Connecting Disjointed Data

Utilizing hotels, gaming and restaurant research to maximize value

More research is being done every year by casino resorts trying to capture important data about guests in their casinos, restaurants and hotels. The newest challenge facing operators is how to tie this valuable information together so that it’s not a lot of disjointed reports that each gives a piece of the picture, but no one is putting the whole puzzle together. That’s lost value.

In Raving’s Third Annual Indian Gaming National Marketing Survey, 97 percent of Tribal casinos are conducting database analysis, 77 percent are using guest satisfaction surveys, 71 percent are doing competitive analysis research, 57 percent are using team member engagement surveys, and other types of research, such as branding and awareness surveys and focus groups, are also tools used by casinos. The percent of casinos who are not doing any type of research? Zero.

Now, in addition to this multitude of research, is the guest feedback survey that your hotel may be sending to people before they even check out. Some hotels are sending a pre-checkout survey via email and another survey post-checkout. Many hotels look to online reviews to learn about guest satisfaction levels, but the latest guest survey tools are helping hotels respond to guest needs long before they get around to posting online feedback.

Restaurants are another area of Tribal casino resorts that may be doing their own guest research. You may have a food and beverage director who is using one of the many new mobile apps to generate guest feedback before they leave.

Ahem, who’s steering the ship?

These hotel and restaurant surveys can be valuable tools in a research arsenal, but if no one is coordinating the information, then your property is losing value and risking negative reviews. We’ve worked with casinos where the marketing director didn’t even know the hotel or restaurant was conducting guest research, much less, receiving reports that could add to the knowledge base of guest satisfaction about every area of your property.

In the Tribal casino resort industry, guest surveys have been used for years to gain valuable guest insights, improve service levels and address areas of weakness. Generating this type of research has become so affordable, fast and accurate that it can become disorganized and inefficient if you start piling it on without a master plan. A siloed research approach using a single comprehensive survey probably isn’t an ideal solution, either.

So, how do you fix a disjointed research program or prevent it from happening if it hasn’t already? Develop a master plan by following these steps:

Budget: What is your overall property budget for guest satisfaction research? This is going to determine how much you can get done.

Responsibility: Who is responsible for guest satisfaction surveys at your property? Make sure the person understands research and interacts with all key departments involved. Since staffing and finding the time to take on another job task is a problem at every casino, you have to commit to doing this right.

Coordination: Your research person needs to interact regularly with department heads, venue leaders, and franchisees if applicable. Make sure all key stakeholders have input into the survey questionnaires so that their expertise is used, and concerns are addressed before you launch the surveys. The alternative is taking heat after the fact because you didn’t include important questions.

Communication: Every department and venue impacted by the surveys needs to know how you’re doing. Send out a regular report with highlights – what’s working well, what needs to be fixed.

Accountability: Okay, so the guest surveys showed some issues that really need to be fixed at the buffet, players club and hotel check-in. Make sure there’s a process that the person responsible for resolving the issue gets it done ASAP and someone checks it off the list.

Whatever issues you might be having in any area of your property can often be identified and resolved before you find out the hard way – negative reviews on Yelp, TripAdvisor and social media. At that point, the damage is done and you’re in repair mode. That’s a key reason to make sure your guest feedback surveys are being done correctly and that key information is being passed on to the people who need to see it. And, of course, that prompt action is taken when guest feedback is in the form of a complaint.

Guest satisfaction surveys come in many forms these days and companies are on a learning curve in using them to maximum positive effect. The key to maximizing value and preventing very public complaint forums is to get organized now.

Deb Hilgeman
Deb Hilgeman 10 Articles