More effective CRM
by James J. Hodl
More effective CRM
Software firms are expanding the abilities of CRM systems to provide greater benefits to gaming industry users
Once considered an exotic technology, business intelligence and customer relationship management (CRM) systems have proven their value and are becoming widely accepted in the gaming industry. As a result, software providers are revamping their offerings to provide extra benefits and to cover all areas of casino/hotel/resort operations.
The purpose of CRM systems is to gather and analyze data on individual customers to determine who among them have the most value to the casino, and then by applying analytics formulae, using this data to encourage greater and more frequent patronage from the top customers. With optimized patronage, profitability in all sectors of a casino/hotel/resort operation can be optimized.
“The best thing about software-based CRM systems is that they enable any size casino to do what only the largest operations could do only a few years ago,” said John Held, senior product manager at Chicago-based SPSS Inc. “The mega-casinos employed large staffs of people to manually collect and crunch the numbers. By automating these operations, lesser-size casinos can now be as effective in processing customer data as the big guys.”
But to provide additional benefits—and perhaps differentiate their product from the competition—software firms are adding new features and abilities.
Among the expanded abilities of the seePOWER V4 system from Las Vegas-based Compudigm International is the ability to collect detailed information on patron behavior while on the gaming floor, said Frank Teklitz, senior vice president of research and development.
“Using sophisticated analytics, seePOWER catalogs how and why patrons are spending money. This information can be used by casinos to develop more efficient floor plans that increase revenues,” Teklitz said.
Real-time data collection is the newest seePOWER feature. With servicePOWER modules, casino managers can create visualizations that provide an accurate real-time view of how their operation is doing. This includes who is on the floor and where, and the rate at which they are spending. The module also notes which players are playing with or without a loyalty card, with the latter offered the opportunity to be carded.
Predictive programs within the module monitor real-time wagering data to determine the expected profitability, Teklitz added. By monitoring a player’s wagering patterns for three minutes, the system can predict what profitability will be in 30 minutes.
This information can now be monitored on a wireless hand-held device, which enables staffers on the floor to provide real-time comps to the most profitable players and encourage longer play. Using spending pattern data, casinos also can work to maximize having the most profitable customers on the gaming floor during periods when slots and table game positions are traditionally full, he noted.
Using International Game Technology’s Mariposa Player Contact System, floor hosts can, through a wireless device, monitor the locations of their VIP players and receive alerts that allow hosts to quickly recognize players who meet criteria for recognition and comping. IGT acquired the Mariposa suite of CRM products from Venture Catalyst Inc. last year.
But gaming is not the only amenity generating income among customers. At a casino/hotel/resort, they also purchase lodging, meals and entertainment, visit on-premises retail stores and spas, and maybe take in a round of golf.
The big picture
“To provide a better picture of a patron’s value, our systems have had to evolve to accept data from other places on premises where customers might spend money,” said Matthew Shigenobu Mata, industry director of the Microsoft Worldwide Retail & Hospitality Group based in Redmond, Wash. “This involves enabling data from many different management systems to be integrated at a central location.”
Microsoft’s Information Hub platform provides a central location where all business intelligence data can flow and be correlated to individual patrons and analyzed to give casinos a more detailed picture of a patron’s true value. Information Hub also enables users to upgrade any single management system feeding into it without having to write a new adaption interface each time a system component is switched. Just plug in the new system and the platform automatically adapts it for proper interface, Mata said.
The Data Warehouse platform from IGT’s Mariposa Software provides a similar interface for a myriad of management systems in a casino. This platform can link with any Microsoft Windows-based management system from any source, noted Javier Saenz, vice president of strategy with the IGT Mariposa Network Systems Group. It also includes a program that correlates information from all attached systems to produce reports showing the after-expenses profit derived from each customer, he added.
Compudigm’s seePOWER system offers casinos the ability to target promotions at even the smallest market segments. As a result, casinos can aim small events at Harley-Davidson owners, military and sportsman clubs and then promote attendance, Teklitz noted. A segment of the customer profile even records patrons’ entertainment preferences—if a segment of customers like late-1970s rock groups and the casino books Cheap Trick for a weekend, those customers will receive promotions enticing them to attend the concert, knowing that on the rest of the weekend, they’ll be hitting the slots floor and restaurants.
The SAS Institute Inc. based in Cary, N.C., claims its SAS Enterprise Intelligence Platform can integrate the individual technology components used to oversee and manage different facets of a casino operation into a unified system. This results in an information flow “that transcends organizational silos, diverse computing platforms or niche tools,” said Suzanne Fiero, SAS industry development manager.
Through the SAS Patron Value Optimization module, data collected through the platform is analyzed to provide greater insight into the preferences of individual patrons. Reports can be generated on patrons’ gaming and nongaming revenues. Casinos can then leverage the data to provide a better guest experience, which can result in more competitive and profitable casino operations, Fiero explained.
Using the collected data, casinos also can automate and personalize marketing campaigns to the specific characteristics of patrons, she added.
This leads into another value-added feature software firms are offering to the gaming market—predictive marketing.
“Imagine being able to determine in advance which customers are more likely to respond to an invitation to a planned event,” said SPSS’s Held. “With SPSS PredictiveMarketing, the software analyzes all preferential data on file and narrows the promotional list to those 20 percent or less of customers who more likely to respond. The program also helps casinos hone the message so it resonates most strongly with targeted patrons. This can increase response by up to four times the percentage who normally responds to an offer for the number of promotions sent.”
By holding down the size of the promotion to the most likely responders, casinos also minimize the problem of over-promotion, which can irritate loyal customers to the point of disloyalty, directing future e-mail promotions into the spam bin, Held noted.
The Campaign Management System from IGT’s Mariposa suite also analyzes collected customer data to segment patrons into lists so “you make the right offer to the right player at the right time,” Saenz said. After each marketing campaign is launched, this module enables casinos to track performance in real-time and has the flexibility to allow adjustments to be made as it progresses. After the campaign is over, the module analyzes the effort to determine the return on investment.
New in Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM 3.0 system is a marketing automation module that contains sophisticated programs for planning, implementing and monitoring multi-tiered sales and marketing campaigns. With a few mouse clicks, casino marketing personnel can create a list of potential customers for a planned event or promotion, craft a letter or direct-mail piece, and later track the progress and results of the campaign. Much of this work can be performed within integrated products like Microsoft Office Word.
Helping smaller operators
Another current trend in CRM systems is making many of the best applications used by larger casinos available to their smaller brethren in packages that meet their differing needs and finances.
Last November Compudigm released Gaming Power ASP (Application Service Provider) aimed at small and mid-size casinos. Offered for a fixed monthly fee, ASP modules support every area of a casino enterprise, including slots, tables, marketing, host management, hotel, food and beverage, retail and self-service. ASP also enables smaller casinos to deploy first-rate visual business intelligence, customer profiling and enterprise reporting to improve revenue and profit contribution in all areas of their operations.
But smaller casinos need not acquire the whole package at once. Instead they can start with one module and over time add other modules, each with their own monthly price. Casinos can also opt to acquire ASP under a rent-to-own contract with ownership resulting after 36 monthly payments.