Tag Archives: database analyst

Embracing (the Need for) Change

Apparently we humans are wired to both hunger for and shy away from change. As we gaze longingly into the world(s) beyond and dream of what we might find there, we remain solidly planted in the tried and true; the more familiar environment from which we muse. So when things aren’t too painful for us, we rarely look outward with the purpose of implementing change, no matter how beneficial those changes might potentially be.

We have spoken with scores of casino properties about their Casino Marketing and Player Development operations, and when someone is talking to a technology vendor, it seems they are considering making some changes to the way they do business. This change is not necessarily representative of a big shift in the company’s processes, but often heralds an adjustment to the way they look at things as a starting point for improvement. In other cases, a total rebuild of a department’s function is under way, or at least being considered.

Shifting marketplaces, tightening competition for discretionary dollars, and an increasingly entitled customer base, among many other factors, make it tough for casino marketers to continue with the status quo today. Now, more than ever, we have to identify and pick up any dollars left on the table. Finding efficiencies in order to get more done in less time (and with less money) has become a normative practice in nearly every kind of enterprise. All of these realities mean that change is inevitable. Our best move now is to manage the change and make it work smarter for us now and into the future.

In speaking with casino operators, I have learned that the reasons for making changes are as varied as the markets in which these fine folks do their work, yet they remain somewhat universal. For example, properties who have traditionally had host teams who hug rather than hunt are looking to shift the team to a more sales-focused function. Casinos whose core marketing mailer has traditionally been mailed to *everyone* in the database are taking a more nuanced approach in determining what offers go to whom. Heck, even slot manufacturers are coming up with fresh new spins on old favorites to broaden their appeal. Markets tighten, customers churn, and the same “been there, done that” methodology just isn’t cutting it any more.

These changes are happening all around us. Spreadsheets are being replaced with dynamic tools that make it easier for middle managers to see the effectiveness of the casinos’ programs. Executives can shift their time from analysis to observation of the property’s operations. Front-line employees have been empowered to really take care of their customers. Processes are being scrutinized and modified for increased efficiency and effectiveness. All of these represent a fundamental change in the way business is being conducted. The hard truth? None of these beneficial adjustments will occur unless change is embraced. Even if implemented, lack of commitment to the change will result in less than optimal results.

The key is finding a solution to your business problem(s) that allows you to maintain control over the change process, empowers you to implement the changes you identify as your best practices, and improves the overall efficiency and effectiveness of your programs. As you begin to distill your wishlist, the actual work of finding the right solution for you will become easier.

Embracing the need for change is only the first step. Determining the course the change must take is obviously a much more involved process. Make the process easier by finding a technology vendor who wants to be a technology partner. Choose someone who understands what you are trying to accomplish and can help you get there. There is a better way.

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Getting Your Casino Player Development Team Back On Track

“What should I do if my team is behind pace for achieving their goals?” If you’ve ever asked that question, this post is for you.

There are a number of great ways to get the team back on track, and not a single one of them involves anything painful. (Well, maybe just a little emotional pain is involved if anyone who is part of the process decides to make excuses or tries to pass the buck.) Being proactive is the key here, as it’s nearly impossible to make up lost revenue at the end of a quarter. For your team’s success, look at the numbers as often as possible and discuss the situation with your team at least weekly to ensure the feedback loop is fully functional.

The first thing to do is determine which goals are presenting the biggest challenge. Presumably, your host team has more than one goal: theoretical, retention, and either acquisition and/or reactivation numbers to achieve. If the team is struggling with theoretical, then improvement in any one of these three major patron groups will have an immediate impact on theo aggregation. If new or inactive players are where the team is struggling, there are some really effective ways to get those patrons back into your casino before the quarter is out, provided you reach them quickly. When retention (maintenance) is the issue, perhaps there’s a bigger problem afoot. Identify where the “missing” players are, and you’ve got a starting point.

So, once you’ve identified the patrons who need to be targeted, it’s time to determine the root of the problem.  (That’s right, the next step involves analysis. You saw that coming, didn’t you?) Determine which segment of the “missing” players is most responsible for the shortcoming. Are your local patrons not making as many visits as they once did? Are you having trouble activating new members for a second or third visit? Is a competitor actively courting your regulars? Is the weather keeping your older guests from driving to the property on weekdays? Did the direct mail offers not move the $200-$300 ADT group? Are your hosts simply not connecting with their players as they should? Any one of a zillion factors could be at play, so you need to figure out which one(s) are affecting the numbers.

Then, it’s time to come up with a plan to mitigate the loss(es) and make up that lost ground.

  • If the locals are making fewer trips, a low- or no-cost event may be the way to go. Assemble some of your guest-friendly executives for a town hall -style meeting to ask the patrons who keep your power on, “What’s keeping you away?” (Be prepared to hear some crazy responses, and make sure no one makes promises the property can’t keep!)
  • While I’m not a proponent of matching competitor offers, knowing what the other properties are doing is the only way to ensure your patrons can’t play you against one another. Shop your competitors or develop a relationship with a good player (or several) who regularly visits several properties to keep abreast of what they are offering. If your budget allows it, retain a company who can provide you certain ADT range comparisons and offer updates from the properties you choose.
  • For icky weather, drop a postcard that extends a special offer to motivate weekday visits after a particularly cold or snowy period. I’ve seen both point multipliers or mail offer date extensions do a great deal to bring in folks who just couldn’t make it in when it was nasty out.
  • If you aren’t sure the host team is doing all it can (or even if you think they are…), monitor host contacts daily to ensure they are making every effort to build relationships with the players you’ve assigned to them. Hold them accountable if they aren’t.
  • For new members, coordinate with your traditional marketing and direct mail teams to ensure the new member offers are reaching mailboxes (or inboxes or voice mail boxes) in a timely manner to engage worthy new cardholders. Target the best for host contact as soon as possible after the first visit.
  • Most importantly, don’t accept excuses or the status quo. Hosts who aren’t doing the job need to know that’s not acceptable. Offers that don’t get a response should be evaluated and, perhaps, tweaked or replaced. Competitor moves that impact your numbers must be countered in a cost-effective way.

Taking a little bit of time to identify the cause of any shortfall will give you the best basis for making a difference with whatever you decide to do to make it up. Relentless analysis and postmortem evaluation will help you learn what works and what doesn’t. Regular two-way communication and coordination with all the parties involved will enable you to stay proactive and make up lost ground sooner rather than when it’s to late.

What tactics have you used to make up revenue you might have otherwise lost? What worked and what didn’t?

 

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?