daunting even on a good day.  An angry high roller is of critical importance and a host using a negative approach is likely to fuel the fire; then nobody wins. Devise some interview questions specifically geared to identify whether the prospective host is one who sees things in a positive light most of the time.  Ask about a difficult situation with a co-worker or customer and how it was resolved.  Whether the candidate solved the problem on his or her own or if it needed to be escalated, how he or she tells the story will give you some insights into a “glass half-full” mentality (or not).  If the glass isn’t at least half full, this candidate isn’t the one you want.

A Willingness to Learn

This attribute extends beyond the ability to learn how your property expects hosts to handle the company’s assets.  Willingness to learn includes gleaning and utilizing information about individual players and their preferences, how to handle conflict on behalf of a guest, navigating computer systems and how they are integrated, plus a myriad of other intricate details necessary to manage such a dynamic marketing role.  Ask about subjects the candidate enjoyed in school and why; inquire as to training programs the individual has experienced and what he took away from them.  Also, assess computer literacy during the interview; a host in this day and age who isn’t comfortable tackling a new interface is assuredly going to be at a disadvantage.

A Go-Getter

Some of the most charismatic hosts have a fatal flaw: they require external motivation. These hosts are great with guests, they can talk with people from all walks of life, and they are fierce advocates for their players when the need arises.  All great attributes for a host, right?  Right!

Interestingly, not all hosts are great at tracking and reporting on their own activity, providing justification for questionable comp decisions, following up on guest phone calls or other correspondence, or completing guest-related tasks such as reservations and confirmation contacts.  It only gets done on deadline through much pulling of hair and rending of garments…and that’s due to you hassling them repeatedly to get it done on time.

You want someone who can engage and follow through.  Ask about how the interviewee handles follow-ups, requesting long-term assignment examples for recent grads and specific work examples from non-host candidates.

Sales Ability!

We have moved way beyond the host being in charge of Happiness. All of your team should be able to sell. It’s not just about the Player Development Executive bringing in new high-rollers. Every casino host must be able to sell your property, your F&B, your hotel, your Events and more. So even if you don’t expect a Junior Host to bring in new players, you expect them to be able to sell excitement to the guest. Explore their natural ability to convey enthusiasm and probe for related experience in selling just about anything. Of course an experienced host should be able to give you some idea how many room nights or tournament seats she is able to fill in a telemarketing session.

A Sense for Confidentiality

Some of the best hosts I know have a different critical weakness: they share too much.  Whether it’s personal information about themselves or dissatisfaction with something in their professional life, a host who burdens a guest with unnecessary information is not one you want.  Just as one shouldn’t tell a guest “that’s our policy,” one should also never say, “I can’t believe they won’t let me give you…”

To screen for this, ask the candidate about a time she experienced a disappointment due to a policy or guideline in her past and how she handled it.  Another, less subtle, way to find out about the candidate’s tendency is to ask about a situation where rumors and over-sharing had an effect on her  customer service or job performance.

A Passion for Life

Most importantly, a good casino host is likely to become a person for whom Player Development will become a way of life.

To find that attribute in a candidate, and determine whether or not the passion in his life might grow into a love of Player Development and casino marketing, ask the tired old question about what he dis/liked about a past job or activity, but add a twist.  Ask what she thinks would have made her like it more.  Ask her what she would’ve changed if she were in charge.  Find out why the role was or wasn’t a good fit and why.

Ask questions about what the candidate does when he or she isn’t working, too. You cannot become overly personal here, but look for the thing that makes the candidate’s eyes light up.  If it’s something related to being a good casino host, then you’ve got a good one.  If you can’t find the thing that makes his eyes light up, maybe you want to keep interviewing.

And click to download the interview questions.  You can download them in MSWord and change them to meet your needs.

Are you reading this because you are applying to be a Casino Host? Then click here for more helpful information on how to Become a Host


7 Reasons to Call

You need good reasons to call your guests, stay in touch, and build the relationship. These are literally called Reasons To Call (RTC) by sales reps who make outbound calls to customers and prospects. With a good reason to call, you will sound enthusiastic and you can find an angle that conveys to the guest that you genuinely thought about them. This is the why the ‘Happy Birthday’ call is so easy to make.

Here are some other examples of good Reasons To Call:

Did You Hear? When your Resort Casino announces a new amenity, such as a golf course, you can call your guests that are golfers and ask them ‘Did you hear about our new golf course?”. The amenity does not have to be complete, in fact it is better if you can make a couple of calls. ‘Did you hear we are building?” and “Did you hear that we open in three weeks, let’s get you in’ and ‘We are open!’.

I Bet You Are Happy. You should follow the local sports teams and track which of your players are raving fans. When the team gets through to the next round, you can place the ‘I bet you are happy’ call and listen to them talk all about the game.

Did You See? We talked elsewhere about the idea that you should be tracking the Direct Mail offers. You can call and say ‘Did you see your $100 in free play next month? I’d hate you to miss your offer in all your mail. Let me know if you can’t find it?”

I Thought Of You. As you walk the Property, pay attention to the promotions, events and special offers. You can call and say ‘I thought of you this afternoon because we have a special Surf and Turf. Did you see it?” If there is a change in the slot mix in the High Limit room, or a commitment to always having a $20 blackjack table open, then you can call a whole list of people to say ‘I thought of you, did you notice the changes to the…’

What Did You Think? If there has been an upgrade to the cocktail bar with a really cool new layout and some stunning effects then wait a few weeks, pull a list of recent players, and call a whole list of people to ask ‘What do your think of the new cocktail bar? I’d love to get your opinion.’

Just Checking. If you are doing a good job of tracking your regular players, then you will notice when someone has not been in for a week. You can call with the ‘I have not seen you. Is everything okay? I just want to check that you are well?”

Welcome Back. If you learn that someone is going away, or going into hospital, then you make a note to contact them on their return. ‘I hope you had a great vacation! Tell me about Hawaii!” or ‘Welcome home, I just wanted to wish you a speedy recovery.’

Ideally, you keep notes on that guest, and how well they responded, so you can take a different approach the next time and add variety to the on-going conversation.

Get the Glow! (The Healthy Host)

It’s not enough to put on a smart outfit. You need to have the attractive healthy glow that comes from a healthy life-style.

If you are under 30 then you probably assume you will feel this energetic forever but unfortunately that is not true! Your long-term success and personal health will be dictated by the habits that you form now.

Do you find yourself doing nothing but work and sleep? If you let yourself become obsessed, then your stress level will go up and it will interfere with your judgement. If you don’t make a change, you will lose perspective, make poor decisions, and look and feel pale and sickly. So, plan your down-time and organize your life as well as your job.

Plan to rest! Part of being organized is to come up with ways to ensure you regularly disconnect, rest, and re-charge. You love what you do, and your job can easily be a 24-hour business for seven days a week. But you can burn-out and you certainly won’t deliver your best if you are exhausted.

Plan on having a meal even a quick one. Skipping meals and trying to survive on sugar and caffeine will destroy your productivity and problem-solving skills. It also affects your waistline!

Plan to get outside and get some air and sunshine. Can you walk around the outside patios, greet some guests and catch some rays?

Eat your fruits and vegetables! It can be hard to ‘eat well’ when you are running around all day long, and working difficult hours. But try to have something fresh with each meal; or make salads in mason jars on your day off, and take a salad each day.

Drink lots of water to keep your skin hydrated. Is water boring? Then find something that makes it palatable like adding some lemon juice.

By the way, coffee dehydrates you. I realize you might need the caffeine to get going but peppermint is a good alternative for a pick me up because Mint stimulates the brain. Plus peppermint is more pleasant than coffee breath!

Build movement into your daily routine. Park the furthest away from the building. Always use a staircase instead of an elevator. Park at the top of the parking garage and use the staircase to get up there at the end of your shift. Use the restroom on a different floor of the building and take the steps to get there.

Find a way to disconnect for as little as 20 minutes a day; leave the phone behind and go for a walk, go to the gym, listen to a motivational video, soak in the bath, or read an interesting novel. Set the timer on your phone for 20 minutes and then don’t touch that phone until it goes off. You will be amazed how long 20 minutes will feel!

Take your vacations! I promise you that your peers can take care of your players. You are not indispensable. You need to get away for a week at a time to re-charge.

As the saying goes “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!”

The Organized Host

Life is much easier when you are organized because you don’t have the added stress of cleaning up your own mess. You tend to deal with everything just once and put it behind you.

  • If a guest calls in and requests the limo you send an email to your Manager as soon as you hang up; you don’t write yourself a note, stick it your monitor, and deal with it later.
  • When you run a VIP party, you make a list of everything that has to be done. After the event, you keep the list, a copy of the invitation, a copy of the email, and even the menu. When you run the next VIP party, you pull out the files from last time and you don’t have to start from scratch.
  • If a guest complains about their offers, you immediately send an email to Direct Marketing with the name, account number, and their complaint. You cc: yourself and put the email into a folder called Offer Complaints. If the guest comes back to you then you can easily find your email and assure them you followed up.

There are some key principles in all of these examples:

  1. Touch everything just once! When something comes up, deal with it right away or give it to someone else to solve. If you cannot delegate it, and it will take some time, then put it on your schedule and forget about it. schedule time on your calendar to work on it. Yes, literally schedule 30 minutes on your calendar to write that report for your boss.
  2. Move the Monkey! This is a great visual. If someone gives you a problem to solve then imagine that they have put a monkey on your back. Too many monkeys and you will feel crushed. So, as soon as possible, move that monkey onto someone else’s back!
  3. Don’t start from scratch. Whenever you do anything, assume that you are going to have to do it again and again and again! Organized people are actually very lazy people; they want it to be easier the next time, and they assume that there will be a next time. So, they keep all the information about how they arranged that VIP party. And they keep the memo from Accounts on how to resolve an obscure refund for a guest because what happens once, will happen agan.
  4. Put Things Where You Will Find Them. In your email, create folders labeled ‘Comp Exception’, ‘Refund Dispute’, ‘Limo Request’ and ‘How to Use Systems’. Drag emails into the folders and out of the in-box. Your in-box should only contain your current Monkeys that you are going to quickly move along before the shift ends. In your phone, keep the numbers for Guest Services, Front Desk, Housekeeping supervisor, and that helpful person in Accounts who can approve Portfolio adjustments. And your desk does not have to be tidy, but each leaning stack of papers should contain related items!
  5. And finally, Plan Your Day and work your list. Stop thinking about being organized as having a permanently clean and tidy home. It will never happen. Every day, you have to clean your body, feed the cat, prepare some meals, and brush your teeth. It is an endless cycle. In the same way, you accept that when you come to work, you are going to repeat the same tasks over and over again; so being essentially lazy, the Organized Host will try to make it easier and easier to issue the comp, track the hotel reservation, follow up on the dispute, and book the limo.

Does this sound exhausting? Do you lack the discipline? Does it even sound boring?

Well that is fine, and we all make our own choices, but if you decide to remain dis-organized then you will waste a lot of your time and energy and not meet your goals.

And you certainly won’t be promoted. Management sees you struggling to stay on top of your current responsibilities and they are certainly not going to give you any more!

Remember, organized people are actually lazy and they have figured out how to do the same job as you but with a lot less effort and a lot more results.

So, how do you make the change? You decide to take control of yourself and make the most out of your 24 hours within a day. You constantly look for ways to make the everyday tasks be easier. You decide to watch and learn from organized people. And you keep reading!

Money Can’t Buy Them Love

I’ve been interviewing PD professionals from across the country for my next book, The Strategic Host. I’ve been hearing a lot from Casino Hosts about the challenge of not having enough hooks, give-aways, comps, offers, freebies to be able to give their players.

But then I was speaking to Jim, a Player Development Executive. Jim said “If I know a guest is coming in at 9pm, then I am out at Valet Parking at 8:45pm, to be ready to greet them with a smile, every time. Every time.”

Wow! My neck flipped around. Jim took me back to the old-fashioned basics.

Maya Angelou said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

High net worth gamblers can buy almost anything they want, but no-one can buy an experience and, to quote the Beatles, ‘Money Can’t Buy Me Love’. So Jim focuses on creating a warm and positive experience, and not on what he can give them.

Yes, the Casino has a limit on what we can give in comps, events, tickets, amenities. But there is no limit on the care and consideration that we can give the guest in the way we greet them, treat them, and follow up with them.

So now we all have a secret weapon! Give them some Love.

Living in the Moment? Be careful!

I used to say ‘Live in the Moment!’ while I took the extra slice, opened the next bottle of wine, or ran up my credit card.

But now I realize that living in the moment does not mean running up a tab for the future.

I listen to motivational videos each morning, and today’s speaker was illustrating the concept that taking the easy path now, will make your life harder in the future.

For example, if we don’t eat properly and exercise well now, then we may end up with painful inflammation and/or diabetes in our older years. And, if we enjoy the pleasure of that impulse purchase, then we may find it hard to make the credit card payments in the future.

This relates so much to how a Casino Host should approach an unhappy or demanding client. It is so much easier, in the moment, to tell the guest what they want to hear but then you may have to come back and look powerless by saying ‘My boss won’t let’ me.

Here’s a great summary from Matthew Oxford of Tulalip Resort Casino. ‘It’s great to come across as a “Johnny on the spot” individual who swiftly takes care of any and all needs, but make sure you can finish what you start. Don’t lead off every answer with, “of course”, or “you got it!”. Give yourself some wiggle room with an open-ended answer like, “let me see what I can do for you”. This allows you to work with your casino team in case there are issues that would otherwise prevent you from handling the request.’

Matt is describing the need to take the harder path now, and not bring an immediate smile to the guest’s face, by delaying that gratification until we know what we can actually do for the guest.

“The easy road becomes hard with time and the hard road becomes easy” – Blaz Kos.

You can read more examples from Blaz at this blog post where he provides examples from all aspects of our lives to show how having personal discipline now will actually pay off later. E.g. If we save now, we will retire in comfort. If we drink lots of clean water and eat clean food now, then we will be fit and healthy and glow.

It is easy to crack and take the easy path but it will only lead to more  trouble.

And what do I now mean by ‘Living in the Moment?’  For me, it is remembering this phrase ‘no amount of guilt will change the past, and no amount of worry will change the future’. So I am grateful to be alive and living in this moment. Have a great day! Jackie,


5 Ways to Help People to Like You!

We all judge people on our first impression of them. And you meet new people all day long. So here are 5 ways to help people to immediately warm to you.

Assume That You Will Like Them!

In your mind, assume that you are going to really like this new person, and that they are going to like you. This is the “Fake it till you can make it” approach.

And it works, because your positive attitude will influence all of the following techniques. The new person will sense that you are approaching them with openness and warmth, and they will respond. This is called the reciprocity of liking. If the guest believes that you like them, then they will like you back!


This is such an old-fashioned recommendation but so true. When the guest sees your smile, they see your warmth, your openness, and your welcome.

But it needs to be a real smile that shines in your eyes as well. This only happens if you adopt Rule #1 which is that, in your mind, you have already decided that you like this person, and so you are smiling in anticipation of enjoying talking with them.

Even if you are playing the role of the Negative Enforcer, such as No, You Cannot Have That Comp, you can still approach them with a smile. It does not give away your power, it actually makes you seem in control and gracious.


As you walk towards this new person, find something that you can compliment. The way their shoes match their outfit? Their funky baseball cap? You are off to a good start if you can ask a question such as “I love that purse, where did you find it?” If you cannot find anything then take a quick look at the people with them! If they have a Boston t-shirt then start with ‘I loved Boston. The lobster was amazing.’

You are not doing this to make them feel good… You are doing this because of something called Spontaneous Trait Transference.

This fancy term means that people will assume that YOU have the same qualities that you describe others. If you are saying nice, kind, generous, enthusiastic things about other people, then the listener will assume that you are nice, kind, generous, enthusiastic etc.
If you cannot think of anything to say about them, then have some general phrases all ready to go such as  ‘What a great atmosphere in here tonight, everyone is having so much fun!” You are saying something positive so they will assume that you are a positive person.


There are very subtle ways for you to copy the Guest. If they are wearing a team-shirt then you can bond over sports. You can match their body language e.g. leaning sideways into a slot machine. Don’t mimic their accent but you can slightly copy their tone and speed of speech. This is called ‘mirroring’ and the concept is that the guest will like you if you seem to be like them.

You can also repeat their phrases and observations back to them.
For example, if they say “I can’t believe the buffet has run out of crab legs”, you might say “I can’t believe that either. It just shows how much everybody loves it. I guess you do too. Do you eat all kinds of seafood?”

In that simple response, you first copy their phrase (can’t believe), you give a positive spin (everybody loves it), and then you turn it around to them (and try to change the subject!)

Extract and Repeat Some Facts!

Everybody wants to be ‘seen’ and acknowledged. Develop a range of open questions that you can use to smoothly get them to talk about themselves.

“Hi, I am Jackie. I wanted to introduce myself and see if you are having a wonderful time here today. Is this your first time here?” You can ask where they are from, you can ask what they enjoy most about the property, and you can ask for their opinion on anything new such as an Amenity or an event.

Before you walk away, be sure to repeat back some of what you have learned about them, along with their name. “Well Carol, I will let you get back to playing, but I hope you have a safe drive back to Charlotte, and that you will come and see us the next time that you are visiting your son Harry. Have a great stay with him, and perhaps you will be back to see us before you leave on Tuesday?” That closing line tells them that you truly paid attention.

And, if we have not yet met, then I just know that we are going to like each other when we meet in person!

Jackie P.

8 Ways to define a strong Work Ethic?

This morning, I was listening to Gary Vee talk about having a strong work ethic, and that all successful people have, to quote Gary, worked their face off‘.

I was thinking about that. I don’t want to work my face off, if that means working 18 hours a day, every day.

I want to have time away from work, I want to enjoy all aspects of my life, and I want to be healthy physically, emotionally, and socially.

But I’m not lazy. I do have a strong work ethic.

So what do I mean when I say that I have a strong work ethic? What is my definition?

  1.  Each day, I complete whatever has to be truly done that day. This means that I have to be very clear about ‘importance’. (If I tried to finish everything on my ToDo list then I would never stop working; just like the washing up, those new Todos pile up as quickly as I put the old ones away.) So I am brutal about deciding what has to be done that day and I will work late into the night if necessary.
  2. Each day includes the weekends and holidays. We work with Player Development teams across the three time-zones. And Casino Hosts work on weekends and holidays; they don’t all take off on July 4th, or Dec 25th, or Dec 31st. So my work ethic does include being available to our support team, and to our clients, when they truly need me, 24 x 7. Notice the word truly!
  3. I do everything that I don’t want to do. There are many things, large and small, that I don’t want to do. Like a toddler! I don’t want to! But I have learned to recognize that feeling, let myself be unhappy, and then buckle down and get them done. If I procrastinate and put them off, then they are living in the back of my mind and making me miserable. If I step up and get them finished, then they are gone. (I didn’t expect so many positive aspects of Yoga. I think the regular practice of Yoga trains the mind to understand the emotion, and then move beyond it.)
  4. I am fearless. Part of a strong work ethic, is to be able to ‘do what needs to be done’ regardless of one’s fear. Back in my 20’s and 30’s, I used to live with a lot of  fear, and I made a mess of so many situations. But now I live by the rule ‘Challenge your limits, don’t limit your challenges‘. If I fail at something then it doesn’t matter because certain people still love me. And, of course, if I make a mistake then I will say so, and own it, because integrity is key in business.
  5. I am disciplined. Four months ago, I decided to start writing articles and books, and sharing much of what I have learned from working with some fabulous Player Development professionals over the years. I decided to write one article a week; and here I am writing this. I don’t always “want to” but I do it, because that is my weekly discipline. And I managed to write my first book, Casino Host Goals: a Strategic Approach to Player Development, by carving out one hour a day for what seemed like forever!
  6. I am organized. I maintain three Todo lists. One is for my personal life, one is for Harvest Trends now, and one is for Harvest Trends future. Each morning, I review each list (and yes, these are hand-written on paper, using my Dad’s Parker Pen and real ink. People are often amazed that I don’t use a software tool but, because I knock these things out, they don’t grow into long lists.) I pick 3 items to be completed today; that way, there is plenty of room for the other tasks that pop up during the day and must be knocked back. I think of incoming tasks/emails as if they were ping-pong balls, and I am an Ace table tennis player! I want to knock those little white balls back over the net as they arrive, and not have them all land on the floor around my desk.
  7. I am constantly reading, listening and learning. To me, part of having a strong work ethic, is to work on myself as much as my ‘job’. I multi-task this into my life. For example, I listen to motivational speeches while I am getting ready in the morning, or if I am working on a task that does not require much mental attention. And I am always, always, always thinking. I will see an article on a completely different industry and I will be thinking about what it means to Player Development. So, yes, I am a little obsessed in that way!
  8. I work a lot of hours. And yes, I do work a lot of hours. Ha ha! But I don’t work my face off so I won’t become a billionaire and that’s just fine.

Casino Hosts need strong Empathy. Sympathy? Not so much!

I’ve been doing a lot of web-based training lately for Casino Hosts and I have been reminded why I so enjoy working with Player Development professionals! They show up on time for their appointments, they welcome me with a happy greeting, and they work hard at staying upbeat and energetic in their tone and attitude. What’s not to like?

I’ve also become fascinated by the difference between Empathy and Sympathy.

There is no way for a Player Development professional to build relationships with a diverse set of casino guests without consistently employing a lot of empathy.

What is Empathy? In short, having empathy means you can understand how others feel.

The Empathetic Host is focused on really understanding the guest’s situation, attitude, and behaviors.

This can be done in a number of ways and they all involve close observation and an open mind. There are 5 key skills and they can all be improved with practice.

  1. What is the body language of the guest? What can you deduce from the way they walk, the way they gesture, and the way the stand in front of you?
  2. What is the facial expression of the guest? What can you tell from the shape of their mouth, and the position of their eyebrows?
  3. How do they sound? What is their tone, the speed of their speech, the volume of their voice?
  4. What are they really saying? Behind their choice of words, what message are they really trying to send to you?
  5. And finally, what can you learn by asking open-ended questions? (An open-ended question, such as, ‘Why are you so disappointed?’, can lead to many answers. A closed question, such as ‘Do you want a comp?’, will only lead to one of two answers, Yes or No. Okay! It will always lead to Yes!)

My point is that Empathy, the ability to understand the other person, can be constantly improved upon, by continuing to sharpen our skills in interpreting body language, reading facial expressions, listening for tone, probing for underlying issues, and asking open-ended questions.

Of course, for a Player Development professional, these skills also have to be refined over time to be able to understand people from other cultures, from other backgrounds, from different age groups. This is one of the challenges for a Casino Host when they move cross-country into a different culture, or into a very different Property where the guests have different expectations.

Sympathy, by comparison, means feeling compassion, sorrow, or pity.

If my guest is angry because they showed up for the Ham Giveaway Promotion and there is nothing left, then I can have complete empathy but not necessarily sympathy. After asking some open questions, I can realize that they left home too late and they are mad at themselves, but that they want to express themselves as frustrated at the Casino. With this empathy, I can decide on my approach. And without sympathy, without actually feeling sorry for them, I can still use my professional face and demeanor to handle the situation.

If you think about it, having a Big Heart and being Sympathetic to your guests, could lead to your emotions clouding your judgement, let alone to you crossing the invisible line and befriending your players.

I believe that Empathy is the key to successfully developing meaningful relationships with your coded players. And, constantly improving your skills of insight, will lead to more Empathy in dealing with fellow Hosts, working across departments within the Casino, and probably to a promotion because Empathy is key to being a successful Manager.

In conclusion! Empathy means you understand what they are feeling; and Sympathy means your own mood changes and responds to theirs.

I suggest that you constantly refine your ability to be Empathetic and double-check any impulse to be Sympathetic.

Not that it is bad to care but, as a professional, you are in the business of consistency and your emotional reaction (positive or negative!) may lead you to react differently to different people. And that always leads to trouble. So! Use all of your skills to understand but keep your heart in check, and act from your head.

Yours Empathetically,
Jackie P.