When Gamblers Design a Hotel

How creature comforts and consistent service can drive revenue

Why is it that casinos spend millions of dollars on their new hotel or addition, but miss the mark? I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a beautiful casino hotel that LOOKS great, but is not functional or comfortable. A casino hotel that has long lines in valet followed by a long line at check-in, then another wait for the elevator.

Although Tribal casino resorts serve many types of guests and groups, ultimately, the special needs of our guests who are gamblers should be taken into consideration. Show me a resort (other than in Las Vegas) where gaming isn’t still the main source of revenue for the operation. When you stop looking at and listening to those who you are trying to serve, you end up with an unsatisfactory product that impacts your bottom line. So, why do some casino hotels not ask or listen to those who are going to be actually staying at their hotel?

Years ago, I had the opportunity to help in the design and building of a couple hotels for properties I have worked for. I felt so fortunate to be involved with this process (leading me to take several courses in hospitality management), and the company that was building the new hotels were very open to the suggestions that were offered. Here are a couple of the things that we incorporated and why we felt they were not only important, but would help us stand out from the competition:

Start with a strong relationship between the hotel and player development

There is a reoccurring issue with most properties I work with, and that is there’s a big disconnect between the hotel and player development. This is not a new issue. Many years ago, I approached the front desk manager at the casino I worked at and asked why we had such a bad relationship. I was then invited to do some cross-training. It was an incredibly eye-opening experience for both departments! Because we now understood each other’s processes more clearly, we could then come up with more effective and cohesive processes that ultimately gave our guests a better experience. Coordination and cross-training with all departments will set you apart! The result will be not only a more enjoyable and consistent experience overall for our guests, but increased loyalty that helps drive revenue. Great guest service increases the bottom line.

Review room types

When we were in the blueprint stage, the architects brought the player development department in to review the “end” product. We found that there weren’t any connecting rooms to the suites. Why should we “downgrade” a great player because they brought their children (or additional gamblers)? So, we converted one-third of the suites to connecting rooms. Our guests loved it. This was just one of many suggestions that were made that the architects used to improve the end product.

Comfort over fashion (function over form)

Comfort is often overlooked because the traditional theory used to be, “We don’t want them in the room. We want them on the floor!” A valid thought, but true gamblers won’t stay in the room, but they WILL frequent a casino that has comfortable rooms. That means comfortable beds and pillows, soft linens, cozy chairs with a foot stool (or better yet, a recliner), plenty of lights and electrical outlets, mini fridges and microwaves, a good selection of TV channels (or access to streaming channels), luxurious bathroom amenities (including toilet paper!) and strong WiFi. When we requested these items, we received some pushback at first. Many times, gamblers bring children or spouses who don’t gamble. If they aren’t comfortable (or don’t have options for entertainment), they will pull your gamblers off the floor. As stated before, the more enjoyable the experience for the gambler (this includes room comfort), the more increase in loyalty that will drive additional revenue. When guests are loyal, they become your biggest advertisement and acquisition tool.

Do we want guests who stay in our hotels, or do we want gamblers who need a room? Do we want guests who like to eat, or do we want gamblers who are hungry? I could go on, but if you have a casino, your answer is clear … the focus needs to be on our gamblers and what will get them coming back and, hopefully, bringing their friends!

Janet’s takeaways

  • Relationships are important! Both for internal and external guests. So, demolish the departmental silos and focus on the common goal: increased visits equal increased revenue.

  • Go the extra mile! The little things matter. Creature comforts, such as bottled water, make-up mirrors and extra blankets in the room (so they don’t have to ask!), are just a few of the ideas. Set up processes so that if a guest leaves something in the room, a call is made immediately and it is mailed instead of waiting for the guests to call. Be proactive.

  • Review check-in and check-out processes. Can technology be used to eliminate long lines? Set up proactive comping processes to assess guests’ play (both hotel and casino guests) to “surprise” guests at check-out.

Janet Hawk
Janet Hawk 17 Articles