Maximizing Non-Gaming Casino Revenue

By Mark Tapling President & CEO, InfoGenesis | October 28, 2008

Non-gaming casino revenue was once considered an oxymoron. In today's industry though, it has become a vital part of most casino operator financial reports. In fact, some top players in the industry have indicated non-gaming revenue accounts for 50% or more of total revenue.

Less visible to many in the hospitality industry is the important role that technology can play in maximizing non-gaming revenue. Certainly some of the standbys of technology value like flexibility, scalability, and reliability contribute. But they represent a small part of a bigger story. It is the guest-centric and integrated nature of present and future technology that will allow non-gaming casino revenue to reach its potential.

What's Happened in the Industry

As casino resorts and hotels have matured, evolved and segued into the luxury segment, non-gaming aspects of these operations have taken on stand-alone significance. Hotel rooms in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and other gaming destinations were once "comped" for many players or available at reduced rates. These rooms now command some of the highest average daily rates in the industry.

There have been changes in other areas as well. Investments in celebrity chefs and high-end restaurants to achieve a competitive edge have consequently demanded more than "respectable" bottom line results. Retail operations-far from the t-shirt and sundry shops of days past-carry designer names and, in some cases, achieve shopping mall size. World-class spa operations and entertainment venues are attractions in and of themselves as casinos have turned into full-fledged destination resorts. On the global stage, an explosion of gaming resorts in Macau and other exotic international locations have underscored the size and complexity of this rapidly expanding industry.

Of course there's a pattern here-a steady march towards better services, creating a destination for guests who increasingly participate in their own travel planning, and retaining guest dollars rather than seeing them go somewhere else. It's been an exciting and natural evolution. But by no means is the industry done changing. The next evolution will be a little more subtle in established markets, but no less important.

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Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.