Amanda Kreamer
Author Archives: Amanda Kreamer

Building A Good Casino Reputation Means Finding the Right Answers Says Casino Consultant

As casino consultants we help build casino reputations. Part of reputation building is collecting feedback from secret shoppers and casino guests regarding their entertainment experience at casinos across the country. As I was reviewing some shopper data recently, I realized one of the easiest ways guest service scores take a hit, and in turn the casino reputation as a whole takes a hit, is when an associate answers a guest’s question with, “I’m not sure,” “I don’t know,” or when an answer begins or ends with, “I think.” Few things frustrate a guest and make them question your commitment to service more than using statements like these.

A Good Casino Reputation Means Going the Extra Mile Says Casino Consultant

Building A Good Casino Reputation Means Finding The Right Answers

This kind of induced frustration isn’t exclusive to gaming. Just this week I needed to find out if my health insurance was accepted by a new healthcare provider; the woman who answered the phone was very pleasant, I could tell she was trying to be helpful. But, her answer to my question was, “I think it is.” My reaction was to kindly say thank you, and find another provider. The smile in her voice was not enough to change the impression that she wasn’t going to take the time to make certain I wouldn’t be wasting my time and money coming to her office.

During a casino visit a guest is going to come into contact with associates from several departments. From food & beverage associates, dealers, slot attendants, club hosts, and more, guests need to be confident their needs will be met and their questions knowledgeably answered. This can be a challenge because it requires all associates from housekeepers to security, frontline associates, even back of house team members that may end up simply walking the floor, to know everything from buffet hours to current promotions.

But making sure every associate is in the know and never answers “I don’t know” doesn’t require them to be walking encyclopedias. They simply need to know how to find the right answers. Stephanie the beverage server may not know the exact details of the latest promotion, but she can easily say, “Let me walk you over to the club and have someone help you with that.” It’s an easy way to build an exemplary casino reputation, and a great way to build guest relationships.

Amanda Kreamer

BUSINESS INQUIRIES FOR ROBINSON & ASSOCIATES, INC.:
Lydia Baird
lbaird@raresults.com
208-991-2037

Casino Consultants ask: What Mistakes Will You Make In 2014?

As casino consultants we’re focused on providing flawless service to our clients. But, as 2014 quickly approaches, we’ve been reminded of the importance of mistakes and not being afraid to make them. To ring in the New Year and the promise of hope and renewal it brings, we would like to share some words of wisdom:

Words of Wisdom for 2014

May 2014 be filled with family, friends, health, joy, and so much more!

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”
― Neil Gaiman

 

Make the Most of Your Casino Training By Choosing the Right Facilitator

In designing casino training, the focus is almost completely on content. While what is being delivered in your training sessions is important, almost equally as important is who is delivering the information that has been so carefully crafted. To help maximize your training investment, we have a few important tips to assist you in identifying the right candidates to facilitate your casino training:

Casino Training Requires a Strong Facilitator

Casino Training is Most Effective With the Right Facilitator

Personality – Someone who can relate to your associates and foster a positive environment for learning and FUN is a must! Nothing kills focus and retention quicker than a facilitator who drones on and on and fails to pick up on cues from participants.

Participation – One of the easiest traps a facilitator can fall into is failing to have training participants actually participate. All too often, attendees of training sessions are treated as passive audience members enlisted to simply watch and listen rather than as dynamic learners. Retention rates are much higher when learners are actively engaged in the training process.

Embrace Diversity – Casino environments are generally very diverse. Associates and guests alike span a wide range of ages and socio-economic backgrounds. A skilled facilitator embraces and navigates each area of diversity with ease. Diversity also applies to learning styles. People learn in a variety of ways and a skilled facilitator also recognizes and appeals to each learning style.

Ready for Anything! – A dynamic training environment, while optimal for learning, is also an ever-changing environment. Great facilitators have to be on their toes at all times. They need to be able to keep focused, handle the occasional conflict, recognize when important points are made and emphasize them, and reign in conversations that may stray off topic. All of this has to be done with a great degree of poise, respect, and even fun!

With more than 20 years in the gaming industry, Robinson & Associates, Inc., has a reputation for strong training facilitation and development. To learn more about our programs visit our website or read one of our success stories here.

Amanda Kreamer

BUSINESS INQUIRIES FOR ROBINSON & ASSOCIATES, INC.:
Lydia Baird
lbaird@raresults.com
208-991-2037

Casino Training – Are You Maximizing the Investment You’ve Made in Training?

Finding the right style of training for any business can be a challenge. But, identifying the right style of training for a casino is uniquely challenging. Casino training, particularly when it comes to casino guest service, needs to be as dynamic and engaging as the casino itself; everything from the facilitator, to the content, to the execution of modules for learning needs to be engaging and even entertaining.  Here are a few tips that will help ensure that your casino training is a success:

  1. Accelerated Learning – No matter what kind of training we conduct for our casino clients, we always say that you will never see us “show up and throw up.” We are acutely aware of how important it is to engage learners from the start, and that means we cannot simply stand in front of a room and tell people what we think they should know. We strongly believe in the principles of Accelerated Learning which requires total learner involvement, collaboration, and variety. Effective training requires participants to actually participate.
  2.  Keep it fast paced – Frontline associates are used to a fast paced environment. Meeting guest needs quickly and efficiently requires speed and attention to detail. If you’re asking your associates to come off the floor to acquire new skills, you’re going to need to match the pace they are accustomed to, in order to keep their attention.
  3.  Socrates had it right – An easy training trap to fall into is to spend all of your training time telling or simply lecturing. Using the Socratic method of inquiry and discussion, or asking the right questions to encourage learners to come to the right conclusions on their own, prompts critical thinking and a real connection to concepts and desired behaviors.
  4.  Make it FUN! – As casino consultants, one of the number one complaints we hear about casino training is that it is often boring. We’re in the business of fun, our associates need to shown that it’s ok to have fun, and their training needs to be FUN!

Training is as much of an investment in the success of your casino as cosmetic improvements, or added amenities. Using the right approach to training development and execution will ensure that your investment will pay off.

Casino Secret Shops – Making the Most of Your Report

For casino consultants, an important tool in the improvement tool kit is the casino secret shop. Whether you call it a secret shop, mystery shop, or field research, the casino secret shop is an effective way for casino leadership to gauge the level of service their front line is delivering on a daily basis. In the last five years, we have witnessed a growing need and interest for this guest’s eye view of the casino service experience. At Robinson & Associates, Inc., we have conducted hundreds of casino secret shops and we have some valuable tips on how to maximize the information you receive and interpret your shopping report:

There is More to Casino Secret Shops Than Scores

Make the Most of Your Casino Secret Shops

 

The report is not a rolled up newspaper – When presenting the findings of a casino mystery shop, the first thing we tell leadership is not to run out and use the information to punish associates. Sometimes a report will contain information detailing interactions between associates and guests that are less than stellar. Resist the impulse to smack associates on the nose with the report. Keep in mind, this is an opportunity for improvement. Negative experiences should be used as training opportunities.

The report SHOULD be used to reward associates – A little encouragement goes a long way. We always encourage leadership to seek out the service stars the report reveals and reward them. Rewarding excellent service is a fantastic way to create a trend of excellent service.

Numbers aren’t everything – The scores a secret shop report provides are only a portion of what makes the report valuable. Scores are what allow leadership to measure service, but shopper narratives allow leadership to know where they need to improve service. Narratives are the Rosetta Stone of the report; they interpret the scores. The words of the shoppers are where opportunities for improvement and reward are revealed.

Ask questions! – Your casino consultant or shopping company has raw data at their fingertips and direct access to shoppers. If you have a question about anything in your report don’t rush to judgment and assume the worst. Pick up the phone or send an email to your consultant; they are there to help, clarify, and ultimately improve the service at your casino.

Remember, this is an investment in your future – The keyword here is investment. Casino secret shops cost money and the investment is worthless if a casino doesn’t utilize the information they are given to ultimately improve. Often times, particularly with a baseline or first study, some hard truths are revealed. Don’t shy away from this information! Trust your consultants, and use this information to improve. Follow recommendations and seek out opportunities of your own.

Amanda Kreamer

BUSINESS INQUIRIES FOR ROBINSON & ASSOCIATES, INC.:
Lydia Baird
lbaird@raresults.com
208-991-2037

Casino Reviews – Everyone Has an Opinion, and They’re Telling Everybody

In my line of work, I spend a good deal of time reading casino reviews – reviews from secret shoppers, reviews from casino associates, reviews from casino guests. Up until a couple of years ago, the casino reviews I read came to me directly through the consulting process. A key part of our client improvement initiatives is gathering data (opinions) from casino guests and associates by conducting surveys and by sending secret shoppers to client properties.  This process provides valuable information to leadership teams in a confidential manner.

Casino reviews are affecting your bottom line whether you are aware of it or not.

Casino Reviews Are Affecting Your Business

Now, however, through the massive popularity of review and social networking sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Facebook, casino reviews are shared in a manner that is completely public and completely out of the hands of casino leadership. And these very public reviews carry real weight.

Both professionally and personally, I have had the pleasure of traveling more in the last few months than I ever have before. Much of my time has been spent in the western and southern states, but no matter where I have been, I’ve done one specific thing in every town and state I’ve visited. That one thing? I have used social media to determine where I will sleep, eat, and be entertained. Yelp and Facebook have provided me an easy way to narrow my options. If a business has a low star rating or my friends tell me to avoid specific places, I don’t even give them a second glance. On Yelp in particular, I have found that I only take the time to read the reviews of businesses with four star ratings. This process isn’t exclusive to me; this is the norm for my peer group. Reading reviews and sharing our own opinions via the Internet are a way of life for us now, and this is a way of life for your casino guests.

Do you know what people are saying about your casino? Are you managing your online reputation and keeping up on your personal casino reviews and the reviews of your competitors? If not, it’s time to start. Don’t lose another potential guest before they have even walked through your doors.

Amanda Kreamer

BUSINESS INQUIRIES FOR ROBINSON & ASSOCIATES, INC.:
Lydia Baird
lbaird@raresults.com
208-991-2037

Casino Consultant Praises Consistency in Guest Service

As a casino consultant, I talk a lot about consistency and how important it is to creating a brandable guest service experience. Recently, I had an experience at a restaurant that was a great illustration of the importance of consistency.

Consistency is key to success, says casino consultant

Casino Consultant Lauds Importance of Consistency

A fabulous Italian restaurant opened in my hometown about two years ago. I’ve thought for several years that the culinary scene in my old stomping grounds needed some tastier Italian fare. So, ever since my sister introduced me to this delicious find I’ve looked forward to the handmade pasta dishes and warm atmosphere during my visits home. I recently moved back, so naturally I was excited to pay a visit to my new hometown favorite Italian joint. A friend’s birthday was the perfect opportunity for a ladies night so a large group of us headed over to what turned out to be the favorite Italian restaurant not only for me, but for several of the other ladies in our party. I was disappointed that what was a much anticipated meal and a fun celebration fell far short of all of our expectations for one reason: uncharacteristically terrible customer service.

The meal started off perfectly with our waiter telling us we were his only table for the rest of the evening. He set the expectation, and we were excited. Then he proceeded to fail at meeting that expectation in nearly every way. Beverages took several minutes to arrive, meals came out one at a time, and several of us had completely finished our meals when other meals were just arriving. Bottles of wine were left empty with no offer of more, and our bill took nearly an hour to arrive. Conversation at the table led to statements like, “they used to be so awesome,” “I don’t know that I’ll come back,” “what happened to this place?” and the like.

This was a huge reminder of something we share with every casino client we work with, and that is the importance, the absolute necessity, for consistency. Have you set an expectation for service excellence that your guests can rely on? Are you meeting it every time? Consistently delivering your guests unparalleled service will pay off… literally.

Amanda Kreamer

BUSINESS INQUIRIES FOR ROBINSON & ASSOCIATES, INC.:
Lydia Baird
lbaird@raresults.com
208-991-2037

Casino Competition Ramps Up in 2013 – As Predicted

It’s nice to be right about something I predict, but I take no satisfaction in my prognostications about casino competition.  Last December, I made some statements about casino competition for 2013 and I was squarely on the mark.  Unfortunately, this is not good news for the gaming industry, but at least you were warned.  I hope all casinos read what I had to say and took steps to get ready.

Let’s take a look at my predictions and comments from late last year and examine what has happened through July of this year.  Keep in mind that outstanding casino customer service is probably your property’s only viable answer to what you are about to read.

 

“The Headlines Are Already the Proof.  Three headlines already tell the world that there is an increase in casino competition that will only blossom in 2013.”  What an understatement!  Just look at Delaware alone.  Earlier this year, Delaware legislators approved $8 million in emergency funds for the state’s three struggling racinos and then they created the Lottery and Gaming Study Commission to address, among other things, declining casino revenues.  Dover Downs has threatened to lay off employees if the state doesn’t lower its taxes.  Casino competition from neighboring states is clobbering Delaware casinos.  And Delaware isn’t the only state where casinos are coming to grips with regional competition.

“States Will Want More and More Gaming Revenue. State governments love tax revenue from casinos and they will want more as they grapple with budget deficits.”  Isn’t that the truth?  While Delaware casinos were struggling, the state increased its share of gaming revenue 7.5 percent to deal with budget shortfalls.  New Hampshire State Reps. Peter R. Leishman and Katherine D. Rogers wrote in July that voters don’t want more taxes to bring in more revenue.  Leishman and Rogers went on to state:  “So what is left? Maybe it is time for the House of Representatives to listen to the people of New Hampshire who have resoundingly spoken out in the past in favor of expanded gaming in the form of a casino. Only a few lawmakers stand in the way of the overwhelming public support for gambling.”  These comments go to the heart of both increased competition and tax revenues.

There’s more.  In a July article for The Press of Atlantic City, reporter Donald Wittkowski wrote, “Despite an explosive growth in casino gambling throughout the Northeast — some say the market is already oversaturated — the expansion continues. Tempted by the jobs and tax revenue generated by the gambling industry, states are eager to cash in on casinos.”  Of course, the Northeast isn’t the only region where this is happening.

“Internet Gaming Is Looming. The website for the National Conference of State Legislatures reports that California, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Mississippi and New Jersey have introduced legislation authorizing forms of Internet gaming in their states.  The reason they are doing this is because they want to make sure they are not left out of this possible revenue stream.”  Oh yes, oh yes!

Take a look at this early July headline from The Star-Ledger in New Jersey:  “Every Casino in N.J. Wants to Offer Online Gambling, State Says.”  Reporter Ryan Hutchins wrote, “In a sign of how lucrative online gambling in New Jersey may become, every casino in Atlantic City plans to offer its own games in cyberspace, state officials announced today.”  Earlier this year, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed an internet gambling bill into law.  Online poker is legal in Nevada.

Washington, D.C., is well aware that states are taking matters into their own hands.  This year, two congressmen – Peter King of New York and Joe Barton of Texas – introduced bills allowing Internet gambling.  It’s coming folks!  Internet gaming is getting a toehold in 2013.

All the above is just a few examples.  I could tell you a lot more, but I think you get the point.  The already competitive gaming industry is getting even tougher in 2013.  Don’t say I didn’t tell you so.

Marty Baird

BUSINESS INQUIRIES FOR ROBINSON & ASSOCIATES, INC.:
Lydia Baird
lbaird@raresults.com
208-991-2037