What an Idea. A Crazy, Mad, Wonderful Idea!
A little background on this property: Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino Hotel, located in Eagle Pass, Texas, is proudly owned by the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas. It is one of only two casinos in the entire state. The property is three hours outside of San Antonio with no other large cities/towns nearby, right on the Mexican border. The hotel is managed by the Westin Group, yet both management teams do all they can to make sure that separation is as invisible as possible. They are great partners!
So many businesses claim they give excellent guest service or desire to teach their team to be better at guest service. But it seems the definition isn’t clear … most of it involves “being friendly” and, when that is the definition, the business will continue to fall back into “the work,” not service. The team at Kickapoo Lucky Eagle (both the Casino and the Hotel) decided they wanted to be better, to do better.
Making a Difference to Their Guests: The MAD Program
To see a team truly desire to make a difference, to focus on great guest service, knowing that by creating a service culture it will not only make their property a great place to work, but it will also help increase loyalty, thereby increasing revenue, is just one of the reasons that I love what I do. For Kickapoo Lucky Eagle to do that, create a culture that is guest-focused, or as they call it, Guest-centric, they needed a plan … a program that encompassed everything they wanted to accomplish.
Under the leadership of General Manager Scott Eldredge, they brought together members of their management team to take part in designing a program and mapping out their objectives. First, they created a mission that would become their focus:
“We honor each other, our Guests, community, and the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas with integrity. We strive for innovative teamwork and results driven by a vision of excellence to create a fun, Guest-centric experience.”
Make A Difference
Along with their mission, they had a goal: To Make A Difference With Great Guest Service!
A strategy to achieve their mission and goal: To Empower Every Team Member To Make A Difference With Great Guest Service!
They call their program MAD, which stands for Make A Difference. And in less than a year, they have continued to build their program to truly Make A Difference to not only their guests visiting Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino Hotel, but each team member, the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas, and the surrounding community!
This all seemed like a HUGE task, almost overwhelming, but a quote from Alice in Wonderland summed up their desire:
Alice: This is impossible!
The Mad Hatter: Only if you believe it is …
And they believe it is possible! Theirs isn’t an easy road either. The team at Kickapoo Lucky Eagle have some interesting opportunities. They were not going to let that deter them! For well over 50% of their team members, English is a second language. They have some who only speak Spanish, as well as some who speak only Kickapoo Traditional. Their tribal language is alive and well! This was also true for those guests who visited their property. So they needed to make sure that everything they did within their MAD program had to be communicated correctly in order to include everyone, both internally and externally.
I believe they are doing an awesome job of doing just that! They incorporate MAD in EVERYTHING! I think the best part is that they have the complete support of their entire Executive Team and Tribal Council. That support is really the foundation of their success so far. The MAD training team, Sandra Maldonado, Monica Cantu and Keenon Valdez, continue to lead the MADness and ensure the consistency of the program. So many of their team members really dove in and had a real passion to Make A Difference. For the Security team, it became a heartfelt endeavor. It has been a wonderful thing to witness!
The Program Was Designed by a Team of Not Only Executives, but Managers and Supervisors
Once the initial install (training every single team member!) of the MAD program was completed, this team transitioned to motivation. Because they realized that for anything to succeed, you must constantly work at it. So they became the MAD League! Their focus is to not only motivate, but inspire. They help organize community projects, team projects, and keep the MAD engines rolling.
Recently, they participated in the Veterans Day parade. They decorated one of their shuttles and everyone wore their MAD T-shirts. They also participated in the Feast of Sharing, a yearlong commitment by H-E-B (the Texas grocery store chain) to fight hunger, which is an annual event in Eagle Pass, where they volunteered to help serve a Thanksgiving meal all decked out in their MAD polos. Again, staying true to their mission.
Another favorite part of the MAD program is the MAD Lab. This is a computer room at the casino open to all team members where they can focus on self-improvement. Team members can take several online courses to expand their personal skills, such as improving their reading aptitude, language capabilities (such as learning English or any other language they may be inclined to learn), and office skills (such as learning Outlook, Excel and Word).
Management also identified those within their organization who are passionate about their MAD program and called upon them to take a lead in perpetuating the MAD Great Guest Service Standards (a.k.a. GGSS or GG’s). This team of fearless leaders truly believe in the program and range from all aspects of the organization (frontline team members, supervisors, back of house, etc.) and have a VERY important title: the Agents of MAD!
Their objective is to search the property far and wide, finding those teammates who are exhibiting MAD Guest Service (in other words, catch them doing something good) and reward them on the spot! The Agents are well-trained and are available to assist should anyone have any questions.
Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Continues to Come Up With New Ways to Support Their Team, Community and the Tribe
Many of their activities the guests can see and get involved with as well. For instance, during football season, they had special jerseys made up with the MAD logo that team members wear. This begins the conversation about the program. The guests will then help the team be accountable to the promises of the MAD program. They also have numerous contests and celebrations to reward those who are great examples of the program. A favorite was a contest where those who answered MAD related questions correctly were entered into a drawing for Walmart gift cards. There were 20 winners and it was done right before school started to help with school supplies.
They are currently planning a MAD Welcome Day. Where the MAD trainers, MAD League and Agents stand at the Team Member Entrance with tacos, muffins and cookies during the day and say, “Hi, welcome to work, have a taco and a great day!” as team members are coming in. What a great way to start the day! Who isn’t happier with a taco?!
The team at Kickapoo Lucky Eagle is truly dedicated to their mission and continue to Make A Difference With Great Guest Service! Have they all gone MAD? I’m afraid so; they are entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret … all the best people are!