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You know when you’re in an outdated hotel room when: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

Continue reading

How A Remodel At Your Property Will Impact Your Revenue

How to manage your remodel (and not lose excess money) …
While you’re open for business

By John Stewart


Whether you’re planning a carpet replacement or something considerably larger, there are several steps you can take to ensure that the impact on revenue during this time is minimized and your opportunities to build excitement are maximized.

We’ve worked with several gaming clients on remodels of every size. And, industry-wide, I’ve observed processes that have gone way south and others that have turned “pardon our dust” into a very positive and anticipated event for their guests.

Compare it to planning a wedding – it’s all in the details and “planning beyond the plan.” Consider these tips, whether you’re replacing your carpet on the gaming floor and want to minimize machine downtime, or creating a new restaurant space or bar and want to keep revenue loss to a minimum, or even increase it.

Here are 10 tips on what I’ve found:

1.    Establish a schedule well in advance to minimize impact and maximize the final outcome.

Depending on the scope of your project, just the planning phase alone will take several months to over a year. This means working with your operations team and all departments that will be impacted. You’ll be factoring in holidays, your peak season, and annual events that drive traffic. Plus, you’ll work very closely with your marketing department on their yearly marketing calendar (so as not to schedule major promotions during construction time). Additionally, you’ll also have your marketing department develop a program around this project. You’ll be contacting the gaming commission and all other entities that have influence over your project so that you understand their time constraints.

2.    Have an expert on your team who is intimate with your existing construction and technology; review contracts with existing vendors that will be involved.

Are you adding in a new bar? Can you run your beverage lines under a raised floor, or do you have a slab? Can your beverage vendor cover any of these additional costs? Will you have additional power needs when you set up new bar-top games? Will your new venue’s software be compatible with your existing setup: POS Systems, Hotel Management Systems? Can your Surveillance System have the capacity to handle new cameras? Continue reading

Just Released! October 2015 Raving Solutions Magazine

Your New Raving Solutions Magazine has arrived!
Check out what’s inside …

Raving Solutions Magazine - OctoberDownload/Print the PDF

From your favorite columnists:

  • Is it time to drop kick your tiered card program – the complete top ten commandments
  • Get your casino’s message past the thousands of others – it’s about relevancy and delivery
  • Is Google+ being overlooked in your social media strategy?
  • What amenity or improvement can I add now that will help drive new guests, and keep my current players here longer?
  • Prudent audacity – isn’t that what marketing should be about?
  • Using consumer research to plan a major ad campaign
  • Fraud at your craps table – the top five ways to know your surveillance department is contributing to the bottom line
  • Using retired major league athletes for your next casino event – some tips on how to do it right
  • The perfect marriage between hotel and casino – it starts with marrying the data in three easy steps

And so much more (we know everyone says that, but it’s true!)

What you can expect in every issue:

  • Our signature analysis of successful promotions: gaming and non-gaming (you won’t find this anywhere else!)
  • Raving recommended reading review
  • Raving access online: even more resources for the gaming executive
  • Save the date: conferences and industry events you won’t want to miss
  • Message from the Prez

About the magazine:
This magazine comes out once a quarter and is complimentary.

Not a regular subscriber? Don’t miss any issues of Raving’s Strategic Solutions Magazine. Go here to subscribe to all of our publications (click on the “sign up for our e-newsletters” button). Or email us at [email protected]. Thanks for forwarding on to a friend!

Have you missed an issue? Go here to see all of our publications and download archived copies.

Have an article or topic request? Would you like to submit an article? We want to know! Just email our editor, Christine Faria, or call her at 775-329-7864.

Just Released! July 2015 Solutions Magazine

July 2015 Solutions Magazine

Your New Raving Solutions Magazine has arrived!

Download/Print the PDF

Pick up your printed copy at the Raving Booth at the Casino Marketing & Technology Conference, July 14-16, Rio Las Vegas

Check out what’s inside!

From your favorite columnists:

  • Five reasons your data analyst can’t analyze data
  • Level 5 leaders — how the success or failure of your organization depends on these few
  • Marketing technology — don’t get caught up in another frenzy and throw the baby out with the bath water
  • How to create and manage your own in-house research panel and avoid the tremendous cost of bad business decisions
  • Creating a profitable and pleasurable outdoor gaming space when smoking is banned inside your property
  • Take time to make your data analyst your partner to accomplish your strategic goals
  • How to fit bingo into your loyalty program — one program, divergent strategies
  • What every GM and Director should know about stopping losses at their casinos: why integrity audits need to be a priority
  • Five e-principles for building casino brand loyalty
  • How developing strategic partnerships can be more profitable for your casino — consider outsourcing
  • How can casinos use food and beverage to drive more guests and be more profitable?
  • Why VIP customers will play more to achieve elite status

And so much more (we know everyone says that, but it’s true!) Click here to read the full Solutions Magazine

Is a Brewery or Distillery Right for Your Resort?

InsideIs this next for your casino resort?
Craft beers and cocktails produced in your own brewery, or how about a whiskey distillery …

By Guest Contributor John Stewart, Raving Partner, & President, Encompass Develop, Design & Construct

Living in Bourbon Country has its perks. Whether we’re tasting some of the finest made bourbons at the Bourbon Festival, visiting the beautiful, historic distilleries along the Bourbon Trail, or sipping a cool Mint Julep at the Kentucky Derby, Kentuckians find a way to celebrate our rich bourbon heritage in just about everything we do.

Owning a business in the bourbon capital has allowed me the privilege to work with some of the most respected names in the bourbon and whiskey industry — Woodford Reserve, Jack Daniel’s, Old Forester, among others.

I think one of the coolest experiences I’ve had was watching the flames shoot through the newly assembled oak barrels at the Jack Daniel’s Cooperage, creating that signature Jack Daniel’s char. With so much history and tradition behind whiskey and bourbon, it’s no wonder why it is a BIG BUSINESS. And not just here in Kentucky, but nationwide, with new distilleries popping up every day.

And so are craft breweries. According to the New Yorker, “As of March, the United States was home to nearly two thousand four hundred craft breweries” and “These beverages have become so popular that craft beer now represents thirty per cent of Costco’s beer sales.”

According to Meheen, in their article, “The Craft Beer Industry is Exploding … Why is it So Popular?”, one of the reasons is “Image. Drinking has always been perceived as a social activity. Nowadays, it’s also a form of social status. Many people no longer want to be associated with popular brands, and would rather be seen drinking something a little more ‘exclusive.'”

Is a distillery or craft brewery the next step for your commercial enterprise? Click here to read the full article

Just Released! April 2015 Solutions Magazine

April 2015 Solutions Magazine

April 2015 Solutions Magazine

Your New Raving Solutions Magazine has arrived!

Download/Print the PDF

Pick up your printed copy at booth #1821 at NIGA, April 1-2.

Check out what’s inside!

From your favorite columnists:

  • One truth and three lies about predictive analytics — find out if this is the right tool for your casino
  • Demystifying social media marketing Part II — it’s not about how many people “like” you, but how engaged they are with you
  • Maximize the return on your marketing investment — guide to casino marketing optimization Part II
  • Change is horribly upsetting to our casino customer — take the time to do it right
  • How proactive surveillance will add profitability to your bottom line
  • The smart casino concert planner — utilizing the venue addendum
  • What can you learn from The Flintstones? As a casino operator, a lot actually
  • Take the five senses challenge — an exercise in improving customer touch points
  • Transaction surveys — a handy little tool that pinpoints customer satisfaction experiences

And so much more (we know everyone says that, but it’s true!) Click here to read the full Solutions Magazine

Who Comes First – An Architect or a Contractor?

John Stewart

John Stewart, Raving Partner

Who comes first — an architect or a contractor?
Three questions that can save you millions

An interview with John Stewart, Raving Partner, & President/CEO, Encompass Develop, Design & Construct

A friend of mine, Jodi, remodeled her bathroom after a leak caused major damage.

Wanting to save money, she bought fixtures and cabinets from one of the big-box stores, tile and flooring from another. She hired a bunch of “guys” to install the tile, plumbing, and cabinets. She hired a gal from the paint store to develop a palette that would match the tile and the cabinet color. She painted the bathroom herself. She had her husband do the floor. Over a year later, it’s done. Well, kinda. Some tile has already chipped, her shower nozzle doesn’t work properly, and her towel rack keeps falling down. She told me it was a “nightmare,” and she wished that she had someone to coordinate the entire thing for her. I didn’t even ask her how much money she really saved, as I doubt, what with all of the time off work in order to supervise, that there were any savings.

Twelve months, for one stinking remodel of a master bath in a subdivision.

Imagine ordering toilets, showerheads and bath mats for 150 rooms or more; making sure that electrical outlets, Internet hookups and hairdryers not only work, but are installed right-side up and level. What about the time it takes to coordinate the scheduling of several contractors — and the mess when one is delayed? And just how do you keep track of the volume of the warranties? Let’s add in one more component — the impact on guests and revenue.

At the G2E show, I had the chance to chat with Raving Partner, John Stewart. Thinking of Jodi’s experience, I asked these questions. Click here to read the full article

Just Released! October 2014 Solutions Magazine

October 2014 Solutions Magazine

October 2014 Solutions Magazine

Your New Raving Solutions Magazine has arrived!
Click here to download the PDF
Pick up your printed copy at Raving’s booth #3409 at G2E
Check out what’s inside!

From your favorite columnists:

  • How would you like to increase your casino’s revenue by 50%, using data-driven analytics instead of “gut feel”?
  • Free play: the gaming industry’s jagged little pill. Let’s stop pointing fingers and start managing free play investment — Part I
  • Reviving stale entertainment: it’s not how much you spend, it’s how you spend what you have
  • The connection between lagging profits and the customer experience at your casino
  • Six secrets of savvy shopping for casinos: what you might not know about procurement that will save your casino thousands
  • If you don’t know why you’re losing customers or carded play, then you won’t know HOW to fix the problem. Raving’s Doc of Research makes her case
  • Selecting an online casino software vendor — three ways to protect your future relationship and investment

And so much more (we know everyone says that, but it’s true!) Click here to read the full Solutions Magazine

How to Avoid Tripping over a Quarter to Reach for a Nickel

IMG_0331Nice people making poor decisions
Don’t get clobbered before you even break ground

Dear Ravers,

It’s distressing how many stories I’ve heard of development projects that have been mismanaged to the point where good people have lost BIG. Tribes who have been grossly taken advantage of; sharp General Managers who have lost their jobs trying to save sinking ships; investors who were left with nothing.

Just recently, it was a conversation about a new tribal casino that, after years in the making, incurred so many cost overruns and delays, it’ll be years before they’ll be able to see desperately needed returns. The sad thing is that this happens all the time.

How does an expansion, new build, change of restaurant go so very wrong? Too many cooks? Too many folks with egos and self-interest?

I get it. Turning a piece of dirt into a brick and mortar legacy is a bunch of million dollar moving parts that could get jammed up at any time if someone isn’t paying attention or you don’t have the right person at the helm.

Up until a year ago, if a client was seeking that right person, we didn’t have someone who we trusted in our stable. Several months ago, Tom, an old buddy of mine from the Harrah’s days, gave me a call and said, “Hey, I want you to talk to someone I’ve been working with. I’ve never met anyone like him. His name is John Stewart and the company is Encompass. I think you’d make a good fit.”

I struggle to know where to start this story, as Tom was right; John and his organization, Encompass Develop, Design & Construct, are so extraordinary, you might not believe me. So stay with me here. Click here to read the full article

Scope Development, Hang Gliders, and Casinos

John Stewart

John Stewart, Raving Partner

Thinking of expanding? New build? Remodel?
To get your project off the ground, spend time on scope development.

By Guest Contributor John Stewart, Raving Partner, & President/CEO, Encompass Develop, Design & Construct

What does creating a multi-million dollar gaming destination have in common with building a homemade hang glider? Without good research, careful planning and thoughtful design, your great ideas could fall flat.

I learned the importance of scope development at age 14, when I got the notion to build a hang glider just like the ones I’d seen on television. I did some research, studied magazines, drew blueprints, and gathered up some improvised materials from our family farm — tent poles, horse halters, bed sheets, and heavy plastic.

Working on scores of much larger construction projects over the years, I’ve seen time and again how good scope development helps you see potential obstacles and impediments down the road. It provides a big-picture view to guide important decisions with greater confidence.

Here are three important factors to keep in mind when developing the scope for any construction project, particularly those designed to be visitor destinations for years to come. Click here to read the full article