Customer Loyalty: Win or Lose, it's the Experience that Gamblers Value Most

By Jonathan Barsky Partner, Market Metrix | June 03, 2012

Gambling has existed since ancient times with evidence suggesting that even the earliest caveman was a gambler. Many believe that gambling is taking risks, which is simply an extension of human behavior. But at its heart, gambling is a rather paradoxical behavior because.. most gamblers lose. The pure randomness of gaming -- slots, roulette, craps -- makes no sense unless you believe in luck.

So why do people continue to play when the overwhelming likelihood is that they will lose money? It is widely known that 'the house always wins'. Whether you are gambling on horseracing, blackjack or roulette, the odds will ensure a steady profit for the casino.

Why people gamble

Sociologists believe that people play because it's a social activity. Psychologists say that gambling is a response to feeling lucky or being in a good mood. Economists believe that betting is about people wanting more money, but not understanding they have virtually no chance of actually winning.

When individuals are asked in questionnaires about their reasons for gambling, the answer "to win" or "to win money" is often the most common response. This is natural, since money is the tangible reward of gambling, which makes money "the dominant language of gambling"(i). But everyone with any experience of gambling knows that the motives for participating vary considerably between games and gamblers.


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Despite the growth of the gaming industry in the past 10 years, and the recent challenges of the recession, most gaming research has neglected the primary business aspects of gaming. To help address this gap, we examined several fundamental questions about why people gamble and what makes them return and tell others about their experience. We identified two hypotheses for this research:

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. 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.