Raving is a full-service, Native American-owned, casino and hospitality firm that has worked with clients globally since 1998. The company partners with tribal and commercial casinos and gaming companies to strategically improve overall operations and profitability. Over the years, the Raving team has assisted hundreds of diverse properties at all levels of the operation. As former operators, the company understands the high-level issues, the challenges and sticky situations that gaming executives face.
Having trained thousands of casino employees from senior management to frontline staff, Raving believes in the importance of ongoing education. The company’s scope of services includes 360-degree property reviews, tribal leadership development, host and player development sales skills and training, data analytics and marketing reinvestment projects. Raving CEO Deana Scott recently took some time to field questions from Casino Journal Contributing Editor Joan Mantini regarding the impact COVID-19 has had on Raving’s training programs. What follows are some excerpts from their conversation:
Long-term solution for employee education Gaming industry turns to distance learning
BY JOAN MANTINI
How has the COVID outbreak impacted your training offerings?
SCOTT: We were already offering some training and support services virtually, especially to our overseas clients, but since COVID, we expanded and added on several new products based on the unique needs our clients were facing since this pandemic. One of the most impactful additions has been regular and complimentary virtual roundtables and webinars—gathering operators, thought-leaders and experts to share time-sensitive data and best practices. These forums have been critical and groundbreaking, gathering competitors and colleagues alike, connecting like never before in these unprecedented times. We adapted quickly to offer new training programs and support in these exceptional times.
Have you altered prior training solutions and/or created more options?
SCOTT: We have expanded our virtual and online capabilities, and that has been a move in the right direction for our industry. Previously, most of our project and training work has been a hands-on, in-person and on-site, although some work—data analytics and research specifically—has been a remote function. Let’s face it, nothing can replicate the relationship-building, the one-on-one interaction or the energy that comes from in-person interaction.
Our trainers in the field are known and respected for their passion, their skills as educators and the bonds they form with their clients while they are on-site. With that said, we’ve realized by adding more virtual training options, we can provide our clients with more flexibility to meet their training and scheduling needs and also expand our support from limited time on property to more ongoing engagement.
What are the online/mobile capabilities of your learning systems?
SCOTT: We have the infrastructure to do our training online and are adding more technology to support distance learning and training. Before this happened, we were developing a platform similar to higher-education learning and the pandemic has made us move more quickly.
What sets your solutions apart from your competitions and makes them unique?
SCOTT: We’re in the unique position that our team is first and foremost operators—they are very hands-on, and they have been on the ground with our clients throughout this pandemic. So we’ve got that critical, practical experience behind us, plus we’ve invested in the best modern technology and analytics tools. At the end of the day, whether we’re doing virtual or in-person training, the Raving team consists of experienced general managers, marketing directors, data analysts and F&B directors. Also, our products and services are not generic or “off the shelf.” Every project we do is custom for our client, big or small, no two properties are alike. That’s what makes us different from our competitors: years of successful operations experience, technology and customization.
Do you see new companies emerging into the training segment of gaming? How is this market looking moving forward in terms of business opportunities?
SCOTT: This is a difficult business segment to enter. Gaming has its unique challenges and regulations, so off-the-shelf or generic training programs won’t work in our industry—our guests lose more than they win, gamblers have different needs and we’re a 24/7 business. New companies entering the market will need to invest into technology, with a dedicated gaming-savvy team and have already earned a trusted reputation.
Do you have any future system improvements under development, especially since it appears the impacts of COVID will be around for some time to come?
SCOTT: During this time, we have launched two breakthrough products—Raving Engineering and Raving Dashboards. These were created for large and small properties to have full access to technology, expertise and resources. Many properties do not have the infrastructure, budget or personnel to access the tools that they need to pivot quickly based on near real-time data. We make it affordable and easy. These tools provide critical resources to casinos—and now, even more so with budget and staff cuts.
We will also continue to expand our online learning and support capabilities based on a higher-learning platform. The combination of remote services, accessible technology, online education and in-person training will offer our clients more options, more flexibility and more ongoing support during this crisis and in the future.
How do you see new training practices effecting the gaming industry moving forward?
SCOTT: This is an opportunity for our industry to take education to the next level and provide more consistent and ongoing support. Gaming companies will be watching every dime until the market stabilizes; we may see that folks opt for more virtual training as it saves on travel costs and, until the pandemic is over, it is safer for group training. As mentioned prior, the energy and the camaraderie of on-site work combined with limitless virtual training and resources is a win-win for operators.
For more information on Raving and its various training products and programs, visit www.betravingknows.com.
Finding calm in the COVID chaos
How to train effectively amid travel and work restrictions
BY TONY HUGHES, HUTHWAITE INTERNATIONAL
It can be hard not to panic during the hysteria of a crisis and many businesses fall victim to scaremongering. However, it is key to focus on staying calm and relying on tried-and-tested methods that deliver consistent results, particularly when it comes to training and achieving behavior change.
Employees today spend a large chunk of their time on phones, computers or other technology. This is what they are comfortable with. Given that most jobs require employees to leverage this technology, why should their training be any different?
Virtual and digital learning is something we need to embrace now in the training sector, as the technology becomes increasingly relevant to our businesses and jobs. By allowing people to access training through the technology platforms they already know and use so well, the training can become much easier to access and therefore more enticing to a learner. But most importantly, remote training can lead to an easier and more relevant transfer of the skills learnt and practiced, into the workplace. So rather than cancelling your planned training courses, a crisis like COVID-19 offers the opportunity to embrace the virtual and digital sides of learning and development.
Virtual delivery is a flexible, robust virtual classroom experience that eliminates travel. The synchronous, live training experience has all the key features of a physical classroom coupled with the space to practice and master skills learned between activities.
Advantages for the virtual classroom delivery include:
- Visualizes the buyer-seller role plays in a way that is becoming increasingly common for many people in their real selling lives;
- No need for participants to travel to a physical location, they can “attend” anywhere with a good internet connection minimizing work schedule disruption;
- Virtual classrooms can reduce travel costs—particularly useful for geographically spread groups where bringing whole teams together would be a major undertaking;
- Spreading skills and practice opportunities allows on-the-job practice between sessions—the perfect opportunity to try new behaviors and then reflect on those experiences during virtual sessions with a trained Huthwaite facilitator; and
- The sessions are recorded and made available for review after the sessions so participants can remind themselves of particular areas if needed.
Virtual delivery allows the participant to experience a learning journey over a period of weeks and is supported throughout. This includes being able to interact with their peers and their coach via a social collaborative platform during the knowledge acquisition and workplace transfer stages of the learning journey—meaning all of the benefits of social learning can be reaped, while issues such as travel and scheduling can be overcome. Exercises and assignments are also completed and feedback and guidance are provided within the platform—creating an accessible virtual learning environment for all.
Digital delivery is a mobile, self-paced, supported learning that actively encourages collaboration and is delivered in bite-sized chunks via a secure, collaborative learning platform. This enables participants to learn on the go and build skills incrementally—one behavior at a time. Participants are guided through a series of activities and content that can be accessed anytime, anywhere from a mobile device, laptop, tablet or desktop.
Advantages for delivery include:
- Tasks, activities and assignments help build skills quickly and change selling habits immediately, one behavior at a time;
- Participants get inspired and encouraged by the actions of others, share best practice and are given the time to reflect and network with each other. This helps to foster team culture—as well as generating a little healthy competition;
- Accessible support from subject-matter experts throughout the digital learning can prove invaluable—employees can learn at their own pace while still having access to live, personal guidance via their coaches;
- At the start of any training program, not everyone has the same levels of knowledge or experience—learning via the platform ensures everyone can learn at their own pace and according to their own learning needs, avoiding “one-size-fits-all” training;
- Digital delivery enables clients to train larger cohorts if required, allowing content to be communicated in a consistent way and at the same time; and
- All learning is immediately integrated with work—there is no time lag between learning and implementation.
This digital approach supports the whole learning journey structure but most importantly, participants have a greater opportunity to learn and interact with each other as they progress. Behavior change happens incrementally and on the job. Changing behavior on your own is difficult—changing behavior when everyone else is doing the same is much easier and more natural. As humans, we want to belong, we want to be in step with our peers and teammates. We travel further and faster together.
Just because there is a crisis happening, it does not mean all normal behavior should be stopped. It’s unlikely work will come to a halt, therefore adapting our learning techniques and skills will become essential to ensure business as usual.