25 Years Quietly Setting The Gold Standard In Loyalty: Five Things I’ll Bet You Didn’t Know About GHS

DEFINING CHARACTERISTICS OF A WORLD CLASS LOYALTY SYSTEM

The challenge in writing about someone you have known and worked with for more than 20 years is to avoid droning on like a bad self-help book and to deliver the help without the fluff. I trust you will find this feature as relevant as the company I’m going to tell you about.

I first worked with Gary Kortz, founder and president of Gaming Hospitality Solutions (GHS), in 1997. I was working in a casino marketing capacity at Mohegan Sun, and GHS was breaking down technology barriers to enable Mohegan to compete aggressively in the Foxwoods-dominated market. We were creating marketing programs that had never been considered, and GHS was creating tools that expanded the possibilities while simplifying the entire process. Since then, I’ve watched Gary grow GHS and perfect a new paradigm in loyalty-marketing tools.

And yet today, GHS moves quietly behind the scenes, unknown to many, altering the fundamental definition and mechanics of loyalty-marketing in casinos, cruise lines and convenience store operations. I am here to let you in on a secret gem that has been changing the definition of the loyalty experience for your customers – or possibly your competitors’ customers – while continuing to innovate and embrace new technology paradigms and the shifting demands that come with new generations.

About The Company – Gaming Hospitality Solutions (GHS)

GHS remains true to plan: deliver superior applications, focus on marketing automation and offer management and loyalty enablement. Since its founding in 1993, the ideas and requirements have grown, and the GHS LEEP™ suite of products has evolved to become a system-agnostic toolkit for the business. GHS LEEP™ is a mature, open platform that enables operators to create and automate loyalty-marketing programs to satisfy today’s on-demand, experience-driven consumer.

GHS LEEP™ functions across the enterprise, enabling offers for any services or products you provide and servicing customers through any feasible point of engagement whether point of sale, casino system, hotel, gas pump, kiosk, mobility or web portal, just to name a few.

GHS has expanded its practices over the past two decades to include cruise lines and gas station convenience stores with open APIs to facilitate nearly any end-user touchpoint, system or service. It has refined its technology to enable expression of offers and programs to patrons through the array of services, devices and channels available in today’s complex and media-rich world of the modern, integrated resort. All this has been achieved while maintaining simplicity for the marketer, so they can concentrate on the customer experience and the desired outcomes. Customer loyalty is a complex discipline, but it separates the winners from the losers.

LOYALTY – No Single Definition

Ask any number of marketing executives to define loyalty, and you will get an equal number of definitions – and for good reason. Each business has specific challenges and strategies to address them. But, the purpose and the mission remain similar across industries – to attract and acquire new customers, to engage and excite and to grow and foster through a nurturing and rewarding relationship – all with the intention of retaining customers, gaining repeat business and increasing participation in your wide variety of offerings. In short, the goal is to continuously improve the emotional and financial relationship with your customers to achieve your ever-evolving business objectives.

You understand your market, and you have a plan to execute. Do you have access to the tools to enhance customer experience and support your team while reaching the right customer with product or service offerings at the appropriate time, place and price?

CONTEMPLATING THE CASINO AND INTEGRATED RESORT BUSINESS

Loyalty marketing is at the heart of brand building. Each component of your business – casino, hotel, restaurant, bar, golf club or showroom – provides an opportunity to deliver entertainment, excitement, relaxation and fantasy, linking your brand to those special memories. How are you managing this guest interaction?

For the VIP guest, you provide a host – a personalized concierge to help craft and personalize their experience. Here, your loyalty program is personal and human. Each executive choice is a moment of truth. But a host isn’t a universal option for all.

Enter loyalty marketing, offer management and communications. Historically steeped in manual and analog processes, today this discipline relies heavily on information technology, data and awareness of behavior. Fortunately, technology moves rapidly, and our options are far greater than 15 years ago. Unfortunately, however, consumer technology is moving much faster than our enterprise infrastructure. And the tools, data and communications options to service our on-demand customer base are complex, often distributed and varied in maturity and standardization.

Technology can be an enabler, but equally true, it can sometimes be limiting.

TECHNOLOGY IN THE CASINO & INTERGRATED RESORT

Technology in all its forms has become as necessary as the sound, lights, HVAC and décor which bring our buildings to life. There may be a place for the technology-vacant business, but it certainly isn’t in casino, cruise or hospitality in the 21st century.

Let’s break this technology into two buckets. First, we have process-defining technologies that necessarily and beneficially define key workflows and maintain conformity in the business. Systems like accounting, HR, payroll, gaming, compliance and security are good examples. The business seeks simplicity and requires accuracy. These technologies define and control very essential processes.

But loyalty-marketing technologies sit in a very different bucket. Businesses define their goals and strategies to project the brand and attract customers. The right technologies facilitate and enable flexibility and creativity in the realization of these objectives. But, is this really happening in your world? Or, are you limited by technology, or possibly by what you didn’t even know was possible?

GHS LEEP™ is a platform designed to bridge the gap between the business and the wide assortment of transactional systems, CRMs, affinity systems and customer touchpoints. It’s a tool chest for the business that provides the flexibility, visibility, precision and automation necessary to convert your business strategies into living, loyalty-marketing programs.

Frictionless Customer Experience (FCX)

FCX might best be defined as the evolving set of industry principles and practices that pursue the continuous exposure of the appropriate products to a patron at the most appropriate moment in their experience, while facilitating seamless consumption via the most appropriate channel for that customer’s journey. It is getting a lot of attention as the battle for customers rage on in the globally inter-connected, consumer domain.

GHS believes “Fluid Customer Experience” is a more appropriate term. What’s the difference? Remember back to high school science class, fluid isn’t frictionless. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. But in the realm of customer experience, there is a stickiness that is sought – a stickiness to your brand, your property, your venues and your offerings. Ideally, we want the customer to feel a sense of simplicity and flow through their experience as your guest – loyal to your brand – whether on site, en route or planning their next visit.

Imagine that a patron is visiting a kiosk, passing a way-finder, checking in at the hotel, playing their favorite slot or table game, ordering dinner, buying gasoline or simply passing by your property. What would it be like if each of those moments of truth was automatically programmed to embrace your guest? To inform them? To extend new offers – customized in real time, based on that very transaction size, time or location? And what would it be like to interpret those behaviors in real time and automatically push new and customized offers to upsell, cross-sell or motivate a return – without human intervention? Well, it’s not a dream. In fact, it’s in practice. Dynamic creation of precision offers, targeted and customized to the individuals, easily consumed and enhancing loyalty – automatically and in real time. This is “Fluid Customer Experience.” This is GHS LEEP™.

You are the operator. You define your brand. You should be able to craft and guide the customer experience, the offers and the use of your resources with knowledge gained from real-time monitoring, analyzing, adjusting and influencing future outcomes. And, you should be able to make those adjustments to better the guest experience while leveraging available capacity, products of greatest interest and other specific business objectives, dynamically. More importantly, shouldn’t your technology be intelligent enough to do much of this hard work for you?

For a quarter century, GHS has delivered FCX and transcribed loyalty into actionable processes, systems and programs across the casino, cruise, convenience store and hospitality markets. GHS continues creating the technology framework and tools to remove the handcuffs and enable operators to define and implement “loyalty” as they see it, as they require it and as they can imagine it.

The stage has been set. Now, let’s take a dive into those five things you probably don’t know about GHS.

GHS LEEP™ – “Loyalty Enablement” Defined

GHS LEEP™ comprises the end-to-end framework of middleware, applications, communications, data translation and interface protocols that facilitate the creation and delivery of loyalty, offer management, marketing automation and affinity card services for your entire business.

Whether a small property, an enterprise of distributed resorts or a fleet of cruise ships, GHS LEEP™ services them all. And, it can leverage and expand upon your existing investment in systems, CRM and programs.

“GHS LEEP™ is the implementation of FCX for Casino, Hospitality, Cruise and Convenience Store operations.”

Goal: Craft a marketing strategy improving brand loyalty, based on guest behavior, while driving incremental revenue.

Requirement: a business system-agnostic tool to monitor, correlate, transact and create in real time from any source to any endpoint. Enter GHS LEEP™.

GHS LEEP™ – A mature suite of applications integrating transactional systems, correlating enterprise data sources and facilitating dynamic marketing programs to implement your flavor of loyalty. It embodies 25 years of technology refinement and input from GHS customers and partners – a broad base of creative marketing, technology and business minds.

How exactly does one achieve “fluid customer experience?” And what makes GHS LEEP™ the FCX platform for your business?

Answer: The right foundation.

MATURE, ROBUST INTEGRATION FRAMEWORK

For the business, integrations are the necessary connectors that enable the operator to effectively deliver the broad set of services required in today’s complex hospitality environment. For the IT professional, integrations and interfaces have historically been the ever-necessary bane of their existence.

Technology evolves. RS-232 gives way to TCP/IP. Systems consolidate. Maturing web methods give way to Service Oriented Architecture which matured into Enterprise Service Bus architectures. All strive to simplify the exchange of information and ultimately, the business.

As a CEO, GM, CFO or the head of marketing, you are likely far less concerned with “how” these interfaces work than you are with “what” you can do and how efficiently you can achieve your objectives.

For more than two decades, GHS has been integrating the major, industry transactional systems to deliver a wholistic correlation engine for real-time decision making in its marketing and offer management application suite. GHS LEEP™ is the bridge to customer-facing transactional systems like casino, point of sale, kiosk, fuel dispenser and wash systems for the casino resort, convenience store or cruise ships at sea. The GHS LEEP™ integration framework provides the stability, flexibility, openness and maturity to service all of these.

REACH (Engaging Your Guest whomever, wherever, whenever, on whatever you or your guest might choose)

So, we have the integration, and we have the situational knowledge. We can correlate and make decisions in real time. But, how do we reach the customer? How do we engage, issue, inform, authorize, redeem, analyze and react only to repeat this again in real time with more refined considerations to our customers?

There are the obvious touchpoints in use today – point of sale, kiosks, gaming devices or even way-finders. But, as noted earlier, consumer technology moves rapidly, and the business must adapt quickly to engage the technology-tethered guest in a way most meaningful for their experience. Mail evolved to email, portals to kiosks, SMS to apps – and it won’t stop with phones, watches and automobiles.

GHS leverages its LEEP™-connected partners, an open API and a continued focus on integration to facilitate those moments of truth wherever your business requires and through devices and channels your customers prefer.

Today, GHS is reaching guests through point of sale, mobility, kiosks and fuel pumps, signage and way-finders, hotel systems and state-room TVs – just to name a few. The touchpoints grow every day, while GHS continues to employ the latest methods to enable the next wave of technology.

Ultimately, the FCX requires the seamless expression of your brand in whatever form of offer, benefit, feature or media you choose. GHS LEEP™ has been designed to service that need.

LEEP™ PRECISION

LEEP™ Precision refers to four core aspects of the GHS LEEP™ client and the GHS LEEP™ Core.

We’ve discussed FCX, and we’ve reviewed the necessary underpinnings of the GHS LEEP™ Integration Framework, systems integration and reach.

But, the creation, execution, real-time delivery and redemption require an intelligent toolset that can leverage the transactional knowledge necessary to convert your creative strategies into living LEEP™ programs.

  1. Precision in definition
    The GHS LEEP™ Client facilitates the creation of nearly unlimited, simple-to-logically-complex packages, offers and programs. These definitions can leverage nearly any aspect of your operating domain, including properties or ships, locations or profit centers, product groups or categories – even individual SKUs of products and services.

    Definitions can use percentage discounts or dollar amounts and can leverage value buckets in your gaming system and buckets or groups as defined and managed in GHS LEEP™.

    Definitions allow you to define tier benefits, or custom group benefits for employees or tribal members, executives or vendors. The options are nearly limitless and only gated by your own creativity.

  1. Precision in qualification
    For any described offer, package or program, one may establish qualifying actions. There may be qualifying venues, products, groups or minimum quantity or dollar of purchase.

    But, it can extend well beyond this. Qualification might be in the form of the time of day or day in the week. Qualification might be tied to the number of visits this week or an appropriate amount of casino play. When, what and how an offer or package is issued, qualified or available for redemption is something GHS believes essential to afford the flexibility and creativity required by operators and marketers in today’s competitive world.

  2. Precision in delivery
    To facilitate all of this, the offers must be delivered. The question is, where do you deliver them and when. GHS LEEP™ facilitates the electronic delivery of your offers to the point of most reasonable consumption, whether an inquiry at point of sale, verbose set of options on checkout to choose the best offer available, offers on a mobile app or at the kiosk, a printed coupon from the loyalty desk, highlighted outlets on the way-finder or offers and purchase options on a state-room TV. Availability of information for inquiry, delivery and redemption at the appropriate point of engagement becomes even more important as more comprehensive sets of offers are being dynamically created.
  3. Precision in analysis
    Of paramount importance is the living information and knowledge of behavior. GHS LEEP™ maintains enterprise-wide transactional awareness of the patrons’ loyalty transactions in real time. So, what does this mean for you as the operator?

    First, it supports the ability to create dynamic and automated offers, which will be discussed momentarily. Also, it provides to you, the operator, the ability to manage the experience and evolve offers in real time to achieve desired outcomes.

LEEP™ AUTOMATION

LEEP™ Automation refers to two comprehensive concepts within GHS LEEP™ Offer Management.

  1. Automate in Qualification
    As described in the “precision-qualification” section – real time is an essential characteristic of FCX. Understanding that these qualifications may not be static, GHS LEEP™ facilitates the automated issuance of new offers once qualification criteria (purchase, swipe, play, value, quantity) are met by the patron. This is a fundamental LEEP™ process that facilitates automation in the FCX, as predetermined behaviors can now be rewarded with new and dynamically configured benefits.
  2. Automation and Linking
    Even more important is the concept of linked offers. A LEEP™ Link provides the operator the ability to link new offers to predetermined behaviors, thresholds or attributes. Through LEEP™ Links and continuous strings of such offers, a marketer can cross-sell, upsell and bounce-back multiple offers to keep the guest engaged and promote return visits.

    All of this, when enabled across the enterprise, provides the operator a set of tools for crafting the promotional, marketing and loyalty programs required to project your whole brand and keep your customers engaged.

    In summary, GHS is a software company steeped in a quarter century of experience in industry software, marketing, casino and hospitality technology. GHS provides to the industry a mature set of tools that integrate your enterprise and provide automated and flexible programming of your loyalty-marketing initiatives so you can best service your customers and project your brand.

    The possibilities are only limited by your loyalty-marketing imagination.

    Request a private introduction to GHS LEEP™ during the G2E 2018 by visiting us at https://www.GHSLoyalty.com/LEEPG2E. You may also register for our white paper on “LEEP”ing Ahead” by visiting https://www.GHSLoyalty.com/LEEPin.

Q: Who is Gary Kortz? Tell me about your upbringing or your family?

A: My family arrived in Colorado in the early 1870s and by 1898 was in the retail business in Denver. Growing up in Denver, many of my friends and their families owned businesses – retail, restaurants, development, etc. From a very early age, I thought about running and building a business. While attending college in Denver, I worked as the fourth generation in the family retail jewelry business. I was fortunate to have all four grandparents alive until my late 20s. I worked during college, and those contacts provided me with opportunities in finance, accounting and in the entertainment and hospitality industry.

Q: Being an entrepreneur certainly comes with risk. What inspired you to start your own company and not work for someone else?

 
A: I had some experience during college working for a large company, Safeway grocery stores. It was a very different experience than the family business, and confirmed that I wanted to be my own boss. With both a grandfather and father in retail business, I determined I would try something else. This led me back to entertainment and hospitality and eventually, gaming.

Q: Why this business (GHS)? And why this industry (G&L?)
 
A: In 1985, I was a partner in a business that included real estate, hospitality and entertainment. In the early 1990s, limited-stakes gaming was coming to Colorado, and that partnership developed into two Colorado casinos. Shortly thereafter, I had the opportunity to sell my interests. While running the Colorado properties, I came to the conclusion that an opportunity existed for a product(s) to improve marketing processes and information in the casino vertical. In 1993, I formed GHS to develop those products.

Q: How has GHS evolved over the years?

 A: In the early years, GHS developed a large number of products beyond our marketing applications. More than 18 years ago, we made a conscious decision to focus on the core marketing products and to expand beyond the gaming vertical to hospitality and cruise. In our products, technology is constantly evolving and improving. GHS has leveraged that change to deliver features, functionality, performance and integration in our products.

Q: GHS has changed a lot in 25 years. Where do you see it in the next five years?
 
A: Our focus will continue to be product improvement with concentration in three areas:

  • Improve customers’ user experience by simplifying use and reducing costs.
  • Leverage technology to increase functionality integration.
  • Extend or reach into additional vertical markets.

Q: Can you describe your approach to continuously improving your products?
 
A: From a technology perspective, GHS participates in several standards groups, and we support those standards that extend integration and functionality. From a functional perspective, we work both internally and with our customers to prioritize product enhancements.

Q: In speaking to people who have worked with you, they describe an almost manic need for excellence. Why do you think that is?
 
A: It’s very likely genetic. It is a characteristic that has been associated with my grandfather, father, uncle and brother. I believe it starts with an approach that for any problem, failure is not an option, combined with willingness to believe that you can always do better.

Q: Where do you see the gaming industry going in the next few years?
 
A: Like all business, competitive pressures will identify the best operators. Success is often attributed to disruption or disruptors, which is really today’s buzzword for competitive advantage. Building and maintaining customer loyalty efficiently is advantage No. 1.
 
Q: Give me one word to summarize what GHS is to you?
 
A: FUN.