Most experts in the casino field walk into a casino and see a slot floor. VizExplorer’s Jordan Whitten sees several.
As the company’s director of industry consulting, Whitten’s goal is to help the casino side be more profitable. To do so, he marries two of the company’s top products – floorViz and campaignViz – to create data that allows casinos to better identify slot players’ habits.
“People like to go into a casino that they feel is built for them, and we want operators to realize that players all have similar behavior patterns. So then let’s build what we at VizExplorer call a ‘mini-casino,”’ Whitten said. “When they go to that zone, it’s comfortable, the game experience is right… it feels like ‘this is for you.’ You identify it as your area.”
High-limit areas are obvious points of emphasis, but slot floors can go beyond that, says Whitten, who was a slot manager in three gaming jurisdictions before joining VizExplorer, a leading provider of operational intelligence solutions for casinos.
“People ask, ‘What are the best games for the VIPs?’ So… if we had the data, why wouldn’t we (ask that question) for all the floor and all the players?” he says. “We help them understand that that is a possibility. We take a section of the floor and try it, and three to six months later the floor is rebuilt.”
Whitten, who has been with VizExplorer for about three years, was among the speakers at the “Big Data: Using Numbers to Increase Revenues & Loyalty” session Thursday at the Southern Gaming Summit in Biloxi, Miss. Brian Wyman, principal for Innovation Analytics, moderated the session, which included Angie Dobney, vice president of casino & gaming sales for Rainmaker and Daniel Lofton, director of casino services for Duetto.
It was a homecoming for Whitten, who began his career as a slot operator at Harlow’s on the River, before managing slot floors in Reno and Black Hawk, Colorado. The session was created in part to offer casinos a framework for data analysis. Casinos have shown expertise at gathering information via players’ clubs, but most need improvement in interpreting that data.
“I’m just a casino guy trying to help casinos get better,” Whitten said.
One method for doing that is getting operators away from what he calls “old school metrics” and going beyond win per unit (WPU). Data such as a player’s preference for game speed and volatility also provides information about a patron, he notes.
“If (a person) likes game ‘X’, what does that tell me about that person?” he asks. By using the company’s floorViz and campaignViz products, a platform is established for the marketing and slot sides of a property to work together.
“We want them to be able to say, ‘We bought this new product, and these are a hundred people, five hundred people, in our database that we think are going to love these games, based on what they’ve played before,’” he said.
Such product differentiation is especially vital in the competitive South, where the market has remained flat and many properties are still recovering from the 2008 recession.
“How do you differentiate yourself?” Whitten asks.
For example, players who play Aristocrat’s relatively new Lightning Link – which is faring well nationwide – might be apt to sit down at similar games, one would reason. But Whitten says the data they’ve analyzed shows that most Lightning Link fans often seek an almost completely different experience when taking a break.
“We found in some of our markets, they go to games that aren’t progressive or bonus-driven games. When we do deep dives, their second game is an old-style game. On the surface, you wouldn’t think or believe that.”
He compares VizExplorer’s use of data to the way Spotify recommends music based on what a person has played in the past.
“They point out bands you may like. Our software helps casinos can do the same thing with slot games, and not just on slots but on overall marketing, too. (Players) respond to a food offer or some other enticement, that keeps them happy, and that drives up the bottom line,” Whitten said.
Meanwhile, VizExplorer has a new CEO in place, which comes only about a week after the San Diego-based company announced it would be receiving financial backing from Morgan Stanley. He’s Ron Frankel, describe in the news release as a technology veteran. Former CEO Ian Bonner will assume the role of executive chairman of the board and will work with Frankel.