Cooperation was one of the subthemes at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E)—you know, that thing that doesn’t really happen in Washington unless or until the country is faced with a crisis, manufactured or otherwise.
Business has its own, more organic set of challenges that can seem just as intractable. For one, there are too many slot machines chasing too few players, many of whom are older, while younger customers are proving to be a very tough sell (though they will blow $600 on bottles of Grey Goose at Vegas EDM clubs). What to do about that?
The choices are one of two, as Patrick Ramsey, CEO of Multimedia Games put it at a slot business session: Get a few more bucks out of your existing players or find more players. He made a strong case for the latter, and so, happily, did the new head of the American Gaming Association, Geoff Freeman, who said that growth will be in no small part a group effort.
“We have to find a way to come together and to find common cause as an industry,” said Freeman, at the show’s media briefing. “The gaming industry is young, all things considered. When you’re young you come together when there’s a threat, but, other than that, you’re fighting for where you need to get to. We’re at a different point now. We’re in the early adult phase where we need to come together. We can kick each other’s tails Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, but on Wednesday, we need to come together, act like an industry and find common cause, so that the AGA can help advance this industry in the years ahead.”
Freeman said facilitating growth for the industry will happen by removing barriers and, “addressing the regulatory framework that’s holding this industry back and looking for opportunities to make this industry more attractive to new players. It’s not just about expansion; how do we make this industry more relevant?”
I asked Freeman how his travel industry background helped prepare him for this task, and his answer was very strong: “The biggest takeaway from my time in the travel industry is not necessarily different than what you find here in gaming. We represented Disney, Universal, Marriott, Enterprise and Hertz; Expedia and Travelocity; Las Vegas and Orlando. The one thing they all agreed on is they wanted to see more people travel. We’ll fight it out every day for market share… we all want more people travelling and we’ll benefit if that happens. That’s where I see an opportunity for the AGA; how can we play a role to help grow the pie?”
Pointing to AGA data, Freeman noted that about 37 percent of people went into a casino last year, meaning at least two-thirds of people didn’t go. “Who is this audience and what percentage is undecided?” he asked. “What are the obstacles that are in their way to enjoy the experiences that we offer, and how might the AGA help remove some of those obstacles? That’s the angle I’m coming from and the travel side was insightful and growth oriented, and I think we can be growth-oriented here. The CEOs and executives in this industry are very interested in that. As we build our organization at the AGA we’re going to have a heavy emphasis on growth.”
It’s no secret that that the brick-and-mortar gaming product needs to broaden its age demographic appeal. In an era that is driven not just by technology, but by personalized entertainment and recognition for ones skills and accomplishments, the passive slot experience that was more than enough for today’s older retirees needs to be revamped if the industry is to break out of the box it finds itself in. Finding a way to incorporate some forms of skill into slot games, it seems, will be crucial going forward.
“I get concerned that the younger generations are not attracted to what we see today as a slot floor,” said Ramsey. “We have a lot of great ideas with a lot of bright people [at Multimedia Games], but sometimes from a technical or regulatory perspective we can’t build them because they have to be defined a certain way as a slot machine. And that can be discouraging.”
In the broader world, new forms of dread and possibility have spawned some great where-this-is-headed literature, by authors like Jared Diamond and Ian Morris. One thing you can learn from them is that things either evolve or they fall apart, and strategic compromise is an essential part of survival. Here’s to the future.
iving�?� a?t?��d??��?venue) from the cream of your crop:
• Ensure that your best players are coded to a host and that they are evenly distributed among the members of the team.
• Set up a method for identifying promising new players and getting their contact information to your hosts so they can bring those guests back.
• Identify profitable players who haven’t visited in a while and assign them to hosts for follow-up. Create a feedback loop to determine why you lost the players and what needs to be done to get them back.
• Provide your player development team with goals which align with the property’s objectives.
• Eliminate any tasks that don’t allow your host team to balance their work among making phone calls, preparing personalized notes and mailings, and spending time on the floor connecting with guests.
• Arrange for measurements of the coded players and the goals you’ve set for the team so everyone can see how much revenue the team is driving. Make sure your hosts receive proactive information on a timely basis, each and every day, and not as a historical record at the end of the quarter.
Casinos have invested millions in player tracking, promotions, direct mail and big giveaways to drive the masses. Invest the time and energy into ensuring your host team is prepared for the future so you can drive the loyalty and gaming value of your best players.