I do think casino customer service has generally improved, except perhaps in those gaming facilities that have somehow found a way to replace most employees with technology and devices. In these vending machine casinos there may be service, but it sure isn’t personal or contributing to true customer loyalty.

But for the most part, casinos tend to get it when it comes to customer service, especially as it relates to the 20 percent of players who drive 80 percent of gaming revenue. Yet one thing has started to bug me when it comes to casinos and their service. I am starting to notice more and more service “gestures,” where casino employees only give a wink and a nod to customer service, and it’s not the real deal.

These service thoughts come primarily from my experiences over the last six months at three different health clubs in casino markets in different parts of the country. (Funny how I’m starting to notice health club customer service—probably a result of spending more time there as I try to keep these old bones healthy and fending off Father Time for just a few years longer.)

At casino health club A (a nice health club at a major Las Vegas Strip property), they open each day at 6:00 a.m. (which right away makes it quite challenging getting in a workout, cooling off, then showering, before any early morning business activities can be attended to). This Las Vegas health club access is also included in the property’s resort fee program (which I hate), where use of the health club is included in your hotel room surcharge.

So I was astounded to see a line of 20 people at casino health club A right at 6:00 a.m. one Tuesday morning, and it was taking one to two minutes to process each morning workout guest. There was a form to fill out, a wristband to be assigned, ID to be shown, and a couple other time-consuming details to be endured. And the health club usage was already paid for with the hotel resort fee! Clearly a “gesture” at processing a hotel guest in an attentive way.

At casino health club B, the issue was not efficient processing, but the use of greetings and farewells to enhance the guest experience. Oh, they said “hello” and “goodbye” for sure, but either in a mechanical way, or in a “have a nice day” way that was clearly yelled to a departing guest because it was a requirement. Yes another case of service “gestures.”

And in casino health club C, the service “gesture” issue centered on access. The health club was open for 16 hours, but was accessible the other eight hours if you went to the hotel front desk and got the health club card key for admission, which then had to be returned after your workout. I guess this was better than not being able to get into the health club at normally closed hours, but the inconvenience made it only a service gesture.

These three health club examples highlight this slowly creeping trend in casinos to seemingly offer added service, but only make a gesture towards it. Include health club privileges with a resort fee, but then still leave the administrative processing crap. Say “hello” and “goodbye” to guests as a matter of policy, but not mean it. Offer an access solution that is too inconvenient to matter.

True customer service is hard to deliver consistently, I realize. But if your service efforts involve just a bunch of gestures so that you feel good instead of the guest, then, well, you are probably better off with just bare-bones customer service, where you deliver the product or service efficiently, if lacking some service bells and whistles.

So take a look at your casino operation and see if any of these service gestures abound. Do your dealers say “good luck” to players, but clearly don’t mean it? Do you have operational policies that exist for your benefit, instead of the guest? Do you have “VIP treatment” for lines in your outlets (players club, valet, restaurants, etc.) that are not adequately staffed or are clearly not special? Do you have meant-to-please hotel room amenity goodies that no one can get unless they call housekeeping? Do you have VIP parking that is no closer to the entrance than regular parking, or always full, or full with non-VIP parkers, or used by casino or corporate executives?

 If so, you are providing service “gestures” in your organization. Either stop them, or at least realize they may be causing some real gestures from your customers… like starting to patronize a casino that truly cares about them.