Casinos Need to Embrace Change

I was talking with a friend the other day about AIDS and HIV.  Please let me state here and now that I’m not a doctor or even medically educated in any way.  I honestly know very little about most diseases.  With that all being said, I found our discussion very interesting, even though it may not have all been based on fact. 

And before you move on to another story, yes, this does relate to gaming.

She explained to me that not long ago, a pregnant woman who was HIV positive wouldn’t know for years if her baby also was HIV positive.  I was shocked and couldn’t imagine the stress of waiting years to know if your child had the virus.  My friend said doctors now know that a baby will have a very low probability of getting HIV if the mother receives a certain medication during late pregnancy and the baby is not allowed to breast feed.  What an amazing change from waiting years to know whether the baby would be safe.  That is indeed a change for the better.

The reason I share this is not because I’m on a crusade to stop AIDS and HIV, even though that would be great.  The reason I share this is because I see many casinos using yesterday’s customer service procedures and wondering why they are not getting better results.

I’ve mentioned many times in my columns the past several months that guest and employee satisfaction surveys are a waste of time, energy and money.  The big brains did the research and found there is zero correlation between customer and employee satisfaction and the future growth of any business.  The same applies to the gaming industry.  Nevertheless, I was at a casino’s Web site the other day and there were a number of places that showed me where to take their online guest satisfaction survey. 

Why do casinos continue to do things that are so unproductive, even wasteful?  Is it because they don’t yet understand the futility of satisfaction surveys?  Do they still fail to realize that so-called “satisfaction” is fickle and pointless to measure?  Or is it just that they are lazy and comfortable doing things the same way they have always done them?  I don’t have proof to back this up, but my guess is that it’s a combination of all of that.

I also think that much of this clinging to old ways comes from people’s inability to evolve with change.  With the AIDS/HIV situation, it’s easier to create change because people know that lives hang in the balance.  But most casinos are making money and they’re fat and happy, so to speak.  So why change?

The reason casinos may want to consider embracing change is because if they don’t, they  could end up like many other industries that now exist primarily in history books.  These industries are no longer on the tips of people’s tongues because they failed to change with the times and faded.  Some of them are still around but the world has passed them by.  Look at the railroad industry.   Trains still run but the heyday of the railroad is long gone because the industry failed to adapt to new technology and find a different role for itself in a changing world.  I’m sure this is hard to relate to your casino when you see cars streaming into your parking lot at all hours of the day and night.  I’m also sure the railroads couldn’t envision an end to the glory days when they dominated transportation.

What are you doing in human resources and other areas of your casino to try new things?  What are you doing to take that next step that will lead you from where you are today to where you want to be?  Please don’t take this as a slam or attack, but adding a hotel and golf course is not what I’m talking about.  Doing what you have always done, just in a slightly different way, is not the answer.

What would your guests look like if you could create your dream casino?  What would your guests look like if they were all advocates for your property?  What would your casino look like if you had a net Advocate Index of 50, 60 or even 70?  What would your employees look like if they were inspired by the work they do. What would your senior team look like if they were all advocates of the casino rather than the money or title they have?

Scientists and doctors that figured out a better way of dealing with newborns and HIV weren’t satisfied with the status quo.  They envisioned a better future.  The same is true for your casino.  You need to become dissatisfied with old-school management techniques such as satisfaction surveys.  Then you need a vision of what your casino could be in the future.  Share that vision with everyone at the property.  They must know what your casino of the future looks like in order to see it, too.   Better yet, they need to own that vision.  If the gaming industry is to have a future, it must take the scary step of changing its ways to make all of this happen.

Martin R. Baird
Robinson & Associates, Inc.