Leadership and Guest Service

Leadership and Guest Service

Why you can’t have one without the other

At the core of every casino organization with “wow” guest service, is a leadership team that has gone the extra mile to set the foundation. Likewise, poor guest service typically indicates a bigger problem.

As our industry is evolving and changing, now more than ever, we need engaged team members giving our guests a reason to return. It’s important for brick and mortar operations to look at how well they develop their team members in such a way that they have a desire to exceed the guest’s expectations.

Implementing a guest service program

Fifteen years ago, I was tasked with finding and implementing a guest service program at my property, 7 Cedars Casino. Partnering up with Raving, I learned that the goal of every guest service program was to create a loyal guest. So, when our guest is at home wondering which form of entertainment to partake in or which restaurant to go to that evening, they will pick an entity at your organization. In order to make sure that you create a loyal guest, you must exceed their expectations at every moment-of-truth interaction. This was such a fun learning curve for me, and I was excited to bring a guest service program to our casino.

Is your leadership team equipped to support a guest service program?

Our leadership team went through the process of developing our vision/mission and program standards. Implementation was a breeze, and I was initially happy with the results. But soon I could feel a shift. I started to hear team members and supervisors who were frustrated with this new program. They felt like they already had enough on their plates. I was starting to panic, not knowing what the solution was. Thankfully, a dealer came into my office and told me, “Paula, we really need this new program, but to be honest, I’m more worried about the person behind me than the person in front of me.” This was the first time that I had questioned if our leadership team was equipped to take on this new task and support our team members through this new process.

Leadership plus guest service: you can’t have one without the other. I started to do research on leadership programs. I was looking for a program that had been successful in helping leaders change behavior in their team members. I attended a leadership training at our Tribal center and fell in love with the Learning Point Group’s Leadership System. There are quite a few very successful organizations using leadership systems like this, so I decided to see why they were so successful.


The first thing I liked was how Mark Christensen, Learning Point Group founder and president, focused on frontline leaders. These are the people who really make or break the success of our organizations and team members. I heard a story of Nike bringing in consultants to find out why sales were low. The consultants said that the managers and directors were spending time on the day-to-day operations instead of on future development and strategic solutions to internal issues. They were told to give the tools to the frontline leaders to develop relationships with their team members so that they will be able to handle any issues moving forward.

What it takes to create success in team members

Dynamic supervisors understand how to maximize performance with each team member. Team members need to know the mechanics of their job, as well as what it takes to create a lasting relationship with their guests. Each team member is also looking for maximum satisfaction in their job. They want to know that they contributed to the success of the department. We, as leaders, need to be able to find the balance between getting our needs met and the team member getting their needs met.

Creating a solution mindset throughout the organization

The first phase of developing any type of leadership program is creating an ownership mindset. Rather than blaming and complaining, we need all team members to “tuck and roll” when things get messy. Owners have a solution mindset. The mindset that the leaders in the department have is the same mindset that the team will have.

After we develop this ownership mindset, we need to give our supervisors an opportunity to work on their strengths and weaknesses as part of their foundation. It’s important to identify areas that are hindering your success as a leader. For example, when I took my DiSC® profile,

it said that I would stonewall a person if we didn’t agree. I was irritated with that, thinking that was a rude thing to do, and frankly, it’s wrong. I don’t do that! Well, that is what I thought. It’s an interesting thing when you become aware of a behavior, and it reveals itself more and more. I finally developed a process to keep me from stonewalling if you were on “the wrong side of Paula.”


From this experience, learning the components of a successful guest service program and combining it with leadership training, our program has flourished over the last 15 years. I would challenge any Tribal casino to always think about leadership as a fundamental partnership with their guest service aspirations.

Paula Allen
Paula Allen 5 Articles