Advanced Goal Setting

Setting goals for casino hosts is both an art and a science. The creative side of setting goals is to think outside of the box and create a program that incents each host to focus on the activities that will bring results to the bottom line. The scientific side of setting goals is to create a measurable program with supporting assumptions and metrics, and without any loop holes!


Sign up for this 1: coaching program for casino managers. The 1:1 structured coaching is delivered by phone and/or Skype, and includes free use of the HostMAPP toolkit for the duration. The charge is an hourly rate and the program follows this structure but is adjusted to your specific needs:

Assess (8-12 hours)

  • Send file containing current and past goals for 9-12 months
  • Include level of achievement and bonuses paid, if any
  • Evaluate current goals and achievements
  • Review the market and Club
  • Find trends and look more closely at what can be done to capitalize

Recommend (22-26 hours)

  • Assess the balance of emphasis on acquisition, reactivation, retention and growth
  • Discuss trending and determine whether all hosts are performing acceptably
  • Determine whether changes need to be made for individual hosts or subgroups
  • Find opportunities for revenue growth and write plan

Implement (24-28 hours)

  • Run the numbers, code players
  • Establish new target revenues
  • Build individual and team metrics to achieve new targets
  • Establish plans and goals; communicate 360 degrees

Monitor (3 hours, then 1-2 per follow-up)

  • Determine timeline for follow-ups with hosts (handled by property leaders)
  • Determine timeline for follow-ups with consultant
  • Arrange for follow-ups and schedule data reviews
  • Set long-term milestones for reviewing progress and growth

Contact Amy Hudson at 304.218.1265 or for a confidential discussion without obligation. Or learn more about Amy’s style and experience via her blog at


How do I set up and track Casino Host Goals? (part 4 of 5)

NOW, it’s time to measure the team’s progress.  You went to all the trouble to set the goals, and now in order to coach the team to achieve them, you must track and keep the team aware of their pace.  Each week, when you have your team meeting or one-on-one chats with the hosts, ask each one for their own view.  Discuss metrics that are behind pace and whether or not the theoretical goal is trending well.  Suggest keeping a maintaining eye on the goals that are trending ahead of pace.  Talk about some strategies she can use to get caught up, and how she can keep building momentum to surpass her goals and make super bonus.  Ask about problems or concerns, and repeat.

As you work your way through the quarter, take some time to look at the structure of your program and decide if you want to make changes later in the year.  Some examples of things to consider: individualized metrics for each host, custom built to play to their strengths; establish two sets of goals, one each for reactivation and acquisition; adjustments to the bonus payout qualifications; or even including club reps or slot attendants in the sign-up effort and paying them small bonuses at certain levels of achievement.

Patterns are likely to emerge from your results each week.  Dig in to determine whether particular zip codes hold higher percentages of your better players and mine there for players who have more potential than you thought.  Look more closely at what kinds of personalized host offers or events drive the most revenue for the least reinvestment.  Have the hosts close the feedback loop by bringing guest concerns or suggestions to you.  Then work with hospitality operations to change food at VIP events, offer smoother hotel check-in, and address other amenities and conveniences which can keep your best players coming back for more.  Track what you do and how well it works so you and your host team have an arsenal of the tried and true to deploy when numbers aren’t where you need them to be.

How do I set up and track Casino Host goals? (Part 3 of 5)

Accountability starts with understanding. In order to truly be accountable for something, the accountable party needs to understand what it is they are being held accountable for. Right? Right. That means the goals must be effectively communicated to the hosts for whom they’re being set. A document of some sort is ideal, because it can be reviewed by the executive(s) responsible for the department, then it can be presented to the host at the beginning of the evaluation period. If everyone is on the same page, there are fewer misunderstandings. Consider using a document that may also be updated at the end of the period to show whether goals were achieved and what payments will be made to each host as a result.

What should be included in this document? Start with the host’s name, position, and the goal period start and end dates. Add each goal that pertains to the host. Separate each goal from the others and specify both the percentage of the whole that each goal is worth and the dollar amount that will be paid upon successful completion. If you have elected to pay for partial achievement or to include a super-bonus, include that information and its milestones as well. Make sure the milestones and payments for achieving them are clear. Provide spaces for your signature, your boss’s signature, the host’s signature and dates for each. A sample is included with this post.

Have the host sign the document, provide him a copy and file the original in your personnel files. Before the host leaves with his copy, provide an opportunity for clarification; elaborate on things hemust do to achieve his goals and ask him to think about some strategies he may use if he falls behind pace.  Instruct the host to keep the document in a secure location and to refer to it weekly in order to ensure he understands upon what he should focus. It is easy to lose sight of that over the goal period, especially if it is a quarter or longer.

Now it’s time for tracking. Weekly meeting frequency is the recommendation for reviewing host progress toward goal, which we will call “pace.” Weekly reports provide both the host and her team leader enough time between reviews to accomplish something while keeping  abreast of developments in order to stay on track. So, in our scenario (see part 2 if you need a refresher) we will divide each goal into 13 weekly sections to compare actual progress to pace. That means each host needs to generate $16,154 (or 7.69% of his theoretical goal) in play each week. Additionally, the host needs to have at least 1 new player return and 1 reactivated player each week with an “extra” once per month to be on pace. For the team theo goal, all the hosts’ theoretical should aggregate to $80,770 each week. It’s easiest to compare weekly. Below is the individual theoretical goal broken down by weekly pace:
Week 1: 7.69% or $16,154
Week 2: 15.38% or $32,308
Week 3: 23.07% or $48,462
Week 4: 30.76% or $64,616
Week 5: 38.45% or $80,770
Week 6: 46.14% or $96,924
Week 7: 53.83% or $113.078
Week 8: 61.52% or $129,232
Week 9: 69.21% or $145,386
Week 10: 76.90% or $161,540
Week 11: 84.59% or $177,694
Week 12: 92.28% or $193,848
Week 13: 100% or $210,000

Sample SP bonus

Next, make preparations for the weekly review process.

5 ways to ensure you don’t talk TO your customers, but talk WITH them.

A recent article on suggests that $5.9 TRILLION dollars are lost every year by companies whose angry customers take their money and go to a competitor.  What is the main reason these customers leave?  More often than not, it is because they feel that the company has not met their needs, usually because it didn’t listen to them.

How well do you and your employees communicate with your customers? Does the communication travel in both directions? Want to make sure it does? Here are 5 things you can train your team to do right now that will keep the feedback loop open and active:

  1. Look for body language (or listen for “that tone”) that indicates the customer has a problem. If someone is on your floor looking around like a tourist, or is making big full-arm guestures, they probably need assistance. If they sound exasperated, they likely are. This is an opportunity for a win. Be proactive. Don’t make them ask for help when you can see they need some.
  2. Ask customers to provide insights about their experience with your business. This can get you both positive and negative responses, which are also perfect for coaching your staff. Handing out customer questionnaires (don’t make them too long) or business cards with a website for a survey are two ways to accomplish this, but you can also find out a lot just by asking people their thoughts as they depart the store or step away from the counter. Even informal feedback is valuable.
  3. Empower your employees to recover common situations without requiring approvals, but have that recovery include handing out a manager’s business card so the customer can share his feelings after all is said and done. We all know that a customer whose experience went badly but was successfully recovered is the best possible source of referrals, so close the feedback loop with these customers and provide them access to a decision-maker in case they aren’t completely satisfied with how the front line employee handled things.
  4. LISTEN! Listen with all your attention and recap what you heard when the customer is finished sharing with you. This works in couples therapy for a reason: it ensures both parties are on the same page and that the communication is clear. Anytime you are talking with a customer, stop whatever you are doing and really listen. Do this even when on the phone.  You may pick up on nuances you would have missed if you continued shuffling papers or looking at your computer screen, and it certainly makes the customer feel good to know they are the most important thing in your world at that moment.  Aren’t we all looking for that feeling?
  5. Give them what they’re asking for. Any time you hear the same thing repeatedly from your customer base, you should give serious consideration to implenting the thing they are telling you they want. Obviously the customer isn’t always right, but if many of your customers (especially the regulars!) tell you they want free coffee or that your sandwiches would benefit from better bread (or whatever), don’t you think you should at least look into it?

Your customers have an interest in seeing your business remain successful so they can keep doing business with you. Even angry customers who complain are asking you to give them a reason to continue doing business with you; that’s why they’re complaining.

Put yourself in their shoes for a minute.  Have you ever been disappointed with a company with whom you’ve done business?  How well did they handle your disappointment?  Did you feel like they really listened to you?  Did you spend any more money with them?

Share your thoughts here or send them to me at

How do I set up and track Casino Host goals? (part 2 of 5)

Assume we’re going to use a base amount with a cap for payout. Each host will have a cumulative gross theoretical goal and a couple of metrics-based objectives. We’ll issue partial payment for partial achievement, and metrics can be paid even if the host doesn’t achieve the theoretical target. We will also have a team theo goal. The individual theoretical goal is also subject to a superbonus payout up to the cap. We want the goals to be achievable but a bit of a stretch so the team has to work at them but won’t feel as though they cannot accomplish them. These will be quarterly goals, so they’ll be for a 13-week period.
Breaking down how the achievements will be paid is our first task. We decided to use a base amount with a cap instead of going with a salary-based bonus. Either way, you should start by determining how the bonus will be broken down into components for payment. The financial goals should be worth the most, so let’s go with 50% payout for achieving individual theoretical. The team goal should be worth 10% in this scenario, so that leaves 40% to be split among the strategic objectives. To make the math easier, let’s go with 2 of those for this exercise.
We decided we’d pay for partial achievement and that metrics will be paid even if theo isn’t reached. So we need to work out those details too. Reaching 95% of individual theoretical triggers a payout of half the amount available for that goal. If the host barely surpasses his theoretical goal, the full bonus will be paid, and super bonus is paid out to a host who achieves 120% of his theoretical target. These rules do not apply to the team bonus. It is either achieved or not and is not subject to a super bonus. Setting the same kinds of rules for metrics will follow once we’ve determined what they will be.
Let’s tackle the theoretical goals. We will use the 3.5% increase I mentioned above as one of our growth measurements. Assume each host has a list worth $200,000. (Let’s assume Sandy Palace Casino has 5 hosts.) With host attention, these guests should play more than the average unhosted player, so add in 1.5% for a stretch. That means each host’s goal is $200,000 + 5%, or $210,000. That means the team theoretical goal will be $1,050,000.
It’s time now for the strategic objectives. Since most casino hosts tend naturally to focus on maintenance, let’s build these objectives to reflect an acquisition goal and a reactivation goal. While it’s tempting to add layers to these objectives, it’s best to keep them simple. For example, instead of making the acquisition goal something like “sign up 45 new players in the quarter and bring back 15 with minimum ADT of $200 or actual of $300” it’s much simpler to use either the first half or the second half as a standalone goal. If you are setting goals for a new property and you need the team to focus on building your database, the first half is the way to go. If you are in an established market with a fairly large database, use the second half to encourage the hosts to make contact with players who appear to have the potential to spend more. We’ll use the second half as our acquisition goal. Then we’ll establish the reactivation goal accordingly and require the host to bring back 15 players who haven’t made a visit in more than 90 days with the same numbers above. Half the bonus will be paid if the host brings in 1 new player and reactivates 1 per week on average, so they’ll be paid half the available bonus for 13.
Here’s what the host’s goals look like:
Theoretical target: $210,000
Team theoretical target: $1,050,000
Acquisition goal: 15 new players make a return visit with ADT>$200 or actual>$300
Reactivation goal: 15 players return after 90+ days with ADT>$200 or actual>$300

Now that we’ve put together some goals and basic structure, what do we do?

Accountability. That’s what.

How do I set up and track Casino Host goals? (Part 1 of 5)

Maybe you just got a promotion.  Or, the market around you has changed and you need to respond to that.  You got a new boss, or you’re starting a brand-new host team, or you got a job at a new property, or something like that.  Anyway, you have found yourself sitting in front of the computer trying to assemble Casino Host goals for the Player Development team.  And you’re not sure where to start.  Please read on.

Start with some basic structure questions.

  • Will the amount of the bonus to be paid out be salary-based or will there be a set amount which can be earned?
  • Will you add a team bonus or simply pay individual hosts based on their own achievements?
  • Will there be bonuses paid for partial achievement?
  • Will you pay a super-bonus for far exceeding the goals?
  • Will goals be based solely on the revenue the team generates, or will you include some strategic objectives for the team to achieve?
  • If you include them, will the metrics-based goals be paid out even if the host doesn’t reach his or her revenue target?
  • Upon what will you base the revenue targets?
  • What metrics will you choose for the strategic objectives and how will you set those target numbers?

Once you have made some decisions around these questions, you’re ready to do some analysis in order to answer the specifics.

Yes, you’ll need to crunch some numbers in order to set the goals.  At a minimum, you need to understand the following:

  • How much cumulative revenue the players coded to each host generated in a period that looks like your bonus period. (Whether you use gross theo, net theo, actual or some combination thereof is up to you.)           -OR-
  • An average revenue amount and number of trips for all the host team’s coded players.
  • How much your property expects its revenue numbers to change from the quarter you analysed to the quarter you’re setting the bonus for.  For example, in Q1 2014, Sandy Palace Casino expects to see 3.5% growth over Q1 2013.  (You should assume the hosted players will be subject to the same anticipated increase in worth, all things being equal.)
  • How many new players your hosts will add to their list over the course of the quarter and what they are expected to be worth.
  • What sort of player attrition the property has experienced lately (say, quarter over quarter).
  • The number of players in your database who deserve but do not currently enjoy host attention and their worth.
  • Whether any additional threats to the cream of your database exist in your market and what revenue might be lost if that threat comes to fruition.

Have you got all that?  Good.  Now, let’s build some goals for a bonus program.

Would you like to transform your Player Development function?

Would you like to transform your Player Development function? Have you moved to the model where casino hosts are measured on Acquisition (finding and growing valuable new customers), Growth (increasing the play and trips of existing customers) and Reactivation (proactively contacting valuable players who have fallen off)? What about Pre-emptive Reactivation? Amy invented this term for catching valuable players before they disappear!


Call Amy J. Hudson at 304.218.1265 or to talk about your Casino Host goals. Amy can talk to you about your goals, about how to transform your Player Development function, and about how the Player Development Tool-kit from Harvest Trends can provide your casino hosts with a Daily Action Plan to keep them on pace for their casino host goals.

There are key dates on the calendar that impact the customer wallet, customer availability or both. Do you factor these annual Life Events into your Casino Marketing Strategy?

In the gaming industry, we typically compare each month’s results to both the previous month and to the same month last year. And I bet that when you compared your February to January revenue you experienced a slight increase. And when comparing March with February, the majority of you will experience a more significant increase. How can I place this bet with confidence? Because the data shows ups and downs in revenue in the same periods year after year.

This short article looks at the gaming revenues reported to State agencies and shows a predictable biorhythm in when people gamble, and then reflect on how we might adjust our marketing strategy to influence behavior and buck the trend.

This article is published in the Spring 2012 edition of Gaming & Leisure Magazine.

Susan Kesel has spent the past 20 years in the gaming industry working across mainstream and tribal gaming. An Alumnus of the Board of Advisors for TribalNet and for Gaming & Leisure Magazine, Susan is an innovative and open-minded business technologist. Susan was instrumental in the development and implementation of Turning Stone Resort and Casino’s patented Account Based Wagering System.

Read her other articles here or send Susan a comment at

Read: Secrets of a Player Development Executive

“Listening to your players and giving them a sense of ownership by providing them a casino host as a sound board for their wants and needs, starts the process of relationship building, trust and loyalty. Players want to play a role in how the casino operates, they want their investments to be acknowledged.

A casino host can make a guest feel important and valued as a player and a person. That’s really all a guest is looking for. They want to know that their money is being invested in an entertainment establishment that is going to give back to them by recieving complimentary awards. A casino host makes that feeling more real, someone they can share the experience with and reminisce about it for years to come.” – Jatonia Ziegler.

In an article in Gaming & Leisure Magazine entitled Secrets of a Player Development Executive, Jatonia Ziegler shares her experience to explain the importance of player development and the necessary strategies for a successful player development program.