Tag Archives: online gaming

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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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.