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Target Guest Entertainment Experience Delivery System
by Dean M Macomber

I. CONTENTION: A SYSTEMS APPROACH TO CREATING AND MAINTAINING THE CASINO "PRODUCT" WILL PRODUCE OPTIMAL RESULTS

Gaming is a business. As a business, gaming has a product. The product is a set of leisure time services, which includes, but is not limited to, gaming.

The goal for casino executives is to initially conceptualize and accurately align the services with consumer needs, wants and expectations. Thereafter, the goal shifts to consistently producing those services at predetermined target levels of performance. The challenge is to achieve these goals in a business, which has a complex set of production and consumption variables. One approach is to utilize a systematic approach to conceptualizing the service and then a systems approach to produce and maintain the service.

Not all organizations will be capable of taking a true and total systems approach to the challenge. Standing in the way will be ingrained cultural objections, built-in organizational impediments and/or limited financial resources (real or perceived). For those gaming companies who choose to do so, however, the rewards could be meaningful in both competitive positioning and raw financial terms.

II. DESCRIPTION OF "THE GAMING PRODUCT"
A. THE CASINO INDUSTRY AND THE PRODUCT IT "SELLS"


Casinos are part of the leisure time industry king to attract consumers discretionary, disposable income. While gaming may be the focal point of a visit to a casino, the gaming product has expanded to mean much more. Today, a gaming visit certainly includes enjoying the roller coaster excitement created by the win-loss cycles at the blackjack table or slot machine. But equally important, a trip to a casino also means having dinner near a waterfall, vicariously engaging in the social spoil of people-watching at a bar, seeing a high-tech pyrotechnic extravaganza, relaxing by a Caribbean inspired pool or purchasing haute couture at a Romanesque mall.

The "product" which customers come to buy and therefore, what casinos sell is an experience: a gaming related entertainment experience. It is the responsibility of casino management to conceptualize, produce and deliver entertainment experiences that meet the needs, wants and expectations of the guest at a price that creates a perceived value. This responsibility does not exist in a vacuum, however. Competitively this experience must be executed in a manner that results in the business capturing its fair share, or greater than fair share, of the existing or future demand. Under capitalism, the final test is financial. The experience must be manufactured and sold at a ratio of costs to revenues that results in operations meeting or exceeding target financial returns.

B. THE KEY ELEMENT TO SUCCESS - CONSISTENCY

Any product that is successful over the long term depends upon the initial alignment of the customer's expectations for the product with the actual delivery of the product. This evaluation extends first to the experience qualitatively ("Did I get what I wanted?") and if that criteria is satisfied, second, whether the price paid for the experience created a perceived value ("Did I get what I paid for?").

Thereafter, long term success is built upon generating a steady flow of new customers and converting a target core group to loyal repeat customers. Admittedly, such marketing programs as advertising and promotions can generate demand, but it is far more effective to build demand upon a foundation of a solid, positive reputation.

Consistency is the key element to creating and maintaining both loyalty and a positive reputation. The initial quality levels for opening day must be consistently reproduced every day thereafter. It is this "average" experience that a customer has with the business that determines reputation. Great companies are not generally characterized by peaks of excellent product/delivery. Rather, they consistently deliver a "range" of experiences that materially exceed the experience created by the competition. Consistency is also important for the repeat customer because they need to know that each time they visit they will have the same "great time" they had on their first visit.

The challenge in a service industry is that a great deal of the production of the experience is from human beings and thereby subject to an infinite number of human driven variations each time the service is delivered. This is in stark contrast to the far more predictable and precise machine produced products such as retail and hard goods. Aggravating the situation is that no two customers are alike, each bringing with them another set of infinitely variable expectations and valuation criteria. In fact, the same customer may have different experiential expectations and valuation criteria from one trip to another.

The first goal is to create a viable product/service. The second, perhaps more difficult goal, is then to sustain the product/service to target levels. Finding a way to deal with the production - consumption variables is the key to maintaining the all important consistency.

C. GIVING STRUCTURE TO THE GAMING ENTERTAINMENT EXPERIENCE

The casino experience is "manufactured" utilizing a number of elements, tangible and intangible. An impulse driven walk-in visit or an overnight vacation to a casino is an experiential accumulation of contacts with the bricks and mortar, design, environment, employees, products and services offered by the casino. The total time- space continuum that defines each visitor- trip is actually a compilation of an infinite number of contacts with the casino.

This stream of contact events has been referred to as the "service cycle", each node on the cycle constituting a major service. Within each major service node category are the services that comprise that category. Each service may then be then be broken down into tasks, tasks into procedures and so on until the entire customer experience is depicted by a model of all the elements which produce the customer experience.

The ingredients which comprise the experience include tangible and intangible, human and bricks-and-mortar/system elements, conscious and subconscious stimuli. These range from the hard, tangible aspects of the service such as the mix of services offered: quality of the food purchased and the types of slot machines put on the casino floor; to the soft, intangible aspects such as employee courtesy, ambience of the building and perceived chance of winning. A

Date Posted: 30-May-1999



 
 
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