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Casino Customers Attitudes and Behavior:

Even Though They Might Lose, Treat Them Like a Winner

How can you let one third of your customers be ambivalent
about their Casino Experience?  You simply cannot.

By Ragsdale Hendrie, September 14, 2010

Well, if you are the only game in town, and your locality is in the middle of nowhere, the fact that 33% of your Customers do not really care one way or another about your business probably does not matter much to local management.  Some Casinos do have a “captured audience”, but most do not, and they very much need to be attentive to their Players and the Casino Experience.

Market Metrix recently undertook a research assignment to create a model for Casinos and Casino Resorts, based upon Customer segmentation.  The purpose was “…to identify critical behaviors and trends of Casino Customers that will help Casino Management better understand and connect with their target customers”.  Each segment represented distinct groups, based upon geo-demographic, behavioral and attitudinal dimensions.

The first Group was the High Frequency Customer, who visited Gaming establishments more than 15 nights a year.  They were identified by sub-sets:  “Mr. Deep Pockets” and “Elder Elites”, representing approximately 15.3% of the sample.  The second Group was the Medium Frequency Customer (10-15 nights, further subset into “Unmoved Members” and “True Blue”, representing 44.9% of the overall sample.  The last Group was the Low Frequency Customer (less than 10 nights), identified as “Happy-go-lucky”, “Ice Queens” and “Accidental Travelers”, representing 39.7%. 

Readers of the results were naturally drawn to the sample Group which represented the bulk of the business to Gaming – the Medium Frequency Customer at almost half of the visitors.  Market Metrix described qualitatively the differentiators of this sub-set who made up approximately one third (33%) of Gaming visitors – “Unmoved Members”.  “This large  group of customers are regular loyalty members but have the lowest satisfaction among all members.  Unmoved members feel uninspired and would appreciate more pampering.  They give lackluster ratings to staff and low scores for casino ambiance.  Unmoved members take shorter trips and have an average likeliness to recommend and return.” 

For the Casino Operator, the “Unmoved Members” represent the greatest opportunity to turn around by improving their satisfaction and advocacy.  This group is simply not engaged, and many operators do not understand the Player/Guest Experience at all.  As the researchers noted, “This segmentation research indicates a variety of challenges for Gaming operators.  In general, they need to systematically evolve their understanding of current and potential customers.  This insight will allow them to better compete in a fast-changing, increasingly hostile business environment, characterized by growth in entertainment alternatives, declining population of potential customers, and higher cost of capital”. 

It is about the Experience after all.  Some Casinos are right on top of knowing and engaging their Customers with extensive data banks, immediate response to concerns and complaints, and steady, inclusive communication through their Loyalty Programs.   This is the exception rather than the norm. 

Patrons want to be cared for and respected.  They seek attentive concern by the staff – even though they might lose, treat them like a winner.  Make them feel special. 

This all starts with gathering information.  Comment cards are passé – the information is old and often skewed (how many of your audience tend to complete these cards – usually a small segment, usually with a complaint).  So, you really are not “tapping into” the audience you seek to serve.  Your Loyalty Programs are the perfect medium to learn about your Customers,   and automated survey mechanisms keep the information fresh and actionable.  Actionable is the key word here – your immediate response to a concern.

The next Experience component is wrapped around the Standards of Performance you have set for your operation – what drives you and your staff to excellence?  This goes beyond just the Gaming aspect of the business, for many Casinos have become full Destinations, as well.  Standards must be established not just for the Casino floor but also your restaurants, lodgings, spas, entertainment venues, golf courses, marinas and R/V Parks.  Standards communicate your message and unite your Customers, as well as staff.  Solid Quality Assurance programs and the use of Mystery Shops maintain that integrity.

Now, you have been listening and responding to your Customer, engaging them, and creating a level of expectation for the Player/Guest visit through Standards.  The final step rests with your staff - those who deliver on that message.  Training and development must be ongoing, beyond just honing the skill set, focused upon behaviors and relationship building.  There are no more excuses anymore.  Training objectives can be accomplished through “Blended” means classroom, on-line, DVD’s even play station.  Be creative, inspire your staff, and always answer what is in it for them.  They are your Ambassadors.

The “Unmoved Members” are a group you can influence – directly and inexpensively.  Ramp up your Loyalty Programs, gather reliable data and actionable Feedback, implement Quality Assurance, promote Guest Services training, and with a studied eye, review your facility(ies) and amenities.  It is all about the Experience!

The author believes that Remarkable Service is the portal to the Memorable Customer Experience.  Seek solutions at:

John R. Hendrie
Your Customer Experience Resource
(W): 978 346-4367

Also See: Have it Your Way – Design of the Personal Guest Experience / John Hendrie / August 2010

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