Under the Microscope

What do we really know about our patrons? Player-card memberships tell us names and spending patterns, but what about a more complete picture of gaming-floor performance, player and game interaction, player behavior and trending, and player loyalty and value?

Customers’ preferences influence slot-floor configurations, marketing efforts, employee schedules and a host of other operational factors, and if we could follow their actions and know all of their
likes and dislikes at the press of a button, we could tailor not only one guest’s experience, but an entire floor’s worth.

Now, we can.

New generations of business intelligence (BI) systems make possible a microscopic view of a property’s guests within moments, portraying the data in succinct reports and colorful, easy-to-understand charts that present a heat-map representation of data and highlight important patterns.

Having an information advantage, especially during these economic times, is key to profitability. Business intelligence tools enable a gaming property to differentiate itself. Casinos that invest in this technology have the opportunity to gather pertinent information quickly to guide their business decisions. This edge can maintain and reinforce a property’s leadership in its market and facilitate much-needed growth.

Having an edge in any economy is always desirable, but the strength of accurate data trumps all. Successful promotions, advertising, tournaments, and marketing outreach all rely on what we know about our guests. For Cliff Paige, director of slot operations for the South Point Casino in Las Vegas, advances in BI systems could not have come at a more opportune time.

“Business intelligence is integral to new and existing casinos, and there is no better time than right now to be able to chop this data down,” Paige says. “I receive accurate, dependable data when I walk in each day. Before, we did not know enough about our customers or their spending patterns. This system gets us on our way to understanding everything.”

Coupled with information from a customer’s player’s card, BI can identify locations that the person visited on property, from which city they arrived, when they played, and how many other patrons share these traits. A heat map of the casino floor, for example, can be run for any period of time to display high and low levels of activity and the number of guests in the casino on an hourly basis per day for a determined period.

The ultimate goal of these newer BI systems is to provide the quantitative and qualitative data that casinos desire. Greg Moore, senior finance manager at Viejas Casino near San Diego, uses BI to help slot managers identify hot machines and trends. He looks for which suppliers’ machines are performing stronger than others, and how well guests are responding to game denominations.

“You can create custom reports that show the number of games played during a specific time segment, and drill down to what you need,” Moore says. “Essentially, you have regular reports that do not need to be created from scratch each time. You can identify the rate of play on one machine, the number of handle pulls, and so forth. It can help identify a supply problem. If one brand of machine ranks the hottest among players, but a limited number are present on the floor, then an increase of those games will make a certain group of players very, very happy.”

Casinos utilize key performance indicators designed to be in sync with and suit the way they view their data. BI not only accumulates, analyzes, stores and prepares data; it also offers easy-to-digest reports and the ability to create reports. End users can prepare color graphs or charts to illustrate up-to-date information, trends and patterns. Based on these summaries, casino personnel can execute changes or enhance current conditions to the property’s benefit.

BI also contains a dashboard feature that displays color-coded data. The dashboard can produce data relating to the enterprise, giving management a heads-up on how each department is doing.

“Business intelligence systems can help you make smarter decisions in a quick manner,” says Buddy Frank, vice president of slot operations for Pechanga Resort & Casino. “We use the Bally
system, which breaks down information by color and size, and produces specific figures-not ranges of numbers. And with the economy the way it is, making informed decisions quickly is imperative to survival. BI reduces pounds of paper into a decision point.”

Many BI users regard survival during this economy as a key indicator of success, and attribute a portion of that good fortune to the finite details the system’s reports, charts, and graphs provide. After the upgraded implementation at Viejas Casino, Greg Moore saw immediate results in operations.

Moore has also noticed other benefits. In one instance, the housekeeping manager used data on the number of slot handles pulled to assist with his employee schedules. The maintenance and IT departments scheduled floor changes during specific time slots identified by BI to minimize customer disruption.

The powerful, visual data provided by BI also improves presentations to senior management and helps ease otherwise-difficult approval processes. BI solutions provide the clarity of thought, breadth and depth of analysis, and simplicity of presentation that are key factors in timely and good decision-making.

Enhancements to business intelligence software will continue. Its powerful data will drive decisions that turn surviving properties into thriving stalwarts. And it will enable all levels of employees to create the experiences their patrons seek, because they will know more about their patrons than ever before.

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