by Martin R. Baird
Learning By Example: A Resort that Astounds
It’s Guests and Turns Them Into Advocates
By Martin R. Baird
I’ve been writing a lot recently about the importance of turning casino guests into advocates. Now it’s time to learn by example. I once visited The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida, and it turned me into an advocate. Every casino can learn a lot from how this resort treats its guests.
The advocate experience started the moment I arrived. When I pulled up to valet parking, a person was at my door immediately, asking if I was checking in. I popped the trunk open and less than 15 seconds later, another person was at my car door saying, “Mr. Baird, welcome to The Breakers.” He said it with a very welcoming tone and nice smile. I loved it.
But how did he know my name? As I stepped out of my car, I said, “So did you know my name by looking at my luggage tag?” He replied yes with a nice smile, as though to say that’s the way all properties do it. This simple gesture of knowing a guest’s name and using it is a very nice way to differentiate yourself and your property from all others.
As I walked into the lobby with the bellman, he gestured to the registration desk where two young women smiled and in unison said, “Good evening Mr. Baird, welcome to The Breakers. Did you have a nice trip?” The welcome at the curb had now gone from a cute parlor trick to a truly warm welcome.
While checking in, I asked for a room with an ocean view and one of the young ladies quickly said I had an ocean-view suite and that she was sure I would like it. I’m thinking life is very good.
As the bellman and I walked to the elevator, he pointed out where the restaurant and bar were located and told me how late they were open. As we walked to my room, he explained that it was a suite with a wonderful view, reinforcing my pleasant experience at the registration desk.
The bellman opened the door to my room and noticed an amenity basket on the TV. I was a guest speaker, so I would not have been surprised to receive a welcome gift. But the bellman noticed that the name on the envelope was not mine, so he radioed downstairs and explained the situation. This amazing employee apologized up and down to me for the inconvenience.
He turned off his radio and started talking about other amenities at the property and within 60 seconds the phone in my room rang. He was standing next to it so he answered, “Good evening, Mr. Baird’s room”
You could have knocked me over with a feather. This place didn’t miss an opportunity to impress me. He listened, said yes a couple of times and hung up. Guest service had called to say they were sorry about the gift basket. They asked that I accept the beautiful basket as an apology for the mistake they made.
There is no other way to describe it. This resort was doing every thing it could to make me an advocate. And it never stopped.
When I was done with my speaking engagement the next day, I had to start thinking about the airport right away. I explained to the valet that I was on a tight schedule and asked if my car could be out front and ready at a specific time. As I walked out the door later, a person grabbed my bags and whisked them to my waiting car.
I wasn’t a whale or a high roller at this property. I wasn’t best friends with the management team. I was just a guy spending the night. Nevertheless, I was treated like I was the highest of high rollers. I’m not rated at most gaming properties, so I don’t know how they treat their valued guests. But I can say I have yet to visit a casino that treated me like a king when they didn’t know me.
If this Florida resort can seize every opportunity to turn its guests into advocates, shouldn’t every casino manager and employee in the industry be able to do the same? Shouldn’t they give every guest their best effort, not just the high rollers and regulars? Yes, they should.
I have a challenge for you. I want you to out-advocate The Breakers. You have guests that spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars at your property. Don’t they deserve the kind of experience I had when they visit you? What would happen if you consistently tried to turn every guest into an advocate every day?
This column previously appeared in Casino Connection
Date Posted: 08-Mar-2007
Martin R. Baird is author of “Advocate Index™: An Operational Tool” and chief executive officer of Robinson & Associates, Inc., a global customer service consulting firm for the gaming industry. Robinson & Associates helps casinos worldwide determine their Advocate Index, a number that indicates the extent to which properties have guests who are willing to be advocates, and then implements its Advocate Development System to help casinos create more guest advocates. The Advocate Development System uses the proven methodology of Advocate Index in combination with best business practices to chart a course for growth and profitability. More information about the Advocate Development System and Robinson and Associates is available at the company’s Web sites at www.advocatedevelopmentsystem.com and www.casinocustomerservice.com. A copy of “Advocate Index: An Operational Tool” may be obtained by calling 206-774-8856. Robinson & Associates may be reached by phone at 480-991-6420 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Based in Annapolis, Maryland, Robinson & Associates is a member of the Casino Management Association and an associate member of the National Indian Gaming Association.