Category Archives: Direction

When Hosts Don’t “Adult”

A former colleague reached out to me via Facebook a few days ago and asked me to blog about hosts who steal other hosts’ players.  My reply to her suggestion was that I needed to think about it a bit, because I always addressed it on an individual basis when allegations of such behavior occurred on one of my host teams.

The first idea that came to me as I gave this some thought was: this behavior is immature, to say the least. Then, when following that train of thought to circumstances during which I’d seen this type of thing happen, I remembered that often, the hosts who would poach other hosts’ players also had other behavioral “quirks” that provided clues to the motivation behind some of their other problematic habits. So, here we are, discussing “non-adult” conduct that might be making waves among the members of your host team, and how you should address them.

Player Poaching

Honestly, this just isn’t cool. When one host has already been working with a patron, unless the two aren’t getting along, the other hosts should simply make themselves available to assist that patron if needed. Under no circumstances should any host suggest to a player that they “ask if you can be coded to me instead of insert other host’s name here.” Not only is it a pretty underhanded way to gather worthy new coded players, it undermines the team’s effectiveness in a number of ways:

  • It gives rise to mistrust, which begins as suspicion among the rest of the team, then turns into gossip. (And we all know how helpful gossip is…) Later, there is open discussion among the hosts and any other associates who care to listen, all while the host in question is out on the floor looking for more good players to approach. As a team leader, I have walked into a shared host office and seen the informal gathering that indicates a deep discussion about something…and learned that they were drawn in when a co-worker started complaining about another host. No phone calls are being made, maybe one of them was on the floor, and nobody is listening to the radio or responding to alerts.
  • It creates retaliation and reduces the efficiency of the team. While everyone is speculating and talking about how upset they are at this person’s behavior, how much work is getting done? Not a lot. Even when they are on the floor or responding to alerts, they’re still half-absorbed by the drama.
  • The retaliation splits the hosts into Survivor-style “teams.” Everyone takes a side (the best abstain from participating), and the sides snark at one another. Teams refuse to take care of “their” players, and generally work to derail any sort of progress they might make as a cohesive team. (Now, maybe nobody is acting like an adult.)
  • It confuses players. Like in any new relationship, players need to take some time to consider what it means to them and how they feel about this new person. Having more than one host courting a patron can start a comp bidding war between the hosts to secure the patron’s loyalty to him or her…instead of remembering that the patrons’ loyalty should be to the property first. Relaxation players may just skip the real-life drama and take their money to a competitor.

In order to prevent this situation, have a clear and concise prospecting process. Clarify for the entire team when a player is “up for grabs” or when he has been secured (more or less) by a single host and should only be approached when there is a reason for another host to provide that patron assistance. When the guidelines are clear and enforceable, it’s much more difficult for the hosts to find opportunities for poaching.

Complaining To Players

When talking with patrons, hosts should always remember that they are a representative of the casino. First, this suggests that the host shouldn’t be unloading his or her burdens on the guests. Casino patrons are entertainment seekers. They didn’t come to your casino to hear about employees’ problems. Personal concerns may come up during the course of conversations over time, but those of the property’s team members shouldn’t be discussed with guests. (The exception is when a personal experience of the associate’s can provide comfort or empathy that the guest will recognize as genuine.)

It also means that when a player complains about something, the host should not respond with anything like, “Yeah, I don’t know why they do that…” While it’s understandable that a host might want to agree with, and thereby validate, the patron’s source of unhappiness, this is not at all helpful in the larger scheme of things. The host’s response should be one that helps the player understand what he must do to get what he wants. For example, if the property doesn’t allow hosts to issue comps but requires patrons to redeem points for free buffets, the host might suggest that the player take advantage of point multipliers to make the most of his play, or invite him to a VIP dinner instead. Hosts should think of themselves as leaders, or as managers of their book of business. Good leaders don’t gripe to customers about the company’s rules. They also don’t use them as excuses for guests’ disappointments.

If this is happening at your property, you will hear about it at some point, and it would be best if it’s not from one of the players who has had his or her concerns validated by a host or been regaled with a host’s personal drama. Good or bad, hosts are still representatives of the property, after all. Invest a few hours each week to talking with both hosts and patrons to discover sooner rather than later if this is happening so you can nip it in the bud…and do address it as quickly as possible.

Going Rogue

I’ve addressed this in another post, but it bears repeating and fits this category quite nicely. It’s a running theme in every bad cop movie: the down-on-his-luck veteran police detective says in a growl, “I work alone!” Just like those fictional detectives, your hosts really do their best work when they’ve got the rest of the team available to provide backup when needed. A host who has gone rogue is likely to be wherever the rest of the hosts aren’t, and he’s asked “his” players to contact him directly, day or night. While this level of service is commendable, it’s really fueled by a desire to keep the other hosts away from those guests whenever possible. Your Rogue may also be poaching players from the other hosts and keeping a distance to avoid conflict. Either way, your team isn’t a team when one host stands alone.

A frank one-on-one discussion is the best way to approach this situation. Get to the root of the host’s concerns about the others backing him up when he’s not available for his players. Realistically, there is  no valid reason for your premiere customer service team NOT to all work together to ensure a seamless experience for your hosted players. Obviously there are situations where one host is preferable to another, but ideally all your hosts should be able to provide the same level of service to all your worthy players. Understanding and addressing exactly why your Rogue doesn’t want the other hosts talking with and serving his players is the key to settling this one peacefully. As a bonus, you may uncover information that will enable you to improve your team.

Shirking Responsibility

Every parent has experiences this. Many supervisors and managers have heard it, too. “But, it wasn’t my fault!”

As the leader of a host team, providing clear expectations and regularly checking in with each host to determine why they are successful or not will help you to keep these hosts on task and on track. When they know you will be asking the questions and that you expect reasonable answers, the irresponsibility has to take a back seat to preparedness. Knowing what your hosts are doing (and what they are not) is key. Holding them accountable for their effectiveness is going to help you move them up or move them out.

How would you handle these “non-adult” behaviors? Let us know in the comments!

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Customer Service and Casino Player Development

There are parallels among all the service industries, if one cares to look for them. Throughout my career, I have made it my business to understand the impact that customer service has on my operations, with an eye to profitability and loyalty, particularly as they apply to player development. In that career, I’ve done a lot of service jobs. From fast food to retail to supply chain to casino marketing, there are a lot of commonalities.

Like any business that requires patrons to enter its bricks and mortar locations to spend their dollars and their time, a casino is selling a product. The catch is that the product may be much more nuanced from customer to customer in a casino. I’ve written about what motivates players to patronize casinos before, and I’ve written often about how an attentive casino host can provide guests a compelling reason to visit one casino property over another. But today, we are going to explore the parallels between casinos and other, similar establishments.

When a shopper enters a department store, he may or may not have a particular item in mind that he would like to find and purchase. There may be more than one target in the customer’s crosshairs, and he may or may not need assistance with making his selection(s). A smart salesperson (especially one who works on commission) will develop a method for assessing the interest and commitment levels of each customer he encounters. This enables the associate to quickly determine how to allocate his resources (time, attention, computer systems, fellow associates) to serve as many customers as he can, as quickly as possible. This makes customers happy, and has the added benefit of increasing profits. It’s especially true if customers become frequent purchasers because of the service they receive.

A casino host on the gaming floor must have similar skills: while walking on the floor talking with known players of worth, a host takes a moment to speak to each player nearby. If any of the patrons need a player’s card, the host can proactively bring it to the player at the machine. Should a known player have a friend nearby, the host makes a good impression on both by acknowledging the “new” guest personally. Perhaps there are patrons listening to a host offering an inducement to a coded player, and they want to know how they can have something like that, too. The principle is the same: understand who is in your area and how you can best serve them. The more delighted patrons you have, the more loyalty to your property you create, and the more your bottom line is boosted.

In big box stores, appliances and electronics are aplenty. Customers can easily be bewildered by the sheer number of options available, each with features which may or may not be available on the next model over. It is simplicity itself to greet every customer who graces your place with their presence, and doing so provides each of them with a familiar face if they require assistance. Being attentive to the facial expressions and body language of your guests makes it relatively easy to spot the ones who are seeking help, and proactively offering your expertise is a fantastic way to delight a customer.

This is remarkably similar to the wide-eyed look one can find on the face of a patron who has walked onto a jam-packed casino floor looking for a game she recognizes. If your property doesn’t have an electronic wayfinder to help guests find particular machine themes, make sure your hosts know the layout of the floor well enough to escort the player to an appropriate area. In fact, it would be ideal if everyone whose work takes them to the gaming floor was able to offer this sort of assistance. This is the kind of service that will pleasantly surprise your guests and make you stand out from among your competitors.

Even online shopping has parallels to gaming. There are a couple of ways to look at it (particularly online slots vs. casino machines), but we will compare the casino guest to an Amazon customer. Amazon has an uncanny suggestion algorithm that crunches what you look at with what you’ve ordered and (I’m sure) looks at your spending patterns.  Then, it shows you items related or similar to the things in which you have expressed an interest, all in the hope of getting you to buy something more.

So, when a host sends a carbon-copy e-mail or quarterly letter to all his players, he is missing an opportunity to emulate Amazon’s enormously successful “personalization” strategy. The host should write a communication with room for variable fields related to upcoming events or other news that can be customized based on the patron’s interests and past activity.

Here’s how it works: on Amazon, if I buy 3 books by the same author, my suggestions will include others by that writer and books like hers, so I may learn about a new series or author I’ll enjoy, so I buy more books than I originally intended. With my favorite casino, if I get a letter from my host every few weeks, I’d like it to specify the things the host believes I’ll like instead of just reiterating everything the monthly coupon mailer already told me about. Perhaps I’ll call the host to book my room for the slot tournament if he suggests that in his communication. Long story short, Amazon doesn’t show me country music artists, because I have never purchased any of it from them. In the same spirit, my host shouldn’t tell me about a blackjack tournament if I have never played cards at his casino.

Now that you’ve seen my parallels, see if you can find some of your own. Think about your outstanding or most disappointing experiences as a customer and find some inspiration in it. Either emulate what was done well or provide in your own role the things you wish the service providers who failed you in some way had done.

Customer service is at the heart of gaming and hospitality.  Without it, every hotel or casino out there is pretty much just like all the others. To differentiate yourself, start with these two notions: Player development team leaders, include in your hosts’ goals some direction for reaching out to “untouched” patrons of worth (collecting  player profile information, calling through an inactive player list, etc.) . Hosts, make it your personal goal to provide the kind of service you’d like to receive. Find the grumpy faces and make them smile. Delight your customers so they come back and see you next time.

What parallels can you find?

Relationship 101 (7 Timeless Principles)

After many years in the casino business, and having known lots of people in both my personal and professional lives, a handful of solid relationship-building principles have clarified themselves to me. Fortunately, these principles are universal in their application.  They work whether the relationship in question is a personal or professional one, and their usefulness is evident after only a short while. The Golden Rule is golden for a reason; treating others the way you would like to be treated makes perfect sense, even if not everyone follows it.  These simple principles are all tied to the Golden Rule at their core, but it seems that they just don’t come naturally to everyone.  In Casino Player Development, however, the diligent use of these principles may well make the difference between failure and success.

  1. Be truthful.  Always.  Fortunately, this principle doesn’t require you to automatically blab everything you know about anything.  It DOES, however, preclude you from telling an outright lie.  For example, when you have to tell a guest something he or she doesn’t want to hear, find a way to say it that is truthful and polite without over-sharing.  Say something like, “Sally, I am so sorry you weren’t invited to the VIP event we had last weekend.  The qualifications for the invitation were very particular, and I couldn’t get permission to include you.”   The first part is true because nobody wants to have this conversation in the first place, and the second would be true even if you didn’t ask for permission to include her, knowing her play didn’t meet the criteria.  You didn’t have to tell her the criteria, and she understands now (even if she doesn’t like it) that her play is the reason she wasn’t included.   See how that works? Even if you don’t really like Sally, you owe her an honest response. This applies to everyone.
  2. Accept people as they are.  Don’t try to change people.  They are who they are, each and every one of them, and it’s not up to you to decide whether that’s okay or not.  Even the most difficult people are that way for a reason, and to build an effective relationship with someone, you have to know and accept who he is.  You don’t have to understand why, but you DO have to accept it.  I learned this lesson as a step-parent, and it’s one I have to remind myself to do daily.  Sure, it’s my responsibility to help raise these children, but that doesn’t give me the right to ask them to be someone other than who they are.  I can guide them to what I believe to be a better path and set them upon it, but ultimately it’s up to them to choose which one they’ll take.  It’s the same with guests or co-workers, friends, significant others, and every other person with whom you interact in the world.  As Popeye told us, “I am what I am.”
  3. Don’t take everything personally.  Sure, sometimes that nasty comment was meant personally, but not every upsetting thing you hear was intended to hurt you.   Think about how upset your guests sometimes get over the perceived value of their offers, and you can see how people can get all worked up over something that was never meant as a statement of their personal value.  Don’t let that happen to you.  People who are angry often lash out in unnecessarily hurtful ways, and you will almost certainly get caught in the crossfire at least once in your life.  Keep your wits about you, take a deep breath and respond to the issue instead of the barb.
  4. Learn to anticipate the needs of others.  I see this in action every time I walk into my local Walmart on a rainy day and note the umbrella bag display.  In this case, as in so many others, there is a smidgen of self-preservation involved, as the floor will undoubtedly stay drier (and safer) if wet umbrellas are encased in plastic bags as they accompany their owners throughout the store, but it’s also a way the reviled retailer has anticipated customers’ needs.  As a host, this is an invaluable skill, and it will certainly make you happier in all your relationships.  It’s not even difficult to do.  Note the things that matter to your guests and your bosses, then strive to meet their expectation before it’s been announced. (I’m pretty sure the cup of coffee my husband gently wakes me to drink whenever I have to get up early makes his day nicer too, but mostly because it makes my day start with more civility.)
  5. Place blame appropriately and tactfully.  It is a simple fact of life that things will go wrong, and according to Murphy’s Law, it will happen at the worst possible moment.  The aftermath can be so much better if the blame game can be handled with some diplomacy.  In the workplace, a postmortem review is often used to learn from what went awry, and they can be difficult at best.  I’ve been involved in a few that were excruciating, and I couldn’t help but think that they might have been more productive if they had been handled with a bit more grace.  Don’t rail at someone for a mistake (or the results thereof), and try to remember that none of us is perfect, so bad things do indeed happen to good people.  In fact, if possible, worry less about blame and put the emphasis on learning from what went wrong instead of who flubbed in the first place.
  6. Own your mistakes.  This is such an integral part of a solid relationship that it could make or break one  all by itself.  When you make a mistake, it is ultimately up to you to take responsibility for it and immediately take steps to make things right.  Don’t hedge, don’t play the martyr, just own it.  If you forgot to make the reservation, tell the player the truth.  Then, in your next breath, tell him what you can do about it.  If you have a good reason for the error, include it if it is relevant, but don’t if it’s not.  (To test relevancy, ask yourself whether it would make any difference if you were the one hearing about it.)  People will learn that they can trust you if you can accept responsibility for your failures.
  7. Listen.  I’ve saved the most important one for last.  Because I’m a talker, this one is difficult for me.  I always have something to say, but I have come to realize that I learn more when my mouth is firmly shut.  Learning more about someone is an essential part of building a relationship with them, because it can’t be a true relationship if it’s all about you.  Think for a moment of your best friend.  Could you tell me about his or her favorite color, food, style of hat, animal or hand gesture?  Sure you could.  Now think about the last time you talked together.  Was the exchange closer to a 50/50 in terms of time spent talking?   That’s how you know those things.  Whenever you talk with someone, talk WITH them.  Take turns.  Listen and learn.  With everybody.

What relationship-building essentials have I left out?  Tell us in the comments.

 

10 Biggest Mistakes Casino Hosts Make

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It is my habit to be positive, but that outlook hasn’t always served me well.  Giving everyone the benefit of the doubt certainly helps me seem more likable, but I don’t always see when someone’s motives are suspect.  On the other hand, the things people do wrong aren’t always motivated by bad intent.  So, continuing both myarticles specifically targeted to casino hosts and my tendency to be positive, I’ll provide some examples of things hosts should NOT do, and I’ll even explain why.  As we look toward 2015 with hopeful hearts, here are some behaviors to avoid to make the new year a great one.

For more host advice, please see my post entitled “10 Tips for Casino Hosts” and also check out “Casino Host Basics.”

  1. Sticking to the “tried and true” without considering the adoption of new methods or prospects is a mistake that can manifest itself in many ways. Some hosts always call the same players for every event (without going a bit deeper into their player lists) to fill a quota. Others do the same kind of player party or gathering, or work with a trusted handful of event types or themes. There are hosts who recycle an old letter to one’s players with updated information and instead of writing one from scratch every time. Spread your wings!  Embrace the creativity!  If you’re in a rut, get yourself and your players out of it. If not, don’t fall into one. Ask for ideas if you need to; just don’t be boring or predictable all the time.
  2. Being less than truthful is always a no no. Obviously, you can’t tell your guests everything , but if what you say has truth at its base, you’re staying on the moral high ground. If you have to deny a request for a comp exception, please don’t tell the player, “My boss said I’ve given you too much already and I’ll be written up if I issue you the comp you asked for” even if that’s exactly what your boss said. Decide before you contact the player how you will tell them a truthful reason for your denial of their request. I would start with something like, “I would love nothing more than to give you what you requested, but because I comped you *insert comp info here* and *another example,* I am unable to grant your most recent request.” Have some responses to protests all prepped and ready to go, too.  “I know it’s your *insert special occasion here* so I can offer you *something less than what they asked for* based on your most recent play.” Don’t use excuses. Tell it to them straight. They will know if you lie to them and they will talk about it if you do.
  3. Adopting a “one-man-band” attitude is detrimental to the department as a whole and doesn’t serve your players well. Hosts are usually part of a team, and they should ideally behave as such. When you’re off property, someone else should be empowered and comfortable taking care of your players. When you’re on property, you should be taking care of other host’s players. That way the whole team is more successful overall, and guests don’t fall between the cracks when their host is unavailable.
  4. Failing to listen, whether to your boss, your co-workers, or your guests means you aren’t a very good host. When someone is talking to you, pay attention to what they say and how they say it. Instead of thinking of how you’ll reply, read body language and consider the words and tone of voice you hear. Then stop and formulate an answer based on all the available information instead of just reacting. This habit will serve you well in all your relationships.
  5. Going rogue and disregarding rules or policies will do no more than get you into trouble. If the comp guideline is 10% of theo or loss don’t issue more than that without an easy-to-communicate justification. If you break a rule, you have, in fact, created a new rule…and if it is unsustainable, you have also created a problem. Ask questions if you don’t understand a policy or procedure, and follow your property’s rules, even if you don’t entirely agree with them.
  6. Voicing your dissenting opinion in the wrong company can get you into some really deep hot water. I’m not suggesting that you should always keep your opinion to yourself whether it’s in agreement or not, but always consider your audience. I’ve heard stories of hosts who were overheard (by guests) exclaiming  their disdain for certain situations or changes, then the word was out on the floor. Before you know it, tongues are wagging and the host’s name is being muttered in the executive offices. (NOT the best way to get attention from the C-Suite, mind you.) Always be tactful and kind, but firm if you must be. Pick the right audience and the right venue before sharing your thoughts.
  7. Becoming unprofessionally close to your players is a minefield. Allowing a work relationship to become too personal can be a slippery slope. Refrain from getting too close to a particular player because it opens the door to the appearance of impropriety, even if none exists. This kind of conflict of interest could be damaging to the host’s career, emotional state, and well-being. It’s best to keep things businesslike, but friendly. Find the balance. (I know of a few hosts who have had successful long-term relationships with patrons, but they are the exception rather than the rule. Tread carefully.)
  8. Believing that you know all you need to know can be a dangerous trap. In this new gaming reality, knowledge is power. Learn about new technologies, your competitors’ programs, your players preferences, how your own property’s programs work, and how to best use the tools at your disposal. There is always something new to learn and leverage to take the best possible care of your players.
  9. Depending on a small, core group of your players to drive the bulk of your list’s revenue is simply shortsighted. Keep looking for worthy prospects, especially if they aren’t supplied to you. Carve out some floor time and use the hot player screens to identify players who seem to be spending well and introduce yourself to them. Keep in contact with all of your players and prospects to drive additional trips or find problems that may prevent them from coming in. It’s your job to smooth the way for your guests to visit your property more often than they visit any other. That principle applies to every player of worth. Don’t forsake them for your “pet” players.
  10. Keeping player feedback to yourself is another way to set yourself up for failure. When a player shares something with you, it is entirely likely that they expect some action on your part to either resolve or share their experience with someone who can make it right. Whether positive or negative, it is part of your role to represent the players’ interests with your boss or other departments as necessary to ensure everyone concerned knows as much about the situation as you do. Keeping players happy within the guidelines your property has set is, after all, what hosts do.

Remember, your success is related as much to what you don’t do as it is to what you accomplish. If you have additional traps or host mistakes to share, please do.

Does your Player Development team have the right goals?

It’s of paramount importance in today’s marketplace that goals and objectives are in alignment across the enterprise regardless of the business you’re in.   Obviously, it’s more than beneficial to have everyone in the boat rowing in the same direction; these days it’s critical in maintaining ever-slimmer margins and productivity levels. It is a stark reality that the security of people’s jobs are often depend upon prudent management and the best possible use of a company’s assets.

There is never a bad time to take stock and evaluate whether or not the course you set in your earlier plans is still the right path to reach your destination.  It’s worth considering your original destination as well, while you’re at it. Talk with your counterparts in other departments and determine whether your team’s longer-term objective is still the one that best serves the enterprise.

For Casino Player Development, that means it’s time to look at all the elements of the team’s goals and determine whether or not changes should be made to either the financial or performance-related accomplishments the team is expected to make.  It’s important to take a step back and look at the big picture from the property’s perspective, do some analysis, and determine how PD can best support the overarching  role marketing is being asked to play in the property’s success.

Reactivation

Are there a large number of good players who haven’t made a visit to your property in the past 90+ days who need to be contacted by a host to generate some return trips?  If so, your host team should have goals to reactivate some of those guests.  Getting these players back before they defect is a concept I call preemptive reactivation.  Learn more about it here. Identify the players in question and assign them for a host to call, then credit the host with the play he generates as a result.

Acquisition

Maybe the property is focused on signing up new players.  To support that effort, your host team’s goals should include targets based on the number of high-worth new members they get back to your property within a month of their club enrollment.  Establish a minimum ADT and number of trips a worthy new player must make before he can be coded to the host and credit the host with the activity generated by his new players.

Retention

If the hosts’ coded lists have an activity level of less than 75% during a quarter, perhaps a retention goal is in order. Determine whether the coded players are on pace to maintain their average frequency, identify players who aren’t playing to their tier status, and get the hosts working on those folks to generate visits at a higher frequency or ADT.  For more on generating visits from loyal players without spending a lot of money, check out my blog post on that topic here

Host Potential

If your market is in flux (as are so many regional operators’ today), you may or may not still be targeting the right players.  Do some digging and figure out where the Player Development team’s “sweet spot” is in terms of minimum ADT.  There are undoubtedly players at your property who are coded to a host but shouldn’t be.  Conversely, it’s almost a certainty that there are also players who should be coded to a host but who aren’t.  While you’re ensuring that the team’s goals are aligned with the property’s expectations of marketing, doesn’t it make sense to be sure the hosts are reaching the right players to achieve their goals?  Decide whether re-coding is in order, and make sure the hosts know how to communicate with your guests about any changes you make.

Activity Measurement

For each of the larger objectives, set and measure the host’s targets any number of ways: # of guests contacted, % who returned, add uncoded players of worth and reward more for their visits, total # trips generated, # hotel bookings, # event bookings…the possibilities are limited only by your ability to track the results.  Each goal should include any associated offers or instructions the hosts may need. Communicate things like event details, upcoming shows, and guidelines for comps and handling exceptional guest requests at the same time as the new goals.  If you do the whole thing in writing, that’s even better.

Do a check of resources before finalizing any changes to the host’s goal structure, too.  Getting approvals for your new goals may turn out to be easier than quantifying the results at the end of the goal period.  Gather the resources (both human and otherwise) and make sure you and the hosts will have everything you need along the way to be sure you’re still on track.   Then you and the Player Development team will be ready to show ’em how it’s done.

Isn’t Player Development MORE Important These Days?

It is absolutely critical that bricks and mortar gaming properties start today to focus on preemptive reactivation to ensure as little erosion as possible when their best players can “get their fix” online. In the face of legal US online gaming, which will undoubtedly take hold in many more markets, some operators don’t seem to understand that a strong Player Development department can help them hold on to more share of wallet from many more of their most profitable guests.

Your higher-end, more affluent players may well be playing slots online already, though not for real money. Why wouldn’t they, if they could legally do so, give up a credit card number to fund a play bank for online gambling for real?  If your guests aren’t already playing slots online, they are surely in the minority.  I have personally witnessed guests who would, once their gaming wallet was depleted, break out their iPads and play slots online in the food court.

Yes, I know the casino gaming experience is, for many, about the social aspects and the excitement.  (That’s why the folks I mentioned  played online for free after they were out of gambling cash.) Tier cards are about prestige, and cliques of players on your gaming floor wave them around like badges of honor to show what big shot high rollers they are. (You know the ones I’m talking about.) These guests aren’t likely to play online much, but you may lose some wallet to online games in addition to the trips you lose to your competitor(s). (You know they’re promiscuous.) The guests who make up your Top 20% vary somewhat in their motivations, their preferences, and their gambling buddies, but all of them are likely cheating on you at least a little bit.  A solid Player Development team can alleviate some of that cheating.

You know who you’re likely to lose to online gaming, right? The really good ones. The ones who sneak in during the wee hours. She calls a host from her car for a room, doesn’t stop playing to eat, doesn’t demand free drinks for friends, and dumps a ton of cash for a few blissful hours. Then she’s off. She doesn’t want mail, prefers no calls, and doesn’t give a hoot about any promotions or events you’re having.  You will lose this player to an always-available at her fingertips (and private) option for spending her recreational dollars.

Unless!  Unless she and her host are solid, that is. If she’s coming to your property, this player knows the host will clear the road for her. As soon as the host sees the caller ID, he knows just what to do. And she’ll keep coming back as long as he keeps doing what she asks so she’s free to just gamble and sleep. It’s a win-win.

But hosts can only do so much. Right? Has your property identified all the players like the one I described above? Are they all assigned to a host for care and feeding? Do YOU know who those players are? Are there other types of players (profiles, if you will) at your property who are at risk to online gaming? For example, poker may not be very profitable, but the loss of associated play in other areas might be painful to lose, especially if you lost a great many poker players.

If your hosts can’t tell you something about each of the players who make up your top 1000 players (sliced and diced by whatever metrics you prefer), there is work to be done. Hopefully, your team can do better than Top 1000. If they can’t, identify those people and get the hosts on the phones.

What’s that? Your hosts don’t have time to call the best 1000 players in your database over the next quarter? See the blog post I wrote about things that shouldn’t be on a host’s task list. You can’t prioritize the identification of those players right now? Then when you get a spare moment, run the numbers on your top 1000 and estimate how much revenue you’re leaving on the table if you lose just 10% of that play. Can you find the time now?

Get out your GPS, plot a course, and get the hosts rolling. Keep those players thinking about how much they like coming to your casino to play. Don’t let them forget that the personal touch is part of why they like your place. Remind them that you enjoy having them as your guest. Remind them all, and remind them now. At the very least, those who are able are likely to come to visit you again within a couple of weeks after their host calls. (Track it and see.) Best case scenario, your PD team grows some solid companionable relationships with the very best players you have, and everybody wins.

Have Confidence in Your Direction

When you get in your car to drive to work or to the supermarket, do you stop to think about where you will guide your vehicle, or are you in more of an “autopilot” mode?  As you make the turns and stop at lights or signs, what’s on your mind?  Are you thinking about your first meeting of the day?  Are you repeating, “bread, bread, bread” because you forgot to write it on the list?  Odds are, you aren’t concentrating fully on the route, because you’ve been there hundreds of times and you know the way.

Like muscle memory, any task repeated often enough becomes second nature, and you can complete that task with total confidence.  You’ve been there and done that.  A lot. Practice makes perfect, right?

In Player Development, hosts and team leaders need to spend time cultivating “PD memory.”   Set up role playing activities so inexperienced hosts can learn how to handle upset or disappointed players.  Use one another as guinea pigs to try out different ways to approach a slot player who isn’t using a card.  Make tons of phone calls to invite guests to an upcoming event in order to become good at delivering the same message in different ways.  Write drafts of e-mails to new players.  Brainstorm to come up with catchy sayings to add to greeting cards.  Talk to players you don’t know so it becomes less terrifying.

scaredriver

Do things that don’t necessarily come easily to you, and do them often.  Then, they’ll be easier to do when the need arises.

And always pay attention to the road.  Know where you are and where you are going.  You can do this.  (Don’t forget the bread.)