Tag Archives: Relationships

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?

 

Relationship 101 (7 Timeless Principles)

After many years in the casino business, and having known lots of people in both my personal and professional lives, a handful of solid relationship-building principles have clarified themselves to me. Fortunately, these principles are universal in their application.  They work whether the relationship in question is a personal or professional one, and their usefulness is evident after only a short while. The Golden Rule is golden for a reason; treating others the way you would like to be treated makes perfect sense, even if not everyone follows it.  These simple principles are all tied to the Golden Rule at their core, but it seems that they just don’t come naturally to everyone.  In Casino Player Development, however, the diligent use of these principles may well make the difference between failure and success.

  1. Be truthful.  Always.  Fortunately, this principle doesn’t require you to automatically blab everything you know about anything.  It DOES, however, preclude you from telling an outright lie.  For example, when you have to tell a guest something he or she doesn’t want to hear, find a way to say it that is truthful and polite without over-sharing.  Say something like, “Sally, I am so sorry you weren’t invited to the VIP event we had last weekend.  The qualifications for the invitation were very particular, and I couldn’t get permission to include you.”   The first part is true because nobody wants to have this conversation in the first place, and the second would be true even if you didn’t ask for permission to include her, knowing her play didn’t meet the criteria.  You didn’t have to tell her the criteria, and she understands now (even if she doesn’t like it) that her play is the reason she wasn’t included.   See how that works? Even if you don’t really like Sally, you owe her an honest response. This applies to everyone.
  2. Accept people as they are.  Don’t try to change people.  They are who they are, each and every one of them, and it’s not up to you to decide whether that’s okay or not.  Even the most difficult people are that way for a reason, and to build an effective relationship with someone, you have to know and accept who he is.  You don’t have to understand why, but you DO have to accept it.  I learned this lesson as a step-parent, and it’s one I have to remind myself to do daily.  Sure, it’s my responsibility to help raise these children, but that doesn’t give me the right to ask them to be someone other than who they are.  I can guide them to what I believe to be a better path and set them upon it, but ultimately it’s up to them to choose which one they’ll take.  It’s the same with guests or co-workers, friends, significant others, and every other person with whom you interact in the world.  As Popeye told us, “I am what I am.”
  3. Don’t take everything personally.  Sure, sometimes that nasty comment was meant personally, but not every upsetting thing you hear was intended to hurt you.   Think about how upset your guests sometimes get over the perceived value of their offers, and you can see how people can get all worked up over something that was never meant as a statement of their personal value.  Don’t let that happen to you.  People who are angry often lash out in unnecessarily hurtful ways, and you will almost certainly get caught in the crossfire at least once in your life.  Keep your wits about you, take a deep breath and respond to the issue instead of the barb.
  4. Learn to anticipate the needs of others.  I see this in action every time I walk into my local Walmart on a rainy day and note the umbrella bag display.  In this case, as in so many others, there is a smidgen of self-preservation involved, as the floor will undoubtedly stay drier (and safer) if wet umbrellas are encased in plastic bags as they accompany their owners throughout the store, but it’s also a way the reviled retailer has anticipated customers’ needs.  As a host, this is an invaluable skill, and it will certainly make you happier in all your relationships.  It’s not even difficult to do.  Note the things that matter to your guests and your bosses, then strive to meet their expectation before it’s been announced. (I’m pretty sure the cup of coffee my husband gently wakes me to drink whenever I have to get up early makes his day nicer too, but mostly because it makes my day start with more civility.)
  5. Place blame appropriately and tactfully.  It is a simple fact of life that things will go wrong, and according to Murphy’s Law, it will happen at the worst possible moment.  The aftermath can be so much better if the blame game can be handled with some diplomacy.  In the workplace, a postmortem review is often used to learn from what went awry, and they can be difficult at best.  I’ve been involved in a few that were excruciating, and I couldn’t help but think that they might have been more productive if they had been handled with a bit more grace.  Don’t rail at someone for a mistake (or the results thereof), and try to remember that none of us is perfect, so bad things do indeed happen to good people.  In fact, if possible, worry less about blame and put the emphasis on learning from what went wrong instead of who flubbed in the first place.
  6. Own your mistakes.  This is such an integral part of a solid relationship that it could make or break one  all by itself.  When you make a mistake, it is ultimately up to you to take responsibility for it and immediately take steps to make things right.  Don’t hedge, don’t play the martyr, just own it.  If you forgot to make the reservation, tell the player the truth.  Then, in your next breath, tell him what you can do about it.  If you have a good reason for the error, include it if it is relevant, but don’t if it’s not.  (To test relevancy, ask yourself whether it would make any difference if you were the one hearing about it.)  People will learn that they can trust you if you can accept responsibility for your failures.
  7. Listen.  I’ve saved the most important one for last.  Because I’m a talker, this one is difficult for me.  I always have something to say, but I have come to realize that I learn more when my mouth is firmly shut.  Learning more about someone is an essential part of building a relationship with them, because it can’t be a true relationship if it’s all about you.  Think for a moment of your best friend.  Could you tell me about his or her favorite color, food, style of hat, animal or hand gesture?  Sure you could.  Now think about the last time you talked together.  Was the exchange closer to a 50/50 in terms of time spent talking?   That’s how you know those things.  Whenever you talk with someone, talk WITH them.  Take turns.  Listen and learn.  With everybody.

What relationship-building essentials have I left out?  Tell us in the comments.