Michael Meczka, principal, MMRC, which has conducted more than one million individual qualitative interviews in over 35 years of face-to-face exchanges with casino players, led an excellent session called “Ten Things Your Players are Trying to Tell You” at last month’s Casino Marketing & Technology Conference in Las Vegas.

Here are some excerpts:

Why is it so smoky in the casino?
“Muckleshoot has a completely separate non-smoking casino and that casino outperforms our smoking casinos,” said Michael Ka’ahanui, director of marketing for Muckleshoot Indian Casino. “But we’ve all worked in or been to casinos that had low ceilings and yellow haze and it’s a challenge. I’ve been very fortunate to work with phenomenal facilities guys who really knew how to purge the air.”

Do you really know what I want? 
I definitely don’t want to pay for all the additions. “I think all of us may have examples of where the older casino made more revenue than the new casino,” said Mary Loftness, owner, Profitable Customers. “The executive team often wants that shiny, new, beautiful building with all those amenities. But players want to play, get time-on-device, and get services associated with their playing… they don’t need the Taj Mahal to gamble in.”

Why can I never get service at any time?
“A lot of casinos have staffing issues and, unfortunately, this is absolutely seeping through to the player,” said Loftness. “I would say it’s one of the most critical issues facing us; we can’t service the customer base that we have. We can’t fill positions at F&B, general cleaning and housekeeping, and players are seeing it.”

Why are there so many problems with kiosks and bill acceptors? 
“People aren’t going to the kiosk because they’re ahead in the game,” said Meczka. “They’re going there to refuel and we have to make it easy for them.”

“We just put a new kiosk product in and anytime you change up the customer experience there’s some kind of technical component that can run into challenges,” added Ka’ahanui. “It takes three to six months for customers to adapt and they’re complaining all the way along. It’s always beneficial to be as proactive with your communication as possible, to your guests and your team members, such as slot attendants and the players club.”

There are never enough accessible parking spaces.
“Our customers are not dying out,” said Meczka. “If anything, every year there are more people over 65 and over 55. In every focus group that I do, the comment is there’s not enough parking; it’s not accessible; and you’re not addressing the needs of the handicapped. Those should be fairly easy fixes.”

Why do you guys always take my money so fast? 
“Your players are not necessarily excepting to win, they’re expecting to spend X amount of time and Y amount of money,” said Loftness. 

“This is a discussion about hold,” said Lennie Millette, director of casino alliances, Caesars Entertainment. “A real gamer wants that time-on-device; they’re going to give it back to you. So just knocking down that hold a little bit is a huge deal.”

The bonus round is lame.
“That’s a common complaint,” said Ka’ahanui. “Players vote with their dollars. So if they keep getting 1/10 of what they put into a game on the bonus round they stop playing those games.”

Don’t make me an offer and when I call or visit it’s not available.
“This is a huge pet peeve, especially related to hotel rooms and high-value show tickets,” said Loftness. “If you do a hotel offer, everybody is going to want to come Saturday for one night. Do a room availability calendar like Caesars or Harrah’s do based on 90-days of forecasts. Manage your list size; it’s easy to do.”

“It’s as simple as don’t market to your whole database for that one event,” said Millette. “Start at the top, with the customers that you want. And if the response rate the next week isn’t quite there then you go to the next level.”

I want my play valued across every casino; my Total Rewards card gives me great offers all around the country.
“I really think tribal gaming needs to do more with each other along these lines,” said Steve Neely, general manager, Rolling Hills Casino. “When I was with Casino Del Sol, we really focused efforts with Minneapolis, upstate New York, as well as Las Vegas. There are so many amazing tribal properties these days that it’s a shame we aren’t doing more with one another.”