Casino Host: Your Best Form of Customer Service
by Eric Booker
according to their amount of play. Working with these guide-
I n the casino business, the casino that offers the best customer
service wins! Of course, customer service is utilized by and
important to every department in the casino, but nowhere is
lines within the casino industry is not completely cut and dry
and requires a business sense to ensure good customer service.
it more critical than within the casino host department. They For example, let’s say that your comp criteria is four hours
have the most in-depth and consistent relationship with your of play per day and an ADT of $300 for the ﬁne dining restau-
key players and as a result it is imperative that their customer rant, but your customer has been playing three hours per
service skills are top notch. day at an ADT of $250. Would you tell this guest that they
Of course, customer service standards of professionalism, cannot go into the ﬁne dining restaurant because they have fallen
clear communication and sharp appearance still apply, so what short of play or should a comp be provided? While the
makes customer service different for a casino host? Unlike numbers are important, you may want to consider other
traditional businesses where goods and services are more factors as well, such as their past history. Do they regularly play
concrete and implicit, casinos sell entertainment, and a at a $300 ADT level? Have they been overcomped?
completely unique form of entertainment at that, and as such the Take the guest in the above example. Let’s say they consis-
guidelines for how guests are received, entertained and accom- tently play more than they’re comped so even though the play
modated extends far beyond traditional customer service standards. on this particular visit isn’t quite as high as the guidelines
suggest, since the casino consistently makes money on this guest
Communicating Guidelines to the Guests it would make business sense in this case to comp the guest.
One part of ensuring a positive customer experience may Taking a look at the other side, not comping the guest in
include explaining comping guidelines with your guests. This this scenario could be interpreted that the casino is “tight” and
is not to say that this will be important to all guests, but some could ultimately damage the long term relationship that keeps
will want to understand the rules by which they are playing. For this guest returning. Understanding other factors may lead to
example, a guest that normally plays at the top of the limit and the conclusion that occasionally the guidelines can be ﬂexed a
is comped accordingly comes to the casino for the weekend but little bit to maintain the business and loyalty of a good and
spends more time outside the casino than normal and isn’t consistent player.
hitting the same numbers they normally do. When the guest
asks for a comp at the steakhouse, it may be appropriate to explain Accommodation Alternatives
the minimum play required. That then allows the guest to What do you do when the numbers just don’t add up? If after
decide whether they want to play some more to meet the reviewing a customer’s play, history, and comps you determine
criteria or if it’s okay to pay for this particular dinner. Either way, that a comp to the steakhouse doesn’t make business sense to the
most guests will respect both that there is a tangible standard casino, what do you do? Keeping in mind that they now under-
as well as the host’s ability to communicate directly with them. stand the comping guidelines, good customer service means com-
Additionally, this open conversation will provide the opportu- ing up with alternatives so they still feel accommodated.
nity for improved communication in the future as well. If the play doesn’t warrant the best restaurant on property,
Of course, in order to be effective in this objective it will be you might be able to interest them in a different restaurant. Or
critical that all members of the host department both under- perhaps you can get even more creative. This is where know-
stand and are able to effectively communicate these standards ing your guests will be of a strong beneﬁt and you might be
to the guests. A misrepresentation of comping standards could able to provide something to them that is of high emotional
easily be mis-interpreted and potentially escalate into a value in their eyes, but may not be of high cost to the casino.
negative perception of the casino. This potential is most Regardless, the casino is entertainment so even if your proposal
easily minimized by ensuring that the host staff is able to has to be of a lesser value than the guest’s original request, pro-
ﬂuidly and comfortably discuss these details with key players. viding alternatives is better than denying a request altogether.
Consider practicing and role playing within the team to make
sure the information is communicated easily and naturally. Dealing with Upset Customers
Another aspect of customer service in a casino that is very
Working with Comping Guidelines different from other industries is upset guests. That’s not to say
It should probably go without saying that every casino that other industries don’t have to deal with upset guests but the
should have a well deﬁned comping policy. It should be clear nature of why and how these guests are dealt with is very
to the host staff when a guest should be comped and how much different. Consider a customer that has purchased physical
54 Indian Gaming October 2008
goods such as a couch or suit. A displeasure with the item can be Guests may be upset because their team lost, or because they
easily resolved by substituting a replacement. Not so with the casino spent more than they should, or they had a ﬁght with their
industry. If a customer is upset it is almost always because they have signiﬁcant other. But the more upset a guest is, the harder it
lost money and unlike a couch, it’s not going to be replaced. So will be for them to be rational or to convey what they want.
the solution isn’t as simple as traditional customer service. The host’s personal experience with the guest combined with
Of course, comping may relieve some of that emotion, but both a personal and academic knowledge of their personality
when that’s not enough the host must be able to use exceptional will simplify how to manage the individual in that situation.
people skills to defuse the situation and keep the guest
Certainly, traditional customer service skills such as listen-
coming back to the casino. Now, any customer service job will
ing and empathizing still apply, and the host staff should be
list “exceptional people skills” as a requirement, but consider encouraged to continue to hone and develop those skills. But
taking “being good with people” a step further and expand your they must also be able to go above and beyond standard
skills to an in-depth understanding of the various personality types. customer service in order to maintain relationships with key
Understanding personality types is an asset that will serve players. They must posses a mature business sense, posturing
hosts well in understanding the driving forces behind human and understanding to approach difﬁcult and unique situations
action and reaction. Hosts that have been in the industry for with poise and authority. In the casino, customer service goes
a while may have learned these tendencies through experience, beyond a friendly face and a smile. It is an intuitive understand-
but all hosts can beneﬁt from an improved understanding of ing of each guest’s needs and working to make sure that they
basic personalities. There are many books, theories and know that your casino is the one that will work to keep their
metaphors for describing different types of people and most patronage. p
have some element of truth to them. The more you learn, the
better you’ll be able to quickly adapt to and understand each Eric Booker is Director of Player Development for Snoqualmie
of your guests and what is important to them, which is Casino. He can be reached by calling (425) 999-0903 or email
especially critical when they’re upset. email@example.com.
Your players will be lined up for more.
Drive midweek business with TrafﬁcBuilder TM
turnkey direct mail promotions.
TrafﬁcBuilderTM is the proven direct mail promotions program that will keep your
guests coming back for more. Exciting, interactive promotions like scratchers,
pull-tabs and decoders push midweek business to new highs. We’ve already
done the creative and complicated logistics.
VDP Direct works with casinos nationwide, producing fun direct mail that brings
in serious business. Let VDP Direct show you a catalog of proven, cost-effective
TrafficBuilder promotions that will keep your midweek business lined up.
Call Doug Abbott at 858-492-5100, ext. 229 and get started today!
October 2008 Indian Gaming 55