Five Observations from Five States in Five Months

By Janet Hawk, Raving Partner, Player Development and Marketing

On the road again! I just can’t wait to get on the road again! The life I love is teaching service (and PD tips) to my friends, and I can’t wait to get on the road again!

I do love what I do! Everything I’ve learned in my 33 years of being in the gaming business was done the hard way … on the job and through lots of mistakes. So, if I can help someone do their job better, make their life easier or hit their goals, then I am a happy woman.

The bonus of being a road warrior training in PD, is meeting so many people with the same passion, being the change I want to see in the world, and spreading a little more kindness and love in a world that so desperately needs it. Sometimes I help PD team members just by putting into words what they already know, or finding a new perspective that helps them understand. And other times, I am teaching a brand new culture or new techniques. It’s truly never boring!

The most common observation I’ve noticed is that we aren’t really all that different and neither are the issues. Over the past five months, I’ve been all over the country. Here are five observations from the road:

1. A language barrier is no excuse to not provide good guest service.

I was working with a tribal casino a few months ago where English is a second language for a large percentage of the team members. We implemented a new guest service program and one of the superstars was a busboy who could speak very little English. He was one of the most popular team members at the property. People requested his section at the restaurant, many not realizing he wasn’t even a server! He knew how to make people feel welcome and to let them know they mattered without speaking a word! Simple eye contact and a smile will go a long way.

2. Make your guests AND fellow teammates feel like they are important!

I’ve said it 100 times, people have three basic needs: to be seen, to be heard, and to matter. When you accomplish this, you will find increased loyalty (more revenue from guests and less turnover from team members, both effect the bottom line!), and an overall improved work environment. If you treat the back of the house (teammates) differently than those in the front of the house (guests), there is something fundamentally wrong with you.

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Re-Imagining Database Marketing: Shift Your Thinking to Loyalty 360

By Nicole Barker, Senior Raving Partner, Database & Loyalty Marketing

Pick up a pen.
Place it in your opposite hand.
Draw a circle.
Write your name.

How does that feel?

Do the muscles in your fingers tense? Do you apply more pressure to exert more control? Relax your grip. Release your concentration a bit. Think of the end goal of the circle and how your name should look on the page. Try again.

In this exercise, you are not only training your hand; you are training your mind to make a shift. With apologies to my teachers, I used to do this extensively in class. I'd write my notes using the alternate hand. Practice these shifts enough, and you will feel your brain switching sides. Practice this more, and you will learn to relax as you shift to something new. Exerting more control does not allow for better penmanship.

Becoming adept at placing the end goal in your mind and letting the process flow to improvement doesn't make a meeting go more quickly. Again, apologies to my colleagues for seemingly being inattentive during a meeting. This exercise will ultimately train your mind and sensibilities to shift more easily from one method of approaching problems to another.

As marketers, we need to shift our approach to better connect with our customers. Loyalty 360 demands we reinvest in our relationships using data differently. No longer are customers content with a linear relationship of carrots and sticks.

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You Had Me at “Autocomplete”

By Mark Astone, Strategic Raving Partner, Branding, Advertising and Media Services and CEO, Catalyst Marketing Company

Many of our past Flash articles have focused on the importance of a strong digital advertising presence. Why is Catalyst such a big proponent of digital? Simple … because it works. From SEM to display to IP targeting, we’ve helped our clients find success online, resulting in stronger revenues for their properties.

So, what’s next? Is there a new evolution in online advertising that can give you a leg up on your competitors? There is — and we found it!

As you know, initiating a search on Google or Bing immediately presents you with pages of results to rifle through. This hierarchy of listings is established by SEM and organic algorithms. But what if you could get in front of people searching for a casino BEFORE they get to the results page? Thanks to Autocomplete, you can.

Autocomplete is a search engine feature that shows suggestions as you type your query. That means when someone searches for a casino in your market, e.g. “Oklahoma casinos,” your property could be Google’s first suggestion! Now that’s technology that moves the needle!

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Playport Gaming Systems Engages Raving

Playport Gaming Systems™ Engages Raving to Assist in Development of Product Marketing Strategies for Casino Customers

Native-owned casino gaming and hospitality company to provide customized, results-driven strategic programs to support launch of real-money digital Class II instant win games in Tribal Casinos

Reno, Nev. and Overland Park, Kan. (Jul. 31, 2018) Playport Gaming Systems (“PGS”), a digital, instant-win game technology company, and Raving, a team of casino gaming and marketing professionals, today announced they will partner to develop and deliver marketing strategies and programs in support of Playport’s tribal casino clients.

Through its patented Playport gaming technology, PGS provides tribal casinos with a custom-branded digital, real-money wagering and marketing platform that allows for the sale of bingo-style Class II instant win and progressive games. The system integrates seamlessly with existing point-of-sale and loyalty programs.

“For over twenty-years Raving has proven itself as the gaming industry’s leader in results-driven strategic marketing programs,” said Frank Rash, Chief Operating Officer, Playport Gaming Systems. “Raving is a well-regarded, world-class Native-owned business, that clearly understands a successful product launch is critical to growing and sustaining sales.”

Playport provides tribal casinos the ability to sell new-style class II digital games that mimic those lottery and charitable games successfully sold by retail-based gaming operators. Playport supports casino sale of hundreds of play styles that are new to the casino floor yet already popular among casino customers.

“Playport provides casinos with new instant win and progressive games that create a more personal relationship with the player by using their own mobile device. “This new creative product is a great addition to a casinos overall player strategy.”

About Raving

Raving has enjoyed partnerships with Tribal gaming properties since inception in 1998 and is a Native-owned, full-service gaming and hospitality resource providing custom casino solutions including data analysis and management, guest service, advertising, marketing, accounting, leadership, security & surveillance, technology, host & player development, research, online gaming, design & construct and much more. Raving produces numerous conferences and publications including Raving Next: Indian Gaming Analytics & Marketing Conference, Host Development Conference, the Raving Insider Report and Raving Solutions Magazine.

About Playport Gaming Systems

Playport Gaming Systems LLC (“PGS”), digitally connect players with lottery retailers and casinos for the sale of instant win and linked progressive games. Through its patented Playport gaming technology, PGS provides a real money wagering and marketing software platform that allows lottery retailers and casinos to sell digital custom-designed and branded instant win and progressive games, that integrate seamlessly with their existing POS systems and digital properties. Playport is regulatory compliant, requires zero capital expenditure and all ticket sales remain at retail, bringing retailers more revenue, customer insight and loyalty.

PGS is changing how instant win games are played and sold by providing players more choice and a better game play experience through use of mobile based ecommerce. PGS currently supplies technology to operate a federally licensed lottery in thousands of retailers across Mexico, is certified by BMM Testlabs for launch in U.S. tribal casinos and is an active associate member of the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA). PGS offices are located in Overland Park, Kansas. For more information, visit


What Your Hosts Are Telling Us

By Chris Faria, Raving VP of Marketing

Last week,  we conducted our annual Host Development Conference at Caesars Palace, which preceded the Casino Marketing & Technology Conference. If you’re not familiar with the program, we develop it every year for the team at BNP Media/Casino Journal; it’s been an industry mainstay for since 2005 with learning appropriate for newbies to experienced hosts. The essence of the program: train your PD team to be an elite sales force, not a guest service fulfillment department.

We set the stage for the entire program, using pre-collected survey data from registered conference attendees. This ensured that what’s top of mind and relevant for attendees was addressed and weaved throughout the program.

A profile of the respondents

  • The largest percentage of attendees/survey respondents were in their current positions for less than five years.
  • These attendees represented commercial, tribal, and cruise line programs from U.S., Canada and overseas who were just starting a host program or expanding/revamping their current player development programs.
  • The majority of titles were those associated with the Player Development department including entry, mid and senior-level positions such as Executive Host, VIP Manager, Players Club Manager and Directors.

What did player development specialists tell us?

The two questions that gave us the most revealing information about what our PD folks are facing:

When asked what the top three issues that are facing their properties, the answers were:

  1. Lack of qualified staff
  2. Lack of amenities (tied with #1)
  3. Competition

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Catastrophic illness, your tribe, your coverage

By Tyler Moore, Raving Partner, Benefits Management and Partner, Face Rock Enterprises

Earlier this year, a Native American Tribe in the Northwest had an eye-opening experience with the self-funded plan that provides benefits to the Tribe and its enterprises.  One of its plan members, who was not a tribal member, was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder which resulted in prescription drug costs for this one member that topped $200,000 per month (not a typo).  Also, this member will need this medication every month for the rest of their life.  Fortunately, this Tribe has strong individual stop loss support (insurance coverage that caps a self-funded plan’s exposure for claims over a certain limit for a given individual).  This is a good thing since the stop loss carrier will be reimbursing the Tribe over $2 million for this member’s claims for the remainder of the plan year.

But did you know . . .   At renewal, the current stop loss carrier and any proposed carriers have the ability to exclude this member from coverage.  This individual exclusion is called a “laser” and is where the carrier sets an alternative limit level for a specific member (typically the projected claim liability for the next plan year).  Most often, the current provider will also offer a non-laser renewal; however, the additional liability of the new large claim will be added into the premium so the non-laser renewal is not really a great option.

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Raving’s Solutions Magazine July 2018 Issue

Your New Raving Strategic Solutions Magazine has arrived!

Check out what's inside!


Will you be attending the Casino Marketing & Technology Conference next week? Pick up your free copy of the magazine at our booth (#105).

From your favorite columnists:

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Why Your Restaurant Experience Stinks

By Brett Magnan, Raving Partner, Hospitality

Ever wonder why you are told there will be a 30-minute wait for a table, but there are plenty of empty tables in the restaurant? The universal “whys” are always the same, and I’ll answer these questions for you. But just so you know, it shouldn’t work that way.

Have you ever asked yourself:
1. Why is it when the restaurant is empty the food takes longer, and you get less service? 

This is one of the biggest mysteries of the universe. You enter a restaurant where you are one of the first tables sat and yet the time you wait for your food and accompanying service feels like the restaurant is closed.

WHY? The answer to this is simple.  Management hedges their bet on minimizing labor expense by bringing in servers on a later, staggered schedule to accommodate peak volumes. You will notice how efficient the restaurant becomes once it is busy. The kitchen will be in their normal routine and there will be enough staff working the floor to provide appropriate, overlapped service.  

How does a restaurant fix this?  Adding labor when it is not needed is not the answer. The better way to solve this is through proper side-work checklists and better management presence during these startup times. With side-work assigned at the end of the previous shift and inspected by the manager, this will reduce the amount of work the opening server is required to rush and do prior and during the arrival of the first guests. This includes mise en place for the line as well. Also, with the manager being on the floor at the start of the shift (instead of doing emails and other office tasks) greater support can be given to the line and opening service staff in providing customers the level of service required when there are limited staff on the floor.

2. Why is it when you need something, you never can get someone’s attention?

Part of the answer is having proper supervision on the floor during restaurant operations. This helps with inspecting what is expected of the service team, but also by providing leadership and presence for customers to see and seek when needed. However, the larger issue is in proper training. Teaching service staff to be service professionals who know their job, beyond taking orders and delivering food. Proper training and effective Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) will create improved service.

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Mid-Century 4th of July – Remember When

By Chris Faria, Raving VP of Marketing

Last month my husband and I picked up a 1966 Apache Eagle Tent Trailer to tow behind our 1974 VW Thing. We’ll be using it for weekend camping, as well as taking it to “vintage” trailer shows. At these events, you “stage” your campsite and your trailer with all period pieces. For us, that would be those old green Coleman coolers; aluminum webbed lawn chairs, our brown sleeping bags with the cowboy yellow flannel inside and Melamine dishes. (I do understand that some younger readers may not know what these things are).

To prepare, I’ve been looking through my own hand-me-down camping gear and searching antique stores and eBay. It’s put me in a bit of a melancholy mood … to know that the year I was born classifies me as vintage. And that common household items I grew up with are now hotly marketed as “mid-century” and are sold at premium prices.

So, in this reflective mood, I thought about this annual holiday piece I write. Fourth of July, for most of us in the U.S., is traditional … and betcha’, the menu and the activities haven’t changed much in the last several decades, with the exception of bans on fireworks in Western states.

I was wondering too, if Fourth of July is celebrated differently in, say, the land of our English forefathers compared to what I experienced growing up in California. I reached out to former Reno gaming reporter and good friend Tom Walsh, a Philly born and raised writer, on his thoughts.

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The Results Are In: A Seismic Shift Regarding “Big Data”

By Deana Scott, Raving CEO

You can't open an industry publication or attend a conference without seeing a discussion about Big Data or analytics. Now, that's good news! Have we finally given the "millennial topic" a rest and could we be on our way to recognizing the need for data-driven decision-making in our operations? It appears an operational focus may be underway.

According to Raving's 2nd annual Indian Gaming National Marketing Survey released this February, respondents were asked how they were handling big data – very large and complex data sets –  that require special analysis. According to researcher Deb Hilgeman, Ph.D., who conducted the study, there was a seismic shift in the results.

Last year, 54% of casinos did not have a plan for dealing with big data, and only 6% were actively working with it. This year, those numbers virtually reversed. Only 6% of casinos now are not sure what they're doing with big data, while 50% are actively working with it. See figure A above

According to Hilgeman, "It appears analytics, in general, is a top priority for casino marketers. When we did our preliminary field research this year to talk to practitioners about what we could add or change to make the survey more valuable to them, analytics was the number one topic."

These results were similar to a pre-conference attendee survey conducted during the Raving NEXT Conference held this previous January at Choctaw Casino Resort, Durant, Oklahoma. 76% of the operators listed analytics and analysis as the primary area they wish they had more time to devote to.

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