CRM systems have evolved significantly in recent years, as have the expectations from casino operators.
Operators today have access to better data collection, storage and analytics platforms, and it is indeed allowing them a view of every single touchpoint a player has while in a casino resort. But it does not stop there: In addition to recognizing players’ gaming activities on the casino floor, operators also want to know what a patron does outside the gaming areas at restaurants, within the hotel and enterprise-wide as well… and today’s systems are allowing them to do just that.
“With increased competition, robust business analytics are essential to casino operations and maintaining enterprise health,” said Jay Bertsch, vice president, global systems sales for Konami Gaming. “Operators are looking for tools and technology that allow them to better access and understand their data with strong accuracy and agile integrations. As systems gather more data across various sources throughout the venue, the ability to review and act on this data becomes critical to maintaining a competitive edge.”
Modern CRM systems allow casino operators to use the data collected from gaming and non-gaming systems in several ways. For example, a CRM system can be programmed to generate alerts when key customers start playing on the floor. “This enables hosts to cater to the most valuable players by just walking up to them and greeting them,” said Mukesh Nayak, senior director, software engineering at Scientific Games. “They can automatically assign the right offers and comps to the right players using a machine-learning driven marketing engine. The systems can also provide non-gaming offers (hotel, F&B, concerts, spa, etc.) to players based on their profile, preferences and play characteristics. They also enable casino staff to contact players directly via e-mail/call/text to keep players engaged and encourage repeat trips to the property.”
Also, more than any time before, casinos are expanding the value of player analytics by merging data on gaming spend and non-gaming activity to generate a total patron worth profile. Because of its ability to drive understandings throughout all areas of the casino operation, this aspect of player tracking continues to grow in importance and will expand as new technologies become available. In addition, mobile technology, artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision are playing a key part in casino system CRM.
Below are updates from leading systems-based CRM providers that explain how, by leveraging available technology, their improved systems are helping casino operators better understand and engage customers.
Since its first systems analytics tool, Bally Business Intelligence (BI), was launched a few years ago, Scientific Games’ BI product has evolved into a robust, interactive solution, and has seen tremendous growth and is now deployed in 120 sites and counting.
Scientific Games’ investment in analytics solutions continueS with its new AI and machine learning-based product called Praxis. Using revolutionary AI technologies, Praxis automates analytic recommendations directly into marketing and operational systems and has reportedly helped properties realize over 25 percent in incremental revenue. “As Scientific Games continues to expand its portfolio in gaming, digital, social and lottery businesses, we are transforming into a data-driven organization focused on empowering our customers by creating the world’s best gaming and lottery experiences,” said Nayak.
Scientific Games’ Praxis solution includes an AI-powered marketing recommendation engine that suggests the right offer for select players and automates the delivery of the offer right at the point of play. Scientific Games customers have realized a lot of success and significant return on investment with these products, which also deliver information in a safe and secure fashion.
“Data privacy and information security is central to everything we do at Scientific Games,” said Nayak. “With Praxis, Scientific Games’ AI-based analytics system, we collect a number of player attributes including their preferences, game choices, average bets, spend on entertainment, F&B, etc., to empower operators to provide their players with a personalized experience throughout their resort. All these data attributes are encrypted and limited in access, even to casino employees.” All of Scientific Games’ systems have role-based access where only the right employee in the right department with the right role would get access to certain data points.
More than just collecting and securely storing these data points, Scientific Games provides operators with tools that use the data points to provide an improved experience for players. The company’s Business Intelligence tool helps operators get a true 360-degree view of players by automating the consolidation of gaming and resort data, and providing a flexible interface for users to interact and collaborate with that data.
The Scientific Games Host mobile application is one example that enables casino hosts to quantify the true gaming and resort value of a patron, tracking players as they enter the resort and awarding them with comps and offers, all using their mobile device. “This allows hosts to spend more time on the gaming floor interacting with their players rather than sitting in the back office,” said Nayak. “Scientific Games Host also has a Contact Management feature that enables hosts to reach the player directly via e-mail, call or text and establish a personal connection to their players. Host supervisors can monitor the hosts to evaluate their performance goals, how many players were communicated with, and what the results of the player visits are.
“At Scientific Games, we see operators looking to CRM systems to automate most of their player development routines to a point where casino hosts can spend more time interacting with guests, rather than in the back offices crunching through numbers,” Nayak added. “We envision CRM systems adopting technologies like computer vision to track non-carded players and provide automated recommendations on how to target such players and improve their loyalty towards the resorts’ brand.”
Technologies like AI and machine learning have existed for decades, but companies now have the ability to collect, store and process more data than ever before in a cost-efficient manner. “This advent of data has fueled AI systems to grow exponentially in the last few years, so much so that at Scientific Games our goal has transformed to develop all our systems with an AI-first mindset,” Nayak said. “Collecting all player activity throughout on the gaming floor, F&B outlets, hotel, sports betting, online gaming and other resort amenities is now completely automated and simplified with Scientific Games’ arsenal of systems helping casinos to focus on enhancing the customer journey and experience.”
Konami has been in the casino systems business since 2001 and today its core technology supports nearly 400 venues of various sizes. As one of the industry’s leading player tracking systems, Konami’s SYNKROS is best known for its reliability, marketing tools and robust data. SYNKROS reaches a range of property types—everything from destination properties, to cruise ships, to local casino stops and multi-property portfolios. Konami’s SYNKROS casino management system can empower operators to capture and compile data through all connected areas of the property, both gaming and non-gaming, to generate a 360-degree patron view.
Earlier this year, the company announced a partnership with GamingAnalytics.AI to make its self-learning, artificial intelligence-driven analytics platform available to Konami SYNKROS customers. GamingAnalytics.AI’s search-driven cognitive computing platform allows users across the enterprise to ask questions via search bar or voice commands and receive instant answers from SYNKROS’ robust ecosystem. In addition, this self-learning platform continuously improves with use—providing slot machine recommendations, predicting player behaviors and identifying actions to improve player experience and operational profitability.
“Not all casino management systems are equipped to measure and analyze gaming and non-gaming spend in a single ecosystem, which prevents many operators from observing and implementing a cohesive property-wide strategy,” said Bertsch. “But, through technology such as SYNKROS, comprehensive data is available in real time so operators have the most accurate and up-to-date information to identify and capitalize on opportunities.
“Systems technologies with the most value are those that that allow us to reach and engage players with greater efficiency and effectiveness,” Bertsch added. “Historically, those solutions that helped streamline our ability to reach more people with relevant messaging, conveniences, rewards, incentives, offers, bonuses and entertainment have had the most meaningful impact for players, operators and the larger industry.”
Tangam Systems, a provider of gaming optimization software, recently announced a partnership with Penn National Gaming, Inc. to deploy Tangam’s full product suite across Penn National Gaming properties.
Penn National Gaming, which recently acquired Pinnacle Entertainment, now operates 41 properties in the U.S. across 18 jurisdictions. Tangam’s software automatically analyzes gaming data and provides actionable recommendations to align game-mix, table spreads and pricing, to patron demand—in both real time and for future planning. By partnering with Tangam Systems, Penn National Gaming operators can be empowered with market-leading, data-driven business intelligence to drive operational efficiency improvements.
“We’ve long been fans of Tangam’s table games optimization software, and are pleased to be able to partner with them to successfully deploy it at several of our largest properties,” said Dan Cherry, vice president of gaming operations for Penn National Gaming.
“We appreciate the recognition from the Penn National Gaming’s progressive leadership team and are confident that our partnership will help continue Penn National Gaming’s successful growth story,” said Maulin Gandhi, president of Tangam Systems.
“With a winning combination of our operational expertise, unprecedented data-driven insights from our software, and Penn National Gaming’s drive to deliver a consistent gaming experience to its valued guests, we look forward to a successful deployment,’’ said Ari Mizrachi, senior vice president of operations and casino strategy at Tangam Systems. “Yield management has proven to be a game changer for operators globally who are looking to improve efficiency, productivity and financial performance.”
Experiencing Experiture and its omni-channel approach
Experiture is an omni-channel marketing platform designed from the ground up for the casino industry. As one of the industry’s fastest growing marketing automation platforms, Experiture is reportedly proud to have successfully enabled corporate and tribal properties across the U.S. to enhance their member and guest engagement.
Experiture is available as self-service software, but also as a managed turnkey service for casinos that are new to digital and mobile marketing. The Experiture marketing software enables casino marketing teams to create and automate the delivery of messages to players and guests across multiple channels such as e-mail, mobile, social, web, direct mail and more—all from a single platform and without any special skills or training.
At the core of Experiture is the ability for casino marketers to ensure that the right message is delivered to the right players, at the right time, on the right channel. This is accomplished by a comprehensive analytics dashboard that precisely tracks all engagement and enables casino operators to contour their messaging sequence and cadence based on real-time player engagement metrics.
Features of analytics include:
- Consolidated analytics and reporting across all channels, making it simple for marketers to view and interpret how their campaigns are performing in real time.
- Tracking each player’s engagement with every marketing touchpoint, enabling operators to determine which channels are the most meaningful to them;
- Using behavioral analytics to automate the next touchpoint based on player/guest engagement or lack thereof;
- Compelling interactive charts and graphs that can be exported for presentations in the boardroom; and
- Seamless integration with third-party systems such as Tableau for marketers who utilize those platforms.
Experiture CEO Tej Kohli took some time out to answer questions in regard to the company’s CRM systems and the role they are playing in the casino industry. What follows are edited excerpts of his answers:
What are casino operators looking for in terms of CRM systems, and what is your company doing to meet their demands?
KOHLI: It is truly a challenging and exciting time for today’s casino marketer. With intensely competitive local-markets, a multichannel environment, a changing demographic and higher costs of traditional media, it is more important than ever to leverage the right CRM marketing approach.
Our research has shown that casino marketers today are seeking a CRM marketing system that enables them to unify their marketing activities on a single-platform, while connecting with their players and guests across multiple channels in an efficient manner. Experiture responds to this demand by delivering the only unified marketing management system in the industry that creates and automates the delivery of messages to players and guests across multiple channels such as e-mail, push messaging, SMS, social post, direct mail and more—all from a single platform.
Experiture connects into the casino’s disparate data sources including player tracking systems, hotel management systems, POS systems and data warehouses to create a single golden record for CRM marketing. This enables precision targeting and segmentation by leveraging all the data known about players/guests.
Key considerations of CRM marketers addressed by Experiture include:
- Marketing automation capabilities to trigger real-time messages based on lifecycle events;
- Multi-channel campaigns via direct mail and e-mail, SMS and mobile app push notifications;
- Geofencing and location services for hyper-local targeting of offers;
- Personalized URLs and player portals to foster a one-on-one dialog with every player/guest;
- A single unified platform solution for all marketing needs;
- The ability to seamlessly integrate with multiple IT systems and data sets;
- Consolidated, simple-to-understand and actionable reporting;
- Reduced dependence on developers/IT;
- A system that is easy to implement; and
- Reliable responsive and knowledgeable customer support.
Analytics are often used in marketing to target a particular customer demographic… what practices are in place to protect patron’s privacy and how their information is disseminated?
KOHLI: Best practices in fostering marketing relationships with patrons involves helping them understand how their data is used and providing them control over its use. At Experiture, we take several steps to facilitate this.
- Experiture’s enterprise-class IT infrastructure is built to ensure all user data is stored with the highest-level of privacy and security, exceeding all the established industry compliance standards.
- Strong governance throughout our platform controls messaging cadence and frequency.
- Experiture’s built-in preference center enables players/guests to update their communication preferences, so they control what they receive and how often and on what channel.
- The Experiture team utilizes past data and experience to provide best practices and guidelines to marketers to ensure their communications aren’t so invasive as to turn customers off.
- Built-in compliance for CAN-Spam, TCPA, CCPA, GDPR and other upcoming industry regulations.
How are casinos using data collected both on the gaming floor and off to boost foot traffic within their properties?
KOHLI: In order for casinos to execute truly effective closed-loop marketing that drives players back into the property, they need to combine player metrics such as visit frequency, length of play, amount wagered, hotel stays, etc., with engagement, behavior and location metrics. Experiture has pioneered the four-legged stool of data analysis to drive marketing decisions by examining:
- Profile—Who they are, player contact information, tiers and so on;
- Transactions—What they played, ADT;
- Behavior—How they have engaged with marketing, e-mail opens, website visits; and
- Location—Where they have been, competitor visits, etc.
By unifying all the marketing communications on a single platform, Experiture can track digital, mobile, direct mail and e-mail engagement including helping manage each player’s messaging preferences. Furthermore, Experiture’s location services like geofencing and beacon technology help our clients understand their customers’ movement patterns and reach them when it matters most.
Experiture merges all this real-time marketing data against information collected from a variety of systems within the casino including player tracking systems, kiosks and POS systems to create a unified player and guest view. Unifying information stored in numerous databases can facilitate highly targeted communications at every player lifecycle event. It is well known that delivering the right message or offer at the right time increases property visits, length of play, amounts wagered and overall customer experience.
What technologies have played a crucial role in making CRM systems more valuable tools? How has this changed thru the years?
KOHLI: There have been many advancements that have made CRMs more valuable. Some important areas include:
- Advancements in integration technologies such as APIs that have allowed companies to more easily connect their systems. We use these methods to securely integrate with hundreds of different systems including player tracking systems, kiosks, data warehouses, property management and more. This has been key for many CRM-based systems because their effectiveness depends a great deal on the data they can collect.
- Mobile has played a big role in enabling players to stay connected with casino properties through mobile player apps. Mobile technology has also advanced to provide CRM-based systems like Experiture the ability to develop frameworks that make building mobile property apps simple and efficient, not to mention the advances in location-based services that provide additional insight on player movements and messaging opportunities.
- Another big advancement has been cloud-computing technology. This decentralized model has enabled platforms like Experiture to deliver our solutions more cost effectively, without requiring major IT investments for properties. This has also led to increases processing power to enable platforms like Experiture to deliver large volumes of e-mail, SMS and other communications with ease.
What do you see future CRM systems being able to offer casino operators?
KOHLI: When we speak about the future of CRM-based marketing, innovative solutions providers like Experiture are unifying marketing management, expanding data collection and building relational data models to enhance personalization, all the while enhancing analytics and reporting to help companies focus on the most profitable customers.
Although these are all core features of the Experiture platform today, as a technology provider, it is our responsibility to invest in research and development—and to iterate and deliver the capabilities that enable our customers to elevate their goals and optimize customer experiences.
The future in our ecosystem can be categorized into some specific areas:
- Increased data capture and systems unification: Helping casino operators do more with less. By increasing the ease with which data is integrated into Experiture, we continue to reduce the resources and effort marketing teams require to query and compile data segments, trigger communications and pull actionable reports across all areas.
- Artificial Intelligence: CRMs need to be smarter and require less user input to perform key functions. AI and machine learning can greatly help this process. AI can help CRM/marketing automation platforms more precisely track and assess user behaviors and map them to real-time decision-making processes.
- Ease of use: CRMs like Experiture offer a lot of features and functionality. Making it simple and easy for platform users to manage it all is a key factor for success. Experiture is already designed to be used by non-technical operators. Its intuitive interface, drag-and-drop tools and visual query/segmentation engine make it easy for anyone to use. That said, as new features are added it’s important that usability keeps pace and continues to eliminate dependence on device or IT, giving marketing teams the ability to react quickly and adeptly without depending on other resources.