Applied analysisVCAT's Mariposa Software is helping casinos to better understand their patrons
The Hard Rock Hotel knew something was going to happen when they invested in Mariposa, a customer relationship management (CRM) software system that incorporates data warehousing, customer profiling and reporting, and data visualization. In fact, Hard Rock was so confident that Mariposa's potential that prior to installing it in November 2003, the casino redesigned its business model in order to ensure that the utilization of the software gave the casino the benefit and return that was anticipated.
"It's a remarkable system," said Todd Simons, vice president of slot operations at the Hard Rock. "The difference between what we had before and what we have now is that we can dissect information into potential. If a customer is currently worth this much to us, by modifying certain events or programs that he or she attends, we could possibly change that customer's gaming behavior."
Don Speer, chairman and chief executive officer of Venture Catalyst Incorporated (VCAT), Mariposa's parent company, said software enables the Hard Rock to get its customer to return more often on a regular basis. He calls it a bigger share-of-customer-wallet or "monogamous customers."
VCAT provides consulting services, infrastructure and technology for the gaming and hospitality industries. However, it is better known for Mariposa, its dedicated and fully integrated "marketing domain" designed to provide marketing departments with tangible information needed to execute effective campaigns, generate greater revenue, and build more rewarding relationships with a casino's best customers.
Speer, a longtime consultant to the Indian gaming industry, has directed gaming management, gaming technology, and casino technology development for decades. He said it is important for gaming companies to know their customers first and foremost. That is why Mariposa is a management solution for gaming professionals created by gaming professionals, and why Speer had the foresight to invest in the development of the system.
An inside trackGreg Shay, president and chief operating officer of VCAT, said the company includes many former gaming executives who know and understand the business.
"We know what the boss wants because we have all been there," he said. "The reason we're now being considered by the gaming industry is customer service. Hotel and casino systems are gathering data, not assembling and analyzing it. There is player tracking and slot accounting and all the other programs. This is where Mariposa comes in. It drills down to valuable information and highlights opportunities that casinos didn't know they had. Plus, the program can be modified along the way without having to bring in new software each time."
Mariposa is the gaming industry's first fully integrated marketing and CRM software system that works in conjunction with existing player tracking and other data systems. It consists of a modular suite of applications including all the tools needed to create, execute and track sophisticated multi-channel, targeted marketing campaigns. Mariposa was publicly introduced in September 2002 and initially tested and later installed at the Barona Valley Ranch Resort and Casino near San Diego.
VCAT's Senior Vice President of Information Solutions, Javier Saenz, said Mariposa leveled the casino playing field and answered the 'make or buy' question. "Most casinos don't have the capital or staffing to build such a system internally," he explained. "The buy option wasn't there three years ago. It simply didn't exist. We filled that option and that is where most casinos are going."
Saenz said once casinos learn how to use the program, it should change the way they conduct business. "I tell them they will never think the same again when it comes to understanding your customers," he said. "As questions come up, Mariposa answers them. Analysts used to be just assemblers of data. Now they analyze and think strategically which is a fundamental shift for them because Mariposa is assembling the data."
Creating customer profilesThat data is being put to use immed-iately at the Hard Rock. Simons said the system is extremely efficient and takes all the guesswork out of everything.
"Before Mariposa," he said, "our hosts would flip through lists and figure out who to call. Now the software tracks all calls, responses, and can tell which customers are most beneficial to us. The system wants to be worked and we work it. It allows us to capitalize on what it can really do for us."
According to Saenz, once the analyst captures the full potential of Mariposa, he or she can cater specific customer promotions, food specials, and other activities. For example, the system is so specific that it can tell what slots a customer is playing and how often. A casino can take that information and look for similar types of machines on the floor that are not getting that much play and send a letter to this specific customer suggesting that he might enjoy playing this new machine or that new one. The letter explains that these other games have a similar pay table and they're just as exciting to play.
"We sent a mailer like this at Barona Valley Ranch and had an 80 percent success rate," said Saenz.
Shay said Mariposa isn't just about the high roller. It's the mid-level customer who is going to get noticed. He tells the story of recently staying in Atlantic City: "While checking out of the hotel, the clerk asked if I would like to have the $25 comp from my play last night applied to my hotel bill. It was instant recognition that I valued. This kind of immediate technology adds leverage to player relationships."
According to Shay, the industry as a whole is behind the curve when it comes to the overall use of technology. "It's not that they want to be this way," he said. "It's just that the technology hasn't been there until now. It's like we're teaching 12-string classical guitar and the most exotic instrument before Mariposa was the ukulele."CJ