Tag Archives: Casino Host evaluation

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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How a (PD) idea became a reality

Once upon a time, a Casino Player Development Manager had an idea. He was using spreadsheets to run his host team and measure their achievements. Parts of his program were working just fine, but other parts had room for improvement.

“My hosts are good at prospecting and identifying good players on the gaming floor and in the database because of our Casino Management System technology,” he thought. “But how can I make a change so that they are more proactively qualifying those players and making them loyal to our casino?” Because the hosts wouldn’t benefit from the theoretical generated by their prospective players until AFTER they had qualified to be coded, there was no urgency to work toward getting these players to come in more often and/or play more…and that’s what hosts are supposed to do.

He was only able to “code” players to the hosts at the change of the quarter, because his property’s lone database analyst spent so much of his time and resources on keeping the mail moving (and analyzed) that he didn’t have time to provide PD reports more often than once each month. This limitation was also responsible for the property’s inability to give the hosts “credit” for the theoretical generated by the prospect players.  The idea was to use a rolling 90-day qualifying period that would run concurrently with the goal period.Unfortunately, when he had this idea, restructuring the reports and other processes used to run the PD program just wasn’t an option.

To get anything more than once-a-month reports, the PD manager had to run his own canned reports, export the data and crunch the numbers into something he could share with the team. Doing this took as much as 40% of his week; all to provide weekly updates to keep the team on track. Hosts, too, could run and export some canned reports, but they spent too much precious time massaging the lists into something they could work with. The PD Manager and his boss knew there had to be a better way.

Fortunately, the property was just about to subscribe to a service that would allow them to streamline and optimize their direct mail program and free up some of the database analyst’s bandwidth for ad hoc reporting the Marketing Director wanted to see. The PD Manager began building a relationship with this new service provider, and he explained his idea to his account representative.She worked with him to set up the program based on his hosted player qualifications and the details of the program. Then, the idea became a reality.

Today, each host receives a Daily Action Plan automatically, and knows exactly how he is pacing to goal, which of her players was on property yesterday, which of their prospects have qualified, and why the ones who haven’t didn’t. The PD Manager (who has since been promoted, but still runs the PD team) receives his own Daily Action Plan, which provides a snapshot of his PD program. It lets him know how each of his hosts is doing in terms of goals and objectives, which players need to be coded to which host, and which ones weren’t activated. (Players don’t sit dormant on a host’s prospect list any more after 90 days, so someone else can give them a call!)

In addition to the Daily Action Plan for PD, the Manager receives a handful of additional daily updates on overall profitability, day/week/month trends, and a few others he and his coworkers “designed. If he wants, he can also log in to a dashboard and see how his rewards program is doing in terms of new players and tier churn, how each of his specified markets are performing, and what sort of mail redemption they’ve had, among (a LOT of) other things.

He gets all of this automatically, or in the case of the dashboard, whenever it is most convenient for him. He doesn’t have to ask the database analyst, the database analyst doesn’t have to stress over when he can get to it, and the Manager has the information he needs to run all of his programs more efficiently and effectively. They can arrange to have automated updates sent to specified property recipients, make and monitor changes to any of their programs, and have a much wider and more granular view of their database with this subscription.

The moral of the story? All things are possible. You can bring your ideas into the real world. You just need the right tools and the right partners.

So. What would you build if you could make your ideas reality?

 

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.

Assessing a Player Development Team

In most companies, employees receive annual evaluations to document their performance over a year’s time.  Some companies also require team leaders to evaluate their workers periodically (monthly, quarterly) to ensure they are on track and that their job performance is meeting certain milestones along the way.  I have long believed that an annual evaluation should never hold surprises for the recipient, as ongoing feedback and course corrections are beneficial to both the individual and the organization.  Wouldn’t it be even more beneficial, then, to have the ability to see on a daily basis whether a single employee or the entire team are on pace to achieve their goals?

In Casino Player Development, hosts sometimes miss out on bonuses by a few thousand dollars of theoretical.  When one has a goal of around a million dollars in theo over the course of a quarter, a miss of $5196 is a huge disappointment.  In the same way, it is embarrassing to miss a new member target by only a handful of active players…you see where this is going, right?  Knowing on a daily basis how each member of the team is trending makes it easy to provide ongoing feedback and encouragement to help them avoid that disappointment.

Establish reporting to give you an update every day on which hosted players were at the property, what you spent on them and what they spent with you.  Aggregated according to your department’s goals, see how many new members joined or returned, how many overdue guests have come back, how much theoretical has grown, and how many trips the regulars have made.  Every day.  As soon as someone is off course, both the host and team leader are aware of it so corrections and adjustments can be made.  Now.

If you aren’t already tracking the achievements and pacing to goal for your PD team (or if you’re a host who is flying blind) please allow me to recommend that you begin by taking a look at past achievements in order to plan for the future.  Setting a benchmark allows you to look back at past performance to show growth or where efforts are lacking in comparison.  In my series about setting and tracking host goals, I suggest that breaking a goal down into equal parts spread over the course of the goal period allows one to track whether one is on pace or not for each goal and objective.  That way, it’s easy to determine where the hosts’ efforts should be concentrated on any given day in order to ultimately achieve the goals he’s working toward. If you are a team leader, you are already responsible for reporting on the achievements of your team, and you need to be able to speak to their individual achievements as well as the aggregated accomplishments of your team.  So it makes sense to track how the hosts perform over time and note trends, how often they reach objectives and goals and which ones present a challenge to the team.

Using the benchmark, it’s a simple matter to show either the host or the C-suite what the strengths and weaknesses are for the team as a whole or as individuals, and where daily information has had an impact.  Along the way, be sure to compare the PD team’s results to property performance amid any market fluctuations, weather issues, construction, etc. that may have affected numbers.

Your host team should be driving play at a higher frequency, activity percentage, average theoretical and profitability than the direct mail program does.  Ideally, you’d be able to compare and contrast hosted players with unhosted players of similar worth, as in a split test.  If the hosted players aren’t spending more time and money at your property than those who don’t have a host, figuring out why can have a positive impact on your property’s bottom line.  Individual hosts who understand which players to move and why will also see their bottom line increase if your program includes bonuses for goal achievement.  That way, everybody wins!