Needs and Wants

In my career, I have visited many casinos across the world and recognize that while they have much in common—slot machines, table games, restaurants and bathrooms—they also have many points of distinction—volcanoes, gondolas, celebrity memorabilia and alligators. It is through the creativity of the casino designers and innovative management that casinos are turned into destination resorts that continue to attract new players and nurture continued customer loyalty.

However, not all casino operations are equal. The successful casino operators have figured out how to balance players’ needs—the “must-have” list—with the players’ wants—the “nice-to-have” list. Casinos that address both needs and wants put their customer’s happiness and satisfaction first. The following is a list of player needs and wants for any well-designed and well-managed casino.

Casino Design and Signage
All patrons need to know where the basic elements of a casino are—bathrooms, restaurants and exits. Invariably, during their casino visit, they are going to need at least one, if not all, of these locations. Directional signage that is easy to find and easy to read is paramount. At the same time, patrons want to know where to find their favorite slots, the location of ATMs and voucher redemption kiosks, and how to get to the player’s club. Wayfinder signage identifying key slot locations and other casino services allow the players to find their way to their destination. Some casinos are utilizing smartphone apps for wayfinding, allowing their patrons to pinpoint locations across the casino floor and providing points of reference to help them find their way across the casino floor.

Everyone needs full toilet paper and paper towel dispensers. And while we’d all love Mr. Clean sparkling bathrooms, we are willing to settle for just plain clean, working facilities. What we want is a hands-free environment—flushers, soap dispensers, paper towel dispensers and hand sanitizer dispensers. Across the casino floor, on the most-wanted list is a casino free of trash, used glassware and full ashtrays. Clean facilities demonstrate to everyone that both management and line staff care about their working environment.

Food and Beverage
Guests need decent food options at multiple price points. They want beverage servers that are continually present, and dining and drinking options that fit their mood and provide good value for their dining dollar. Because casinos are typically 24-hour operations, casinos that offer 24-hour dining options capture opportunities to service their late-night and early-morning guests.

Players need a place to play, whether it’s a slot machine, table game or other wagering opportunity; this is what makes a casino a gambling mecca. What players need is a good mix of denominations, theoretical hold percentage and volatility configurations across the slot floor to provide them with a variety of gaming options. The same applies to table games players with a variety of live gaming options, table types and bet ranges. Players also want the new and popular games and at the same time—their old favorite game in the same spot every time they come to visit. It’s a skill and an art to balance players’ needs and wants with an updated mix on the gaming floor, combining new innovations with old favorites.

Parking and Valet
Drive-up visitors need well-lit parking facilities with easy ingress and egress and good signage so they can find their car after a few hours inside the casino. There’s nothing worse than losing some money in the casino and then having to wander the parking garage in search of your car, hoping the battery on the remote is strong enough so you can hear the beep of the car alarm. Visitors want speedy valet—both when they drop off their car and when they return to pick it up. They want to see valet parking attendants running to get the car, not slowly sauntering to pick up keys and heading to the valet lot at a snail’s pace. The parking lot is the place of the visitor’s first impression of your casino and valet is typically the first and last customer service point for an arriving and departing visitor, and a good impression is important here.

People need easy access to assistance from the security officers in the casino, whether they are asking for directions or need a greater level of care. They need them to be responsive in emergency situations. The general public wants security officers with a visible presence, acting as a deterrent throughout the casino, as well as in the parking lot and exterior of the facility. Security is another critical customer service pulse point, and can be vital in diffusing challenging situations, while at the same time protecting the casino’s assets and personnel.

Overnight lodgers have a basic need for a bed and bathroom, since that is what rack rate pays for. Their want list is much larger—clean rooms, nice sheets and towels, multiple pillow options, a working television remote control and reasonably priced mini-bar amenities. And can we please agree as an industry to buy towels large enough to wrap around a normal-sized person’s body, that free in-room wireless is a right not a privilege, and that every shower should have a foot rest ledge (all my personal pet peeves). Lodgers appreciate front desk staff that is helpful and knowledgeable about the property as a whole and can also provide recommendations for amenities in the local area.

And, for a few behind-the-scene departments, players also have their own needs and wants for these groups.

Human Resources and Training
All departments are responsible for customer service. From the highest paid to the lowest, all casino and resort employees are onboard in order to assist guests, either directly or indirectly, through their job responsibilities. Players need to be comfortable in their environment, and great guest service is what creates this setting. Players also deserve smiling, friendly, helpful and happy employees, with whom they can connect. No one wants to face a surly, frowning, growling employee when they have a question or concern. Players want informed answers to their questions, and an acceptable answer is “I will find out and get right back to you,” if they don’t know the answer. Training is the answer to create a culture of superior guest service.

Information Technology
Yes, even the IT department needs to address customer-facing needs and wants. For the technology that IT implements, it needs to be easy to understand. This gets back to marketing’s one minute rule—if a guest can’t figure it out in one minute, it’s too complicated. Guests want time-saving and line-saving technologies to improve their experience. They don’t want to waste their play time in line and they certainly don’t want to be handicapped by technology that makes their experience more complicated or time-consuming than dealing directly with a casino employee.

Casino players need a rewards program that is easy to understand. Many great marketers confuse this with a player want, not a need, and instead provide confusing information to their players. If your casino team cannot explain the player reward program to a guest in less than one minute, it’s too complicated. And, fast talking doesn’t count. Casino players want a rewards program that provides them with value for the way they play. If they want to play high volatility games, then there should be a reward for this. If they want to play low denomination games, there should be a reward for this. If they want to spread their money across all areas of the resort—hotel, spa, retail, dining, and gaming—there should be a reward for this. I call this technology with benefits.

In the end, casino guests all want to have fun in your casino. Sure, they would like to win some money, but in the end, it’s all about the memories they make while they are there. When they walk away with a good impression, they will be back. And isn’t that why we are in the entertainment and hospitality business anyway?

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