How Direct Mail and PD are different!

How Direct Mail and PD are different!

Here’s a topic that comes up a lot when I’m talking to new clients! How does the segmentation used in Direct Mail apply to Player Development? I don’t think it does.

Let’s say that the Direct Mail program at your Property uses these rules to classify players each month:

New – guests are New for the first month.
Active – played in the last six months.
Pending – no trip for six months
Inactive – no trip for twelve months.

(Each month, the Direct Mail team will pull a list of players, decide if they are Active/Pending/Inactive, and use the frequency of play and ADT to determine which offers to send out in the monthly mailer.)

We are often asked to configure our PowerHost software to match this same criteria but my argument is that these time periods are far too long for Player Development. Your coded players should be your best players and they should be playing frequently. Waiting six months without a trip for them to be considered ‘Pending’ is far too long in PD. A Host should be worried if they have not shown up for a month!

(I do realize this varies based on your location and market but the principle remains the same. PD works on much shorter time-frames than Direct Mail.)

I like to explain it this way…  Direct Mail is like a deep-sea trawler throwing a net over the side and catching several hundred thousand fish, big and small. Whereas Player Development is like fly-fishing. The expert fly fisher stands in a shallow river and closely watches the behavior of the big fish and notices what each fish likes and dislikes and realizes that a certain fish has not appeared when it should. PD should know when someone is NOT there and take action.

So, I recommend that Casinos keep the overall framework from Direct Mail, because we don’t need to create confusion, but add some extra classifications for PD.

Take a look at this diagram…










The column labeled Direct Mail shows that their segments are Active (1-6 months), Pending (7-12 months) and Inactive at 12+ months. The column labeled Player Development breaks this down into shorter time frames.

After a month without a trip, an Active player is considered Active-Due Back.
After 3 months without a trip, an Active player is considered Active – Fading.

The first three months without play are critical for PD because there is still an opportunity to place phone calls and find out what is happening. Is the guest unhappy with a service issue or gone to the competition? The Host can take immediate action!

We don’t want coded players slipping into Pending. (This is what Amy Hudson calls Pre-emptive Reactivation. Don’t let the player slip away, lose the loyalty, and then have to be re-activated.)

If the guest turns ‘Pending’, with no trip for 6 months, then the relationship between the Host and the player will have disappeared. Unless! The Host knows the guest is a snow-bird or is dealing with an illness in the family. A strategic Host will have found this out within 30 days and will be staying in touch.

In the picture, you see the Pending segment broken down into Pending and Pending Inactive. After 9 months without play, the guest is in the deep red zone and likely to fall out of the coded list.

I don’t understand why any coded list has Inactive players? If the PD program has been taking a strategic approach for a year or more then there won’t be.

I would love to see a manager have the courage to set this goal “Host will not allow any guest to go Pending without a recorded reason e.g. sickness or snowbird.” And have an associated financial penalty for every time that it happens.

With this goal in place, we would definitely all track our players that start to disappear (Active Fading) and try to get them back in!  And if we find a solid reason such as ‘This person lost their job’ or ‘This person has moved across country’ then we can lobby the PD Manager to decode the guest and clean up the coding list.

I doubt that I will someone be that aggressive… but it does make smile when I see a goal to reactivate Inactive players. (Because they should not be allowed to go Inactive! It’s like rewarding someone for catching the runaway horse instead of rewarding them for keeping the barn door closed.)  I’d rather see some retention goals such as ‘Contact 95% of coded players each quarter’ and ‘Drive 1+ trip from 80% of coded players during the quarter’.

Don’t leave the barn door open!

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Author: Matthew Evans