Too few executives in the gaming industry have heard of, much less employed, Dr. David Kranes. And shame on us for that.
I have met a number of interesting, extremely intelligent, “out-of-the-box” people in our industry, but none more so than David Kranes. It is even somewhat challenging to describe what he does, but I will try.
David is a casino “space guy.” And a “flow guy.” He is someone who tells you if your casino experience is something that makes your casino customers want to stay longer and spend more, or depart in frustration early, with discretionary gaming dollars still stuck in their wallets and purses. He is a high-powered consultant who looks at the totality of the integrated casino experience and is as apt to point out dealer ennui as much as a lousy casino floor layout, casino business snarls as much as annoying noise and smoke, unkept marketing promises as much as unkempt premises.
You would think casinos would love a consultant like David. And while those that “get it” surely do, some casinos treat him as an “odd duck” from the world of “academia.” David indeed spent decades in the academic world as a professor of English, but he also won every major teaching award that the University of Utah had to offer. Assuredly, he has something to expertly teach our industry, if we are willing to listen.
Although David has been consulting with casinos on their “visual space and design” for nearly 20 years, he got into the discipline quite by accident. Strong-armed into his first casino visit to Wendover, Nev., by a casino-loving colleague, David wondered why he found the casino space so interesting and appealing. Coupled with his passion for studying “explorable spaces” in various worldwide gathering places, David soon became a regular casino goer, and a “casino space consultancy” was born.
David approaches all of his casino projects – enlivening dead space, reconfiguring poorly designed non-gaming amenities, figuring out why no one plays slots in certain casino areas, etc. – by first “walking the walls” of a casino. He looks for “flow,” for “legibility,” for barriers which repel customers. He tries to decipher if certain distinct casino areas “carry on conversations” with other areas, and if those conversations are pleasurable or even intelligible. He watches how customers react to the space. He takes copious notes. And then David shares his brilliant insights and pointed suggestions with senior casino management in a detailed consulting report filled with revenue-generating ideas.
And as often as not, senior management reads David’s reports, nods and pays his bill. And although they usually agree with his frank assessments, they too seldom do anything about them. And what a true waste of a consulting genius’ work. I’ve thought long and hard why too many casino executives so poorly appreciate his space consulting expertise. I have come to the determination that it is because David flouts the conventional casino wisdom.
The conventional casino wisdom states that casinos need to be loud to be places of excitement and winning. David believes that casino sound should be pleasant, and integrated, much more like easy listening music than discordant noise (slot sound boxes mixed with overhead public address systems, with hundreds of human voices, with various lounge music, CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?). David believes that we are costing ourselves revenue and risking employee lawsuits with high decibel noise in the casino.
The conventional casino wisdom says casino layouts should be “mazes”, where customers will wander, get lost in a sea of gaming products and have no choice but to stop, sit and gamble. David believes that casinos should have legibility, and a certain flow, with “explorable space” that is discovered through a path of well-placed “bread crumbs” along an enjoyable (and clear) casino journey between integrated casino areas.
The conventional casino wisdom says that smoke is OK in a casino, that smokers have rights too, and that casino smoking space is one of the last vestiges of a casino’s competitive edge in many entertainment markets. David believes casinos should take a proactive stance on behalf of the lungs of their customers, especially seniors.
I could go on and on about what David believes and how it flies in the face of conventional casino wisdom. But let me just sum it up by saying that David is an advocate for a truly pleasurable environmental experience for our casino guests – not too noisy, not too smoky, ergonomically correct, just the right lighting, employees that handle guests with kid-glove care – a true treat for the senses.
Yes, David is a man ahead of his time and one of the few consultants “telling truth to power.” Funny what some common sense and customer focus will do for you. Thanks, Dr. Kranes and hang in there while our industry warms to your wisdom.