Tag Archives: Global Positioning System

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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Specialists or Generalists…What’s Best for Your Property?

In Casino Marketing, there’s really no such thing as “one size fits all.”  Every market, property, and guest is distinctive and should be treated as such.  But what does that mean for your Player Development program?  Do each of your hosts handle retention, reactivation and acquisition, or are some of your hosts focused on one of these areas exclusively?  Should you make the switch?  Your property’s objectives and your market should be your guide.

If you are in a mature market with fairly stable competition, your host team should probably be generalists.  Why?  Because you aren’t likely to have a ton of new sign-ups, so acquisition is not a big area of focus for your hosts (though you obviously want to capitalize on the good new players you DO get).  The entire host team probably knows “the usual suspects” pretty well and is attuned to their patterns, at least somewhat.  That leaves reactivation, which you likely have a system in place to address.  As long as the hosts know which players to contact and why, they are presumably good at all three aspects of the player life cycle.  In this case, it might be best not to rock the boat.  Or you could limit any specialization to new hosts or those who are struggling to build relationships with your existing player base.

If your market is experiencing major changes, though, whether it’s because your property is a new one or if it is being surrounded by new competitors, you might want to consider specialization among the hosts on your team.  A market in flux is one in which specialization may be an advantage.

All that Glitters...
All that Glitters…

Making the decision to specialize your hosts’ areas of focus is not for the faint of heart, however.  It is a structural change, necessitating major shifts in how  your hosts do their jobs each day.  Specialization means an overhaul of how player lists are coded.  It also dictates substantial changes to the department’s and the host’s goals.

So, before making the leap, you’ll want to do some analysis and careful planning.  Use your analytical tools to identify what your new member program is doing for you.  How many players in your target ADT range are making a second trip?  What do they look like in terms of market and demographics?  Are you losing good players to your competitors?  Which ones?  How many?  Where do they live?  Are they still coming to your property but less frequently?  Are they playing less when they are visiting you?  How can you leverage the talents of your host team to maximize the number of trips and value from your best players?

Do you have a dynamo who is great at initiating contact and convincing people to sign up for and use a player card?  Is there a host on your team who can crank out calls and generate visits from the guests he contacts?  How about the one who is the life of the party and can make contacts on the gaming floor who proclaim they’ll never go to another casino because they love her so much?  Consider playing to the strengths of these hosts by having them focus the majority of their energies on the thing they do best.  Determine which of your hosts will specialize in which areas based on those strengths.

Start by assessing your team’s individual strengths using questions like those just posed to you.  Expand upon your thoughts about each host, similarly to the way you’d begin to write annual evaluations for them.  Next, consider how those strengths can be used to target a particular segment of your player base.  If a host is better suited for in-person contact, they wouldn’t be the most effective in a reactivation role; you’d want him to work in acquisition or retention.  Alternatively, a host who is able to connect with players over the phone or via compelling written communication would be great for reactivating your more dormant guests.

To re-build player lists and establish goals for your newly specialized team, you have to go back to the analytics.  Set a handful of targets for each group of specialized hosts and their associated players: acquisition, reactivation and retention.

You know the idiosyncrasies of your particular market better than anyone, so this post won’t get into a lot of detail about how to set goals.  (Besides, you can see that at our casinoplayerdevelopment.wordpress,com blogs on host goals.)  Making the decision is a big one, but one which could have a beneficial effect on your host team’s productivity, which translates to a better bottom line for the property.  If that’s the case, everybody wins.

Goal Positioning WHAT?!?

Loads of GPS devices in our car
Loads of GPS devices in our car (Photo credit: mroach)

At Harvest Trends, we are always looking for new ways to simplify the tasks of Player Development pros.  Our Daily Action Plan and HostMAPP products combine to comprise the most robust toolset I’ve ever seen.  But this post isn’t about that, really.  This post is to share with you the concept of Goal Positioning Solutions.

As part of our continuous improvement process, we regularly discuss the challenges our clients face in the ever-and rapidly-changing gaming world.  We know that it’s a players’ market these days, where every offer they receive is weighed against all the others that fill their mailboxes (and inboxes and social media streams), and that often Player Development is the best line of defense when it comes to securing the loyalty of a property’s best players.

We know it’s a daunting task to identify and effectively activate the best players on a regular basis because all too often the resources necessary to make that happen are stretched too thin to focus on Player Development’s needs.  We understand that it can be difficult to quantify the contribution that PD makes to the bottom line.

As a result of one of these discussions, Goal Positioning Solutions was conceived.  Think of it like this: the PD team leader uses a road map to determine the department’s course, taking into consideration the property’s goals and objectives as well as the skillset and toolbox available within the host team.  Each host then uses his or her own GPS to reach the destination provided.  Some hosts will use similar routes while others may blaze a trail of their own.  But with Goal Positioning Solutions, each member of the team understands where they are along the way and can quickly change course to stay on track.  This happens daily so there is time to make adjustments before a goal period ends, rather than everyone discovering after the fact that course corrections might have helped them achieve more.

Comments, feedback or suggestions are welcomed.