At face value, a player’s club card does not really seem to be all that much-a plastic card with a magnetic stripe that gaming properties started to use in the 1980s to promote customer loyalty while gathering wagering information.
But from this simple and inauspicious beginning a new dynamic technology has sprung-business intelligence (BI) and analytics systems, networks that gather bits of patron data from a myriad of sources and uses that information to generate greater loyalty (by promoting more frequent visits) and boost profits (by promoting longer playing time).
“Casinos are facing increasing challenges in promoting and securing customers,” said Natalie Osborn, patron value optimization expert at SAS Institute Inc. “Competition is increasing as more casinos open nationwide, resulting in casinos fighting for guests.”
“To get an edge, casinos are resorting to business intelligence and analytics solutions that enable storage of detailed information on all patrons’ needs, preferences, value and behavior,” Osborn added. “Casinos can then mine this data to micro-promote them for future visits based on their individual interests, and boost their loyalty and value.”
Naturally, these systems can gather and track all sorts of wagering information-games played, hours played, size of wagers and much more. But there is also value in gathering consumer spending data from other aspects of the gaming resort business such as hotel/resort facilities, retail purchases and even on-premises restaurants.
OFF TO SEE THE VIZThere are currently a broad selection of BI devices on the market specifically designed to help casinos gather, parse and act on all this information. One such product is BIS2’s gameViz, a data visualization BI software solution that allows casino operators to directly interrogate their data, and see the results visually using innovative and powerful Super Graphics. Users are able to understand and take action on their gaming data in a new way by utilizing BIS2’s Super Graphics to view complex analysis, a process that provides a better way to understand data and quickly identify patterns, trends and improvement opportunities.
With gameViz, slot managers can quickly identify underperforming machines so they can take action to reconfigure the gaming floor, said Kimberly Armstrong, director of marketing at BIS2.
“Rather than pour through spread sheets hour after hour, managers can view all necessary information on a single screen shot,” Armstrong said. “The system notes how and where players are spending on participation games. And it culls data on how new machines are doing, how location affects performance, maps patterns of play such as how the end machines are doing compared to center machines, and how the machines in walkways and near restrooms and restaurants are doing. This type of detail can be hard to see when you are simply using machine and bank numbers.”
A companion system performs similar analysis on table games.
With gameViz, marketing managers can see where specific groups of customers are playing on the gaming floor. It pulls mailing lists from casino floor maps by directly clicking on a machine or a group of machines and getting a list of players who have played on those machines. And it pulls a list of players from a certain game type or selection of machines and visually shows where else they play on the gaming floor. The system further analyzes free slot play (or other promotions) by where customers are redeeming their offers on the floor and identifies any patterns in profitability based on how the free play is used on the floor, Armstrong explained.
SUITE SITUATIONImproved visual analysis is also offered by the CDI Global Suite program introduced last year by Casino Data Imaging. This program’s state-of-the-art platform encompasses all aspects of the casino floor in a visualization format including enhanced 2D and 3D graphics for slots, tables and player analysis.
This method of presenting and analyzing data visually goes beyond reporting basic key performance indicators and color coding to more interactive, animated and actionable presentations, said George Levine, director of sales and marketing at CDI. GlobalSuite thus provides a powerful yet user-friendly program that enables quick analysis of performance trends, identifying current and potential issues and making more actionable decisions to optimize profitability concerning game placement and promoting guests for greater playing time.
STORAGE SOLUTIONAdvanced analytics that enable one-to-one level marketing to customers is included in the Data Warehouse solution available from Teradata Corp.
Already a popular program in casinos, this solution enables managers to warehouse vast tidbits of information about guests to create “a 360-degree view of each patron,” said David Porter, director of hospitality solutions at Teradata.
Going beyond the choice of games and level of playing time and wagers, the solution gathers guest information about type of room and length of stay in the hotel/resort, preferences of restaurants and menu items, and use of the spa or golf course. The program’s analytics sorts all behavioral data and develops loyalty-generating promotions tailored to the personal level. Such promotions can be aimed at bringing casual patrons into the casino more often, or during periods when occupancy of the hotel is normally low.
Using this warehoused information, the program might also determine if a customer that visited a company’s casino in Mississippi might be a potential visitor to its Las Vegas property and promote him accordingly, Porter added.
INCENTIVE PLAYInTRact, a BI software product from Tech Results, not only analyzes the behavior of customers, but also computes what incentives might best spur patrons toward return visits and increased satisfaction afterwards. These can be free play credits, comps, discount offers, giveaways, or a combination of several of these. Using this data, a casino also can assure the visitor is comped his favorite cocktail soon after arrival, or include merchandise from his favorite sports team as part of a promotional event.
Once on the gaming floor, the program continues to promote longer play by targeting players with ticketless promotions that offer free credits, comps and even instant-winner games through its Free Play Expansion Pack.
“Free Play rewards can be much less expensive to casinos that traditional cash giveaways,” said Lars Klander, president and CEO of Tech Results. “And loyalty program members love receiving more chances to win.”
PLENTY OF SASPredictive analytics is part of the SAS Patron Value Optimization product offered by SAS Institute. In addition to providing a suite of applications that include data integration, data quality, data mining, business intelligence and campaign management, the product analyzes ongoing trends so that casinos can plan for them. For instance, if a show lets out at a specific time, casinos can plan to have the proper staffing while optimize the pricing of the slot machines on the routes guests are likely to take. Going further, based on information about customers taking advantage of promotional specials, casinos can stock the beverages and foods these customers prefer based on previous visits.
“SAS Patron Value Optimization can also predict what incentives might prompt a customer to return to the casino based on their value,” said SAS’s Osborn. “For some it might be a free meal, but for high-rollers a free room could make them your destination.”
By analyzing past attendance patterns, the product might also advise not to hold a promotion for a specific time frame so as not to overtax the property and create dissatisfaction among customers by not having enough rooms or other amenities available, Osborn added.
PREDICTING GREATNESSStics Predictive Analytics solutions also help businesses leverage the masses of information they collect and store, transforming data into insight for busy professionals who need answers, not complexity. These analytic solutions create profitability models that help casino managers make better decisions by integrating more information to make distinctions among customers.
For casinos, this solution enables them to focus on increasing profit by analyzing data to separate the good customers from the less lucrative players and to target them with promotions to increase their patronage and play. That includes looking beyond average daily win to overall profitability of the customer, and projecting future profitability.
FINE TUNINGSmaller casinos are the target market for LaserPointCRM, a database optimization tool that requires no onsite hardware or software and no incremental staff to operate. Introduced by The Fine Point Group, a Las Vegas consulting and management firm, this cloud-based SaaS (software-as-a-service) product enables casinos to upload their customer information to Fine Point and receive business marketing solutions answers (the company hates the word “report”) by return e-mail.
Building on the customized database marketing solutions that Fine Point has been offering for the past five years to casino operators in the U.S. and Canada, LaserPointCRM is a solution in a box, said Randall A. Fine, founder and managing director.
“It is not a ‘tool’ that gives casino marketers one more thing to add to already busy schedules, but an answer for how to drive more business in ever-more-competitive markets,” Fine explained. “Given that it leverages scalable cloud-based software, we are able to offer it at a fraction of our customized, high-touch, consulting services. And it allows both large and small players alike to put the best, and most targeted, communications into the hands of consumers.”
According to Fine, LaserPointCRM promises 10 times the customization of typical casino direct mail programs, 15 percent increases in revenue and profits, and a 50 percent reduction in the time a property spends to manage direct mail programs. And the base product is priced less than the cost of a typical senior-level data-based analytics system, Fine added.
As of February 2013, LaserPointCRM has been installed at six tribal casinos in California, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Washington; and at the Palace Casino Resort in Biloxi, Miss.
PROFITABLE BREAKThe new kid on the block is Intermezzo Inc., which has begun to introduce a full line of ClubLinq products designed to help casinos sort their patrons and then promote future business based on known preferences. An advantage for casinos is that the programs are designed to promote and enable redemption of offers electronically, which greatly trims related costs, said Jeff Baldi, president and CEO of Intermezzo.
Already available is ClubLinq Identity, which processes patron information for a website content management system. ClubLinq Offers, which will be available this month, provides a “green” option to patrons to receive direct mail promotions in their e-mail in-box. ClubLinq Redemption, set to rollout in April, will enable a secure method of patron expenditure for merchandise and services through the casino’s proprietary source system.
“By enabling patrons to opt-in to offers ranging from free slot play to room discounts over the Internet, casinos can save big on the costs of marketing, printing and mailing, putting more revenue in profit,” Baldi noted.
SIDEBAR: Stics to offer predictive analytics classes and training for the casino industryStics, the San Diego, Calif.-based software company delivering predictive analytics to the gaming space, has introduced the Stics Casino Analyst Education Series.
“Stics is pursuing this option, because we believe education empowers casinos to make the best decisions, and because we know first-hand what a difference this technology makes in casino profitability and survival,” said Christy Joiner-Congleton, Stics CEO/president and predictive analytics expert, said in a prepared statement. “We are advocates of making technology accessible. We want to create a relationship with the gaming industry and our customers, and give them the tools they need to succeed.”
Stics has created a set of essential training and education sessions on predictive analytics and is ready to offer them free of charge to the gaming industry. Of course, predictive analytics may not be for every casino, but it goes a long way to solve various issues facing casino operators and ought to be available to all casinos. It is time to make this business-saving technology more accessible. As one of the leading experts in the industry, Stics would like to share the endless possibilities associated with this technology via a set of sessions leading to a certificate.
Stics’ goal is to award participation in education. Thus, for every five Stics-hosted sessions students attend during the year, Stics will award a Stics Certified Analyst certificate. Stics will produce over 10 unique sessions during the next year, covering a range of topics about which properties should be conversant and aware, at various conferences and at our own events. Students will have the opportunity to earn a higher-level certificate for attending more of the sessions.
Stics will be hosting sessions periodically through webinar events and at conventions. Archives of the events will be available on the Stics website for accessibility, unless the conference is exclusive to a trade show such as the upcoming Gaming Technology Conference and the Southern Gaming Summit. Further details are available at www.stics.com/training.
Have an idea for a session? Stics will produce essential sessions in relation to predictive analytics, marketing, and IT, but if you have an interesting topic you want reviewed send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will foster an industry discussion on our blog or address it in a future session.