One of gaming's universal truths: when we give our customers more choices they like it



One of the universal truths that I believe exists in the gaming industry is that when we give our customers more choices they like it. So it is somewhat astounding that casinos don’t give their customers more of them.

I imagine if you polled honest, well-meaning gaming executives who agreed with my observation on customer choice they would give reasons like “regulations” or “financial cost” or something like “It would hurt our ability to make operational changes in the future.”

While those reasons may play a factor in our “lack of choice” current environment I believe the real reason behind it all is that we don’t know how to give our players meaningful choices or how to measure the benefit of those increased choices.

But look at the positive history of choice:

Hit the spin button vs. pull the handle. - Years ago when we went to the spin button for slot machines (and virtual-reel technology and bill validators and … ) we gave players the choice of pulling the handle or hitting the spin button. They loved it (and eventually gravitated to the spin button because they could play faster).

Comps vs. cash. - Granted, some casinos still don’t offer this choice to players (or give comps and cash), and there are some issues in managing it properly (players might want both), but when asked, a casino’s best players will always appreciate the choice of cash back or complimentaries as rewards for play.

Valet parking vs. self-parking. - Here’s a very simple choice that we have given customers for a long time. Each has its fans, but the option is always appreciated, especially in inclement weather.

Choice of players club card image. - This choice has only been offered by a few casinos (for instance, offering a club card with a dice, slots or hotel graphic image), but players have overwhelmingly endorsed this choice (and usually want all editions of the card).

There are other examples. And if the choice is seen as offering value or significant involvement in making what is usually a bureaucratic mandate then customers will not only like the option but even possibly be more loyal because of it. (“They don’t let me do that at the casino down the street!”) So if choices are good and we could stand to give our customers a lot more of them then join me on a journey to see what other choices might be out there to give our gaming guests. (You won’t agree with some of these.)
  • The choice to determine how a player wants to receive information or offers from the casino - direct mail, e-mail, text message, etc.
  • The choice of asking for a new blackjack dealer during a run of extremely bad luck.
  • The choice to use a restaurant coupon at a casino restaurant other than for the one it was intended.
  • Total choice for the guest during a dispute. (“What can we do to make you happy?”)
  • The choice of whether blackjack players want the cards dealt face up or face down (or the number of decks of cards used or the color of the cards or whether the game is a smoking or non-smoking one or … ).
  • The choice of checking in early into a hotel room (without having to pay a surcharge for the option).
  • The choice of Pepsi or Coke instead of the vendor or the “deal” determining the choice.
  • The choice of a “2 for 1” buffet or “half off” a buffet for one person.
  • The choice of the type of pillow fluffiness in the hotel room.
  • The choice of a full range of non-alcoholic drinks at casino special events (instead of the barest of choices).
  • The choice for casino employees as to which benefits they want as part of their benefits package. (“I don’t need medical insurance, can I get extra vacation time?”) Yes, there is much more room for choice with “internal” customers as well.
  • The choice of allowing a customer to spin the wheel on the Big 6 game. (I know, the regulators will have a cow, but it could happen if you wanted it to.)
  • The choice of “add-on” premium entrees (steak, prime rib, lobster, etc.) at the casino buffet for a reasonable price. (Hey, a “revenue stream” choice!)
  • The choice to buy the cards or dice the player used in a lucky run.
  • The choice of having a say in where the casino spends its charity donations.
  • In a casino promotion drawing where there are multiple major prizes (car, trip, cash, etc.) the choice to deposit all of one’s earned drawing tickets into a separate drawing drum for the “prize I really want.”
  • The choice to sit and take a break from gambling in a comfortable nearby chair designed for such a purpose.

Yes, there are numerous choices that we could be, we should be, giving to our customers. It just may help them choose to spend more of their discretionary income … with us.