The ROI of the Human Touch

What the gaming and hospitality industry needs to remember

In today’s casino environment the focus always revolves around increasing ROI, ADT, ADW and whatever acronym that says were making more money. Adding on whatever fee we can find or increasing the house advantage on slots and table games to make this happen seems to make sense when the analytics can provide all the backup needed to justify those decisions.

Looking at the last three years since the pandemic, many of the changes that have been made certainly validate the majority of those decisions. Several casinos have shown record revenues, and you would hardly know there has been any disruption – outside of staffing. So, on paper, many of those decisions have been very good.

As is often repeated for those of us that have been the business for a while, things run in cycles. For example, the mortgage crisis, the bust, and the economic disruption following 9/11 to mention a few, brought a screeching halt to gaming profits. I’m not trying to make any predictions, but the one constant that remains valuable is the human touch. Sooner or later, it always comes back to good service and the relationships that we have made – both with our guests and with those that we work with, side-by-side, every day.

The casino industry, especially when expanding into new jurisdictions, really brings out the nay-sayers of all the evils surrounding us. They are quick to point out that casinos are there to take advantage of the elderly and the less fortunate, or that gambling increases crime. These are the staple tenets of the anti-casino group. The reality is far from the truth.

Above All, Prioritizing the Guest Experience

With approximately 1.3 million casino employees in the United States, there are certainly many good stories where their connection to their guests allows them to overcome any obstacle and reach success. I am going to share a few stories which I know many of your team members will have experienced as well.

  • A few years ago, an elderly woman was dropped off at the front of the casino entrance. She was looking for the front desk, so a security guard stopped to help her and explained it was at the other entrance and escorted her to that area. While walking her there, she shared a story. She and her husband used to come to that casino on a regular basis, but he had recently passed away. She went on to explain that her health was failing, and she couldn’t get around as easy as she used to. She expressed how much they enjoyed their trips when they did come, and she wanted to have one last memory of their time shared here. She thanked the security guard and checked into her room for, what ended up being, her very last visit.
  • Years before that, I was called to the buffet where a couple was having dinner. The chef. who often came out to greet them, asked for me to stop by the table. I had met them before, but actually knew their mother better – let’s call her Mary. After saying hello, the couple explained that they were just coming from a funeral, and that Mary had passed away. They expressed how much she enjoyed coming to the casino for her weekly entertainment. They continued on a little longer, but and the capper was when they shared that in the casket, she had been buried with in her rosary beads and a player’s card from the casino in her hands. Talk about well prepared for whatever’s next!
  • A couple of gentlemen, (we will call them Bert and Ernie), had a regular non-scheduled meeting with me on Wednesday mornings at 11 AM to discuss whatever they felt the casino was “doing wrong.” You could set your watch, but without fail they would appear on time, every time. It started with breakfast at 8AM, then a regular pattern of slot machine play up until our 11AM. Then, a quick (or not) meeting with the Hosts. Noon was time for lunch and then out the door at 3PM for the drive home. This went on for many years, and unfortunately as they got older Bert had a heart attack and passed away. After the funeral, it was a lengthy drive to the cemetery, but they had requested one last drive beneath the entrance canopy to say goodbye.

Make Their Day, Every Day

Every day we have the opportunity to make the difference in someone’s life in the casino business. We don’t know who, how, or why. It can be the smallest gesture, but it may mean the world to them. Recognizing the opportunity to have an impact while folks are alive, especially today, may be one our most significant contributions. From the guard helping the lady find the front desk, to the waitress who knows their favorite drink, their lucky dealer or slot attendant or even the host that was asked to be a pall bearer at their funeral – it all makes an impact. Take nothing for granted, for we may never know the true impact on those that we meet, whether guest or coworker.

The last story, though there are many more, is one of my favorites.

George was a regular player for many years. Some days he won, other days it was “these machines are really tight today.”  As George got older his driving skills started to go downhill, literally. As his driving and health started to fail, his daughter would bring him to the casino and drop him off for two or three days. He had his breakfast in the morning, lunch, and dinner at his fingertips and in the event he was late or had not been seen, a host would knock on his hotel door just to check if he was all right.

After many months, George’s health also failed, and he eventually passed away. At his funeral, his daughter made a point to mention how nice it was that we (the Hosts and myself) were all there. She shared how much he had enjoyed going to the casino, and I said that I hoped when the time came for me, that I was still going to casinos and not in some assisted living facility. She said – “You guys where his assisted living facility!”

Not too much you can add to something like that.

What we do, who we touch, how we react matters. We never know who or when or what the interaction may be, but it will be remembered. I know it is important that we do all the analysis, measure performance and evaluate our success, but sometimes we get so lost in the data, that we miss our opportunity to have any impact at all. Two simple rules that almost always apply; Just be nice to people and do things the right way.

Dan Stromer 14 Articles