Focus on Raving: At 25, Raving maintains focus on what’s next for gaming

May 26, 2023 8:00 AM
  • Mark Gruetze, CDC Gaming Reports
May 26, 2023 8:00 AM
  • Mark Gruetze, CDC Gaming Reports

Early in her career, Deana Scott tried to persuade her general manager to add a data analyst to the casino marketing staff. She overcame the GM’s reluctance by noting that the position also would provide graphics part time.

While the new hire wound up doing far more work with analytics, the focus of the debate illustrates how the casino industry has evolved over the past quarter-century.

“I just don’t know how any organization today can operate without research and analytics,” said Scott, now CEO and co-owner of Raving Consulting, which is marking 25 years of advising tribal and commercial casino operators in the United States, Canada, Asia, and other international markets. “We’ve really beefed that up over the last six years.”

Join the Celebration
Raving Consulting will celebrate its 25-year milestone in mid-July at the Casino Marketing & Technology Conference, being held for the first time in Raving’s hometown of Reno. Attendees, clients and friends are invited to join the celebration. Those unable to attend the in-person conference may leave a message for the Raving team through this link.

Scott, who started her gaming career at The Mill Casino, Hotel and RV Park in Coos Bay, Ore., was one of Raving’s first guest service design clients. Dennis Conrad, now Raving’s president emeritus and a contributor to CDC Gaming Reports, founded it in 1998 as a casino marketing company. After several years as a client, Scott became a Raving consultant; in 2017 she and her husband, Brady Scott, an enrolled Coquille Tribal member, bought the company. Most of Raving’s clients are tribal operators.

A Raving mantra is “Once a client, always a friend,” Deana Scott said. “We truly think of ourselves as a partner along the journey, whether it is the business or the individual. Even if you’re not buying something from us, if we can be a resource for you or we can cheer you on from the sidelines, we have that culture.”

Raving is known for its data analysis and customer-friendly approach to casino management, as well as for its annual conferences, including Raving NEXT, which focuses on tribal gaming leadership and strategic operations, the Casino Marketing and Technology Conference, and the Host Player Development Conference. In addition to weekly reports and online videos available through the Raving website, the company owns and produces Tribal Gaming & Hospitality magazine, a quarterly digital publication that Scott helped create to showcase best practices for operators.

“I felt like tribes at one time celebrated the commercial properties as the place to look for best practices,” she said. “And now many of the tribes have the best practices. They’re very innovative. They’re investing in technology and experienced, educated people. Sharing that information makes our industry much, much stronger.”

She expects the industry to deal with numerous changes in the next 10-15 years because of further advances in technology and analytics plus the effects of nationwide legalized sports betting and regulated online gaming. The impact will vary by market, she added.

“It’s not one-size-fits-all. Sometimes we’re very quick at jumping in and saying, ‘Vegas did that, so we’ve got to do this.’ Then a million dollars later, you realize it doesn’t fly where you are.”

In many respects, Scott said, casinos haven’t changed enough.

“I feel like we’re still stumbling over some of the same issues with staffing, which was an issue prior to COVID. Operationally, how do we deliver service? Or how do we make process improvement? We’re still struggling with ways to do that. That means sometimes you have to step back and really re-evaluate. It’s messy and it’s hard work. And sometimes (executives) don’t want to stop and take that step.”

Scott said operators who focus too much on quarterly results can be more susceptible to decisions that aren’t good long-term because their pay depends on the next revenue statement. She contrasted that with the typical approach among tribal operators: How do today’s business decisions impact the next seven generations? “It’s a great way to hold ourselves accountable for some decisions that don’t show profit tomorrow.”

Scott said Raving’s approaches evolve with the casino industry.

“You can’t just open the doors anymore. You have to really understand strategy and numbers – not just graphics,” she said, referring to that long-ago debate with the GM. “If we’re going to be an organization that has value to our clients, we can’t be showing them tactics they should have been using three years ago. We need to be showing them what’s coming and how to be prepared for what’s next.”