Tag Archives: Preemptive Reactivation

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?

 

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Who is it that you seek?

Before you can begin a journey, you must have a destination in mind.  Sure, we’ve all jumped in the car and driven aimlessly on a journey of discovery, but usually if you’re going someplace, you are, well, going to some place.  In Casino Marketing and Player Development, the same is true.  In order to get somewhere, you have to know where you’re going.

So how does this relate to the title?  Well, this is a blog about goal positioning, after all, and usually the biggest component of casino hosts’ goals is related to their players and the revenue those players generate.  It follows, then, that finding the right players makes it easier to set the right goals.  Right?  Right.

Take a look at the profile of your hosts’ player lists.  Is the average trip frequency pretty high?  Is the average ADT on the higher end of your target range?  Do you (and more importantly, do your hosts) know enough about these players to put faces to the names when you see them on the lists?   If so, to some degree, this is a good thing because it means you know your players.  But, if most of your coded players are known to you and your team, there are probably players in your database who are underserved and worthy of your hosts team’s attention.  Assigning those players to your hosts instead will drive increased revenue.

Look next at your host team’s theoretical targets for the last few quarters.  Has there been growth or are they struggling to achieve? If there has been some growth, from where did the growth come? Prospecting worthy new and unknown players is key, and I suspect that you have some hosts who are aces at finding and activating those players…and some who aren’t.  Identifying the sources of additional revenues will allow you to target similar players and increase your team’s growth even more.

You can give those hosts who are skittish about prospecting  a nudge in the right direction by providing prospective players for them.  Do some digging and determine what kinds of players are in your database who offer some potential for increased visitation and/or play, then assign them to your hosts for contact and activation. We call them “players of interest,” and understanding the typical player of interest in your database (particularly in terms of potential worth to your property long term) is the first step in turning those folks into loyal patrons.

Look for players of high worth and low trip frequency first and foremost.  Odds are they’re playing someplace else and your host team can steal a trip or two simply by establishing contact and starting to build a relationship with them.  Scoop up players with a minimum of two trips in the recent past and whose ADT is promising.  The specifics are going to be unique to your property and market, but don’t shoot too low.

Do you have some numbers in your head already?  Good!  Now decide how much activity the hosts have to generate from these players in order to have them coded.  How many trips must they make in how much time?  What must their ADT or cumulative theoretical or actual loss be in that time?

Once you’ve done that, you can set new theoretical targets for the team based on the activation of these prospect players and drive more revenue for your property.  That is, after all, what your host team is supposed to do.

Harvest Trends can help you with this task, particularly if you are short on database resources.  The HostMAPP dashboard and the Daily Action Plan will allow you to identify, assign and track the activity of these valuable guests from beginning to end. Our new host-dpecific DRM (named BoB, for BOok of Business) enables you to see in real time whether or not your hots are contacting the players of interest you’e assigned for them. It alerts you and your hosts every day to their success and pace to achieving the goals you’ve set for them.

Contact Amy for a 30-minute demo (or to ask questions) today!

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.

Getting With the Program

Host goals should be in alignment with the property’s overall marketing direction. Hosts should have an understanding of the profitability of their players, and their authority to supercede or supplement a player’s existing offers should be dependent upon their understanding of the total reinvestment in that guest.

It sounds like common sense, right? How often, though, do the “traditional” marketers and the Player Development team join forces to ensure that their goals and objectives are in alignment? When it’s time to establish or update the host team’s goals, it’s also time to communicate with marketing team leaders to determine whether what seems obvious is in fact still the right direction for the hosts. As you review your results each goal period and launch the next, it is a good time to look back at the team’s benchmarks, assess the goals and objectives of both the team and the property, them determine whether any adjustments are needed for the next couple of quarters.

If your host team is killing it, and they are surpassing their goals pretty readily (bless them!), then it may be time to up the ante, so to speak. Do some database mining and find the players who aren’t visiting as often or playing as much as they should, decide how much revenue is left on the table, then set new theo targets. Or, if you aren’t doing it already, round-robin assign new members of worth and include the anticipated play and trips in your hosts’ next set of goals.

If your host team is struggling to achieve the targets they’ve been given, perhaps a realignment with marketing is overdue and would be beneficial for everyone.  Take a look at how the hosts are spending their time, evaluate their player lists and see if there are some players who need to be replaced with those of higher worth and lower frequency, and let marketing handle the maintenance for a quarter while the hosts drive some revenue and taste success again.

Honestly, there is never a bad time to step back and take a higher-level look at your Player Development team’s contribution to the overarching marketing program. It also seems there is never enough time, either.   Make a list of your questions, get them answered, and set aside some time to make sense of what you learn.  stablish your processes for measurement and follow-up before making changes to the host program, set the new targets, communicate them to the team, and you’re good to go.  You don’t have to wait until the end of the goal period to get started.

In fact, there are several consultants and technology companies who can provide you an objective view of your operation. FInding the right partner to validate what you believe to be true, point out things you might not have known, and hand you a list of low-hanging fruit may be just what you need to refine your efforts and set the team up for success. Harvest Trends offers both the technological assistance and consultant’s view to benefit our partners to the fullest. Want to know more? Visit our website at www.harvesttrends.com, call us at 877-277-5661, or sign up for our newsletter to learn how we can help you.

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.

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.

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.