Many who don’t live in the desert know it’s autumn when the leaves start to turn. I know it’s fall when I’m scrambling to finish this issue and preparing to get ready for the Global Gaming Expo. (For the record, you need only drive an hour away from Las Vegas to Mount Charleston to see aspens filled with autumnal color). But for me, G2E means fall, and it’s only a few weeks away as I write this editorial.

Soon the Las Vegas Convention Center floor will be filled to bursting with the latest whiz-bang games, technologies and products designed to keep casinos humming.

I’m looking forward to trekking through the aisles and perusing the latest and greatest products, though my feet aren’t quite as keen on the idea. There’s an undeniable energy on the G2E floor – one borne of innovation, vision, excitement and necessity.

These last few years have been trying times for an industry built on the discretionary dollar of tourists and locals. Slot managers and manufacturers of games and related products have stepped up to the plate and done their best to look for innovative ways to continue delivering the kinds of entertaining experiences that will keep players coming back now and in the future. In many cases, it’s made operators and manufacturers work more closely together than ever to come up with truly visionary solutions. Look further inside this issue to find out how one Northern California casino solved its problem with a little help from John Acres.

There are many more examples of such synergy, and often these relationships start through insights shared in conversations and networking on the floors of trade shows such as G2E or the Southern Gaming Summit and many others. It’s a tremendous opportunity to connect with the best and the brightest this industry has to offer and from outside the industry as well. The conferences and keynotes also provide valuable information that operators can take back to their organizations.

So my advice is to let it all soak in – visit the mega-booths where major slot makers will showcase their wares, talk to as many people as you can, squeeze in a few conference sessions, and don’t forget to seek out the smaller booths on the fringes of the show floor. That’s often where some of the most cutting-edge stuff can be found.

Cool new player loyalty tool!

One of the most saavy gaming industry veterans I know is Gregg Solomon, chief executive officer of Detroit Entertainment LLC, operator of MotorCity Casino. Gregg strives to stay ahead of the curve (and the competition) by keeping abreast of the latest technology and trends that will help make the casino more efficient and its players happier. So I occasionally make it a point to catch up with him and always learn something (or, more often than not, several things) in the process. But in asking what was new or innovative at his property the other day, I got an answer I wasn’t expecting.

A white slip of paper. Yep, that’s one of the tools Gregg is now employing on his floor, and it’s a reminder to never lose sight of your customer and his/her needs. At MotorCity, Gregg uses the slips to answer the question: What’s it take to get a comp around here? Employees give the slips to players who look like they need a bite to eat or something to drink. In the process, MotorCity may earn a new customer who’ll sign up for the loyalty club or at the very least go home with goodwill toward the Detroit casino and its paper slips. Simple, yes. Effective, yes. Winner, yes!