Change or Be Changed

by Ed Meyer

posted on January 8, 2013 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, | 3 Comments >>

When I walk into the track I shake hands and greet players at least ten times before I reach my seat. That was a great part of my job, and I loved it… Most think I still work there, and that is just fine. For over twenty years I have been doing a labor of love. Most upper management missed the boat. You can send mailers and offers, but a little shoe leather can go a long way getting to know your most valuable assets; your players…

Here are some ideas from the average Joe to the bigger punters. Some have a cost attached, and most are just common sense. So when you read about horse players they may be some of the easiest gamers to accommodate.

1. Lower Takeout

Real players know when value is to be had. I am not trying to take away the profits eked out by the tracks, but dropping some exotic takeouts may be a great start. How about using them on your slower days? Lowering gimmicks from 20% down to 17 % can make the payoff worth the venture. Tracks can have special takeouts on Saturday cards when the marquee races run, and help keep the focus on your product. Give it a thought…

2. Stretch your legs

Handicappers love it when management makes the trek around to greet them when they come in the doors. They don’t want to be bothered when the races are running, and you can keep the surveys in your desk. They won’t fill them out at that time. Be “Johnny on the spot,” and they will feel they have a contact person. Burn that shoe leather, and this will go miles.

3. From the top down

Take your top 100 players, and invite them to a “special” VIP affair. All they have to do is come out to the track, and be treated to a buffet. There are free programs, and track merchandise to give away. Also, this is a great place to give away a $50 betting voucher. You can do this over three days such as a Friday- Saturday – Sunday. This will allow you to re-connect and have a management presence. You can toss in your surveys now, and if they fill one out completely they are registered for a special ticket drawing. Allow them to bring a guest, and spread the good cheer.

For players from 101 – 200, they will be mailed a special offer to come out and receive a mystery voucher from $10 – $100. All they have to do is stop by the customer booth, and update their information. When they come out, give them a $10 food / beverage voucher. Once you feed them, you will keep them.

Punters who range from 201 – 500 will receive a mailer to come out to the customer booth to update info, and receive a “free program” and a $5 betting voucher. At the the end of the weekend, you have cleaned up your data base, re-connected with players, and have created aspirational value for players to move to the next level. Don’t just send a mailer and make it easy. Invite them out, and your redemption will be higher. Make it special, and have all hands on deck to glad hand the people who play your salary.

4. Recognize Players

In every casino around the world, there is an area where they have pictures of the “big winners.” Dedicate a “Wall of Fame” for players who would like to have their likeness posted. Many will want to float under the radar, but some will love it. You can’t please everybody, but if you walk in and see the winner’s wall it has you thinking in the back of your mind about getting your mug on that wall.

5. Utilize Key Players

If you have a big-time track announcer, or a good TV handicapper. Have them address some larger groups. Nothing makes people feel close to the action than allowing them to get the “secret info” from the professionals. Players love to feel they are a part of the game, and let them get close to the key people. Take your players up to see a race called, or have backside tours before the races. How about a breakfast at the works with top trainers and riders to address the group? They can talk track bias, or how the track is playing on certain days. Let the people get close, and they will have a stake in the action. The most coveted seats at the baseball game are behind home plate. Let them get closer. Take them behind the “magic curtain” to see what makes the sport great.

Keep the mailers that may or may not get redeemed. Invite the patrons out for a special event. What sounds better to you? I want to meet some folks, and let my voice be heard. Communication is key, and it won’t be completed by having an intern or pretty people roaming around shaking hands with your biggest players. Send out race track people. Folks who know what a bad beat is all about, and how sweet it can be to make the big score. No disrespect to the intern crew, but they can tag along and let the players know there is a division of people dedicated to serving their needs. Make them feel special, and you will start seeing a difference in player retention. Or, you can keep doing what you always have been, and hope for a new outcome.