We shake our snow globes, peer into our cloudy crystal balls, twist and turn our Magic 8-Balls and say, with frustration, “Stupid piece of junk.” 

So agreed, we don’t know a helluva’ lot. But wait a minute here… through the chaos, through the uncertainty, damn if there are things we do know.

There are best practices that were born or resurrected out of this disruption, and that will serve our businesses for years to come. 

I asked a team of experts from Raving about those things we can focus on that are more than temporary bandages, and will help our organizations grow in the months to come. Here are some of their responses: 

Lynette O’Connell (data analytics)—The last several months have certainly shined a blinding spotlight on several issues when it comes to data. I see an opportunity for our organizations to be much stronger if these issues are addressed moving forward. If we’re relying on our databases to make decisions, why are we still struggling to get the needed data? As data information comes from finance, slots and marketing, we need to find ways to get to one version of the truth to make it simple for everyone on the property to get the data they need. 

Kell Houston (entertainment)—Before this year, I encouraged my clients to consider diversifying their entertainment. It creates a more appealing entertainment program. The goal is to drive people to your property to enjoy all of your amenities. Spending exorbitant amounts on big-name artists may not give some casino operators the result they are looking for, especially in these unpredictable times. 

Consider senior-oriented speakers, who can drive mid-week gaming with any number of topics, from financial planning, travel, health and wellness, and on and on. Comedy shows are another safe bet, as well as solo or duo acoustic artists. You can spend as little as a few thousand dollars for a regional comedy show or acoustic show, and increase the budget if you want to showcase more recognizable comedians or artists.

Steve Browne (player development)—What we know is this: the same principles of the more touches you make, the more theo you generate, so continue customer outreach by calling, writing, texting, e-mailing, slapping on the back, offering that special gift. Remember, recognition is more powerful than reward—less free play and more empathy, care and concern for your players. Offer best wishes, small gifts, lunch, or dinner, or just sharing a cup of coffee.

These are best practices we know work, but may have gotten lost along the way. 

Flip the sales equation and focus on your usual suspects first (high trippers, loyal visitors and regulars of high worth). Shower them with love and don’t count the pennies (that’s right, let them take a little advantage of your generosity).

Deb Hilgeman (research)—The best new research practice is to conduct pulse surveys: short and focused online surveys for guests and employees, that tell you how effective they think your virus prevention protocols are in keeping them as safe as possible while on your property. These types of surveys are more valuable now than the long, comprehensive satisfaction and engagement surveys of yesteryear that measured pre-COVID conditions. Adding pulse surveys to your research toolbox enables you to quickly “grab” reliable data about any area of your operations so you can turn it into impactful actions—and this will be useful through this transitional time and beyond. 

Tom Osiecki (marketing)—The work marketing teams are doing now will not be wasted when our casino floors and guest behaviors return to pre-COVID normal. This situation has forced us to dive more strategically into our data, look at results from recent months and revaluate all programs including “set it and forget it” programs and grandfathered promotions that were probably past their expiration dates.  

With that said, I’m working with clients on “mashing-up your marketing strategy.” Converge your COVID-19 strategy by mixing several marketing disciplines for a new age concoction. Combine targeted, player-focused strategies employing a mash-up of direct marketing, mobile, traditional advertising, digital and kiosks. Cross-pollinate your data from database and mobile with digital advertising into a mix that targets players like never before. Use the data mash-up to make your kiosk and other promotions more targeted. 

Janet Hawk (player development)—I’ve seen that the player development teams across the nation, as a whole, played a more important role in their operations; other departments saw how effective this could be. Moving forward, hosts now see the importance of “property-wide” knowledge and departmental cooperation in their sales efforts. The more they know, the more ammo they have to assist the guests in making the “buy” decision. 
This won’t end when cleanliness isn’t the focus a year from now—the more information made available to hosts, the more information that hosts seek out, is a win-win for developing a stronger sales-focused team.