Have We Lost Touch with the Human Side of Our Business?

By Daniel Wood, Strategic Raving Partner, Phone-Based Solutions at Engagex

Hosts and player development teams are an essential part of any property’s success, but how much of their time is actually spent having human-to-human interactions with guests?

At this July’s Host Development Conference, fellow Raving Partner, Janet Hawk, said, “It’s not about how many calls you make or how many appointments you set or how many hours you work in a week,  it’s about how many player trips you drove. How you get there is up to you.”

Is your PD strategy about driving more trips or about making a certain amount of calls? They’re not the same.

I recently visited with a host team that spent the majority of their time in an office facilitating reports, coordinating hotel rooms, and answering inbound calls. They were not out on the casino floor doing what they do best. Everyone on the team had a schedule that they typically followed each day, and they confessed that they did not have the time to break away and get out to see guests as often as they would like.

This team wasn’t much different from others that I’ve met with over the years. The thing I’ve noticed about most player development teams is that they’ve become distracted by mundane tasks – self- inflicted or imposed by a manager – and have lost focus with what player development is all about: building lasting relationships with their guests. These relationships are built with human-to-human interactions and through conversation and interface.

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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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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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Better Ways for Hosts to Build their Book of Business


By Janet Hawk, Raving Partner, Player Development and Marketing

So many times, I see management hand their hosts a list and tell them, “This is your book of business. GO!” No guidance, no goal, no methodology, no rhyme or reason.  This is a quick road to frustration for not only your PD team but for management. Frustration leads to failure quickly. To avoid this, here are a few guidelines and suggestions that will help not only give your team a more defined path to follow but will increase revenue if done correctly!

First, you need to determine WHAT:

  1. Define what is most important and focus on it!

You can’t do everything all the time. An analysis will help you see where the opportunities lie. There is likely some low hanging fruit that has been overlooked and will yield quick results. This is something that should be done often. Quarterly, determine what you want the hosts to focus on. Is it growing theoretical? Actual? Number of trips? Acquisition? Continue to use analysis to track progress and adjust accordingly.

  1. Put a plan into action!

What tactics will you use based on the information you gleaned from analysis? Develop a specific sales campaign for each customer based on the goals and strategies you are focused on. For instance, if your hosts are focusing on the “meaty middle” segment (low value = 150 to 300 ADT; low trips), a little extra attention can go a long way in achieving increased growth. These players are normally flying in under the radar and are quite often ignored.

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How Do You Tap Into Your Players’ Passions?


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


When you tap into passion, technology becomes a vehicle, not an impediment. People of all ages, demographics, and socio-economic backgrounds will find a way to connect, to engage, and to further their exploration if passion is at play. Before you think your patrons aren’t ready to jump online or go mobile, get your knitting cap on.
Let me introduce you to Karen Cross. She’s a knitter and a friend in both quilt guilds that I belong to. She’s in trouble with me. Big trouble. She introduced me to something. It’s all her fault. She was trying to help, but instead, she was my enabler.
Here’s the situation:
I have three tubs of yarn…and I don’t know how to knit. This is a common problem for knitters and quilters. We are like squirrels with nuts – we live to create a stash of materials. We live in a world of abundance of creative intent, but not necessarily the follow-through to gain credibility as artists within our own families.
Karen introduced me to Ravelry. It’s a website. I signed up for an account, built a personal profile, and now spend hours immersed in searching, finding, and chatting with people of like minds. It’s a community of hobbyists with common interests. My personal dilemma: I have yarn that I love, but lack the skills to complete a project. Within this site, I can search for patterns that feature the yarn in my stash. Then, I can narrow the search by style. Behind each post is a person who has completed a project with a link to the pattern she used. I have created a folder of patterns using my yarn. Oddly enough, I narrowed my search by featuring patterns of scarves that have been worn in the Starz drama series Outlander.

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How to Effectively Engage in a Crowded Digital Landscape


By Jerry Epstein, Raving Partner and CEO, Engaged Nation
In 2004, the Yankelovich Center for Social Science Research at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) conducted a breakthrough study which showed that 65% of respondents felt that they were being “…bombarded with too much marketing and advertising.” The report went on to state that the average consumer was inundated with between 5,000 and 10,000 marketing messages daily, but could only effectively process 10 to 12.

Thirteen years later, the digital communications landscape has become supersaturated. As consumers tweet, chat, blog, pin, post, snap, tumbl and flick about every imaginable topic, casinos aren’t just competing against other casinos for people’s minds, hearts, and wallets – they’re competing with other forms of digital entertainment.

So, how do modern-day marketers effectively engage and motivate their audience in a crowded digital landscape? It turns out the answer might be a powerful, simple communication strategy that’s been around for centuries. This communication method may have changed names over the years, but “gamification” (the application of typical elements of game playing to other areas of activity) has proven itself to be a highly adaptable and effective motivational tool.

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Raving Flash! Take This Ten Question Quiz About Your PD Department

To evaluate your property's current player development efforts

By Steve Browne, President, Raving Service


  1. Do you have a PD function in your casino designed to not only love your best players one-on-one (instead of through the mail), but also to find and create more new best players for your organization? YES or NO?
  2. Does your PD function offer a bonus and/or incentive program for your hosts (salespeople) that allows them to earn a significant part of their pay through the meeting and exceeding of specific sales targets and goals? YES or NO?
  3. Does your PD function have a support staff of VIP Reps, Ambassadors, Call-Center hosts, PD coordinators, or what-have-you to ensure your top tier players are properly spoiled while your sales hosts are freed up to go after new sales leads? YES or NO?
  4. Does your PD function have a career path component that at the very least identifies likely hosts from among your workforce, sets them on a training path towards an executive host, sales or business development position, and includes training and achievement benchmarks to keep them firmly going down the path? YES or NO?
  5. Does your PD function have a math-based methodology for finding sales leads from among the thousands upon thousands of players in your database and does this methodology end in the depositing of these sales leads into your hosts’ list of daily tasks? YES or NO?
  6. Does your PD function measure every important metric involved in the development and retention of the best players in your organization, including everything a host does to drive that business and the results achieved by their doing it? YES or NO?

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Raving Flash! How to Get Higher Response Rates from Your Non-Hosted Players


By Daniel Wood, Raving Partner, Phone Based Marketing Solutions and VP of Business Development at Engagex 
Do your hosts have quotas for the number of players they must engage with each month? Do they make reservations for their players? Do they follow-up on VIP special event invites? Should they be doing all of these things?

It isn’t quite that simple, but for now, the answer is yes … and no.

Let’s assume that 5-10% of your players are hosted players. I think we can all agree that these hosted players are well engaged with your property. They receive weekly/monthly promotions and direct mail pieces, along with personalized phone calls from their host. Rightfully so, the hosts are doing their job by keeping these VIP players top of mind for every promotion or offer available. But what about the non-hosted players who make up the other 90 - 95%? How engaged is your property with these players? The non-hosted players receive weekly/monthly promotions and direct mail pieces as well, but what about those personalized phone calls? It works for the host team, so why isn’t it being used for everyone else?

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How to Achieve Higher Response and Profit from your Food and Beverage Offers

 By Sarah Procopio, Raving Partner, Database Analytics

There is a trend right now to offer casino players a general property credit as part of their player offer package. Three words—DON’T DO IT! Here’s why: decreased outlet control for food and beverage offer redemptions equates to:

1.    Lower perceived player value

When you understand the food cost for each outlet, you can use it to advocate on the player’s behalf to provide them with the highest value offer possible. This equates to high perceived player value, which translates to a lift in response. For illustrative purposes, here is some simple math:

If the profit margin at your steakhouse is 2%, and the profit margin at your Italian restaurant is 20%, that means a $100 steakhouse offer costs the property $98, while a $100 offer for the Italian restaurant costs the property $80. The lower cost at the Italian restaurant can be leveraged when putting together player offers. Here’s how: For a $300 player, the $100 steakhouse offer puts you at a 33% player-reinvestment percentage ($98 cost / $300 Theo), while the $100 Italian restaurant offer puts you at roughly a 26% reinvestment rate ($80 cost / $300 Theo). You can either pocket that 7% difference for your casino or use it to boost the player offer to a higher amount. 7% may not sound like a lot, but in volume, it adds up and your players will notice. You know as well as I do, players always want more, and you just found a way to give it to them. Boom! Player response rate boosted! Why would you ever cheat yourself out of this opportunity with a blanket property credit offer? Continue reading

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 consultancy 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 [email protected] . If you have any issues registering or for other technical issues, please contact our moderator, Dave Newton of CDC Gaming Seminars, at [email protected] or call him at 702-255-9891.