Article By Janet Hawk, Raving Consulting Partner, Player Development and Marketing, Reno Nevada, USA

Three tips on how to start off the New Year with marketing savvy from a casino player development expert.

As we start a brand new year, I wanted to give you a reminder of three key areas that can greatly impact your bottom line in 2016.


Set Up Your 2016 Marketing Calendar

Without a marketing calendar, a lot of your efforts may be scattered. A calendar will help you keep on track and stay focused. Many times throughout the year, the day-to-day gets so overwhelming that you end up stomping out bushfires and not noticing that there’s a problem.

Make sure to include all promotions, special events, direct mail, and advertising. It is essential to have these coordinated. Each of these is intertwined, and in order to keep organised, your marketing calendar is imperative. I have used several different versions of a marketing calendar. For me, a two-pronged approach works best:

  • A master spreadsheet for the full year that incorporates all aspects of marketing and is kept in a file online that everyone has access to. I have used this to also keep those departments outside of Marketing in the loop!
  • I am a very visual person, so also having a three-month whiteboard (or giant post-it paper) on a wall where I see it every day helps keep me on track.


Review All 2015 Promotions, Events, Programs
The New Year is always a great time to review and re-evaluate all promotions, programs, and special events. What worked? What didn’t? What is the feedback from frontline employees and guests?

How are your standard promotions performing? Think of these as living organisms. You need to continue to give attention and monitor these types of promotions regularly. It is really easy to neglect these types of promotions because so many are system-run, hence, why we call them “set it and forget it” promotions. Many times, making the slightest “tweak” will result in much better results and make the promotion a little fresher for your members and guests.

There are several pre and post-formas out there, and I have yet to find one that works better than the rest. However, what I have found most helpful is to define each promotion, special event or program from the beginning, using the four key strategies: Acquisition, Retention, Growth and Reactivation.

By defining the goal, you will be able to clarify the purpose of a promotion and help make the evaluation process much more focused. Once everyone is on the same page as to the purpose or goal, it is much easier to evaluate and determine opportunities for improvement or success.

Too many times the promotion is created without an intended purpose other than “be successful and make money.” That is a valid desire, but not efficient because everyone’s idea of success is different.


Perform a Host List Review and Player Draft
Player trends fluctuate for many reasons: players move, some may have financial difficulties, and sadly, some die. There are many reasons a guest’s gambling habits may change. In the cases where the host can help (fixing an unpleasant experience), they should.

But in the cases where they can’t, it is important to only keep those guests who actively meet the required criteria. Hosts need to regularly review their lists and determine who out of their list doesn’t make the cut. If you keep adding players to your host’s list, it will soon become too large and ineffective. So, a regular purge is necessary. This does not mean that the guests will be ignored or told, “I’m sorry, I can’t be your host anymore.” It simply means that they won’t be actively marketed to by the host.

Having clear criteria for your hosts is important. Smaller properties may use simple qualifiers for hosted players, such as 250 ADT (average daily theoretical) and 5+ trips. Larger properties will likely use more detailed criteria. The goal is to see that your hosts have a manageable list of best players. What does your database tell you in relationship to the Pareto Principle (the 80/20 rule)? That will tell you where to start.

Because your host team is as diverse as your guests are, you may find instances where a guest is assigned to a host that isn’t a great fit. Having a yearly player draft is a great way for all hosts to sit down as a team and discuss those opportunities. This is, for the most part, a behind-the-scenes process, and in most cases the guest will never know. However, there may be an occasion where the guest needs to be notified of the change. This should always be done in a professional manner, with management taking the lead. Often, guests end up dealing with the host that they feel the most comfortable with. They may just be coded to someone else. Host coding is for focused organisation, and should never be discussed in detail with the guest. So, the draft is a perfect opportunity for hosts to switch players.

There will be times that a guest will simply feel more comfortable or connect with a particular host. Having a clear process in place for hosts to request a re-coding of a player is as important as setting the initial criteria for coding a player. Creating forms for the hosts to use that require both of the hosts to agree on the request for code change and sign before submitting, has seemed the most effective for me, not only as a host, but also as a manager. I have found that requiring the hosts to work together and communicate with each other – while keeping the interests and needs of the guests as the first priority – works best.