The Importance of Setting Boundaries for Hosts

Three strategies that work

Hosts are dealing with so many different types of people, both internally and externally, every minute of every day and they must have excellent communication skills. Many times, hosts feel like their job is to “make everyone happy.” That could not be further from the truth!

Hosts are salespeople, period. They are the liaison between the casino and the guest with a purpose to increase revenue for the casino. To do this effectively, not only professionally, but personally as well, boundaries MUST be set. We teach people how to treat us and, let’s face it, the more you give to anyone, the more they will take. To quote Dr. Henry Cloud, “In the end, as a leader, you are going to get a combination of two things: what you create and what you allow.”

I broke into the casino industry in the mid ‘80s … before cell phones (what?! Yes, I’m dating myself!). Hosts could only be contacted at work and we controlled who we gave our personal number to when we were off duty (only VVVVIPs got that info). Eventually, we got pagers and if we weren’t at work or home, we would have to find a phone (usually a pay phone) to return the call. Now we have cell phones and guests can contact us 24/7. This narrows time off tremendously, if you aren’t careful.

What I keep hearing when I talk with player development teams is that they seem to be dealing with more; more difficult guests, more pressure from management and that they don’t have time to do anything (at work or home). They are frustrated and seem to never have time to achieve their goals or spend time on personal pursuits (family, hobbies, life!). Now, what I am about to say may be controversial for some of you, but not only do I believe it, I’ve experienced it. It is time hosts take back control of how they spend their time, on the job and off. This means setting boundaries. Boundaries are a key component of time management and are a vital part of communication.

So how do you set boundaries? Start with clear communication. This is how we develop better relationships and trust. These are a big part of the foundation for a successful sales host and a successful person!

Here are a few tips:

1. Teamwork

This includes introducing guests to as many of your player development teammates as possible. While that guest may be “coded” to one host, this does not mean that host is the only person they can work with. Coding is for outgoing communication organization, period. The guest belongs to the casino, not the host they may be assigned to. Incoming communication or those that are initiated by the guest, should be able to be assisted by anyone on duty. When I worked nights, I made sure that my guests knew the VIP reps and the day shift hosts. That way, if I wasn’t there or was tied up with another guest or situation, they felt comfortable working with my fellow teammates. Relationships should be built with the team and not just one person. If a host were to leave, the likelihood of the guest following them to another property was dramatically decreased.

In most cases, the guest understands that hosts need time away, have personal lives, are busy, etc. In my experience, my guests actually felt bad when they would contact me on my off time. Because of our relationship, it made them feel better to have access to and build relationships with others in our department. It made them feel more important to have that access because not everyone does. Also, they didn’t have to wait to be taken care of. Win-win!

2. Clear Communication

I have always included my usual schedule, including days off, on my business card. I would hand write it on the back and it was a topic of discussion from initial introductions. This was also when I would begin giving them “inside tips” (aka, introducing them to my fellow teammates. If I’m not available, this is …). I liken it to “hours of operation” that most businesses have posted. I also had that as part of my voicemail messages, along with the VIP services number they could call if they needed immediate assistance. I would change that message when I was out of the office on vacation with who they could contact and when I would return to the office. I also leveraged my “out of office” message on my email.

3. The Guest Isn’t Always Right

In dealing with others, we must always identify what behaviors are acceptable and those that aren’t, both personally and professionally. Don’t be afraid to set that clear boundary! It is not acceptable for someone to be verbally abusive. Draw that line and stick to it. Clearly communicate what behavior you will accept and what you won’t.

This is part of the process in setting boundaries in your relationship with your guests and controlling your work (and personal) environment. Again, you create what you allow. In most cases, guests will be happy to know this information! We teach people how to treat us. Granted, there are exceptions to the rule, but in my experience, this works the majority of the time. Setting these boundaries is especially important in handling those “high-maintenance” and difficult guests. They need hard boundaries or else it becomes a huge issue.

  • Control your environment – This is the most important part of time management and will not only help you achieve your goals, but will keep you from burnout.
  • Set clear behavior standards – We teach people how we want to be treated; what is or isn’t acceptable. It is up to each person to clearly communicate what is acceptable behavior and what isn’t. When we allow others to treat us badly, we create more problems in the future.
  • Be honest and respectful – You get what you give! Honesty and respect are important in the development of any relationship. If you can’t do something, don’t be afraid to say no and give clear reasons why. Don’t lie! Once you lose another person’s trust, you may never get it back.
Janet Hawk 25 Articles