Archive for May 2011

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Now this is an article that I found very interesting. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the idea lately on the Las Vegas Strip, to capture high end business so as to increase profitability? Well, I guess in the opinion of Phil Ruffin of the Treasure Island, it is not. Ruffin purchased the Treasure Island property two years ago. Treasure Island is located across the street from the likes of Wynn Las Vegas and the Venetian (Las Vegas Sands). So, you would think they would be competing for that same business. A relatively easy walk across the street for gamblers who are losing too much or who are looking for something new, but still want to remain in the high end business spectrum.

On the other hand, this might be a genius move by someone who knows when he is beat. It would be very hard to compete with the likes of Bellagio, Wynn and Venetian…three very well established properties in the high end market. Ruffin has identified a possible niche in the market and is going for it full force, win or lose. One of Ruffin’s first moves was to remove the high end Italian restaurant and replace it with a country-western themed bar/restaurant. Then, a jewelry store was replaced by a pizza by the slice shop. In December, a Senor Frog’s will join the ranks at the Treasure Island. I think that about covers the mediocrity part.

So, now I ask, is this a smart move? In this economy, it may very well prove to be an extremely smart move. People are not spending like they used to, and giving them an affordable option on the Strip is not a terrible idea by any stretch of the imagination. The rooms at TI were recently renovated, and Ruffin has no intention on down-playing that aspect of the business. One of the goals is to have a place where they can attract more business from the free pirate show outside, to come inside. They feel that the addition of Senor Frogs will do just that.

Well, I suppose it remains to be seen whether or not this is a smart business move for the Treasure Island, but I think it might just be crazy enough to work. Mix together a poor economy + a propensity to look for a deal + a fun, well known dance club AKA Senor Frogs and you just might have a recipe for success!


Man, you’d think now that school is out I’d have more time on my hands to blog! But between moving, and work, and unpacking my life is more hectic than ever! So, I return to the blog-o-sphere with more news about Internet Poker.

Yep, that’s right. The Department of Justice handed down more indictments for operators of online poker and ten more domain names were seized, including most notably which is run by poker great Doyle Brunson. Now, the newest word from online poker players in the US is that many of them are considering a move to Canada in order to continue their online poker careers. According to an article on, Daniel Negraneu, who is a dual citizen of the US and Canada is considering splitting his time between his homes in Las Vegas and Toronto in order to continue his online poker career. Currently, all online poker players in the US who earned their living by playing poker online have been unemployed since April and roughly $400 million is tied up in the poker sites that have been seized. Initially, it was thought that American online poker players would start to bring their business to live games, however, it seems here that with no legislation in sight they are more interested in fleeing the country to continue their careers.

In more local news, the Nevada Senate committee has approved an internet poker bill. According to an article published in the Las Vegas Review Journal, the bill “authorizes the Nevada Gaming Commission to adopt regulations and to grant licenses to casinos to be ready to offer online poker if Congress passes an Internet gambling bill or if the U.S. Department of Justice says online gaming is allowed under federal law.”

What remains to be seen is when and if the government is going to take some action on this issue! Some say that the indictments are the stepping stone on the way to legislation, others say the issue will get so locked up in the political system that we may never see legislation. I am tending to lean towards the latter. Of course, we are approaching an election year, and lord knows people don’t want to rock the boat when they’re up for re-election. Which is just stupid in my decision, as are most things in politics, but I guess that’s a topic for another day.

So, I pose the question to you, my readers…how do you feel about this issue now that it’s had some time to sink in? Do you think the government will move forward with legislation or do you think the issue will never get through the legal system and made into law? Do you think the US will see a “mass” exodus of poker players to countries where this is legal? Or do you think the creative minds will find some way to still play online for money despite the domain seizures and lawsuits?

Just recently I had an experience with AT&T U-verse (cable/internet/phone provider) that I would like to share. I am getting ready to move, today actually in a few hours (which hopefully explains my recent blogging absence!), and of course with all the pains of moving comes the additional trouble of moving all services. Let me just say, I LOVE U-verse cable. I used to have the local Charter service and it was terrible. The one flaw with U-verse is that it is not available everywhere yet and AT&T has a hard time keeping their system updated with the most current availability information. I have recommended U-verse to many friends, and each one has had the same experience: they call and are told U-verse is not availabe in their area and then when the technician comes out, in fact it is available. So, needless to say I was not looking forward to trying to move my service. Of course, they told me that it was not available at my new address, even though I personally verified with my new apartment complex that others had this service. The agent I initially spoke to was less than helpful and let me know that they do not update their systems often and therefore I probably could get service, however, I’d be referred to investigations so they could verify the availability. Oh yes, and that process would take no less than a week. Great.

So, a few days later I decided to do a little investigating on my own. I went online and started the process of ordering cable online through the U-verse website. Unfortunately they are not able to offer the moving of service on their website, which I find to be pretty unbelievable in such a technological age. So, I start the ordering process with NO issues whatsoever with my new address. So I called back in. I spoke to a very nice, helpful agent who told me there was no problem moving my service, and I could upgrade for a great price. BUT, I could not get my service moved for 2 weeks. UGH. I am currently in an online class finishing up my MBA and no internet for 2 weeks just will not do! She said I could call back daily to see about cancellations, and that was that.

The  next day I called in and spoke to an even more helpful person in the cancellation department, because I threatened to cancel my internet service and go to a provider that could install service sooner than 2 weeks. He was able to get me an appointment the following Monday (I called Friday). That means cable and internet will arrive tomorrow!

Throughout this process, I tweeted my dis-satisfaction with AT&T and received no feedback on the matter. However, after they fixed the problems, I made sure to give credit where credit is due.

Some lessons in customer service:

1. Appreciation: As a customer, all you want is to feel like the company appreciates your patronage. After all, with all the competitors out there in almost any industry, it is very easy for a customer to take their business elsewhere. I was thanked for my loyal service to AT&T (I have ALL my services through them) and I was given an additional discount for my trouble. Appreciation, people, is the name of the game.

2. Don’t be dismissive: While I’m sure that a customer service line hears the worst of the worst in terms of abusive and complaining customers, each call should be handled as if it was the first complaint you’ve ever heard. Do not dismiss the problems of your guests just because you are sick of hearing people complain. The customer wants to feel like you actually care that they are having a problem and that you will do everything you can to fix it.

3. FIX IT: Not only does the customer want to feel like you will help them with their issue, they will be even more appreciative when you do fix the issue! Of course, all issues are not always resolvable, however you should always do everything in your power to make it happen for the guest. They will walk away satisfied, tell their friends…and maybe even become a brand evangelist!

Do you have any lessons in customer service that you’d like to share?

You know that old saying, opposites attract? Is that really true? Well, in terms of Poker players we’ll soon find out. Now that the dust has settled from the Internet Poker indictments, we will begin to see whether or not Internet Poker players will trek into brick and mortar poker rooms to feed their need for poker.

One of the main reasons that people play online is because they are able to play multiple games and tournaments at once. In a regular poker room, you are only able to play one game or tournament at a time, and a tournament can last hours on end without any payoff when its over. Imagine being able to play 10 or more tournaments at once. You’ve just increased your odds ten-fold. Also, the people who are attracted to online games generally come from a generation of very computer savvy, video game playing folks. They are able to work very quickly and efficiently to play as many games as possible at once and they can be very effective at this tactic. That is part of the rush for them. Imagine playing all those games online, then having to sit at a table in a poker room somewhere not in the comfort of your own home and be locked up in one tournament for 8 solid hours. BOOOORING. (See this blog post and the comments that follow for a good feel on what went down immediately following “Black Friday”) However, some big name players were requesting games in Vegas immediately following the events of “Black Friday.” So, it might be helping some rooms a little bit.

Online poker is an industry that has grown exponentially in the past ten years. It is estimated that since 2007 the number of online poker players between the ages of 18-34 grew by 27%. The draw of online poker is that players of any skill level can enter a low stakes game and learn to play without the intimidation of having to go into a live poker room and potentially be judged or laughed at by so-called “poker pros.” Poker is a very intimidating game for those who do not know how to play or who are not confident in their skills. One of the main drivers of online poker popularity was the rise to fame of Chris Moneymaker, who, after honing his craft online went on to win $2.5 million in the World Series of Poker in 2003.

However, it still remains to be seen whether or not these hard core internet poker players will end up in a brick and mortar facility, because it’s just such a different environment and is not comparable on many levels.

Do you think that brick and mortar facilities will see a spike in revenues now that the dust has settled from “Black Friday” and it doesn’t look like Internet Poker will be legalized anytime soon?

So, by now you’ve heard the story about how Las Vegas Sands cut comps to their players at the Venetian LV and Palazzo LV, but a new report just came out about how that has affected their business. Wait for the shocking news…their revenues have taken a hit! I know, you never saw that coming, right?

The new report states that the Venetian and Palazzo have reported a 47% decline in revenues and a 6% drop in room revenue since the comps were eliminated. The main objective of the comp-cutting strategy was that these properties wanted to fill rooms with more cash paying customers than comped customers. I understand this logic. I see people all the time abusing the comp system and using offers that they should no longer qualify for. The casino business goes through higher and lower comping periods based on the business cycle, and for the Venetian and Palazzo, they felt that their convention business was strong enough to drive cash paying customers to their rooms, rather than just handing out free rooms to less than qualified customers in some cases. The one thing I don’t agree with is the way they went about it.

Back in February, LV Sands Corporation / Sheldon Adleson decided to eliminate all add-on comps such as free rooms or food and beverage offers. Only, they didn’t just stop sending offers, they actually rescinded offers that were already in players’ hands. Mr. Adleson also released this information to the media telling them, “We’ve essentially cut all of our comps except our most highly-rated players.  No more comped rooms. No food and beverage. No showroom credits. We’re selling rooms. We see it’s resulting in a substantial increase in cash income.” And that’s just fine, everyone understands the concept of a cash business vs. a comp business. But don’t rescind current offers. And DEFINITELY don’t discuss these decisions with the media. It’s almost as if Mr. Adleson was rubbing it in casino players’ faces…hahaha we don’t need your business! Well then, they will have to accept that players have choices when it comes to where they gamble, especially in Las Vegas, and I’m sure Mr. Wynn down the street would be happy to take in the extra players. In fact, he should start honoring room offers that were declined by Venetian and Palazzo and get some of those mid-level gamblers in his doors. Now, that’s a novel idea!

Really, when it comes right down to it, LV Sands is free to make whatever business decisions they see fit for their business. However, decisions made by a corporation should not alienate or anger their customers to the point that revenues are almost cut in half based on that decision. A smarter thing to do would be to honor the remainder of offers that were already sent out, and then start scaling back on free stuff.

What are your opinions on this matter?

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Sure, it’s easy enough to think of a great promotion or special event idea. I’m sure there are people out there who would have attended a Royal Wedding party, but if it is not profitable or even potentially profitable, then you have a problem. Here are a few tips to use when planning a successful event:

1. Set Goals: Your goals could range from how many people you want to get through the door, how many new customers you’d like to attract or how much incremental business you will obtain by holding the event or promotion. The idea is to set goals. There is no way to evaluate your performance if you don’t have anything to measure the outcome against. It’s important to set goals related to customer experience and financial outcome and then of course you have to evaluate the event when it’s over.

2. Play Well With Others: While I’m sure you have amazing ideas, it’s important to include others in the planning process. Try asking the people who actually run the promotion or work on the casino floor if they see any potential problems with the promotion or if they can see any way to make it better. At the end of the day, the final decisions lay with management, but seeking out other opinions can never hurt.

3. Diversify but Don’t Stack: Not everyone will always like the same things. Not only is it important to always have something going on, but you need to attempt to attract the most guests that you possibly can. Sometimes there is a need to stack multiple events during the same time period, but keep in mind that stacking events drives down profitability and may end up costing more in the long run. Before stacking events, try and weed out the events that will drive the least amount of business and re-evaluate how you can tweek existing events to attract more business.

4. Measure and Evaluate. This goes back to point #1. Set goals and make sure to measure and evaluate those goals at the conclusion of the promotion. Use the results towards the future planning of events and how the success can be improved next time.

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5. Be Patient. Results will not happen overnight. In fact, changes implemented today might not yield results for days, months or even years in advance. The idea is to stick to the plan and use the tips mentioned here to plan into the future.

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One, two, three…you get the picture.

When you’re in customer service, whether it is in a casino or other type of business, you always want your customers to love you. And there are many  ways that you can ensure a long and lasting relationship with your customers. Here are a few tips on how to make your customers fall in love with you (and by you, I mean your company, by no means do we want crazy love affairs running rampant in the business):

Learn their name! This is one of the easiest ways to attract and keep a customer. When I used to deal blackjack, it was required that whenever a dealer was leaving the table, they must introduce all the players by first name to the incoming dealer, and so on and so on. Well, it just so happens that I now work in Events for the same casino that I was a dealer at, and that simple exercise allowed me to remember and know so many customer names. Someone will walk up to me that I remember from my dealing days, or even someone who plays in a lot of events but keeps a low profile, and I will address them by name and they are so surprised and impressed that I remember who they are. It’s easy, free and should be at the top of your training list to tell your employees to remember people’s names.

Make eye contact: Nothing says good customer service like eye contact. There is nothing worse than a customer walking up to an employee when the employee is buried in a computer screen. I even find myself guilty of this sometimes. Tell your employees to take the time to look up from what they’re doing and acknowledge the customer in front of them. The customer will greatly appreciate the gesture.

Make the customer feel good about their visit: This is especially true for a casino guest. They don’t want to leave with a negative feeling about being at your property. They likely are leaving with a few less dollars in their pocket and they definintely don’t need you adding to the negativity with a bad attitude or poor customer service.

Give them the benefit of the doubt: Ever heard that saying, “the customer is always right?” Well that’s garbage. They are NOT always right, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat them as such. There is no glory in proving a customer wrong about something. Most of the time, all they want is some acknowledgment that something went wrong and that you will do what you can to fix it. The object is not to win the argument. Hold your tongue and make them feel that their concerns are actually being addressed.

The word is “YES”: When you get a request, you should do everything in your power to be able to say yes. Now of course this will not always be the case, as some customers can request ridiculous things. But NO should not be your first response. Say something like “I’ll see what I can do” or “That’s a great suggestion, I’ll look into it.” Then, the next time you see them, follow up on the request. This will let them know you actually value their opinion and most importantly their business.

There are many ways to make a customer “love” you, and these are only a few ways. What are some ways you make the customer fall in love?

About Me

This blog is devoted to the gaming industry news and information - keeping you up to date on the happenings in the gaming world. My personal expertise lies in event planning and entertainment in casinos.

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