Slots of reflection for a brighter future
How we can learn from the past and use today’s tragic pandemic to build a brighter and stronger future for both slot machine and Casino operations
(Published in Infinity Gaming Magazine April 2020)
The Coronavirus has already changed our daily lives and will inevitably change the way we live in the future. On hearing about the recent news that Las Vegas Casinos have been closed down in order to slow down the spread of the disease I couldn’t help but reflect on this unprecedented situation and the devastating effects it’s having on so many lives. I asked myself how we can better prepare for such unforeseen events and what can we learn from the past, and the present, in order to create a better future. Casinos can be a great place to play and work but as anyone in operations will tell you they’re far from perfect and, in many cases, limited by what they can do by both internal and external factors beyond their control. So, what’s so out of control in the present and how can we improve on it and build a better future starting today?
- Out of control issue number 1 – Customer service. Not so long ago I was in a UK land-based casino where the staff didn’t greet me, they didn’t make eye contact or smile, and the management were busier talking to each other than to the customers. On another occasion in the Caribbean I was visiting a competitor’s casino and when I needed assistance, there appeared to be nobody available to help me, or anybody that knew how to help me. When nobody is held accountable and nobody is in charge, the tendency is for the situation to get worse, so why do so many operators still ignore the effects of poor customer service?
- Out of control issue number 2 – Over regulation. In a particular jurisdiction the maximum payout allowed on a slot machine inside a land-based casino is 10k for stand alone slot machine and 20k for progressive slots. Within the same gambling jurisdiction, I can play online slots and win a life changing million-dollar Jackpot! Isn’t this known as unfair competition? In the very same jurisdiction, I can also go into a supermarket and win a multi-million-dollar jackpot just by playing the lottery! Other regulators over tax operators as they see Casinos as cash cows that will effortlessly fill their coffers which, in turn, has directly resulted in the closure of casinos.
- Out of control issue number 3 – Lack of innovation. I was talking recently to a casino GM about who their main casino equipment suppliers were, and they informed me that they only use one. When I enquired as to why, they informed me that they had used the same company for 30 years so didn’t see the need to change. A valid argument perhaps, but not in favor of innovation as the casino looked as tired as the carpet. In another casino, the tech manager commented that, “we’ve always done it this way.” Ouch!
- Out of control issue number 4 – Bad management. I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the greatest minds in the business and am also good friends with some living legends. They wear greatness effortlessly, show respect and practice both integrity and professionalism with everybody they meet. They seek to learn as much as they seek to share their knowledge and know the importance of great leadership. On the other side of the coin I’ve worked for some real ego’s that didn’t listen to advice, acted like dictators, expected loyalty but gave nothing in return but the blame game when revenues took their inevitable plunge.
- Out of Control issue number 5 – The Pareto rule. It’s a well-known fact that 80% of casino profits come from 20 % of its players and that’s a great statistic but what about the other 20% of profits that come from 80% of the players? I’ve had marketing directors tell me that they don’t care about them and that they would rather not have them at all than have to put up with their discontent and constant complaining!!!
Now is a unique opportunity to reflect on how to improve these, and many other out of control issues and really come together to create a better future for the Casino business. Regulators, operators, management, suppliers, innovators and customers need to work together to provide a better future for the industry that we feel so passionate about. Below are some possible solutions to the out of control issues that affect the brand image of the casino business on a daily basis
- Opportunity for issue number 1 – Customer service. The world’s most successful Casino brands take great pride in maintaining their excellent customer service standards and go to great length’s (and expense) to make sure they stay nothing short of excellent. Successful operators know and respect the importance of customer service and the effect it has on the bottom line so you could say they take it rather seriously. Effective and ongoing training and evaluation techniques are essential to maintain the consistent levels of customer service that only the most successful operators achieve.
- Opportunity for issue number 2 – Over regulation. Over regulations can and will limit a casinos ability to compete with their online counterparts as well as land-based casinos in other jurisdictions. You know, they type of jurisdictions where people will travel for hours by plane, boat, car or train to reach in order to live the ultimate Casino entertainment experience, get a healthy return on their entertainment investment and maybe even get lucky and win a life changing jackpot along the way. What’s not to like? Regulations should be designed to enable operators to compete on a level playing field and regulators should work together with operators to ensure that regulations remain relevant and that they reflect the constant changes and challenges within the industry
- Opportunity for Issue number 3 – Lack of Innovation. I’ve been making an annual trip to Las Vegas for at least the past 15 years and they innovate, innovate and then they innovate some more. How else did a once upon a time frontier town became the entertainment capital of the world? The best operators make innovation a part of their company mindset, their values and their day-to-day operations. Operators that practice innovation on a consistent and regular basis ultimately become successful while others….do the same thing that they have done for the past 30 years! I know where I would rather be!
- Opportunity for Issue number 4 – Bad management. Great management starts from the top and a good boss will always lead by example, empower employees and stimulate growth by seeing opportunity in failure and by creating an army of leaders. A motivated and engaged staff is one of the main differences between an “okay” (will never come back) response and a, “Wow, I was blown away by the experience” response (I’m already making plans to return next weekend). Which response would you prefer?
- Opportunity for Issue number 5 – The Pareto rule. It’s extremely shocking (but also very much a reality) that a casino would hire anybody with the “I choose to ignore the 80% of my players” kind of attitude, never mind giving them the title of Director. Successful GM’s and marketing executives recognize the importance of accommodating all their player’s no matter the size of their ADT. Different reward strategies need to be developed for each customer segment, but a personalized customer service experience should be for everyone.
Excellence in customer service will make your operation a success. Relevant changes in regulation will allow operators to become more competitive. Greater and consistent levels of innovation will take your operation to a whole new level of customer satisfaction and help you exceed financial targets. Stronger management will create an army of leaders and last, but not least making all of your player’s (and not just the Pareto 20% rich ones) feel valued and like part of your casino family will keep your operation successful today and better prepared for the future. Stay safe.