Although Tyler Johnson’s career actually began in the information technology (IT) field, he was soon introduced to the casino gaming industry, and his interests grew exponentially. Enthralled with the inner workings of slot machines and how gaming enterprise systems worked, Johnson spent every free moment learning about the industry, about the successful business processes that others had applied, and about building relationships so if questions came his way, he’d have an answer every time.
Johnson’s initial need to understand the business led to a passion that continues to grow today. Instead of limiting himself to the IT segment, he learned every piece from marketing, operations, the cage and casino auditing, to emerging trends in the industry. When the opportunity arose for him to transition into operations, it proved to be a perfect fit.
In April 2015, Johnson joined Osage Casinos, a company comprised of seven casinos ranging from 200 to 1,000 slot machines. Overseeing slot operations from a technical standpoint, his IT background played a very useful part in managing the machines and their performance. Osage is currently building a new casino in Tulsa slated to open in the fall of 2018, which will feature a significantly higher number of games as well as multiple restaurants, conference space and a hotel.
One of Johnson’s first operations challenges was figuring out how to appease high-end players who thrived on finding things to complain about. But with his love of customer service and the energy he gains from guest interaction, Johnson made it his goal to win these players over until they only had positive things to say about the facility. This head-on approach and the ability to turn challenges into strengths continue to be among his favorite aspects of the job.
As for the rapidly changing gaming industry, Johnson sees opportunity.
“We have an incredible opportunity to reach out to millennials as well as subsequent generations, and learn how to connect them to the casino industry,” he observes, his belief being that, as with all new generations, millennials have different values and ways of thinking than their predecessors.
Johnson sees young gaming professionals as having an edge on how to create promotions that will attract millennials, as demonstrated from his team’s current focus on interactive, social, non-gaming products for mobile and online platforms, as well as for brick and mortar ones.
An exciting time at present, the gaming industry stands to benefit from emerging leaders and young professionals looking to contribute to the future. Johnson perceives the millennial challenge to be the largest opportunity to date on growing brick-and-mortar brands.
The industry has transformed greatly over time, and a property built in the future will look very different than it does today. Says Johnson about these changes, “I am excited to be a part of the next generation of leaders that will capitalize on our new strengths to host and entertain future generations.”
In June, Johnson will receive his MBA at Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Oklahoma.