Casinos Must Stop Renting Guests
by Martin Baird

Casinos Must Stop Renting Guests
By Martin R. Baird

It’s no secret that the recession has prompted casinos to offer smokin’ deals to customers to bolster sagging revenues. I don’t blame casinos for cooking up some great deals, and I certainly hope potential guests find these offers too good to ignore.

But there’s a huge problem here. Casinos are focused on renting customers when they should concentrate their energy and resources on creating devoted guests – guests who continue to play at their favorite casino in good times and bad because they enjoy it so much. Casinos may attract customers with specials, but those guests will fade away once the specials are gone. This does not create future growth.

Stop renting guests! Casinos must focus on creating an outstanding gaming experience that turns guests into advocates. Forget about satisfied guests and their comment cards. In fact, throw those comment cards in the trash. I’m talking about guests who are so wowed by the fun they have at a casino that they become advocates for it of their own free will. Everyone at the casino, including middle managers and the staff members who report to them, can make this happen because they have the power to create that gaming experience.

What casino wouldn’t want repeat business? That’s what guest advocates can give them. Advocates play at their favorite casino again and again and again. In my book, that’s repeat business.

What casino wouldn’t want new business, especially these days? That’s right, guest advocates can make that happen, too. Advocates risk their personal reputation by recommending their neat and fun casino to family, friends and coworkers. The amazing thing is they do this without any prompting from the casino. When family and friends give the casino a whirl, that’s new business. Wow those new customers with an excellent gaming experience and you can turn them into advocates, too. Then they recommend your casino to their friends and the process repeats itself.

Surely you can see what this means. When you get the guest advocacy cycle going at your casino, you do more than boost your business today. You create future growth. So I ask again, what casino wouldn’t want that?
Enough with your fixation on guest satisfaction. I guarantee customers who take advantage of casinos’ hot deals will be satisfied. But that doesn’t mean they will come back. Comment cards tell you how many guests are satisfied on a particular day, but that still means nothing. Casino guests are fickle. They can be happy on Tuesday because they won a few dollars and unhappy on Thursday because they lost $200 or the buffet wasn’t as good as usual. The comment cards they filled out on those days canceled each other out. That leaves the casino holding worthless data.

But if you measure the extent to which you have advocates and express it as an index and then make internal improvements to create more advocates, you have valuable, useful data. It’s easy for managers and employees to track their progress in creating advocates because all they have to do is watch the index. The more advocates you have, the higher the index goes. That climbing index represents future revenue growth. And if you can expect your revenue to increase by a certain amount each time the index goes up a few points, that also means you have predictable growth.

If you think casino guest advocates are a pipe dream, think about this. You are an advocate for some business somewhere. Everybody does it. Let’s say a friend has an important date and asks you to recommend a restaurant that will make a memorable impression. Odds are you pass along the name of a favorite eatery. This is a restaurant that you’ve been patronizing for years and you just risked your reputation by recommending it. But you took the risk because you know your friend and his date will love it. Guess what? You are an advocate. I have a business associate who buys all his office supplies at the same store because the service there is so good. He actually likes going there. He recommends it to other people. He is an advocate.

Casino guest advocates are real people and they matter, especially now as everyone wonders how long it will take the economy to rebound. Now is the time to stop renting guests and start creating that memorable gaming experience that generates advocates for your property.

Date Posted: 12-Mar-2011

Martin R. Baird is chief executive officer of Robinson & Associates, Inc., a Boise, Idaho-based consulting firm to the global gaming industry that is dedicated to helping casinos improve their guest service so they can compete and generate future growth and profitability. Robinson & Associates is the world leader in casino guest experience measurement and improvement. For more information, visit the company’s Web sites at www.casinocustomerservice.com and www.advocatedevelopmentsystem.com or contact the company at 208-991-2037. Robinson & Associates is an associate member of the National Indian Gaming Association.

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