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The CRM Umbrella Widens

Solutions to understanding your customer abound in today's gaming industry

The CRM Umbrella Widens

Gaming features its own customer relationship management model, which runs two levels deep.

The first is a tweak of the classic business version, which organizes, automates and synchronizes the sales, marketing, customer service and technical support areas. Gaming already uses these items more than most corporations would because its patrons bring more to the bottom line than most customers do. Casinos use spending data to predict customer return and distribute rewards in a fluctuating business climate.

But that’s only the start. A follow-through phase, via face-to-face customer service, must augment the information. This is, after all, the fantasy business. Casino patrons want an adrenaline rush they can’t gain anywhere else. Data can’t give them a high five.

Technology supplies the means to find gold, and people skills extract it. Operators use both elements to secure and maintain customers. That’s why entreprenuers broach this dynamic from both fronts, offering varied specialties.

Changing the Game

Marco Benvenuti enjoys his new company. Not just the Duetto Research group, which he launched in Las Vegas about four years ago after leaving the casino industry, but the company of like-minded individuals sharing his vision, where he is chief analytics and product officer.

“Even up until about a year ago, there was resistance from casinos regarding pricing for their hotels and other aspects of their property,” Benvenuti says. “They would say, ‘We have been doing it like this for 30 years—why do something different?’ Now, they are much more receptive to this type of argument. They realize that the next wave of growth in the business is not going to be in slot machines. It’s going to be in the nightclubs, the arenas and with some of the special amenities they provide.”

Enter GameChanger, a cloud-based, software-as-a-service solution introduced last year. It is used at an increasing number of hotel casino properties and includes new installation agreements with “old guard” operators like Michael Gaughan at South Point and with Affinity Gaming.

GameChanger observes web-shopping behavior by observing items like lost business regrets and denials, social review, air traffic and weather. The technology can forecast far enough out for sales and marketing departments to aim campaigns at need periods and pull unnecessary offers when business is strong.

The surge in databases supports the argument of a technical pricing directive. Casinos otherwise can become trapped in a time-consuming process of information gathering.

“You can’t have human beings keeping track of this any more,” Benvenuti laughs. “In the past, yes, a supervisor could eyeball a player’s activity and recommend comps, but after a couple of different steps you need other departments to be involved in approvals.

“Now, if you have a player who calls up and wants a room for the weekend, you can see based on his value what you should offer on any given night. You can go back and forth from comp to cash if you want.

“A player may wish to come in for the Floyd Mayweather fight (against Andre Berto in September, a multimillion-dollar event in Las Vegas) and this time he says, ‘Look, I want to make this one special; I would like to bring my wife.’ Well, the demand for players might be that you can’t get him a comp room the night of the fight, but you could provide a comp on Thursday, allow him to pay something on Friday, and go back to a comp the following night. It all depends upon his value to you.”

That value includes the gamut of restaurant purchases, spa visits and nightclub participation, besides gambling.

“When you combine the gaming side with the way a customer interacts and spends money on the non-gaming side, you get a combined score and a more accurate reading of his value,” Benvenuti contends. “You are more likely to pattern an offer or give a rate that corresponds with his value.”

Agility in Action

Agilysys is a hospitality industry powerhouse serving casinos, resorts, hotels, cruise lines, food service, stadiums and restaurants. It is a leading developer and marketer of proprietary software, services and solutions. Agilysys operates extensively in North America, Europe and Asia, with corporate headquarters outside of Atlanta.

Gaming represents about 50 percent of revenues and is the company’s largest target industry, according to Jim Dennedy, Agilysys president and chief executive officer. Dennedy views recruitment, wallet share and guest connection as the keys to success in the CRM dynamic.

Casinos want his company to improve the guest experience and build lasting connections for repeat business, he indicates. This includes providing cloud-based solutions that help lower technology costs and support the shift to predominantly non-gaming revenue.

“Industry-wide, non-gaming spend represents approximately 65 percent of total revenue,” he says. “Understanding the value of the non-gaming, non-staying or low-intensity gaming guest is critical to their business. We help operators understand the value of the guest and their various acting personas to improve recruitment, increase wallet share and strengthen the connection to their guest.

“We also help them increase the likelihood of accessing the highest available margin from their property and their guests’ spending. For casinos, this remains the gaming spend. The casino has little chance of accessing the gaming spend if the non-gaming offer is not attractive to the demographic the property desires.”

Dennedy says Agilysys provides an integrated view of the consuming guests and the means by which they pay for consumption. This helps operators address the shift in guest preference and the associated revenue-mix shift. It also helps them make a contextually relevant offer to the guest at the time of each visit. Agilysys took the integration element one step further a couple of years ago with a simple process: listening.

“About two years ago, we launched an rGuest platform and products menu, informed by an advisory board of approximately 18 customers who have been part of the platform and solution development process,” Dennedy recalls. “In the past 12 months, we have released several key platform-based solutions (under the rGuest banner): rGuest Seat, Pay, Analyze, Stay and Buy. We continue to evolve these releases to address the needs of gaming and non-gaming customers.”

The rGuest platform provides a single comprehensive view of each guest in every interaction. And the rGuest self-service kiosk was recently showcased at G2E.

Within gaming, Dennedy says that while tribal and non-tribal entities have the same financial objectives, “in many cases, slot play is more important to tribal gaming. This makes the millennial preference shift more acute.”

It’s Raining Info

The Rainmaker Group is a world leader in automated forecasting and profit optimization software and services for the gaming and hospitality industry.

What is CRM these days? It’s a glance at the next step, according to Amar Duggasani, Rainmaker’s chief strategy officer.

“In many instances, CRM solutions concern the operational and transactional side of the business,” Duggasani says. “It helps keep track of things, but does not necessarily analyze the trends and anticipate the future needs of a property. What we do on the analytical side is show you how do mine that data.

“How can you give that customer a better experience? What about the player who hasn’t visited your property in a while? What can you do to trigger a return trip from him?”

That information runs the gamut from significant non-gaming spend to social media, Duggasani contends. Data analysis has grown into monitoring what customers say, like and tweet about their gaming experience.

The Atlanta-based company aims several products at gaming’s analytical needs, and it deals with industry giants like Mohegan Sun and the Cherokee Nation. One of its prized offerings is the GuestREV solution and its updates. The product is cloud-based, enabling operators to view suggested room rates produced by its own player database and by probabilities incorporated into the software.

Mathematical algorithms, price suggestions and an updated view about what types of players occupy which types of rooms are available to an operator. So is each guest’s spending history.

Business Intelligence is a new web-based application that combines data from key systems. For asset management and property management companies, it provides detailed visibility into leading and lagging revenue-oriented data for their entire portfolio, regardless of the brand or property management system. With the application’s intuitive dashboards and custom reports, hoteliers can measure performance against corporate goals. They can also monitor individual property, department and enterprise data, drill to the “why” behind the numbers and make better revenue decisions, Duggasani says.

The data is more significant for casinos with hotel components, or resort spas that have gaming. It also carries weight with operators who have several properties in a region or country, especially when rewards are linked across all of them.

With its March 2015 acquisition of Revcaster, Rainmaker provides the only revenue management solution suite that has an integrated price comparison component to help hoteliers monitor parity, maximize ADR and drive higher profits, company reports say.

Revcaster collects market-specific hotel price information from hundreds of branded sites and online travel agencies, and provides easy-to-use reports and data downloads that increase revenue for clients. Reports are available anytime online in daily, weekly or other user-specific delivery formats, and pricing data can be downloaded easily into any revenue management tool or PMS the client prefers.

Face Time

While spending history and crunched numbers determine player value, it is the personal touch that inspires loyalty.

That could be the theme for New Jersey-based Rymax Marketing Services, which combines old-school values with modern technology. Software programs may suggest an appropriate hotel rate, but that only helps bring a customer to the property.

What about the gaming experience?

That’s why this company touts its loyalty-providing assets to the gaming world and offers R-SITE (Rymax Strategic Interactive Themed Events) to casinos and patrons. The events are targeted toward a specific demographic, with the intent of creating strong customer memories.

Rymax has relationships with high-level manufacturers like Michael Kors, Chopard, Toshiba and Mikasa. Casinos can utilize that to purchase items their players want at a special event. The operator can leverage Rymax’s business connections to improve their own customer loyalty, according to Paul Gordon, senior vice president of sales for Rymax.

“The casino world is still a fantasy for its customers,” he says. “They have an opportunity to win a lot of money, and are going to experience a different life for the time they are in there. You want to provide something that resonates with them, something them makes them feel they have a voice in the casino.

“The person gambling at your company wants to know that the top management cares about what he wants. This is an excellent time for the president of the company to walk around, shaking hands and kissing babies. Let us get back to servicing them, rather than simply being analytical. Let’s be more of a people business.

“If you win money at a property, you may not remember what you did with it a couple of years later. But if you are wearing that nice watch on your wrist that you either won at a contest or were given by the casino, you will never forget it. That watch on your wrist has residual value.”

Gordon says this advanced form of player identification becomes more prominent for markets like Atlantic City, which faces a bevy of nearby competition.

A Rymax casino event can take the form of a shopping spree, or a contest. The process rewards players for their business and embraces a significant market shift, Gordon says.

“People may not want to talk about it much, but as the boomers are getting older and exiting the work force, you have to appeal to the millennials,” he says. “Much of their spending will not be connected directly to gaming. You need to know what drives that group. In order to shift them from the nightclub into the gambling realm, you need to understand what motivates them and encompasses all the things they are spending money on. You tie it together and then give them the things they want. This group does not want knock-offs. They want high-quality items at retail.”

Combined with the perception of importance.

Rymax programs also help operators identify the employees who can up sell the amenities, Gordon says. That can be check-in people encouraging guests to move from a standard room to a suite, or booking rooms on site. It can be a host having enough rewards to offer players.

In the end, the primary goal of these and every other CRM program is simple: Make sure the customer is happy. And that he comes back.


Casino Connection Sports Editor Dave Bontempo is an award-winning sports writer and broadcaster who calls boxing matches all over the world. He has covered the Philadelphia Flyers in the playoffs, as well as numerous PGA, LPGA and Seniors Golf Tour events, and co-hosted the Casino Connection television program with Publisher Roger Gros.

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