From the simple beginnings of tallying player points per dollar wagered and awarding cash and comps based on those points, player tracking has evolved into a world of data warehousing, analytics, targeting player groups, rewards through specialty game in slot machine windows and keeping in touch with players outside the casino through mobile devices.

“Player tracking is critical because that’s where the casino has the opportunity to communicate with its customers,” said Tom Doyle vice president of systems product management at Bally Technologies. “The essence of a casino is not just sitting there waiting for customers to walk in the door. The casino has to be using all kinds of global and other types of technologies to go out and communicate to the customers, just like the competition’s doing.”

And the key advance that sets up defining casinos’ most valuable players and those who can become MVPs is analytics, said Sina Miri, director for product management for systems at International Game Technology (IGT).

“The big data analytics are really the big news here,” Miri said. “Analytics are telling you what your customers are not telling you. When you ask someone what they want, what they tell you and they would actually act on are not necessarily the same. The more you know about the player, the more you can actually act on what will make your player come more frequently, stay longer, play longer and spend more money on your property.”

That’s changing not only how player value is determined, but also the rewards offered to loyal customers.

“In the early days of bonusing and player engagement, it was around these very large, venue-wide life-changing kinds of jackpot events,” said Kelly Shaw, vice president of systems sales and marketing at Aristocrat Technologies. “I think that has evolved so now the operators are saying ‘We want our great player to move into the next tier of play. How can you give us solutions that drive a behavioral change down to the individual player?’”

Companies including Bally, IGT and Aristocrat Technologies offer complete casino management systems that including player tracking, analytics and bonusing suites. And the disparate segments open the way for developers specializing in their own pieces of the tracking puzzle.

 

CRUISING ALONG

Iverson Gaming Systems produces complete casino management and tracking systems that are widely used in small-to-midsize casinos and on cruise lines. Today, Iverson systems track more than 10,000 slot machines in those segments.

“We gained our player tracking expertise in the cruise ship industry, a unique industry where every single guest on that ship is accounted for with a full profile — from their age and gender, to their nationality and language preference,” said Matthew R,. Brown, director of business development for Iverson, who also pointed out that every passenger uses the same card for account-based wagering as for transactions on every other amenity on the ship.

The cruise line knows not only who is playing, but who is not playing, and their total value as a customer. And they know that the customer who is spending on other amenities rather in the casino still has value.

“We are finding that in order to give the guest the most entertaining experience and to simultaneously maximize revenue, you do not have to keep the players glued to their seats in solitary confinement,” Brown said. “In fact, that ‘time on device’ thinking is perhaps exactly why we are missing out on the demographic of 21- to 35-year-olds who account for 40 percent of casino traffic, but who are not interested in playing casino games. We need to keep the guest holistically entertained, we need to give the guest the social experience that most of them came for in the first place, and we need to make use of the player tracking system in order to help do that. That’s where Iverson Gaming is headed.”

 

STRONG CENTER

At Teradata, with its suite of data warehousing, customer relations management and analytic tools, gaming industry consultant Brian Griffith pointed to industry challenges in delivering differentiated patron experiences while managing operating costs and profitability.

“The Teradata solution serves as a central repository for all of an organization’s data from all of its operating systems,” Griffith said. “Data stored in a Teradata solution are readily available enterprise wide, delivering a single view of the business and helping users make better, faster decisions. The typical Teradata solution combines Teradata’s high-performance database technology, a full suite of gaming solutions, data access and management tools, robust data mining capabilities and world-class scalable hardware.”

The Teradata Solutions for wagering facilities includes Customer Relationship Management for Gaming, with  comprehensive, integrated analytics; a Gaming Decisions suite of analytic solutions to help make informed decisions regarding gaming revenue optimization, slot floor optimization, operational efficiencies, budgetary expectations, and price optimization, along with financial management analysis, is also part of this application; and Advanced Gaming Analytics, with advanced business modeling enabling in-depth financial, patron, product, and service analyses.

 

VISUAL CUES

Casino Data Imaging (CDI) turns player tracking, floor management and data analysis into a visual experience with its GlobalSuite.

“CDI GlobalSuite’s approach to player data analysis first leverages multidimensional databases by consuming information provided by the casino then delivers information via our Application Control Center, Report and Graphical Modules,” said George Levine, CDI director of sales and marketing. “These allow executive-level management, analysts, and others to access standard, customized and interactive, high-level views of performance and trends for player activity. The Control Center also allows end-users to toggle between a variety of dashboards for players, slots and table games performance. The same dashboard window ties in daily weather and other events that may affect performance plus quick access to reports, pivot analysis and casino floor graphical views and drill downs.”

The GlobalSuite, Levine said, can augment the casino’s existing tracking tools.

“Our data visualization and analysis program complements and brings additional value to [existing] tools by integrating the applicable GlobalSuite components. CDI’s product path includes mobile access to GlobalSuite information via tablet-type devices. Providing alerts and flags will allow floor personnel to respond quickly.

 

ALL AROUND ANALYTICS

Andrew Cardno, chief technology officer at BIS2, said his company’s broad view of player tracking includes everything from two-way interactivity through the slot machine to data collecting and analytics.

“Our latest solution regarding players is 360-degree control of campaign management and marketing,” he said. “This 360-degree control is built on the BIS2 unique and powerful analytics and visual query tools. The 360-degree marketing control starts with super-flexible campaign management, extends to segmentation tools and allows for offer association. These offers are integrated with casino management systems. It provides for full-test and control-style offers to measure the impact of any marketing idea, with full redemption analysis.

“Finally the BIS2 Super Graphics and visual query tools allows for interaction on the gaming floor in real time,” Cardno added.

 

BRINGING IT ALL HOME

Through all the data collection, analytics and visualization tools, it becomes possible to build a picture of the player detailed enough for the operator to cater to his or her specific likes and tailor rewards to shape the player’s behavior.

That goes beyond the players’ time in the casino to time on their computers or mobile devices.

“I think one of our most compelling propositions is called nLive,” said Aristocrat’s Shaw. “And nLive is really our free-to-play or fun-to-play offering with a wide variety of our slot game content. A player can go onto that player portal, check their points, check out offers that are going on inside of the casino, or play some of our fun contests. The casino can communicate to the player offers to come into the casino and check out our buffet or latest restaurant, or new offer that’s coming up.

“We really view that as a compelling proposition to drive both in-casino repeat visitation and out-of-casino engagement with the casino,” Shaw added. “Maryland Live is one of the premier users of that functionality, and they’ve really found a correlation between that player becoming a longer-term VIP loyal player to them by having all those areas of engagement.”

Aristocrat ties play in the casino together with mobile device time with the Episodic Bonusing solution delivered through its Oasis 360 management solution. Episodic Bonusing delivers bonus games at the slot machine through its Media Window.

“It allows you to play in the casino as a bonusing opportunity, but then it connects you at home when you leave the property,” Shaw said. “You still can pick up the game board on your mobile device and you can see ‘Gee, I was competing against some other people in the casino and they were getting ahead of me, I’d better make sure that I get back into the casino and keep playing the games.’ It’s a way for us to introduce a mobile connection with game play in the game, and taking that connection back outside of the casino to keep awareness of the brand and what they can do.”

 

BONUS EFFORT

IGT, with its mix of analytics as well Elite Bonusing Suite options that appear on slot screens through a Service Window, has been at work to build out the bonusing suite, said Andy Fisher, product manager for IGT. The suite has recently added a Team Challenge, a community-type, competition-based bonus presented as a tournament between teams. Point Pursuit and Random Riches bonuses focus on specific spend thresholds, then can be used to offer either fixed or random rewards.

“I also want to mention our Auction Action product,” Fisher said, “which is a really interesting way of presenting offers in the Service Window with a reverse-type auction where an offer is presented in points and the price point reduces in time.”

That makes for a fun rewards interface for players, but the key to a system success starts with the analytics, Miri said.

“One solutions are really targeted toward greater personalization and are data-driven and analytics-driven to really focus on increasing the ROI per player, per square foot and per marketing dollar,” Miri said. “So the combination of online and mobile as well as what we have in house with the Service Window allows real time communication with the player. It makes it so we can personalize the message—from the banding to what is really preferred by that player; because analytics tells us and the player profile tells us what they like.”

As for the importance of connection through mobile devices, Fisher added, “You’ll also see more direct offers made through mobile. I believe that channel will eventually completely replace direct mail.”

 

BETTER VIEW

Bally Technologies delivers bonus games and tournaments through its iView Display Manager. That includes the new Power Progressives that enable operators to target specific club levels or customer groups with mystery progressives or other progressives.

Another Bally offering, Promotional Kiosk, uses the Display Manager to move kiosk functions to the slot machine. Instead of heading for a kiosk to change a name, address or PIN, or to check points or redeem rewards, the player can do it at the slot.

And, Doyle said, Bally is using its tracking and rewards capabilities to tie into social media.

“[For] one of our casino customers, if a player wins a certain type of promotion, they can automatically select that promotion be posted on the casino’s Facebook page,” he said. “With the same technology, we can post that to the player’s Facebook. So you have those capabilities now where we’re really integrating more and more into social media. We’re able to combine tablets and mobile devices to provide better service to customers so they don’t have to wait when there’s an issue at the machine or they need a payout or they need a beverage service.

“With a lot of these features, we’re doing what customers expect us to do, and that is to deliver these types of functionality right at the game, not make them get up and walk around the casino,” Doyle added.

Taken as a whole, the enhanced capabilities now present in player tracking systems offer a large window of opportunity for operators looking to drive more business from and a create a better relationship with regular customers.

“I think it’s everything,” Aristocrat’s Shaw said. “To me it’s about loyalty, and it’s really about loyalty management. So a lot of people talk about tracking all the particulars of a player. I think it’s about how you are engaging a loyal consumer.”