New Year 2007
by Sudhir Kale

Dear Friends:

It is unbelievable how quickly 2006 passed. What an eventful year it has been for the gaming industry. Macau truly blossomed to become the largest gaming destination in the world, Singapore awarded its two licenses to end the year-long suspense, and Harrah’s is being courted with a buyout worth around $20 billion. Each of these is probably once in a lifetime event or a confluence of events unlikely to be witnessed again. Events of 2006 have irrevocably changed the gaming industry, orbiting it full-throttle into the global arena, where capital, competition, customers, and even employees have assumed a global domain.

Policymakers the world over seem to have more fully accepted to the inevitable and ubiquitous presence of gaming. It is only a matter of time, it appears, before Japan, Thailand, India, and possibly China ease gaming regulations to allow fully-fledged land based casinos.

How do these developments impact each of us? First, the industry will rapidly move to new global standards of excellence where being “good” won’t be good enough. Customer centrism will have to be drilled into the ossified corporate culture of many casino properties. Customer service will increasingly become the only possible means of sustainable competitive advantage. Second, executives with cross-functional skills will be highly sought after and departmental silos will have to be razed to make way for a new breed of boundary spanners in pursuit of previously unimagined service standards. Third, decision making at the very top will assume more of a Janusian nature—more intuitive on the one hand, and more data-driven on the other. This will increase the demand for statistics aficionados and propeller heads (to use Gary Loveman’s favourite term) and corporate shamans. Fourth, retaining excellent staff will assume unprecedented importance, from the frontline personnel all the way to the C-level. New means to engender employee loyalty and commitment will have to be devised in short order. Internal marketing will rise in ascendency in relation to external marketing. Finally, life-long learning at every organizational level will have to be inscribed as a key tenet of cassino operations. What you learnt in graduate school or at an executive development program three years ago will be of little value in managing your affairs today. Casino companies and individual employees will have to jointly carry the mantle of on-going learning.

I, for one, look forward to what the New Year will have to offer. We are blessed to be operating in this industry, an industry with unparalleled glamour, intrigue, adventure, and fun. No wonder casino is the stuff so many movies are made about. All the very best for 2007!

PS - Sudhir Kale, founder of Gameplan Consultants and a regular contributor to Urbino has lost his address book due to a technical glitch. He requests all his friends and contacts in the gaming industry to kindly send him an e-mail at skale@gameplanconsultants.net so that he may have your coordinates again and re-establish contact with you. Sudhir regrets his inability to currently communicate with all of you due to this problem.

Date Posted: 08-Jan-2007

Sudhir Kale, Ph.D., is the founder of GamePlan Consultants, a company that consults and trains for casinos at a global level on casino marketing. Sudhir has published more than fifty articles on the management and marketing aspects of gaming. He is also a featured speaker at many high profile gaming events such as the Global Gaming Expo and the University of Nevada’s executive development program for senior gaming executives. You can write to Sudhir at skale@gameplanconsultants.net.

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