Jordan Whitten

The Data of Guest Experience

As slot manufacturers work to identify and deliver winning slot cabinets and slot themes to operators, the number of options a casino operator has from both a purchase and setup standpoint has grown dramatically in the last few years. Every year, casino operators have dozens of potential new cabinets and hundreds of new themes to choose from, and the reality is that capital for these decisions is heavily scrutinized. Internally, casino operators must also balance their available capital against all the changes they need to make, knowing full well that they will not be able to make every needed change. This environment creates a situation where operators must turn to deeper and more strategic-level data to truly assess their best opportunities.

Underlying all these opportunities is the question of how to improve the guest experience while also improving the casino’s profitability. By looking at advanced slot data and targeted player data, an operator can start to understand why some games work on their floor while others don’t. This gives reason to consider what strategies they can employ to aid struggling games and identify new games that have the best chance of success on the floor.

Traditional slot metrics, including Theo Win per Day, Occupancy/Utilization, Average Bet and Theo Hold Percent, are critical to helping operators understand their games. The majority of casino operators use them in various combinations to identify games for removal, relocation or reconfiguration. While these metrics provide a good basis for analysis, they fail to capture a key element of slot performance: guest experience. Traditional metrics focus on outcome and leave out the critical component of how that outcome was reached.

Using data available in the casino’s slot system, an operator can add the following metric to their analysis of slots: game speed. This metric is a key building block to understanding how games truly play and how that play translates back to the guest and their experience.

For this article, game speed is the average number of games played per minute by the guests of a casino. The calculation for this can be a little different depending on which slot system a casino uses, but all systems have enough data to reach a suitable calculation. Game speed matters because it helps an operator understand the play mechanics of individual games. Here’s an example.

There are two penny games on a floor, each with a 12 percent Theo Hold and an average bet of $0.80. Without game speed, traditional metrics would lead an operator to believe that these games are essentially the same to guests, especially if the games have similar play mechanisms. With the addition of game speed, however, the operator can see that Game A plays at seven spins per minute while Game B plays at nine spins per minute. Using an hour of play as a unit of measure, the operator will realize that Game A is making $40 per hour, while Game B is making $52 per hour in Theo. The addition of the game speed metric makes apparent the differences in game performance and highlights how guests also may perceive these games differently. Simply, Game A will need higher occupancy levels to match Game B because of its lower costs.

This idea helps to reinforce why some games perform and others do not. Using the same example, Game A makes $200 in Theo per day, while Game B makes $250 in Theo per day using traditional metrics. Without a deeper analysis of game performance, an operator may assume that Game A is simply less popular and therefore less profitable, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. If Game A and Game B have the same occupancy and average bet, then based on the above values, Game A will always underperform compared to Game B.

Understanding that a rise in either occupancy or average bet is the only way to improve this game gives the operator a few more options. The operator can find a better location to help Game A meet that higher occupancy need or consider a new bet configuration to drive a higher average bet. Employing these two tactics should also enable deeper investigation into player responsiveness to the changes.

Game speed also allows an operator to identify which games are playing to guests’ preference. By looking for trends between game speeds and Theo Win values, they can start to ascertain which types of games their guests are seeking. In some markets, guests may look for faster, higher-cost games, while in more entertainment-focused casinos, guests tend to want slower, lower-cost games that give them a longer time on the device. This understanding gives operators an entirely new set of analytics to consider.

As casino gaming evolves, so will the field of slot analysis. As operators in increasingly competitive markets, the ability to dive deeper into player behavior and game performance analysis becomes even more important. While there are several important metrics that should be tracked for their ability to drive profitability, game speed is a relatively easy and highly impactful place to start.

Based in Las Vegas, Jordan Whitten is the Director of Industry Consulting for VizExplorer. In this capacity, he oversees all aspects of VizExplorer’s consulting engagements from the sales cycle through successful completion of all engagement objectives. Jordan also serves as the Industry Product Owner for floorViz, the company’s slot floor optimization solution. He is the advanced-level trainer and subject-matter expert for floorViz having worked with over 70 properties worldwide ranging in size from less than 300 to over 5,000 slot machines. Jordan spent his formative gaming years in the slot operations departments of casinos in Colorado, Nevada, and Mississippi. It is there where he developed his interest and expertise in slot analytics, location optimization and strategic game mix decision-making. Contact Jordan.