Ethics should play a part in the casino host hiring process
We are clearly no longer in an era where one goes to work right out of school and retires from the same company where one’s career started. It is expected that those in the workforce will change employers, if not entire career tracks, more than once during their most productive years.
In casino player development, this means that it’s inevitable that there will be experienced casino hosts looking for jobs. Experienced hosts often carry with them, in one form or another, their “book of business.” These days that “book” most likely consists of contacts in a smartphone, but it might be on a portable data storage device, or in a notebook. It could even exist almost entirely in the host’s memory. This is the host’s work product, and it was probably gathered mostly while the host was on some casino’s payroll.
So, to whom does that information belong? When a dispute about who “owns” player data makes its way into the legal system, courts have usually sided with the casino from whence the data came. But a book of business is not limited to lists with names and phone numbers and notes. Sometimes, the relationships hosts build with their players evolve beyond the original context, and when the host moves on, the player sometimes follows.
This begs the question: What does a property hiring a new host have a right to expect from that host in regards to his book of business? Obviously, it is a host’s job to bring players to the casino, so it’s implied that the host will call the folks I call “the usual suspects” right away. From where the host draws those players, however, is pretty important.
When hiring a brand-new casino host or when transferring someone from an operational department into the role, a player list usually has to be provided to get the host started. Since the information came directly from the database, there’s really not much question to whom that information belongs. But in hyper-competitive regional markets, many hiring managers are expecting that a new host from somewhere reasonably nearby can drive some short-term revenue quickly by bringing in some new mid- to high-level patrons right away. To whom does the information necessary to do this belong? In what form should the property expect the host to deliver this information?
In many cases, experienced hosts have spent years cultivating players and building a book of business. No one employer really has a reason to be upset with these folks for having built this; it’s just a natural progression of the relationship the host began with those particular players. Many current and former hosts keep in touch with current and former players for the purposes of continuing a more personal relationship. This usually has less to do with any property and more to do with the depth of the host’s relationship with that person.
So, when hiring an experienced host to work for your property, what is the “commodity” you are hiring for? It seems that some believe the answer to that question to be “his book of business.” To some degree, that is accurate. But if the property expects a host to walk through the door with a file of player names complete with contact and worth information, those expectations have gone in a potentially dangerous direction.
When a host begins working at a property near the one he or she left, they are likely to already have a large percentage of “their” players at their disposal because they are probably already in their new employer’s database. So when the host starts working, he or she can simply log into the player tracking system (or CRM or spreadsheet) and begin calling the players they know to let them know where they work now.
When an experienced host begins working for a new property that is some distance from their last, it is improbable that their players will make a quick impact to their productivity. For this host, the expectation could be that he will prospect to get “sales leads” from within the property’s database. The property should provide the list in this case.
Frankly, it’s wise to be wary of a host who is willing to provide a prospective employer with a comprehensive list of players they say can deliver. First, the players on that list are not guaranteed to come to a particular property, and they are not guaranteed to play to the level suggested. Next, consider the potential pitfalls of having player data which might not have left its original property under the best of circumstances. And finally, be prepared to have your own player data leave in much the same fashion that your new list arrived.
The commodity any property shouldbe hiring for is that host’s relationshipswith the people who make up his book of business. This commodity stems from the main skill a property should be hiring hosts for: the ability to buildthose host/player relationships. If you’re hiring an experienced host, that host should be able to generate revenue the right way, using leads gathered the old-fashioned way: through networking and relentless follow-up.