Tag Archives: events

Why do casinos need player development?

I’ll bet your property sends out a lot of mail. Tons of it.  Right? I remember when I was on the seed list at my last property, and it seemed like I got a LOT of mail…and that was just the stuff from my own property!  The mailers I got from checking out the competition weren’t as numerous, since I wasn’t a high roller, but I got a pretty fair number of those, too.

There is a lot of e-mail communication, too. I get something at least once a month, even from properties I haven’t visited in some time. So I know casinos are reaching out and doing database marketing; in fact, I believe casinos do this better than many other businesses today. There’s certainly room for improvement, particularly in terms of “if this, then that” marketing, but that’s another blog post…

Casinos do a lot of things to bring players through their doors.  They post giant luxury cars onto multiple billboards, radio ads let patrons know who is going to be in the showroom soon (and more billboards sport the same message), postcards alert tier card holders there’s a continuity gift program for the upcoming holiday, and reservations agents are scheduled overtime to book the hotel once the coupons arrive in mailboxes market-wide. There’s clearly a lot going on to provide incentives for players to visit a particular casino.

Events are held, show tickets are handed out, food is served, prizes are awarded, and guests show up. So, why do casinos need player development?

Casinos need a true-to-life player development department because it can generate revenue the programs and activities above don’t get for them.  Sure, a player who has had a “pretty alright” experience at your property in the past may come in if you dangle the right prize or giveaway or food coupons at them. But to get the right ones to come in more often, there’s nothing like the personal touch.

A host can make it easier and more inviting for a player to return to a particular property than any other service you can offer.  A host can simply provide the final push a patron needs to commit to the trip your coupons got them to consider.  A host can find out whether a particular guest enjoys tournaments and invite them. A host can let them know when it looks like their favorite progressive is about to hit. A host can get them to share the tale of their bad experience and convince them to give your property another chance to get it right.

There are any number of ways to get a player to come to your casino for a visit, but there is nothing quite as effective as a casino host when it comes to bringing back players or potential worth.  These players expect more than coupons and promotions as a “reward” for their patronage.  Many of them know they are worth a lot to you and expect to be treated as such. Targeting new players who aren’t yet loyal, finding players who are at risk of defection, and reaching out to those you have already lost are cost-effective ways to boost revenue, and there’s no one better than a host to bring them back to you. A well-trained and equipped host team can drive revenue that will have a significant effect on your property’s bottom line.

If you aren’t sure where to start, or if your team needs additional tools or resources, find a PD partner who can show you how to refocus your host team and target the right potential players in your database.  You’ll be pleased with the results.

 

This post is brought to you by Harvest Trends. We specialize in Player Development (PD). Please take a look at PowerHost, a comprehensive way to drive revenue from your team of Casino Hosts and Player Development Executives. Or contact Paul Cutler at 561.860.2621 or pcutler@harvesttrends.com.  Paul will overnight you an informative package along with pricing.

War Stories: Cautionary Tales from ‘The Trenches’

Many years ago, I had primary responsibility for a big casino promotion. My bosses were at the big gaming show in Vegas (before it was called G2E; it was a loooong time ago) and I was launching a big 6-week extravaganza without them for the very first time. We had floor sweeps to hand out scratch-off tickets, offering a variety of prizes for matching symbols. Every ticket had the potential to be a winner, but the odds suggested we’d have only one or two “big” winners (of $1000, if I recall correctly) for the entire 6 weeks.   Non-winning tickets could be dropped into a big drawing drum for the grand finale: a pickup truck to be given away on the last night of the promotion. When the second and third “big” prize winners showed up within hours of the first floor sweep, I knew we had a problem. Someone had figured out how to cheat the scratch-off…and I was sure of it when the fourth winner of the night was the same person who had turned in the first winning ticket.

The GM and I wrote an announcement that I would read over the PA to suspend the scratch-off portion of the promotion, and we quickly printed out truck giveaway entries to be handed out until we could sort out the issue with the game tickets. It was with trepidation that I began reading our announcement, but security and a handful of sympathetic guests (regulars, but the good kind) were nearby to offer moral support. Only twice since have I been in front of a crowd so hostile. As I clicked off the microphone and took a step to leave, a handful of them surged toward me, blocking my exit route to complain about the provision that we would not accept any more “winning” tickets. A few of these had multiple tickets in hand, suggesting that they had picked up tickets others had left behind…it was a mess.

From this promotional War Story, I learned many things.

  • Have scratch tickets printed by someone who has lots of experience with them so it’s impossible for players to cheat.
  • Involve the Security Manager and Compliance department when doing promotional planning to help ferret out vulnerabilities in the conceptual stages.
  • Don’t be afraid to do what’s right for the honest guests, even in the face of some who are angry that they can’t take advantage of a vulnerability they found.
  • The NGCB had our back. Our rules were clear and enforceable, and they stayed in the loop with us as we navigated those uncharted (for us) waters.
  • The loudest voices you hear aren’t always the ones you should pay the most attention to. My GM was cool, calm, and collected as we worked through our short-term plan. Loud, angry voices had no place in that discussion, though we obviously thought through the effect we’d have on our guests.

Everyone who has worked with the public at all probably has some pretty good stories to tell; it’s likely they’ve got some that will curl your hair. Thinking about them for this post actually had me chuckling earlier:

  • The club rep who figured out how to cash out points belonging to inactive guests, but didn’t notice the transactions on a detail report the same rep ran each night for the manager’s review.
  • The angry patron who grabbed a supervisor’s tie to pull him over the counter and almost found himself prone when the (former military) associate instinctively drew back a fist. Fortunately, no one was harmed during this little episode.
  • The promotional attendant who set up a promotion to run with pre-determined winners…and didn’t see any problem with that.
  • The guest who called the company headquarters to complain that he’d been told his patronage wasn’t important…since the casino wouldn’t increase his offers just because he thought they weren’t sufficient.
  • The high roller who hung up on his host because the host uttered the word, “No” during a brief phone call. (The host called right back and said “It seems we were disconnected before I had a chance to tell you what I CAN do.” The guest was all ears.)
  • The small gang who gathered at the promotions desk to write down the winner’s names at nearly every drawing because they were convinced the giveaway was rigged against them.

Here’s the best part about these War Stories: every single one of them teaches us something. The club rep learned that there are checks and balances to prevent theft and that a few hundred bucks was all it took to lose a promising career in gaming. The patron learned that he would be asked to leave private property after assaulting an associate, with a minimum 12-month exclusion to boot. All of us who have worked with casino promotions have learned that people feel entitled to win and will always suggest that someone is cheating them if they don’t. The high roller learned that sometimes it’s better to be quiet and listen to the rest of the story before shutting someone down (particularly if it’s someone who can help you). The gang learned more than they ever cared to know about how electronic drawings work, as the executive responsible for promotions gathered them close and did a mini-workshop on the software’s capabilities.

So, tell us in the comments below: what are your favorite War Stories, and what did you learn from them? Any lesson is a good one, though the ones learned “the hard way” tend to stick with us. Those where we learn what NOT to do are even better, because we may not have to live through the awkwardness and difficulties ourselves (or only tangentially).

Share with us the stories that came to mind as you read some of mine. We can’t wait to learn from your experiences!

7 Habits That Help Hosts Succeed

In a world of increasing digital contact and fewer human interactions, Player Development still has a focus on personalized contact, whether by phone, email, snail mail or in person.There are techniques that successful Casino hosts employ to build relationships with valuable players and secure their loyalty.

These the 7 Habits that we’ve observed in successful casino hosts:

  1. Successful hosts are detail-oriented.  When you’re responsible for hundreds of valuable casino patrons (and their spouses, at least by proxy), it’s easy to get lost in the weeds. Remembering a guest’s children’s and grandchildren’s names is just the beginning. Does she smoke cigarettes? Which brand? What kind of room does he prefer, and does he have a favorite in your hotel? Will he want to go to the steakhouse right after he checks in, or will you need to go and pull him off the tables so he won’t lose his reservation? This kind of attention to the details about his or her players allows a casino host to provide personalized service that hardly exists anywhere these days. It sets them apart.
  2. Understanding profitability is key.  The details a good host remembers about his players aren’t limited to preferences and habits. He needs to understand the profitability profile of each player and his associates in order to proactively motivate them to make visits to the property without overspending the casino’s assets. Here’s a good rule of thumb for tough comp decisions: If you wouldn’t foot the bill yourself, why would you expect the casino to do so? Look at play patterns, redemption patterns, and associated play in aggregate before making a comp decision. It is entirely possible to motivate a player without spending money on supplemental offers.
  3. Good hosts don’t let good players languish. Does Susie usually make at least one trip per week? Have you seen her lately? If not, you should give her a call. Did you hear that Ron was upset about not getting tickets to last weekend’s Beatles tribute show? You should look into what happened and check in with him. While it’s sometimes appropriate to allow an angry guest some time to cool off before making contact, it’s better to reach out soon and re-establish communications before they try a competitor and decide they’re treated better someplace else.
  4. Information is king. Sharing it is key. Whether overheard on the gaming floor or learned in a training session, like any good employee, a good casino host will look for ways to incorporate things they learn into doing a better job taking care of their players. This includes learning what not to do! A great PD team leader will encourage hosts to share what they’ve learned, particularly about promising players or competitor activities, so they can work together to be proactive against any threats or looming disappointments which might be mitigated.
  5. Balance the wants of the guest with the needs of the business.  It’s often a precarious position to be in: your players want what they want and your company says it’s a “no go.” There are a myriad of ways to make everyone happy, and a good host will navigate through the possibilities until finding just the right one. From making an alternative offer, meeting the player halfway, presenting a case to the leadership in advocacy for the guest, or coming up with a brilliant out-of-the-box idea, hosts whose heads AND hearts are in the game will find a solution that keeps the players and the bosses happy.
  6. Remember to take “me” time…but not too much!  While it’s true that working in a 24-hour business with some of its most demanding patrons is almost assuredly a recipe for burnout, most of the PD pros we’ve met love their jobs so much they don’t ever want to do anything else for a living. In order to keep themselves on an even keel, dedicated casino hosts have to take a breather now and then to keep from going into overload. Leaving their players in the hands of their co-workers may be nerve-wracking, but the time away from the constant demands of  the job is essential to long-term well-being and success. Aside from weeks-long vacations, there are ways to regroup and refresh during the work week as well. Enjoy a hobby, take a walk around the neighborhood, meditate, go to the gym, read an engaging novel. Finding a way to disconnect from the world for a few short hours and recharge one’s batteries can make all the difference.
  7. When all else fails, host pros ask for help. It’s not easy to admit it when we need assistance. Whether it’s with a computer program, finding time to accomplish everything on the day’s to-do list, or handling a sticky guest situation, there’s nothing like another perspective to help a host move past a roadblock and keep things moving. There’s no reason a host who needs a hand shouldn’t ask for the assist. Studies have shown that people who do favors for others tend to regard the recipients in a more favorable light, because who wants to help out someone who isn’t deserving? This happy side effect can help to bring a host team closer together while solving the issue at hand. Nice, huh!?

There are a lot of moving parts in a casino host’s set of responsibilities. These 7 attributes can indeed make a good casino host better. Think about it: If you’re refreshed and fulfilled, have the tools you need to execute what’s best for both the guest and the business, and you proactively seek solutions to the day-to-day demands of your players, you can’t lose.

This article is brought to you from casinoplayerdevelopment.wordpress.com, sharing Helpful Ideas on Player Development.

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.