Attributes of a Successful Casino Host
by Eric Booker he Casino Host position is one of the most versatile in the casino environment. Hosts are called upon to provide a variety of different functions and, for some, the job description can seem somewhat vague. However, there are certain personality traits that lend themselves well to the position, certain qualifications that general managers or directors of casino marketing should look for in both existing and potential host staff. Business Orientation The Casino Host performs many functions throughout a shift, from guest communication, to staff liaison, to managing the business; the list of functions are both varied and long. However, regardless of which action is being performed, the central goal is to always increase revenue generation for the casino. Professional, business-savvy staff will understand this as the central goal and as a result will be more likely to keep all of the other functions in perspective. For example, good communication is a critically important skill set, but it’s not the goal. Business-minded individuals will always keep the revenue goal in the forefront. With each interaction, for each comp request, the question that will always be foremost in their mind is: does this bring the casino money? Even with defined comping policies and procedures, even with established guidelines, Casino Hosts will frequently be called upon to use good judgment, business and common sense. Hiring staff who have business experience, exposure or understanding will serve you well in how they approach their daily activities. Professional Appearance For most, it should go without saying that part of being professional is appearing professional. Even so, it bears repetition that the manner in which the host staff is dressed subtly sets the groundwork for subsequent interactions. Consider that even a sleek, modern Armani suit cannot give off the right impression if it’s wrinkled. For the same reason, a simple suit will carry a lot of weight with the appropriate pressing and appropriate accessories. Of course, what is deemed “professional” and “acceptable” will vary, perhaps even from property to property. While a suit and tie may be required on the Las Vegas Strip, that might be perceived as pretentious in a small mid-Western town. However, the basics are the same regardless of where you are. Clothing that is clean, neat and pressed begins a very subtle and positive communication that your guests will respond to. 50 Indian Gaming
Whether your host staff wears their own suits or whether you provide a uniform, both the style and manner of dress communicates volumes about the individual and therefore your casino. Pay attention to how both your staff and your interviewees dress because the person that pays attention to the little details of their appearance will also pay attention to the details of your guests’ desires and comfort. How the host staff dresses also determines how they will be treated by both guests and staff alike. If the dress code for executives in the casino is to wear a suit and tie, then the host staff should wear a suit and tie as well. This sets the tone that the host staff are part of the executive team, capable of making management decisions and taking care of the guest to the best of the casino’s ability. Guests will respond to these non-verbal cues and respond accordingly. Communication Another critical factor to consider in the evaluation of existing or potential staff is their ability to communicate. In fact, if you had to select one ability as the most critical of all – this would be it. The Casino Host’s entire day is communication; whether it is with guests, executive staff or team members, a Casino Host’s success in this role is directly tied to his or her ability to communicate effectively. In other words, the shy need not apply. Since communication is the majority of the position, the most effective individuals will be the ones for whom communication comes naturally. That’s not to say that verbal communication is the only critical factor, although it is probably the most important. Effective hosts will use every method of communication available, from phone conversations and one-on-one interaction to written emails and letters. So, although it is critical to be comfortable speaking with people in person, it’s also important to be able to write clearly as well. Goal-Oriented Another attribute to look for in a Casino Host is the ability to make and obtain their goals. Every player development department should have performance standards/quotas for placing telemarketing calls, sending letters, etc. Maintaining these numbers on a monthly basis is a critical component to keeping in touch with your existing customer base, as well as generating new customers into the casino. Like many things, the actual numbers will vary from location to location, but a monthly quota should be established. Just like with communication, you will find that someone who tends to be more outgoing and more social will tend to
succeed more quickly in this role, especially when it comes to generating new business. It is easy for any one with a customer service background to manage and assist existing customers, however, for some, cold-calling potential customers is not so easy. Since these new revenue streams are critical to the growth of the casino, finding individuals for whom this presents opportunity, instead of challenge, will ensure you have the right personality types on the job. Customer Sign-Ups Continuing with the theme of the outgoing Casino Host, another important aspect of casino marketing programs is obtaining customer sign-ups. Of course, there are some customers who ask to be put on promotional mailing lists, but that’s not enough. The Casino Host has to be able to ask for, and get, these sign-ups. As much as the Casino Host is the ambassador of the casino, they are also the sales representatives. You want individuals who will be aggressive about obtaining addresses for your database, but without creating a “salesy” demeanor that could be off-putting to your guests. Identifying individuals who are both assertive as well as personable will help achieve that balance you’re looking for. Plus, going back to the “gift of gab,” the better your host staff is able to be casual and comfortable with your guests, the easier and more natural it will feel when they exchange information for staying in touch. Outgoing Personality As you’ve most likely already figured out for yourself, the personality type that most exhibits all of these personality traits is the extrovert. The extrovert will walk up to complete strangers and find a topic of conversation that results in a lifelong business relationship. The extrovert will find creative ways for marketing new people into the casino and keep them coming back through their winning attitude and engaging personality. The extrovert will approach each shift as if your casino is the greatest place on earth to be and your guests will feel and absorb that positivity as well. Accountability What might not be as innate to a true Type-A personality is the issue of accountability. If you’re watching your revenue then you’re also watching your comping reports and that means maintaining accountability for individuals with comping privileges. However, accountability doesn’t end there. As managers, Casino Hosts are also accountable for
each decision made and each guest interaction. They should be readily able to provide proof of the quantity as well as quality of their telemarketing efforts, invitations and conversations, as well as demonstrating the accomplishment of any of the other goals or quotas established for them. Not to mention, your Casino Host(s) may also be your executor in charge during the late night shift and as such may perform other executive decisions for which they may have to substantiate. These and other situations will also provide an assertive Casino Host with opportunities to take accountability to the next level by communicating with upper management regarding policies and procedures that are, or are not, working well, guest suggestions and opportunities for improving the casino experience. Embrace Training Finally, good Casino Hosts embrace opportunities to improve themselves and their skill sets. As straightforward as the position may seem, there are always opportunities for improvement. From improving interpersonal communications, to developing team leadership skills, to learning more about casino business practices, the assertive host will seek out these opportunities and harness them into a successful casino career. Having well-trained Casino Hosts can be the difference between maintaining your existing clientele and dramatically expanding both your client base and your revenues as a result. Host staffs that have received proper training will be more proficient in their job functions, more adept in handling challenging situations and have better posturing/interaction with key clientele. Casino Hosts that work with their innate traits will be more successful in their ventures and with the above characteristics, your host staff will be able to improve your casino through: • Increased patronage via relationships with key clientele • Improved revenues through effective promotions of marketing programs • More professional, articulate and effective host staff Taking a little extra time to make sure that you are hiring and retaining staff with these characteristics will not only save you time and hassle in the long run, but more importantly will dramatically and positively affect casino revenues as well. p Eric Booker is Principal Owner of Global Gaming Advisors. He can be reached by calling (702) 481-1977 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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