Source: Robinson & Associates, Inc

Renting Short-Term Guests Is No Way to Compete - Supercharge Your Casinoís Service & Own Those Guests

Martin R. Baird

April 13th, 2002 

    No one needs to tell casino managers that the gaming industry is incredibly competitive these days. They do need to know, however, that they canít compete by giving away the farm. Instead of focusing on the one thing that can keep players coming back on a long-term basis Ė outstanding guest service Ė many casinos are trying to rent short-term guests.

    Hereís how it works. Many properties are making offers today that are so amazing they border on obscene. Theyíre offering double and triple points. Their food options are bigger and better than ever, and the prices guests pay are dropping like a  dot-com stock..

    When casinos embrace a price war, only the players win.  When casinos duke it out with pricing, they end up buying guests, not building a loyal customer following. When casinos buy a guest, theyíre just renting them for the brief time of the promotion. Guess what happens when the promotion ends?  These short-term guests drift away to the next amazing offer.  And that new offer may be right across the street.  How convenient!

    Giving things away may Ė and I do mean may Ė generate trail (encouraging people to try you out) and thatís very important from a marketing perspective. One of the golden rules of marketing is that by generating trial, you give people the opportunity to experience the benefits of your new product or service. Hereís one drawback to that approach. If youíre selling the same thing as the rest of your competition, youíve gained nothing.

    Casinos can generate trial with their outlandish offerings, but itís not likely they will create more long-term revenue for the property. It takes trail to start the ball rolling but without a superior product or service, thatís as far as it goes.

    Is giving away the farm enough to win this war of competition? I donít think so. Casinos need to deliver such an amazing guest experience that they have a basic shift in strategy:  from renting the guest to long-term ownership of that guest.

    Outstanding guest service is no longer an option. There was a time when it was enough to have bright lights, beautiful women, free drinks, a huge buffet and, of course, gaming.  Itís scary, but that is not enough today.  Guests want everything AND more.  They want it all plus great service or they will go to the competition or simply log onto the Internet and test their luck.

Amazing experience

    Today, the successful casino must provide an amazing experience that keeps guests coming back even as the competition offers more to try to entice them to give their property a try.

    Before you try to generate trial, you need to supercharge your guest service so that guests are thrilled with the experience they have. The guest needs to see that the propertyís employees truly care about them and want them to come back because theyíre appreciated.

    Speaking of appreciation, I think itís a lost art in the gaming industry. That astounds me because this is such a basic element of good service. Not showing appreciation is a missed opportunity thatís costing many properties a lot of money. Once a guest is on the property, you want them to feel like each employee they meet appreciates them. Most people are looking for even the smallest form of recognition and appreciation. And itís so easy to provide it!
    Hereís an example that any casino can easily adapt to its own guest service program. While my wife and I were working with a casino in Bossier City, Louisiana, we visited a small Asian restaurant that was just down the street. This restaurant is in a hotel and thatís not usually the kind of place we think of when we want great food. In fact, we had previously opted not to eat at this restaurant because it didnít look like much. But several people told us to give it a try.

    Word-of-mouth advertising created trial for this little establishment. But could it turn that opportunity into repeat business by offering something better than the competition?

    The food was great, just like good food at most casinos, but it paled in comparison to the service. The service was just amazing. I mentioned that I like hot, spicy food and the waiter said they had a spicy special that night. It was delicious.

    But that was the least of it.  When we were in Bossier City again 90 days later, we became repeat customers and ate at that restaurant again. The same server remembered us and asked if we wanted the spicy dinner. Out of all the couples that ate there the past three months, that waiter remembered us and gave us recognition and appreciation. This little restaurant won us over as permanent, long-term customers on our second visit.

     How many casinos offer that kind of service today in their own special way?  How many are surprising and amazing their guests instead of offering them the same costly specials that are available across the street?

   Not nearly enough and in todayís brutally competitive gaming market, who can afford that kind of strategy?

    Robinson & Associates, Inc., is a customer service consulting firm that provides specialty customer service training, management skills training, presentation skills training, team building programs and employee incentive and recognition programs for casinos.  Baird has a Web site,, thatís devoted to helping casinos improve their customer service so they can compete and increase revenues.  Robinson & Associates may be reached at 480-991-6421.  Baird may be reached by  e-mail at

Tom Ellis
Ellis Communications, L.L.C.
Phone (623) 780-4558
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