Raving Flash! How to Incorporate Local Artisans into your Retail Program

Are there talented tribal artisans in your community?
Are you carrying their pieces in your retail outlets?

Introducing Chris Keenan, Raving Partner, Tribal Artist Program and Retail Optimization

Whether you’re a commercial or a tribal property, there’s a good chance that you have talented artisans in your community. And more than likely, these folks, perhaps elders, have come knocking at your door asking you to sell their work. AND many of these artisans don’t know how to maximize sales, create an invoice, or have a clear understanding of how consignment works.

How would you go about implementing a program like this? You may already have a full time job within your casino and this responsibility has been dropped in your lap as you’re in “marketing.” If you have a gut instinct that this is not as simple as it seems, you’d be right. Who ultimately approves the program and what outcomes would be considered a success? Who will be in charge of the program and how will it be implemented? The answers to these questions vary widely and the answer is “it depends.”

Here is a list of things to consider when incorporating Tribal Artists into your retail outlet:

1. Clearly define “why” you want to sell handmade art in your store.

Do you want to offer your casino customers unique products that cannot be purchased elsewhere? Do you want to offer a venue that provides your Tribal Members an opportunity to supplement their incomes? Additionally, are you willing to subsidize the program in an effort to create a tribal member benefit? If so, are you willing to shift profit from your store to the tribal member? Once clear expectations and successful outcomes have been established, you can move forward with the “who and how.”

2. Determine “who” will be responsible for the program.

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Raving and its Partners Featured at National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) Convention and Tradeshow

“Bet Raving Knows!” ‘ain’t no joke. Known as industry leaders and educators, Raving returned to NIGA for several workshops and a master class. An Associate Member since 1998, Raving has offered in-depth and hard-hitting classes annually to the event’s educational program.

This year’s workshops included:

Dennis Conrad moderated Master Class: Marketing with panelists Deana Scott, CEO, Raving Consulting Company; Michael Meczka, Principal, MM/R/C; Chad Germann, President/CEO, Red Circle Agency; and Michael Ka’ahanui, Director of Marketing, Muckleshoot Indian Casino.

Driving Brand Loyalty, Leveraging Big Data session

Deana Scott moderated Driving Brand Loyalty, Leveraging Big Data with panelists Sarah Procopio, Raving Partner, Database Analytics; Yuri Cameron, Caesars Entertainment; and Chad Eckhardt, Player Development Manager, Little River Casino Resort.

Raving Partner Brett Magnan, Hospitality, panelist, Player Loyalty and the Importance of Employee Recognition

John Stewart, Raving Partner and Owner/CEO/President at Encompass Develop, Design & Construct, LLC, panelist, The RFP Process: Is it Really the Best Way to Secure Design and Construction Services for Your Project? 

Mark Astone, Raving Partner, Branding, Advertising and Media Services and CEO, Catalyst Marketing Company, panelist, Build, Engage and Merge Your Online Player Community

Don’t miss out on Raving’s signature conferences and training events! Make sure to subscribe to Raving’s electronic publications to keep in the know for industry events and compelling articles. Subscribe here



Ravers, You Rock! 2017 Native Strong Comedy Slam SELLS OUT!

During the Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention (NIGA), the largest gathering of tribal leaders and casino executives in the country, Raving Consulting and their generous event sponsors held the 3rd Annual Native Strong Comedy Slam.  The sold-out event took place on Wednesday night, April 12, at the Edge in the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego.

Larry Omaha, the Comedy Slam host, who has been involved since the inaugural event, shared, “Thank you for allowing me to be a part of such a worthwhile event.  I am honored that you respect my talent enough to bring me in year after year.  I am who I am today because people reached out to me when I was a youngster with no direction and no hope.  Till my last day on earth I will strive to give back all that I can.”

“Larry’s heartfelt sentiment captures what this event is all about,” added Dennis Conrad, President, Raving Consulting. “It’s about raising money for a critical cause. It’s about giving Native American comics significant exposure. And finally, it’s about taking that needed time to celebrate and laugh with our partners, clients and members of the NIGA community that are so passionate and dedicated to the success of Indian gaming.”

And yes, we took pictures of all that celebration and laughter! What happens at the Comedy Slam doesn’t stay at the Comedy Slam. You can also view the full album of photos on our facebook page, please tag yourself and share with your friends!

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Raving News – New Webinar on Host Compensation Strategies


Host Compensation Strategies in a Sales-Focused Player Development Function

Presented by Steve Browne, President, Raving Service
Friday, May 19, 2017
1 p.m. Eastern Time (10 a.m. Pacific Time)
Register By May 17


Webinar Information:

Our webinar series, in partnership with CDC Gaming Seminars, continues with how to develop host incentive programs that will drive your host’s behavior and productivity.

Does Your Host Compensation Plan Incent and Reward the Right Things?

One of the most critical components of your player development function is your host compensation program – how you compensate AND reward your hosts for achieving results and driving revenue for your company.

WHY? Because your compensation and incentive programs will drive your host’s behavior and productivity more than any thing else you do. More than your segmentation strategies, sales tactics, VIP event programs, yes, even more than your direct supervision of them. As a matter of fact, your compensation program will help to define every one of these other critical areas of player development function.

Not happy with your current system? This webinar, presented by Steve Browne, President, Raving Service, will help you evaluate and fine-tune your current host compensation program.

Don’t offer an incentive program or even have a PD function? If you don’t currently have one, it will help you structure a new one or build a reward component to your PD design efforts.

Happy with the system you have? Then this seminar will provide a comparative benchmark to your own, giving you insight into how others approach PD incentive programs and how they compare to yours. After all, your competition is using PD to try and steal your best customers.

About Steve Browne, President, Raving Service:

From advanced host development sales skills training and building compensation programs for player development programs to designing full blown guest service programs, Steve has been a senior resource in Raving’s Leadership and Player Development Teams since 1999.

His knowledge and enthusiasm come from nearly four decades in the gaming industry, starting as a craps dealing “lumpy” in Northern Nevada, a player-engaging pit boss, and a casino owner with an unheard-of formula of “customer worship,” and lead to an international marketing consultant selling the notion of gaming as an “entertainment experience that enriches people’s lives.”

Webinar Details:

So, here’s the deal. The cost is only $179 per computer … meaning, you can set up a computer in a conference room and have multiple people participate in the webinar for one low price. Sounds like an excellent topic for your next marketing meeting, what do you think? Shoot, that’s less than a comped meal in your steakhouse; a minimal investment for the value you’ll receive. Just make sure you register no later than May 17.

Questions? Just give us a holler at 775-329-7864 or email me at amy@ravingconsulting.com . If you have any issues registering or for other technical issues, please contact our moderator, Dave Newton of CDC Gaming Seminars, at dave.newton@cdcgamingseminars.com or call him at 702-255-9891.



Employee Empowerment as a Marketing Tool

By Dennis Conrad, President and Chief Strategist, Raving Consulting Company

Employee “empowerment” has been a part of the business vocabulary for a few decades now. The term generally means giving team members the authority and the power to make a decision on behalf of a customer, typically one who has had a bad experience. Probably the most famous hospitality industry example of this is the Ritz-Carlton “$2,000 Rule,” whereby every Ritz-Carlton employee can spend up to $2,000 per incident, no questions asked (without getting a manager’s approval), to rescue a guest experience.

Over the years, I have witnessed a number of examples in the gaming industry where frontline employees were “empowered” to make a decision and yes, even spend some company money, to benefit a guest. I’m going to share a few of those more recent gaming “guest saving” attempts now.

The first example is very recent and involved a room reservation that I had at a client’s hotel. It was for a specific tower and a specific room type. Upon my arrival, I was told that I did not have a room for that type in my requested tower. It took 15 minutes to get my situation handled, which created a backup at check-in. But the congenial hotel desk clerk was clearly “empowered” to deal with this snag and proudly gave me (and each of the other check-in guests who had to wait) a complimentary breakfast buffet for the next morning. The “comp” had a 24-hour expiration time and did not state the food outlet where the voucher could be used. Continue reading

Marketing and Retirement


I am turning 65 this month and yes, I am retiring.

Just not quite right away.

My company, Raving Consulting, recently put out a press release announcing Deana Scott as the new CEO. And yes, she is assuming my role. Deana is a terrifically talented gaming executive who has held senior level positions with the Coquille Tribe in Oregon, the Yurok Tribe in California and with John Acres at Acres 4.0. For the past several months, she has been a Raving Partner, specializing in Executive Leadership and Marketing.

For the next year, my wife Becky and I will continue to own the company. If all goes accordingly to plan, Deana and her husband, Brady, a business leader with the Coquille Tribe, will be Raving’s new owners, and I will become a part-time (and very picky) consultant under the Raving banner, who will work on retainer with no more than three gaming clients who value my perspective and are eager to have my assistance.

I have been wondering how to market myself in “semi-retirement.” It seems when you are going to work “part-time,” prospective clients might think your heart isn’t in it. Well, that’s not true. I’m just as passionate today as I was 40 years ago about helping build a casino experience that has real value – for our customers, our employees, our communities and our shareholders.

It also seems that limiting myself to only three clients runs the risk of being seen as “snobbish” (what, you are not willing to work for us???) as well as being inefficient. After all, consultants are supposed to take projects when the demand is there to counter-balance the lulls and the vagaries of the times when it is not.

There there’s the issue after being in this business for nearly 43 years, of “long in the tooth syndrome,” or “how is an old guy like you going to give us any new ideas?” I’ll take that as a branding and communication challenge.

Truthfully, there likely is an optimal strategy for transitioning from a “President and Chief Strategist” to a part-time consultant. Likewise, for a casino property that is adding a significant number of amenities to become more than just a “locals gambling joint.” Or a “me too” casino that wants to transition to one that provides uncommon value to real players (now there’s a strong proposition!).

I’m not exactly sure what that optimal strategy is, but this is the approach I’m going to take. I’m going to continue to speak and write in various gaming forums, both Raving forums and others that want me to share my experience and ideas.

I’m going to introduce our new CEO, Deana, to all of our Raving clients and my personal longtime friends and tell them how wonderful and talented she is, much more so than me.

I’m going to take all the time I can to share with Deana my thoughts on what makes for a great consulting practice, the history of Raving and what’s worked and what hasn’t, the lessons learned from doing a few hundred gaming conferences and seminars, and much, much more.

I am going to get even more involved with Raving’s charity partner, the Notah Begay III Foundation and its work addressing the health of Native American children. The good work that any business does to support worthy community organizations is as important as the most detailed strategic marketing plan it follows. I am going to expand my efforts to learn from other non–gaming experts and innovative non-gaming companies so that Raving can continue to absorb “best thinking” and “best practices” from other industries. You never know where the next great idea is going to come from.

I will continue to offer mentoring to those young, promising executives who feel that they could benefit from it, and that I have something to offer them. I’m sure all of my mentors would want me to “pay it forward.”

I am sure I will spend more personal time with my wife, Becky, visiting places we’ve both wanted to visit, doing some of the things we’ve each wanted to do, and spending more time with each of our families.

No doubt, I will continue to dream about some of the “big ideas” I’ve had over the years and how I could still make them happen.  You know, like the “Raving Management” concept as the ultimate in value creation by extreme focus on the casino guest and team member experience. Or the “Raving Certified Dealer” concept, where the best croupiers are inspired to not be “transaction jockeys” but “memory makers.”

To all of my faithful readers of this column over the last 20 years (I know there must be at least one of you!), thank you for listening to all of my notions on how we could make the casino experience just a little bit better, each and every day for EVERYONE.

I’ll still be writing for Casino Journal, maybe a little less often, but also sharing new authors and new ideas as well. It’s all part of the “transition to retirement” for me.

And then I may actually retire. But that’s hard to do when you love this crazy industry so much.

When It’s Time for a Bar Rescue

Is it time for a bar rescue?
When your numbers just aren’t adding up …

 Introducing Brett Magnan, Raving Partner, Hospitality

Your bar has lines at happy hour, packed with patrons six and seven days per week. Revenue is up year-on-year, and your Yelp and Trip Advisor ratings have never been better. So why are you losing money?

When asked to do bar triage for a failing operation, the first thing we look at is the culture of hospitality. What is the service mantra and are there any team member conflicts? This may seem counter-intuitive; however, when there are issues in the team dynamics, there always seems to be performance problems and lack of following standard operating procedures.

In one casino resort bar, the staff started to feel removed from the overall casino operation. They did not practice the service culture, leading them to stop following normal SOPs and this led to higher costs and lower revenue due to lack of upselling and collecting what was due. A proper inspection of culture and review of standard operating procedures by management should have corrected this problem.

Other things that we look at:

  • Inventory management
  • Discrepancies in “Steps of Service” and standards
  • Graft
  • Proper supervision and staffing
  • Reporting and accountability
  • POS configuration
  • Menu costing and analysis
  • Marketing, positioning and advertising
  • Ordering, contracts and other expense lines
  • Cleanliness and health code issues

The following are a sample of questions we ask when our services are requested.

 “Have you noticed a change in behavior with any of your bartenders?”

We ask this question because often that is the crucial point of loss, with far reaching impacts to other staff. We have ways to review this area without revealing an investigation. A great bartender will certainly make your bar successful: however, a bad one can steal you blind, and it is very difficult to detect. Fellow Raving Partner, Derk Boss, Security and Surveillance, has written several articles on this topic.

 “What is the relationship between your wine, beer and liquor supplier and your bar manager or purchaser?”

We ask this question because product selections need to have a holistic approach to the entire operation for quality, brand standards, and menu mix. Occasionally, the relationship in this area becomes personal, and items tend to change to what the supplier needs to place to earn individual incentives. Core items can be replaced and not priced appropriately and do not match the overall menu.

 “Has your liquor cost risen over the last six months, while sales stayed the same or went up?”

Pour sizes, controls and inventory management are all crucial to keeping a bar profitable. Every bartender wants to be a flair entertainer. However, drinks are formulated recipes, and when they are changed, it really does affect the finished product. Other controls prevent large profit loss and limit waste. Moreover, locks keep honest people honest, and these controls prevent a good team from becoming bad.

These are just a few areas we review in a “bar rescue.” If you think you might have some issues, we can help. Contact Amy Hergenrother at 775-329-7864 or amy@ravingconsulting.com

View the original article as a pdf: 4-10-17WhenItsTimeForABarRescue – Magnan.pdf

You Know It’s Time to Redo Your Hotel Rooms When …


By John Stewart

You know when you’re in an outdated hotel room when:

  1. You have to reach behind the bed stand and unplug the clock radio to plug in your phone.
  2. The bathtub is either too high or awkward to get into, or it is too small to have a good soak.
  3. There’s a bedspread.
  4. Next to the toilet there’s a phone.
  5. The mini bar has nothing in it.
  6. The shape of the mattress is like a wading pool.
  7. The room smells like industrial cleaner.
  8. You’ve seen the same artwork in many other hotels (and motels) across the country.

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Never Losing Sight of the Role of Indian Gaming

From battle of the bras to growing food for local schools
Indian gaming organizations are recognized for their commitment to their communities and employees

By Christine Faria

It’s no secret.

From L to R, Kelley Bailey, Adrienne Horton, Michelle Richens, Stacie Razkowic, Pennie Ruchman and Stephen Wherry. All are FireKeepers Team Members

Anti-Indian gaming sentiment and prejudice still exist.  For a number of reasons, Tribal gaming organizations are seldom recognized for their history of uncommon generosity and support they provide to non-Native and Native organizations and communities.

And in today’s political climate, being reminded of acts of inclusiveness and altruism, can’t be a bad thing, right?

In an effort to share the untold stories of positive relationships between tribal entities and the regions in which they operate, Raving Consulting created a recognition program in 2015 to raise awareness and recognize programs that highlight the hundreds of acts of giving by Tribal communities.

On February 1, fifteen organizations were honored at the Tribal Spirit of Giving Awards: Recognizing Organizations That Give Back to Their Communities, Employees and Customers during Raving’s 19th Indian Gaming National Marketing Conference, at Choctaw Casino Resort, Durant, OK. The event reached an historic attendance of over 300 gaming executives and suppliers. Continue reading

Use Automation to Save Time and Money

March 20, 2017

Simplify your life and use automation to save time and money
Tools that work seamlessly behind the scenes to do the work for you

Azam Husain, Raving Partner, Microsoft and BI Software Training

Like many of you, I have a busy life.  Between work, travel, and home schedules, I often find that I don’t have enough hours in the day to manage everything I want to do.  But, being a technologist and a data guy, I’ve come to rely on technology as a way to manage through the chaos of the day.  I leverage several different technologies that use automation and data to simplify my life.  Two technologies that I get the most utility from include Waze and Nest.

Waze is a traffic and navigation app that you use on your mobile device.  The app uses data from your mobile phone and the phones of others to supply real-time traffic data to the community of users.  Not only does it provide traffic directions, but it also gives drivers recommendations on better travel routes.  Waze allows me to navigate through the congestion of Seattle traffic without me figuring out the best route.  Waze even predicts when I should start driving to my destination using historical traffic data.

Nest is a self-learning thermostat that optimizes heating and cooling in the home.  Nest actively learns about your schedule.  It builds a history of your heating and cooling behavior and automatically adjusts the temperature in the house based on your schedule.  Nest even knows when I wake up in the morning and adjusts the temperature accordingly – a nice feature for those chilly Seattle mornings!  What I really enjoy about the Nest experience is its ability to provide transparency into my energy usage while giving me recommendations on energy savings.  Continue reading