Tag Archives: Casino Hosts

How do you keep your team rolling?

I swept my whole house today. You’re probably wondering why I started with that fascinating factoid, right? While I was moving the dust mop through my kid’s rooms, I noticed that the stuff I was sweeping up was reacting differently to the mop’s motions based on its individual nature.

There was a yellow bead that kept rolling right past the rest of the stuff I’d swept up, and there was a tiny metal bead (like a BB) that rolled pretty well but mostly stayed with the pile. There were some dust bunnies under my 16-year-old’s bed, and they stuck to the dust mop. The leaves under my 9-year-old boy’s bed were stubborn and didn’t want to be swept up, so I had to get the bristly broom for those.

Your player development team is a lot like the stuff I swept up today. How? Each individual on your team responds differently to the same stimulus. The yellow bead is the host who takes your advice and direction and runs with it, not looking back to see where the rest of the team is. The BB was your “steady Eddie” host, who stays with the pack and keeps moving at a steady pace.The dust bunnies are like the hosts who won’t make a move without a push. The leaves are the hosts who keep doing what they’re going to do regardless of your attempts to motivate them, at least until you force the issue.

In my experience, player development pros get better when they have to step outside their comfort zones, and their leaders sometimes have to start sweeping to get things moving. The dust bunnies would still be under my daughter’s bed if I hadn’t swept. The yellow bead would probably have ended up in a different place on the floor, and the BB would be hanging out with the leaves. They needed motivation to move; to roll.

Each of the members of your host team needs motivation too. Most likely, it will take something tailored to each individual to get maximum results.

The host who’s rolling on without regard to the rest of the team may be ready to take on the challenge of being a mentor for another employee. The one who is rolling along but not excelling may benefit from some encouragement to implement his ideas. The ones who want to hang back and need a push might do more if they know you’re watching and keeping track of their accomplishments. The stubborn ones could get better with training, so they should be paired up with a “rolling” host.

Take the time to evaluate your team individually, assess the tools you have available to get them moving, then choose the right combination of tools and methods to start things rolling. Then, repeat as necessary. Just like I’ll have to do with the clean(er) floors in my kids’ rooms.

Ethical Scenarios for Casino Player Development

In these blogs, we have covered a lot of ground: things hosts should do, things they shouldn’t do, how to evaluate them, how to set and measure goals, and we have gone into some depth on a few of these topics.  One important aspect of a host’s job, however, is one we’ve only briefly touched.  It is especially important that hosts keep in mind the effects of their decisions and the ethical implications thereof.  This post is designed to be interactive, so please comment with your responses.

Let’s pretend for the purposes of this post that I am a successful casino host.  I work at a property that has thus far been blissfully free of growing competitive stresses, though some of my players occasionally travel to Las Vegas for an extended gambling vacay.  I’ve been at my property for just over 5 years, and I’ve developed some solid relationships with many of my high-worth guests.  I am not allowed to accept cash tips, but guests may give me gifts of a reasonable value.   In the following scenarios, what should I do?

  1. One of my players has been indicted for embezzling a significant amount of money from the banking company for which he worked (until the indictment, anyway).  He continues to visit and play, even coming in more often now than he used to since he’s got more free time these days.  As his host, what is my responsibility to him and to the property?
  2. I have an older player who sometimes invites other guests to come to her room (in my on-property hotel) to assist her with getting in and out of the shower.  Because she obviously trusts these players, she is heartbroken and sobbing when she comes to find me on the gaming floor to tell me that someone has stolen $300 in cash from her purse.  I immediately suspect the latest of her “assistants,” but she begs me not to say anything to that lady.  What is my best move in this situation?
  3. My best friend is a hotel supervisor at my casino, and she calls me over to stand behind the desk so she can make an emergency trip to the ladies’ room.  I know how to check people in and issue card keys, so when someone approaches the desk, I assist the guest, who tips me $50 with a wink upon check-in.  Rapidly, I go through the options available to me: upgrade to the last host room (it’s a suite), upgrade to a room with a better view, say “thanks” and put the cash in my pocket, hold the tip to give to my BFF, or explain that I’m just filling in and suggest that the tip should be given to someone else since I can’t accept it.  Which choice should I make?
  4. One of my players was delighted with the anniversary amenity I had waiting for her and her husband in their hotel room last week.  She was so delighted that she sent me a thank you card containing a $100 bill.  The guest sent the card to my home address.  I’m not sure where she got it, as I’d never give a guest my address…What should I do with the cash?
  5. I believe that one of my players makes his money illegally.  I don’t know any details, but I have heard other table games players (and dealers) gossip about him.  Speculation on the sources of his income runs from gunrunning to illegal drug sales to house-flipping to a sizable inheritance.  He doesn’t seem to have a regular job, he travels a bit, and he always has lots of cash and a fancy “new” car almost every month…so I know something isn’t typical about how he earns his living.  What is my responsibility to the player and/or my property in this case?
  6. I overheard a conversation between one of my co-workers and his wife last night.  He was on his company cell phone, shouting at her in the back-of-the-house hallway.  Visibly upset, he returned to the office not long after and began making guest calls.  One of his guests must have known he was upset, because next thing I know, he’s spilling the story to a guest on the office phone.  What should I do about this?
  7. One of my favorite players is moving (permanently) to her lake house about 4 hours’ drive from my property.  She has extended to me and my family an open invitation to come and visit her sometime.  She’s not likely to make many visits after the move, since she is reluctant to drive such a distance alone.  She doesn’t have much family and considers me one of her closest friends.  Is it okay if I accept her invitation?

Many hosts encounter similar situations to these, and it isn’t always easy to know what one should do.  Your feedback might help a casino host to make a better decision, so don’t be shy.  Choose one scenario or reply to them all…but use the number of each so we know which scenario to which your answer(s) refer(s).

Ready?  Set?  GO!

7 Keys to Evaluating a Casino Host’s Performance

As the end of the year approaches, it is time to reflect on the year past…and for many of us, it is time to begin writing evaluations. It does not have to be a daunting prospect. Two things need to be addressed, however, before we get started.

  1. Use concrete examples whenever possible to back up what you write in the evaluation.  Even if you don’t include them in the document, make note of the examples and use them when you discuss the evaluation with the host. Anecdotes help you make a point in a clear and concise manner.
  2. Nothing in the evaluation should be a surprise to the host. If you’re going to drop a bombshell on someone, this is not the right time. Be honest, but don’t be brutal.

Use the following 7 areas of performance to evaluate whether your hosts are doing well or not, and use the evaluation process as a starting point for coaching to improve the performance of those hosts who are not meeting your expectations. Rate each host in every attribute and make notes to back up each rating.

Accountability: A host who is accountable is one who takes ownership of his role and understands how it contributes to the property’s success. The accountable host handles his responsibilities and knows where he stands in terms of his performance. What negatives should you look for? “Lost” reservations, difficulty locating the host while on shift, guests who say calls were never returned, incomplete tasks, and similar dropped balls.

Contribution: An individual makes a contribution to a team by providing candid and constructive feedback to team leaders and co-workers in the spirit of continuous improvement. Did your players like the ice cream social party you had? If not, what should you have done instead? A host who is contributing to the team’s success would have shared with you what her players said about it. She also might have told you about the shortcut she found in your player tracking system and she may even have suggested coming in an hour early tomorrow to show the ambassadors how to set up for tournament registration.

Collaboration: Hosts need collaboration to be successful. From getting timely hotel reservations to setting up birthday celebrations, hosts need to establish and nurture working relationships across the enterprise to effectively meet both guest needs and property objectives. Leveraging relationships with dealers, slot attendants, steakhouse servers, reservations agents and valet attendants enables a host to provide the absolute best experience for their players. Ask the host who her go-to person is in each department on property to understand how collaborative she is.

Communication: It is of vital importance that hosts understand what needs to be shared with whom, and in what venue. Ensuring that the flow of information follows established guidelines to protect private and proprietary data is one of the most critical security concerns hosts have. Beware the over-sharer or, alternatively, the host who rarely has anything to add to a conversation.

Results: A results-oriented host is one who achieves individual and team goals the majority of the time and focuses on results instead of efforts. Here, you’re looking for a performer who can tell you whether or not he is on pace to reach a goal, how much theo his players drive on a typical Wednesday, and what he is doing to surpass his goal. A host who is not results-oriented will tell you how many people he was unable to reach when he was making calls and often offers up excuses instead of plans when he is off pace.

HostGoals

Guest Service: This seems like a no-brainer, but it needs to be addressed because of its importance to Player Development. When in front of a guest, the host should be able to focus on that guest as though he or she is the only person in the world regardless of what is going on around them. A host should always follow up on guest requests in a timely manner and should provide the same level of courtesy to his collaborators around the property. Think of more than one anecdote to back up your score in this area, because there is always room for improving one’s guest service.

Strengths and Areas for Growth: To demonstrate your understanding of each host as an individual contributor to the department, include a short list of that host’s strengths as well as areas in which there is a need for improvement. Think of it sort of like a lawyer’s closing argument. Present to the host a quick but comprehensive picture of your view to his overall performance. Doing this establishes that you have been paying attention to the host’s work and that you know him.

Now that you’ve written some scores and anecdotes for each of the attributes, set aside the evaluation. Review it in a couple of days and make any adjustments you deem necessary, then complete the review process according to your property’s practices. Keep in mind that you should be setting the example for your team, so you may want to evaluate your own performance using the same 7 attributes.  Happy evaluating!

 

A Day in the Life of a Casino Host

Good Player Development leaders realize that each host has inherent strengths and challenges, and that it is important to provide each host individual opportunities to grow, to maximize their strengths and increase their overall effectiveness.

Individual performance toward goals, as well as contributions to team efforts and the provision of excellent guest service should be elements in the host training and evaluation process. Ideally, host efforts will be observed and monitored on a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly basis.  Feedback should be provided regularly to create both accountability and skill enhancement.

The ultimate goal of all that hosts do is to drive business.  Every job responsibility of a host is a function of this goal. Bringing high-worth and potential high-worth players back to the property and increasing trip frequency by these players, developing a “base” of players from which to draw, and recognizing and rewarding guests based on their play are all things hosts do to reach that ultimate goal.   Monitoring the performance of tasks a host should complete in a shift is an easy way to begin assessing performance and effectiveness.

Daily Tasks

One thing that sets this job apart from so many others is that a host does not have a set schedule of how and when they perform their job responsibilities within their shift. Time management is a key skill and each host has to determine what they should work on and for how long. While there is flexibility, each host should have some element of routine in order to accomplish their goals.

Here is an example of a casino host’s daily activities.

  • Check the mail, both snail and electronic.  Mail that is addressed to someone in particular should be placed in that individual’s mailbox and other mail should be distributed accordingly.
  • Check that day’s arrivals list to make note of reservations for high-worth players.  All the hosts should be aware of the day’s anticipated arrivals and should work as a team to greet these guests and take care of their needs, especially for guests whose host is not on property that day.
  • Spend some time in the office during the shift to read e-mail/check phone messages and make/return guest calls as needed.
  • Once the most outstanding of the above contacts have been made, head out to the gaming floor.  Floor time includes sign-ups (as assigned), but also means face time with guests (make contact with the regulars; get to know some new faces) and interaction with staff in other departments.  REMEMBER!  A good host is a role model for the property.  It’s easy: Smile, be sincere, project a positive attitude, and try to be the “morale coordinator” for everyone, guest and team member alike!
  • Organize a contact list and work from the office after some time on the floorCheck for new player bounce-backs, inactives, players with upcoming occasions to note, and hot players.  Prepare guest mail for bounce-backs, any greeting cards, and “Welcome to the Club” notes. Look for tier upgrades (if applicable) and check on the progress of yesterday’s (or today’s) new sign-ups.
  • Make guest calls to book business.  Focus on positive guest contact and planning something special for at least one couple or group of players for the coming week(end).  Make player development second nature by staying cognizant of player contacts.
  • Use the tools provided to track and note all contacts.  Set up reminders as needed to make reservations, provide amenities (flowers, food, cards, etc.) for upcoming visits, or complete other follow-up tasks.  Include trying again to reach guests who were not reached on the first try.
  • Make sure that upcoming events are booking as they should, and do some telemarketing if needed.  Be sure to complete assigned calls for filling events in a timely manner.
  • Follow up on play reports for sign-ups or player contact logs, double-check on restaurant reservations or notes      that need to be delivered to guest rooms, book show tickets, and take care of all the follow-ups due today.  Look through the ones due for tomorrow.
  • Complete required reporting on all contacts and activities as assigned.
  • When leaving a work area, make sure it is neat and orderly.  Log off the computer before the next person will need it.  (Lock the workstation when leaving for only a short time.)   Before leaving at the end of a shift, make sure  that everything has been distributed as needed (reports sent, mail delivered, messages delivered etc.).

Thoughts?  Comments?  Missing responsibilities?

E-mail them to ahudson@harvesttrends.  Please.

What IS Preemptive Reactivation?

Simply put, Preemptive Reactivation is a name for a Player Development approach in casino gaming. It is a method for identifying and mitigating player loss.

There are three steps:
1. Identify a new or imminent threat to which you may lose good players
2. Determine which of your very best players are likely to migrate to the new option you’ve identified
3. Assign those players to a host (if they aren’t coded already) to work on solidifying the relationship to prevent their departure

Here’s an example. You are looking at the numbers and notice that your hosted players are making fewer trips than they did last quarter and compared to the same quarter last year. While this may not come as a surprise to you in light of the economics in the last few years, you are conscientious and want to find out why.

Time for step one.

Identifying the threat is often the most difficult thing to accomplish. If it’s imminent, maybe you already know about it. Perhaps there is a shiny new casino opening up in one of your main markets. You could be facing the expansion of an existing competitor, looking at an aging property you cannot properly upgrade, or it could be as big as the leviathan that will be legal online gaming in the USA. But, there’s a chance it’s more of an internal issue. Have you received feedback that better players are dissatisfied with club benefits, direct mail offers, service failures or something else you can address in-house? If it’s something like that, or if you just aren’t sure, leverage your host team in any number of ways to achieve this objective.

Give them a series of questions to work into player conversations to tease out the reasons for diminished play/visits. Give them a survey interface into which they can enter the card number and check (or type in) the reasons given to them BY THE GUESTS for their less frequent visitation. Hold events, have executives record outgoing calls to ask players to contact a host with concerns, or drop a postcard in the mail for a special “tell us about ourselves” day in conjunction with your operational department teams. Set up a feedback loop with your Casino Host team at its core. The answer you get the most often is your biggest threat. Then you’ll know why the numbers are down.

Now, step two.

Determining which players are most likely to defect is only marginally less tricky than identifying the threat. In our scenario, you should be able to identify which players are making fewer trips, but in the event of an imminent threat, you’ll need to do some detective work.

You know from where your better players come, right? Look at those zip codes and determine whether those players are closer to you or the new/upgraded competitor. They’ll tell you if they are getting more compelling offers from another casino they’ve visited. Determine who else has been there and evaluate whether you have the stomach for the bidding war that might ensue if you try to buy back the business.

Whatever the threat, you have to come up with a plan for mitigating the losses. Offer your players an alternative that’s more appealing than whatever they’re thinking of leaving you for. You’ll be able to see the effectiveness of your plan when the trip numbers start to shift.

Then, step three.

Make adjustments to your hosts’ player lists in order to ensure ongoing communication and satisfaction with your property. This single step will do more to secure the loyalty of your best players than anything else you do. Maybe in step two, you determined that the food offers coming from a competitor were driving your best players to their steakhouse. You don’t want to dismantle your entire direct mail program to cater to a small segment of high-end players. Instead, use the personal touch that is casino player development. Empower your casino hosts to offer those players a premium: the guest turns in to the host his mailer coupon for four buffets in exchange for an equal value in the steakhouse. The player can make the reservations and make all the arrangements for the guest’s convenience, meet him in the steakhouse, do some relationship building and exchange the paperwork.

In order to make this work, you’ll need some pretty specific analytics. You’ll need to have several months’ or quarters’ worth of player development reports, your direct mail redemption analysis, a breakdown of your hosted players including demographics and frequency, and that’s just for starters.

You’ll also need an articulate and engaged team of casino hosts, a participatory executive team and some guests who aren’t afraid to speak their minds. (Fortunately, that last one isn’t very difficult to find!)

Harvest Trends can help with some of the rest of the things you’ll need. (Sorry, you’re on your own with the executives.) Contact Amy J Hudson at ahudson@harvesttrends.com or at 304-218-1265 to find out how.

Isn’t guest service more important than ever?

As more and more casinos open across America, doesn’t it seem like providing a superior customer service experience would be the first thing existing casino operators would do?

Sadly, many casinos are hiring only part-time employees who aren’t invested in the long-term prospects of the property. This may someday extend to the Player Development department, where the effects could be quite dramatic and negative.

With more options available than ever, and with online gaming just months away for at least SOME casino players, how will you know what is happening to your very best players?

If you’re doing it right, your casino hosts will know. Prepare for and respond to threats to your business by utilizing Preemptive Reactivation.