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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!

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.

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


International Player Development

Here is an interesting article for two reasons.

If you are new to Player Development, then Trudie Yau calls out some of the key skills and activities that are key to being successful.

And if you are ‘in the business’ then it is interesting to read about her role in international player development; based in the UK, Trudie drives international business to the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. Trudie’s title is Director of Player Development EMEA.

Click here to read the interview

(EMEA means Europe, the Middle East and Africa. So Trudie develops business from across the world and directs players to the Cosmopolitan.)

This article was published in Casino Life Magazine.