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How Casinos Boost Gaming Strategies with Analytics, Data

Casino operators could make a lot more money with the right strategies and investments around data and analytics, but they need to address some fundamental challenges first, technology executives said during a panel at the 2018 Global Gaming Expo (G2E).

Panelists from Duetto, Oracle and VizExplorer commended the gaming industry for reaching the consensus that it’s more efficient to buy technology solutions than to build them in house. The most important decision to make after that, and one that is harder than it sounds, is to ensure all a casino’s departments and teams work together on deciding which investments to make and which capabilities to prioritize.

Speaking during the “Connecting Business, Analytics and I.T. to Realize ROI” panel, the technology leaders conceded that there will always be tension among the operations and marketing teams, who must run a casino efficiently and drive revenue, as well as the I.T. department tasked with enabling every initiative.

“You’re running a point of sale, a hotel business, an online system, and probably two or three systems for your gaming business,” Andrew Cardno, founder and CTO of VizExplorer, said during the panel. “If you take the time to count the systems it takes to keep your gaming business going 24-7, you’d be quite shocked. It might be 100. If any one of them goes down, people are going to get upset.”

That’s even before higher-order strategies like revenue management for cash rates and dynamic reinvestment models come into play, panelists noted. 

Tipping the Scale in Gaming’s Favor

Patrick Bosworth, co-founder and CEO of Duetto, said casinos contend with relative disadvantages in scale.

“Casino resort companies have had particularly large challenges because they’re such large and complicated operations,” Bosworth said, “but relative to companies like Marriott or Hilton, they’re actually small. They don’t operate 5,000 or 6,000 properties where you could actually amortize the investment over that many assets all over the globe.”

Like with any business strategy, companies can ensure their success with collaboration, not with turf wars or by deflecting responsibility, said Bob Garity, senior director of sales for Oracle Hospitality.

“We’re really not spending enough time on purchasing a system we have to live with for [at least] the next 10 years,” he said.

Casinos need to devote enough time to the process because even the best-architected tech stacks are complicated, he added. The Opera PMS has thousands of possible integrations alone, he said.

“You need to choose what the best things are,” Garity said, “or maybe more importantly, choose what not to do.”

Sometimes being a smaller industry relative to hotels works in casinos’ favor. Bosworth noted that the ecosystem of technology vendors for the gaming industry is small, but it’s focused on casinos’ specific needs. More gaming companies of any size should realize that they don’t have to build solutions on their own, he said.

“There is a positive trend around the consolidation on the technology side and new companies getting formed, that are much more modern and responsive to the current opportunities and threats in the market,” Bosworth said. “We’re at an inflection point where there’s a tremendous amount of opportunity and a lot of good technology that wasn’t there.”

Better Strategies for Casino Loyalty, Reinvestment

What should casinos do with modern technology and dynamic sets of data? Panelists had several ideas for holistically valuing customers and using that value for better reinvestment and revenue strategies.

“The ability to evaluate the full profitability of customers and make sure that the right guests are getting in, … hopefully moving away from that more simplistic approach that over-holds inventory that gets dumped or unused, is important,” Bosworth said. “Obviously at the higher tiers, those will all be gamblers. But then on the margins of people who’d be otherwise getting a casino rate, it’s really important to be discerning and evaluate them versus other types of customers who spend money on property and be able to offer a comp on a slower day but a cash rate on a busier day.”

Casinos might also price by room type in a more sophisticated manner, comping a normal room but charging for a suite, he added.

Getting all the data that comprises both gaming and non-gaming spend is the hard part, Bosworth said. This “golden record” of total customer value could sit in either a CRM system or within the patron management system, but above all it needs to be accessible to each of a property’s decision makers.

“Getting the casino and hotel marketing teams and the revenue management team to all be relying upon the same information and to agree on objectives … is where I think the profitability is and where the competitive advantage can be drawn today,” Bosworth said.

Cardno added that knowing a customer’s value across the property will improve direct marketing as well as pricing strategies.

“Once you have that number, what do you do with it? How do you make more money?” he said. “I think the best approach is to find a group of people who are like [that valued customer] and test different marketing strategies to see which incentives work on a similar audience in the database. It’s about applying the scientific method to move the business forward in small steps.” 

Bigger Steps Toward Progress

More casinos are making progress toward a return on their sizeable technology investments, Bosworth said. To take bigger steps requires a shift in gaming organizations’ structure and culture.

“Having accountability roll up to a single person who is accountable for all of the revenue coming from those business centers really matters,” he said. “Based on your strategy and the customers you’re serving and the market that you’re in, you would weight gaming and non-gaming revenue differently, but having common data, a common language to talk about it and common reporting, is really essential.”

All team members from every department should be able to log in to the same application coordinating a property’s strategy, he said.

His biggest piece of advice to casino operators was not only to press employees to collaborate better, but also to require the same of a property’s technology partners. 

“Vendors are responsive for what their customers are banging on the table and asking for, and it’s very natural to be asking for features,” Bosworth said, “but you also have to insist that they work well together.  Make sure the integrations are real time, robust and fast and go live quickly from when you sign the contract. If the vendors aren’t hearing that from you almost every day, they’re going to prioritize the features you’re asking for more than the connectivity between applications. 

“It’s not necessarily top of mind when you talk to vendors that how software providers deal with each other is long-term more important than whether in this next release you get a new field in a report.”


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Duetto Content Team

The Duetto Content Team is made up of some of the brightest minds in the hospitality space. Through a mix of blogs, videos, whitepapers, social media posts, email campaigns and more, we focus on developing brand and product awareness, lead generation, engagement and more.

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