Is it necessary for a host to make an offer to a player in order to generate a trip? It is, after all, standard behavior for hosts to comp players.
The industry’s earliest Player Development efforts started this way, even before anyone used the term “player development.” Pit bosses traded free and discounted meals for player loyalty long before slot club cards were in wide use. As the technology grew, methods shifted and what we now recognize as modern PD was born.
In the current gaming climate, it is becoming more difficult to retain the loyalty of a player; it has become a player’s market in many regions of the US. When every casino they’ve visited within the last six months is sending them comparable offers, players really can pick and choose where and when to visit a casino and maximize the value of that visit. So, does that mean a host has to sweeten the deal in order to get the player to visit HIS property instead of going to a competitor? I say emphatically, “No.”
I propose an experiment. Do a split test for host-initiated visits in exactly the same manner you would for direct mail. Determine which two of your hosts have lists which represent the same sort of cross-section of your database and which have similar player frequency and worth. Give them each the same time frame and number of players to activate. Have one host make an offer with every call; a free buffet, a night’s stay for free (if you have a hotel), a small free play amount, or something similar. Then have the other host do nothing more than make contact and chat with the guest without making a specific offer. (If the guest asks for something, the host should use his or her customary decision-making process to assess and respond to that request.) Then at the end of the test period, see who was more successful and, more importantly, who was more profitable.
Ultimately, hosts need to keep in mind that their players are accustomed to receiving some pretty comprehensive offers via your direct mail and rewards programs already. While the players will certainly not (in most cases) turn down an offer of additional freebies, your property is already spending a fair amount on them in overall reinvestment. This fact is sometimes overlooked as players share with their favorite casino employees the details of offers made to them by competitor casinos. They do this to gauge their worth to your property in comparison. It’s subtle, but effective, psychological posturing.
Over the years, savvy players have learned to work the system. Your host team should not be a point of weakness that players may exploit. I’m sure everyone who reads this post can come up with a war story or two: the guest who booked a suite and handed it off to her newlywed daughter (who never spent a dollar on your gaming floor), the table games player who came to the invitational golf tournament and ate in your steakhouse with a comp but never played a hand of blackjack, hotel guests who stayed free for a week by combining coupons and discounts and points, you know the ones I mean. The way to prevent that sort of player behavior is through communication. Information flows from your hosts and your database team to understand what’s going on with your players, and the PD team leader should communicate what the hosts and database specialists should be doing to get that incremental visit from your guests.
In my experience, an “overdue” guest will make a visit to your property within two weeks of a call from his or her host, whether or not an offer has been made. The call puts the property top of mind and the guest remembers why he or she enjoys playing there. If there are no obstacles to the trip (health concerns, travel arrangements, financial woes, etc.) the player might even show up within a day or two of the call. Most of the time, the host only needs to remind the player of an offer he or she already has: an upcoming show, hotel coupons for a weekend stay, a VIP event or tournament to which he guest has been invited.
What about times when an offer is warranted? How is the host to know whether or not he should make an offer over and above what the marketing department has already provided? Consider whether or not you’d make an exception for players like these: new members whose initial mail offers have expired, players with significant loss and low theo, overdue guests who don’t have current offers, players who have a special occasion in the near future, or those who are high-frequency mid-worth guests whose offers don’t last them through the month. These are the sorts of players who hit up hosts for “extras.” Consider carefully how you want them handled and maintain clear two-way communication between hosts and team leaders to keep everyone on the same page and keep costs down.
For some event ideas, check out this post. The best benefit your players can have is the service of a good casino host. That benefit, like so many of the others your property offers, doesn’t have to be expensive.