Northern Quest Resort & Casino and Kalispel Casino Operational Executive Team Share their Post-Opening Results

With Tribal Gaming & Hospitality Magazine through an Interactive Roundtable

Reno, NV – Over 130 attendees representing commercial and Tribal casinos throughout the US, Canada, Europe and even Mexico gathered yesterday, May 14, 2020 for an interactive roundtable. The Kalispel Tribe opened both of their casinos on May 5 and in the spirit of collaboration and learning, wished to share what they had learned to help other casinos prepare for reopening.

Deana Scott, Raving CEO moderated the call with the executive team at Northern Quest Resort & Casino and Kalispel Casino which included Tribal Council Member and General Manager, Nick Pierre; Executive Director of Casino Operations, Kevin Zenishek; CFO, Jason Beasley; and Executive Director of Resort Operations, Meg Miller.

Northern Quest Resort & Casino was the first Washington state casino to open after seven weeks of closed operations. According to CFO Jason Beasely, they are at 130% of anticipated revenues due to pent up demand and assume there will be a market correction when the rest of the state opens ends of the month.

The top takeaways from the Northern Quest team to the listeners on preparing for opening:

Do not go lean on staffing!

They did several forecasting models based on many reopening dates; however the quantity of visitors has been higher than anticipated and they had to pivot quickly to adequately serve the increased amount of guests.

Turning off every other machine didn’t work.

Their initial thought was to turn off 50% of the slot floor and use that as a social spacing mechanism and to adhere to a 50% occupancy level. However, they learned quickly that the machines could not be cleaned quickly enough between play sessions. They reactivated all machines which allowed people more space to move around; guests were naturally self-distancing which allowed for proper sanitizing to take place.

Crowd management is key.

Be prepared that while people are in line waiting to get in, they will not be social distancing. The best that you can do is encourage distancing but it’s very difficult to police. Also depending on weather (sun and heat) have a plan to get the elderly and premium players through the line – even though you will get feedback from other guests.

Additional expenses to reopening.

Cost for sanitation products and PPE equipment are running about 12-18% increase in supplies and necessary provisions are still coming in. Labor costs overall have not been impacted by the additional housekeeping and on-floor cleaning; rather they are reallocating resources. They have reduced labor in other areas such as the back office where there were inefficiencies pre-Covid; this has been an opportunity to “right size” in several areas.

“We believe passionately that this is a time of sharing and collaboration, between gaming organization and suppliers. We applaud Northern Quest Resort & Casino for jumping on a call with over a hundred gaming GMs and executives, some from their own market. We’re experiencing this unchartered territory together,” shared Raving CEO, Deana Scott.

Pre and Post Opening Insights from Northern Quest Resort & Casino:

  • All team members were required to attend a pre-opening orientation which specifically addressed how to properly wear PPEs, how to sanitize your personal PPE, new cleaning protocols and chemicals that were being used, how to smile behind the mask and continue to extend “Kalispel Hospitality” standards.
  • Northern Quest Resort & Casino is not asking patrons to wear masks; but requiring their team members to do so.
  • When asked about a contact tracing protocol and an operational contingency plan for documented Covid-19 exposure, they have a Covid-19 resident liaison in charge of a PPE task force; contract tracing is part of his protocol for compliance.
  • Communicating both verbally and visually has been critical to explain what appropriate social distancing in all areas is, including points of sale.
  • Some specific social distancing protocols are two people inside an elevator; two players per table game; the pool and fitness center is closed.
  • The hotel is open, but without room service; overnight cleaning services have been suspended.
  • They have not done aggressive marketing; they serve a primarily locals market although they have been seeing an increase in out of town visitors.
  • There is no change to their current open smoking policy.
  • Their executive host was kept on staff as an essential team member and has been communicating with guests since closure. A specialty VIP lounge was created to help accommodate their top tier players.

This recording is available to all current subscribers of Tribal Gaming & Hospitality Magazine or Raving Industry Reports. Sign-up for your complimentary subscription at https://betravingknows.com/subscribe/

Current subscribers can request a copy by emailing media@betravingknows.com.

Don’t miss any events or critical information. This event is one of several interactive webinars and roundtables that Native-owned, gaming and hospitality company Raving has been offering at no charge for the industry. Visit betravingknows.com or their media site Tribal Gaming & Hospitality Magazine tgandh.com to watch on air interviews with industry leaders and experts and to read the most strategic article and current news.

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About Raving

Raving is Native-owned and has been the most experienced full-service resource for the gaming and hospitality industry for the last 23 years. The Raving team works worldwide at all levels, strategically improving their clients’ overall operations.

Raving is made of key staff plus over 20 strategic partners. Known for their advanced analytics team, Raving’s expertise also includes all forms of professional services in research, technology, F&B, compliance, marketing, HR, player loyalty, security & surveillance, employee training and finance. Our strength comes from the rich background and experience of our team who all have been “gaming operators.”

In addition to its professional services work, Raving produces educational conferences such as the long running Raving NEXT: Indian Gaming Analytics & Marketing Conference; Raving’s Loyalty & Player Development Conference and generates several gaming publications, including Tribal Gaming & Hospitality Magazine. They’ve developed proprietary software, Raving Engineering and Raving Dashboards, a customized program, creating a real-time, simple and dynamic tool gaming firms use to gain insights into performance and to track success.

Raving has partnered with over 152 Tribal Nations and enterprises and over 75 commercial properties along with First Nations throughout Canada. Raving has also been an active associate member of the National Indian Gaming Association since 2002, as well as OIGA, WIGA, AIGA and CNIGA.

Raving believes in the spirit of giving and the importance of creating a positive impact on future generations. Through our partnership with the Notah Begay III Foundation, we are committed to using our relationships to raise funds and awareness for their critically important work.

Download Press Release: Press Release May 2020 General Manager Forum with Northern Quest Casino.pdf

Christine Faria
Christine Faria 24 Articles