Business intelligence system providers are fine-tuning product to better meet slot floor and casino needs



In its earliest iterations, gathering and deciphering information on casino patrons was more of an art form than established business procedure; with game managers handing out comps and otherwise rewarding play based on observation, bet estimates and rudimentary arithmetic,  all augmented by hosts’ opinion of player worth.

But now, thanks in large part to the technological fruits of the information age, casino operators can gather more data and better track customer spend every time a guest uses a loyalty card, redeems a buffet comp, checks into the hotel or takes a discount at the gift shop. And business intelligence solutions, data warehousing and analytics are turning the art of effective customer rewards toward science.

“What’s changed from a few years ago is that the operators are now more interested in the broad span of activities across their resort,” said Brian Griffith, industry consultant at Teradata, which offers data warehousing solutions as well as its Aprimo customer relationship management suite. “And in integrating that 360-degree view of all customers’ activity, an operator can be more laser-focused on all customers’ behavior types. If they want to focus on somebody who only plays video keno, they can still do that, but if they’re interested in those people who are staying in the hotel, and ate a certain food and beverage outlet, they can do that kind of scoping as well. I think that’s where the data warehouses become critical to that component.”

The gathering and analysis of information-even in real time-can lead into previously unavailable sources of revenue optimization, according to Suzanne Clayton, presales director of hospitality and gaming solutions at SAS.“We’re growing in strength in the revenue management and price optimization area,” she said. “We introduced revenue management price optimization analytics in October. It’s an analytic engine that allows operators to customize revenue management. It enables you do things like dynamic pricing, it can do price optimization as well as inventory optimization.”

“A lot of times with gaming, especially with all the different aspects of gaming, you could optimize cabanas, and show tickets, and rooms,” Clayton continued. “There are a lot of different things casinos would be looking to optimize from a revenue and price perspective.”

Business intelligence solutions can also help casinos not only to recognize, reward and drive further business from its customers, but to modify where they spend their money.

“You’re tracking not just worth, but behaviors,” Griffith said. “That starts to build the profile of what a customer is. And when you’re looking at it, especially in real time, your goal is to kind of modify those behaviors while they’re taking place. Maybe you want to transition someone from a less-profitable channel to a more-profitable channel, knowing what their behaviors are, knowing whether they have an inclination to go to your shows or to your spas. That type of information is critical in delivering a message or an offer that’s going to resonate.”

Companies including SAS, Teradata, Casino Data Imaging, Stics, BIS2 and Casino Advantage are helping casinos meet these business intelligence challenges. Here’s a rundown of some of their latest products and enhancements:



"Casinos must take two important steps to survive in this climate. First, casinos must focus on profit net of offers in its promotions, Second, casinos must utilize more of the data that pertains to its players in more sophisticated ways to see the differences between worthy and less worthy players."
-Christy Joiner-Congleton, president and CEO, Stics


STICS

Helping grow business through predictive analytics is a mission at Stics, where president and CEO Christy Joiner-Congleton says its Stics Predicts profitability models help customers make better decisions by integrating more information to make distinctions among customers.

In a time of increasing competition, she said, “Casinos must take two important steps to survive in this climate. First, casinos must focus on profit net of offers in its promotions, Second, casinos must utilize more of the data that pertains to its players in more sophisticated ways to see the differences between worthy and less worthy players. Casinos that do these things are ready for the increased pressure of competition and will survive.”

That includes looking beyond average daily win to overall profitability of the customer, and projecting future profitability. That’s where a tool such as Stics Predicts comes in, with profitability models that “paint a more complete, actionable picture,” Joiner-Congleton said.



"The art of presenting and analyzing data visually has matured from reporting basic key performance indicators and color coding with drill downs to more interactive, animated and actionable presentations."
-George Levine, director of sales and marketing, CDI


CASINO DATA IMAGING

George Levine, director of sales and marketing for Casino Data Imaging (CDI), reported that the new GlobalSuite program provides advanced visualization and reporting analytics for both slots and table games.

“The art of presenting and analyzing data visually has matured from reporting basic key performance indicators  and color coding with drill downs to more interactive, animated and actionable presentations,” Levine said. “[With GlobalSuite] the results provide a powerful and user-friendly program allowing customers to quickly analyze performance trends, identify [current and potential] issues and make more actionable decisions to maximize profitability.”

GlobalSuite uses Microsoft .NET framework for a state-of-the art platform with a bandwidth set high to meet current and future customer requirements. GlobalSuite is an XAML-based application and can be compiled as a browser-based application and run inside Internet Explorer. Browser applications are run within a security sandbox to prevent unwanted applications from controlling local system resources. A future add-on will allow secure web analysis content from PC or mobile devices.

CDI also spotlights its Casino CAD slot analysis solution as an inexpensive and proven data visualization and reporting program. 



RESORT ADVANTAGE

The Slots Jackpot Accelerator from Resort Advantage (RA) is a mobile device app that allows floor attendants to securely and efficiently bring the jackpot payout process to winners at the gaming devices. It’s designed to ease jackpot notification, patron engagement, payment processing and post-payment processing.

As casinos move toward making apps an integral part of their business solutions, RA has made its products available on a Android tablets, iPads and Windows Mobile tablets. An exclusive partnership with Motorola Solutions draws on the cross-platform power of Motorola’s advanced RhoMobile mobile technology. The slot attendant is notified of the guest’s player club status, jackpot details, current regulatory status, and historical transaction activity before arriving at the machine.  The app uses the mobile device’s touch screen, camera, barcode reader, magnetic stripe reader and phone capabilities to electronically render the required IRS forms and gather the required patron and staff signatures.

“Implementation of the Slots Jackpot Accelerator app on a property’s preferred mobile device platform results in the routine enforcement and complete auditability of the property’s jackpot payout procedures and regulatory reporting requirements without all of the traditional overhead,” said Brian Ferilla, Resort Advantage managing director.



BIS2 solutions combine customer data with slot floor analytics and customized graphics to allow an understanding of slot performance and player patterns.

BIS2

Andrew Cardno, chief technology officer for BIS2, said the customer experience is central to the analytical work that the company is doing, and has been dramatically simplified by the addition of Customer Preference Filters to the analytics capabilities.

“Quite simply, this method enables operators to understand the market basket of your gaming products,” he said. “Now like never before, BIS2 is enabling our customer base to build customer experience optimized gaming offerings. The success of BIS2’s Game distribution of customer play [matching of customer play to games played] has been, and will continue to be, a significant enabler of getting critical customer play information in a multi-game environment.”

BIS2 solutions include floorVizPLUS which combines customer data with slot floor analytics to allow an understanding of slot performance and player patterns; tableVizPLUS, combining detailed table game data with customer data;  aimViz for Gaming, enabling  casino floor operators to analyze patron behavior and providing the ability to identify opportunities to generate additional revenue and profits; crmViz, for an end-to-end, fully integrated advanced analytical and CRM solution; Customer Preference Calculators, enabling casino operators to analyze machine and player data to identify customers’ preferred games; and Game Distribution of Customer Play, allowing operators to match the customer play to games played in an environment where there is no existing relationship provided between these two data tables. 



"What’s changed from a few years ago is that the operators are now more interested in the broad span of activities across their resort. And in integrating that 360-degree view of all customers’ activity, an operator can be more laser-focused on all customers’ behavior types."
-Brian Griffith, industry consultant, Teradata


TERADATA

A frequent partner of SAS, Teradata provides the Integrated Data Warehouse that often accompanies SAS analytical systems. “Mainly it provides the ability for an active enterprise intelligence at the horizontal marketing level,” said David Porter, Teradata sales director. “It gives the casino the ability to ingest information in real time and provide instant response for actions like offers to customers as they’re playing the game.”

Beyond warehousing, he said, “CRM is another component of that, and our CRM component is called Aprimo. It allows operators to not only provide those offers in real time or on a scheduled basis, but also to analyze what the guests are doing and therefore segment them and figure out what offers or treatments a property is going to provide to what segments. The key enabler from a business perspective is the 360-degree view of the guest. Some of our customers call it ‘total guest worth,’ so they can understand who that player is, how profitable they are, how frequent they are and how I want to treat them, either individually or as a micro-segment.”



SAS BI tools include campaign management, patron analytics for things in-cluding return trip modeling, spend analysis, lifetime value and predicting the worth of a new customer.

SAS

In addition to revenue management and price optimization, SAS now offers information management, a service that includes data integration, data quality, cleaning up patron databases and consolidation. “You have the reservation system, you have the gaming system, you have a loyalty program; you have all these different places where you have customer data, so it’s bringing all that together and creating a customer golden record,” Clayton said. “The operator would be able to do even some real-time analytics on that.”

The SAS presence in the casino industry also includes the patron and guest intelligence areas. That includes campaign management, patron analytics for things including return trip modeling, spend analysis, lifetime value and predicting the worth of a new customer.

“We really layer that in now in real time,” Clayton said. “How do we engage with a customer while they are on property, when they card into a slot machine, when they check into our hotel? When you know they’re on property, you want to be touching them.”

“Another part of the patron intelligence area would be social media analytics, so you can interact with them in social media channels, be able to analyze that, look at sentiment analysis of your different properties and brands,” Clayton added.  “It’s likely that social media is going to replace email soon; so we really work with a lot of customers trying to get a handle on their social media data.” 

Viejas Casino

SIDEBAR: Viejas makes a splash with Rainmaker hospitality BI product

Gaming areas are not the only aspect of the modern casino resort that can profit from business intelligence and analytics products. Hospitality offerings have long benefitted from systems designed to predict, streamline and boost room revenue.

Once such solution is GuestREV, a profit optimization system produced by The Rainmaker Group, a provider of automated forecasting and profit optimization software and services for the gaming and hospitality industries. San Diego, Calif.-based Viejas Casino is the latest resort to adopt GuestREV as a revenue-enhancing component for its new 128-room hotel project. The GuestREV implementation is anticipated for early 2013.

 “Our number one objective for building the hotel is to drive additional gaming revenue,” said Robert Brigham, director of hotel operations for Viejas Casino. “We selected Rainmaker’s revenue management solution to help us identify and bring in our most profitable guests and grow our business.”

In forecasting and pricing hotel rooms, Rainmaker’s GuestREV profit optimization system factors in the Total Guest Value or profitability of guest spend for the entire property or enterprise. This unique approach has helped boost gaming and non-gaming revenues from 5 percent to 15 percent at numerous casino hotels since its debut in 2001, according to material provided by the company.

Brigham said three primary drivers were behind Viejas Casino’s selection of GuestREV: forecasting, which is fundamental to making the right decisions and the optimal profit; reporting capabilities; and the system’s ability to recommend different rates for different guest segments.

“We are certainly pleased and excited to earn the trust and confidence of Viejas Casino at this important and transformative stage of development,” said Tammy Farley, president of Rainmaker. “We look forward to implementing the GuestREV solution to help Viejas Casino generate optimal results, enabling it to achieve its primary objective of growing its business and driving additional gaming revenue.”