Casinos have millions of pieces of data gathered from the use of player’s cards, credit, casino play, purchases and more. But according to Andy Caras-Altas, founder and CEO of Traffic Generation Limited, they aren’t parsing that data very carefully. His company shows casinos how to use the data more wisely and what the data really means when it comes to creating customer loyalty and repeat visits. Caras-Altas comes from the iGaming world, where every piece of data is available, and he uses that experience to demonstrate how his company’s patented process works. He spoke with GGB Publisher Roger Gros about this process at G2E in Las Vegas in October. To hear a full podcast of this interview, visit ggbmagazine.com.
GGB: Big data, that’s what you’re all about. You’re the expert when it comes to being able to transform data into profits. Tell us what your company does.
Caras-Altas: I think that while I would agree that that is what we do—we do help transform components of data with insight into cash, for our clients—we’re really about convergence—the convergence of digital gaming with land-based gaming, with land-based marketing, with digital marketing. That crossover is really what we’re about.
A lot of people in the industry are talking about convergence. And for us, that’s convergence with a little “c.” Not Convergence with a big “C.” And for us, Convergence with a big “C” requires you to have that single-customer view—to really know what your customer is doing everywhere. So, to have your marketing systems talking to your land-based systems, talking to your gaming systems, talking to your digital systems, having them all sharing information between them, is a minimum requirement.
Also, taking the best from all those different channels. We look to evaluate people’s emotional states and emotional feelings and add that to how they interact with your loyalty system and your property management system and your player development systems. We go into this from a decade and a half of online gaming in Europe, and also being affiliates, and generating traffic, and having a further unique position of being on both sides of the game.
Give us an example of convergence.
We just saw a convergence event occurring, as U.S. casinos were starting to look at digital gaming, whether it’s free play, simulated, social or even real money in those three states that have them—and understanding that a lot of the providers of systems to them were not holistic in their approach. They’re focused and very good, but very sniper-like. And for a casino, that’s actually quite challenging. You put in one system, and another system, and another system, and it doesn’t talk to your casino management system, or it doesn’t talk to your slot management system, and you have an over-arching loyalty system. And actually, the day-to-day management of those players becomes very difficult, because your staff falls into departments that match your technology.
Inevitably, that means there’s confusion of communication between them. Now, if you are Caesars Palace and you’ve got billions of dollars, and thousands and thousands of people, you can do something. But if you are one of the average 400 or 500 casinos that operate in the United States, you don’t have those resources. It’s very difficult.
So then, you hear people in the industry start to talk about digital gaming: “You must have a casino! It’s fantastic! You’ll increase traffic. It will reduce your cost requisition, you can build a database, you can reach people you don’t know.” And that’s great, because some of those things are possible. But if you are then just presented with that digital solution, and you’re left alone, what on Earth do you do with it?
So what does a casino do that’s interested in building a digital free-play casino?
Start with the email address so you can communicate with the person and straight away, you’re starting to get a picture of a customer. Use Facebook connect—just one click and you capture someone’s Facebook information, which you then can match up with your loyalty scheme. Start to look into other social channels, like Twitter, Google+, TripAdvisor. They are a lot more challenging, but it’s not impossible.
Several vendors offer plug-and-play type of digital casinos. Do you recommend that kind of thing, or building your own? Or does it matter?
Well, I think undertaking building your own turns you into a software developer. And I’m not sure that every casino is that. But there are lots of people who perhaps do have that capability. I’d point to someone like Foxwoods, which developed its own casino management system. But that’s a very large undertaking.
Buying the free-play casino is quite easy, but finding one that actually has a purpose, and can help you achieve your objectives—whatever they may be: incremental revenue, foot traffic, database—there aren’t really many solutions that we think are complete. Our company is there to try to complete them, so for the vast majority of casinos, I would suggest they look very closely at purchasing rather than building, and then look for some key factors.
Is there a means of actually engaging with the customer? Is there a means of customizing? Is there a means of offering a different customer experience to different people? Are there games I recognize? Are there games that make the most of the digital space, and offer genuine entertainment and fun? Can I play tournaments across both the property and the digital space? And if you can find ones that can do that, then you’ve got a fighting chance of actually having something that has a decent ROI.