I travel frequently and watched with amazement the recent ‘shifts’ that have taken place at airport check-in. The latest rule from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is that you cannot bring a cup of coffee, toothpaste, water bottle or mouthwash on board the airplane. But you can bring up to four ounces of eye drops, saline solution or non-prescription medicine, like cough medicine. You also now can carry on scissors that are four inches or less and screwdrivers seven inches or less.
So what’s the difference between one person bringing on 12 ounces of liquid and three people bringing four ounces each and combining them after boarding? Why is a six-inch screwdriver less dangerous than an eight-inch screwdriver? What is TSA thinking?
I have observed many of these same types of mind-numbing rules at some gaming organizations, as well. You cannot eat at the gaming tables or slot machines. Why not? Isn’t the goal of all casinos to get as much play time as possible? How bad can it be to offer delivery service to the player? Plenty of restaurants do it. They deliver their products to the center of gravity. . .where the customer is. Yet the only gaming organization that seems to offer this obvious service is Barona. What are we thinking?
We’re supposed to deliver entertainment and value to the player, so why do we put bottles of water that cost $4.99 in the same hotel rooms where coffee is free? How can we offer a buffet breakfast featuring all you can eat for $4.99, but charge $15 for a continental breakfast if we eat in our room? What are we thinking?
Many casinos discourage children. What are you thinking? Parents like to gamble or they would not have had the kids in the first place (just kidding). My suggestion is to offer a compelling reason to come to your ‘entertainment’ center instead of sending them to Disney or Knott’s Berry Farm. So why not offer day care centers instead? Provide a place that caters to and supervises kids, so their parents are free to play in the casino.
Sure, we all know that there are rules that must be created and followed. But do we actually evaluate them before implementation? Recently I was at Pechanga and found that I had left my players club card in my room. Rather than go upstairs I went to the VIP lounge and they not only found my number, they gave me free play in the slots for my trouble. How cool is that? I actually experienced customer service.
A few days later, I was at a Las Vegas strip casino and went to check into the hotel. The lines were very long, so I went to the VIP Lounge. I was wearing a suit and tie, my hair was combed, and I had nice luggage. There was no line. . .in fact I was the only person in the room.
I asked to check in. After a moment the clerk demanded to know the name of my host, why I found myself in their secret cave, and did I have any reason for taking up her time? Rather than perform a minimal service to a guest, I was lectured. I left the room and the hotel as well. I checked into the one next door, where I was treated well, thanked for my business, and offered an upgrade.
I was then asked if I had a player host, would I like to be introduced to one, and offered a complimentary beverage. What was the first casino thinking? Were they trained by TSA? Did I appear to be a threat to their daily routine? All I was trying to do was stay at their hotel, and perhaps, spend some time and money in the casino?
We are in the service business, aren’t we? We also are in the entertainment business, right? We all know what to do. . .make the player happy. We all know how to do it. . .ask the player what they want. We all know what it takes. . .make the player feel welcome. Yet, we spend more time on the barriers to doing business than actually doing business. What are you thinking?
Players are people. They like to be recognized. They don’t like rules. They don’t like to be treated like children. So why do we insult them with free coffee mugs or cheap t-shirts with our logos on them? Why do we make them wait in line for the buffet seating when there are many empty seats? Why do we want to adjust their attitudes and not our own?
They are our customers. And great customer service. . .at any organization. . .is the only reason people continue to do business. What are we thinking?
We must find out from our players what they want and give it to them. We must ask our front line employees for their observations and act on them. We must reward performance after we determine what performance expectations we have for everyone in our business.
Our business is behavior pattern recognition. Look for what annoys our players and stop it. Look at other organizations outside of gaming, see what works and what does not, and apply it to us. Look at how often McDonald’s adds new products. Look at how Disney continues to offer new experiences at parks, in the movie theater, on TV, and collaborating with iPod to download TV and movies. . .all for a price.
Look at your rules. Are you are becoming focused on ‘small change’ in the short term rather than big dollars in the long term? A casino in Southern California recently lost power. They had four generators as back up. Three failed. The casino lost over a million dollars per hour for over seven hours. Seems that the lowest bidder provided the generators…surprised? I am constantly amazed that the lowest bidder is the preferred vendor without regard for reputation, consistency, or long-term relationships offering any competitive differentiation. It all seems to come down to “deal or no deal” solely based on price.
The short term may be a savings, but the long term could produce a significant loss. Focus on the long term by making great decisions for the short term and maybe the lights won’t go out. Make sure we understand our rules. Encourage families with children. Deliver food to the player. Offer a streamlined check-in process. Use the VIP lounge to encourage players to stay where they play. And offer exceptional service to everyone that arrives at your ‘entertainment’ center for entertainment.
Today, ask yourself, “What will you do differently tomorrow that will get you better results than you got yesterday? ”
What are you thinking today?