Service Above Self Leads to Great Gaming Experience for Casino Guests

As a Rotarian, I’m familiar with the organization’s view of service above self.  The concept is that by serving others before yourself, great things happen for all.  This is an idea that works.  It has raised millions of dollars and almost eradicated polio in the world.

So how does this apply to your property and your people?  Yes, many properties give back and support their communities, but I’m talking about getting your people to think about guest service above self.

That’s not an easy concept for casino employees to get their arms around.  During our training sessions, it’s not unusual for casino staffers to make comments such as “Why should I give them great service?  They never tip me”  or  “Those people are bus players.  Why would I serve them?” or “These people blow smoke in my face, get drunk and puke on my table.”

Looking at it from that point of view, it’s easy to see why putting self above service is easy.  It’s only human to seek pleasure instead of pain.  Employees see drunks swearing at them as pain, so they avoid it.

Guest service sounds easy – perhaps even simple – but it’s hard work for many people.  Putting guest service above one’s instincts and habits takes effort.  Think about the last time you tried to change one of your behaviors.  Research shows that it takes 21 days to build a habit.  If your property is going to have a guest-service culture, it starts with guest service habits.

One other thing that makes guest-service habits difficult is that many people are compensation driven.  If they don’t see a direct correlation between guest service and their wallet, it makes developing habits even harder.  If your employees were all remunerated based on the service they provide, guest service would improve.

Few casino employees have the long-range vision required to see how providing a great guest-service experience is of value to them.  Sure, they know it could make them feel good inside but most mortgage companies won’t accept that as a monthly payment.

Training and rewards will help you get around these obstacles to great guest service.

Stellar service starts with training that helps your people put the pieces of the puzzle together in their own minds.  Training helps them understand the desired guest-service skills and habits.  I’m not talking about just any training but fun training so your people see guest service as enjoyable rather than a dreaded activity.  This is no easy process and it should be approached carefully with specific criteria that are laid out ahead of time.  Learning is fun when you make it fun.

Then put a system in place that catches employees doing something right and gives them a reward or incentive for demonstrating the desired behavior. Your system needs to be nonbiased and ongoing.  Too often we see properties try to implement such a system but it fails because of the bias that managers bring to the equation or because the focus on  the program wavered for just one month.  For employee recognition to work, the size of the reward is not as important as the consistency of the effort.  Starting and stopping kills programs like this.  Word spreads like wildfire that the program is dead.

But it’s not enough to offer training and rewards.  Management must understand that guest service is an investment, not a dream, a hope or a topic to toss around during a meeting.  And don’t tell me there’s no money to spend on fluffy stuff like guest service because times are tough.  If you and your management team don’t see guest service as a line item in your budget that’s just as important as salaries and benefits, you are missing out.

It takes money to make money and investing in guest service can be one of the best returns on investment you ever make.  Your monetary investment is small in a variety of ways compared to your investment of time.

One more thing is needed to get everyone on the guest service fun bus.  To me, it’s the most important.  Management must have the ability to live great guest service.  If management doesn’t show everyone else at the property that they are committed to guest service, you are wasting your time, energy and money.  Actions speak louder than words and that is so true when it comes to guest service.  Even management must put guest service above self.

This leadership starts with the guest-service initiative, then rolls into being actively involved in the training and ends with management’s daily example of great service.  If every person on the management team isn’t living the guest service way, it will seriously detract from your program.

It sounds simple to have people put service above self but it takes hard work and commitment from employees and management alike.

To read other articles by Martin Baird, go to

Martin R. Baird
Robinson & Associates, Inc.

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