How to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Your Hosts’ Time on the Phone

Business Call

When is using trained callers the right decision?

Do your hosts have quotas for the number of players to engage? Do they make reservations for their players? Do they follow up on VIP special event invites? Should they be doing all of these things?

I recently chatted with Steve Browne, who has been a senior resource in Raving’s Leadership and Player Development teams since 1999. He has created and installed more customized player development and sales training programs than any individual or company serving the gaming industry. To put it simply, he knows player development inside and out.

I asked him, “Steve, many people have been confused about the host’s role in selling over the phone. How much time should hosts spend on the phone calling players, and are there certain tasks that they should leave to other team members?”

He answered, “I guess the best answer I can give you is … it depends. There really is no one-size-fits-all metric for how much time a host should spend on the phone. On the phone doing what? Making sales calls? Retention calls? Reactivation calls? Answering inbound requests? Making outbound efforts?”

He continued, “It really depends on several factors, including:

  • The host’s sales goals and targets,
  • The make-up of their book of business,
  • The position model they work under that balances the four strategies of acquisition, retention, growth and reactivation, and
  • The demands and opportunities inherent in the overall database.”

“Until you can apply a strategic direction to each one of those variables, the answer will continue to be … it depends. But one thing I can assure you of is that limiting hosts to the role of making a high volume of telemarketing sales calls to low-value unknown players is a terrible use of your hosts’ time. Those types of sales calls are best left to VIP Reps and call centers that are experienced at making generic but personable calls to drive business across all player value segments.”

Here are some questions to ask yourself to help evaluate your host team’s calling efforts:

What tools do your hosts have when they are calling guests?

There are a variety of tools and resources that a PD Manager could provide to the host team to make them more effective:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software
  • Point and click telephone dialers that can increase your host team’s outbound calling efficiencies, and that can provide tracking and reporting capabilities.
  • Consider hands-free headsets. This might sound silly, but the headset is essential to increasing efficiencies when dialing.

What is your host team’s contact/engagement rate?

The average engagement rate for outbound calling is around 35%. Depending on what your property considers “player engagement,” that number may fluctuate. Here are a few criteria that you might consider:

  • Spoke to the guest
  • Offered a promotion to the guest
  • The guest requested a call back

What is your host team’s response rate?

The response rate is the percentage of engaged players who respond to offers or promotions by coming back on-property. The average response rate for outbound calling is around 13%.

Are your hosts actively on task with their assignments?

The industry standard for outbound calling is to make around 15-20 calls per hour. This may be an aggressive goal for your team if you don’t have the tools mentioned above, but it is attainable. Measuring calls per hour will help you assess whether your team is on task. Without utilizing a dialing software, it can be very difficult to get to 20 or more dials per hour.

How many players do your hosts engage with per hour? Per day?

If your hosts are contacting 15 people per hour at a 35% engagement rate, it would be a realistic goal to engage with five players per hour. In a typical 8-hour day, it would be realistic for a host to engage with 40 players per day and 200 per week.

Is my host team handling everything related to a positive guest experience? Should some of their tasks be handled by other departments?

There are a lot of generic calls from guests or other departments within the property that could be handled by other trained callers. When referring to hours of operation or current promotions for the average guest, a well-trained caller can field these calls while passing along the higher valued players to the host or VIP team.

Am I asking too much from my hosts?

Using the metrics and standards outlined above, you can set realistic, attainable goals for the number of calls to make each day, the number of players to engage with, and the response. You don’t want to miss out on opportunities because your hosts are stressed or fatigued.

Back to the original question: trained callers or your hosts?

Consider utilizing trained callers to handle your everyday promotional call questions, monthly promotional details, event invitations, as well as Event RSVP. Having these callers reach out to new sign-ups and declining players, as well as inviting inactive players with a personalized invitation to come back, is a good option.

If you don’t know the answers to some of these questions, or you struggle to know where to begin, you aren’t alone. I recently spoke to a casino executive who expressed concerns with each of these areas. At the end of the conversation, the overwhelming desire was to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of the host team, but also the entire player development staff. It was clear that despite everyone’s best efforts to stay on top of the calling while still providing a great guest experience, a lot of things were failing or completely out of whack!

My comment to him was that he was not alone; every casino executive has experienced the same frustrations of trying to find the right balance. Sometimes every property or department needs a good gut check.

Going back to my good friend Steve’s comment about hosts spending too much time on the phone: “I guess the best answer I can give you is … it depends. There really is no one-size-fits-all metric for how much time a host should spend on the phone.”

What I can tell you is that there are ways to evaluate it. Some strategies need a few tweaks, others may need a complete overhaul or even a complete rebuild. Whatever your need is, Steve and I are always around and available. Feel free to reach out; we’d love to chat!

Daniel Wood