This is an article from the latest Raving Consulting magazine about what makes a great gaming host – an increasingly important role in the club and pub industry in Australia.

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The Ultimate Host Model … A hybrid of hunter and hugger

By Janet Hawk, Raving Partner, Player Development and Marketing

The Godfather is one of my all-time favourite films.  Especially after I moved to Vegas.  The mob mystique, stories the “dinosaurs” told, pasta, passion, (did I mention pasta?) really piqued my interest.

When I was young and just breaking into the casino business, there was a certain line from that movie that I repeated to myself and became a mantra: “it’s not personal, it’s business.”  It was an important lesson that one of my first mentors in the industry really beat into me.

When I began as a floor person on the slot floor, Mark was my shift manager and trainer.  His first lesson?  “If I see you cry on the floor, I will kick your ___!”

I’m a Montana girl.  I was raised on a ranch and had never considered myself as overly sensitive at work.  So I laughed and told him “not to worry.”  He looked at me very seriously and said, “Trust me. You are working with the public. Most of whom are losing money.  Things will be said and done to you, and you will want to cry out of frustration.  Leave the floor, do what you need to do, then collect yourself and hit the floor again with your head up.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I thought. Guess what?  It happened!  More than once.  I was so thankful for his advice!  So, “it’s not personal, it’s business” became my silent meditation, especially during dispute resolution situations.

I also shared that advice when I trained others in the business.

That is, until I read an article a few months ago that triggered my “AHA” button in a BIG way.

What hosts do IS personal!  If it’s not personal, you aren’t doing it right. 

What I realised is that I was using the mantra as protection, and it was contradictory to everything I did and trained my team to do.

So, I decided to change my mantra: business IS personal.

For any business to be truly successful and deliver exemplary guest service, it had darn well better be personal!  It’s about developing relationships, and to have ANY type of relationship, we have to get personal. And in business, good relationships create loyalty.

So, how can we balance personal and business in everything a host does? For the Player Development department, it is vital to what we do.  Let’s take this new mantra and design the ultimate host model.

Often, hosts are divided into two separate categories:

  1. Hugger: the touchy-feely host who is more concerned with making the guest happy.
  2. Hunter: the revenue-focused host who makes every decision based on numbers. Whether it be for comping or reinvesting in the guest, to even who they will spend time on. It’s all about the money.

My ultimate host is a combination of these two types, a hybrid.  The host who takes the time to honestly build that relationship with their guests, and uses the information mined from the database for leads, proper reinvestment parameters, goals and strategies for the best result for both guest and property.

These hosts are aware of all their guests’ preferences and idiosyncrasies, and can also help properly manage comps/ points so that the guest:

  • Has an enjoyable gaming experience
  • Stays profitable for the casino
  • Keeps the balance between reinvestment in guest from becoming entitlement

The hybrid host does most of their work behind the scenes.  Most people don’t see all the work they do to stay on top of their book of business.  They just want the guest to have a good time, and if the guest has an issue, they do their best to help fix it.

How do they do that?  Here are a few examples:

  • They are organised. They utilise a calendar system like Outlook, smartphones and alerts/reminders to keep on track. File folders, post-it notes, whiteboards, journals, event outlines, arrival and departure reports, etc., are your friends! Make a habit of writing things down!
  • They fully leverage the technology available (or create a workaround). This not only includes Outlook and smartphones, but your CMS, hospitality systems, or any other system your casino utilises.  If you don’t know the systems well, ask. Take notes and, if possible, enter them into the CMS.  This not only helps you stay on track, but if you also include player profile information, you stay on top of all your guests’ preferences and personal characteristics within your book of business.
  • They are experts at managing their time. Make a schedule and FOLLOW IT!  What you don’t make time for will get overlooked. Make a game plan and set goals … be proactive!


  • They have a thorough knowledge of their book of business and use analytics to strategise. Hosts need to know everyone they are coded to, or at least be in the process of getting to know them. Make it a point to review all reports concerning your book of business.  If you don’t have access to these reports, make friends with your data analysis department. By dividing your list into sizable segments (high frequency/low ADT, high frequency/high ADT, low frequency/high ADT), you can more effectively manage your list and make clear goals and strategies.  Use the analysis to develop a sales campaign for each player in your book of business. Set sales goals based on the analysis and hold yourself accountable.


  • Take the time to LISTEN and LEARN all you can about your guests. It’s not about you!   Know your casino inside and out!  The more you know about your product (the casino), the more you can help your guest have a more personal experience. Check, check, and check again … then, follow up. Every single time.


  • They build relationships with teammates. No one can do this alone, and you can’t do everything.  The relationships you have with other departments and your Player Development teammates are as important as the one you have with your guests.  Teamwork makes for the ultimate guest experience because everyone is equally invested in taking care of the guests. They know that the more touches (contacts with the guest) they make, the more revenue they make.  It’s the little things you do as a host that can make the greatest impact.  As you continue to get to know your players, you will be able to create unique guest service experiences and make an unforgettable impact on your guests … whether they are onsite or not.


  • They know how to have fun. Have fun with your guests. Have fun with your team. Have fun with every department that helps you do your job and takes care of your guests. The ultimate host uses all the tools they can to help the guest have a better experience while they gamble.  That personal touch is really the key to all relationships, but, as I so negligently ignored, really important in business as well.

Sorry, Don Corleone, but a successful business IS personal.

Read this article and more in the latest Raving magazine >>