I was reminded the other day in a meeting with a customer how hard it can be to even begin the process of building relationships with our customers and collecting information that can give us insights into the preferences and interests of our players. It’s so important to ask questions that provide information on what customers want, rather than assuming they will want what you are prepared to give them. Providing that personalised point of difference in your service standard can make your venue really standout. Janet Hawk is a specialist in Gaming Hosting and Player Development working with Raving Consulting, leaders in the US tribal casino market, which has many similarities to our own club market. She makes some very interesting points in the article below about how important that relationship is to the overall guest experience.                                                                                                                                                                                     The Drop – Ed.


Four ways to build personal relationships with our guests

Let’s be honest, relationships are hard! Whether it’s personal or in business, in order to build (and keep building) a relationship, you must be willing to do the work. We have become so lazy and impatient in our society. We want to “set it and forget it.” Our fast food isn’t fast enough. We don’t want to do the work anymore. I hear it with every player development team I work with, “How do I sell if I don’t have anything to offer?” These people are COMPLETELY missing the point! We work in a unique industry, for sure.

People visit casinos for a variety of reasons. The gaming experience consists of four things: the high of the win, the low of losing, escape and socialisation. Within that, our guests have three expectations: hoping to win, expecting to lose (yes, they get that gaming venues aren’t built on winners) and most importantly, having a good time! The key to success in business is loyalty, and to achieve loyalty, you must exceed the guests’ expectations. The only way to do that is to develop honest relationships. This is the only way to determine what their expectations are.

Our job as player development professionals is to learn what is important to our guests and give them a personalised gaming experience. It’s about THEM, not you. We are there to celebrate the wins, console the losses (and, most importantly, help them not feel like a loser) and create opportunities to escape and socialise. In order for us to do that, we need to know what is important to them … to make the experience a personal one; to exceed their expectations. This takes time, the willingness to listen and dedication to continuing to learn about them. No one can do this for you. To quote RuPaul, “You better WORK!”

Human beings are connected by one common wish: to be seen, to be heard and to know we matter. Knowing this is the key to developing relationships. As mentioned, building relationships is HARD! So, it is important to keep a few things in mind:

  1. All relationships take time and commitment. That is why it’s so hard! In our “microwave/fast food” society, no one wants to do the work! It takes time to learn what another person feels is important, what they are passionate about. It is a continuing process because we change as we grow and learn. We don’t get that information by “buying” it!
  2. All relationships involve give and takefrom both sides. If one side constantly gives and all the other does is take, the relationship is shallow. In our business, that is the quick road to entitlement. Once the “giving” goes away, so does the relationship. Loyalty isn’t built on only giving. Again, you CANNOT “buy” love or loyalty.
  3. When developing a relationship with ANYONE, boundariesare essential. In player development, we function as the liaison between the guest and the venue (with our loyalty to the venue). By honestly explaining the complicated intricacies of the gaming world (within reason), we help our guests have a more enjoyable experience. The focusing on “play X, get Y” is how we need to approach our negotiations with our guests’ wants. Everything’s based on PLAY!
  4. Along with time, commitment, giving, taking and boundaries, is honest communication. This is where trust and, ultimately, loyalty are solidified. Communication is a two-way street, and as a player development professional, we need to master the art of LISTENING in order to communicate effectively. This is listening to understand or empathise, not to simply respond. This creates the glue in ANY relationship.

These are but a few of the important steps that we need to commit to if we truly want to be successful as player development professionals. If we do it right, the efforts of player development positively affect the bottom line by increasing trips and turnover, increasing loyalty to our club!


  • To quote Apoorva Anwariya, “Anything worth having doesn’t come easy. You must put in the work.”
  • Building internal relationships is crucial to the overall success of your property. When everyone understands the importance of each other’s contributions, the more consistent the guest’s experience will be.
  • Learning what other departments do and how we affect each other is essential to the success of the player’s journey.
  • Commitment to excellence is the ultimate mindset. No matter how good we are, we can always be better. We will make mistakes. Take accountability for your actions and stop passing the buck or placing blame. Our guests know that we aren’t perfect. When we own our actions or mistakes, we continue to build our relationships.


Written by: Janet Hawk Host & Player Development for Raving Consulting