Mining data is key to marketing

Oct 30, 2006 4:44 AM

Well, kiss my grits, there’s a new girl in town and it ain’t Alice. Colorado is not just the jurisdiction of nearly a quarter score of casinos; it is also home for multiple vendors to the casino industry.

One company that has broached the barriers of entry into the field of gaming and hopes to take its place among the leading third-party database management and analytic firms is Dovetail.

Located in Highlands Ranch, a hop, skip and a jump down the highway from downtown Denver, Dovetail has developed a screw-on casino marketing and analysis package by leveraging the database analytic tools crafted by working with such prestigious clients as the Smithsonian Institute and AOL Canada.

The salient difference with what Dovetail has to offer (as compared to most other third-party vendors) is that they provide off-property database hosting, which includes data maintenance and updates, to support (and ensure the integrity of the data for) casino marketing direct mail programs and other elements of CRM.

Jeff Barela, vice president of business development for Dovetail, provided a demonstration of the gaming marketing data application built initially to work with the Santa Ana Casino in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Utilizing a data dictionary in which terminology may be standardized (i.e., a trip duration or average daily theoretical may be customized to a property in terms of data and meta-data), the means of pulling and analyzing data is simplified.

A major benefit to the Dovetail system is its intuitive operation with simple drop down menus to select variables to establish the architecture of a marketing campaign. With the delineation of player groups by visitation patterns, play levels, recent trip, methods of contacts, and interest codes among many other factors, algorithms assist in the definition of base and test player segments to which a casino may choose to market.

Once a campaign has been implemented, various key performance indicators (KPI) including return on investment (ROI) may be ascertained to determine relative success of a program. For example, did bus group "A" provide an adequate return of revenue streams as measured with gaming and non-gaming activity to justify chartering a bus?

Examining whether email or traditional mail was more effective in reaching or providing a "touch point" to a person, or whether a guest responded, with less (contact) fatigue, to a test offer in varying formats assists the direct marketing/database manager with providing essential information to upper management for strategic operating decisions.

According to Barela, the ideal gaming clients for Dovetail are medium sized, independent operations that maintain databases of 50,000 to 5,000,000 members. With a cheesecloth filter/funneling system (my relative laymen description), all data sources for these small- and mid-scale properties may be integrated into the Dovetail system.

The information could include but is not exclusive to gaming (SDS, CMP, Acres) hotel (LMS), food & beverage (Micros, Infogenesis), and alternative, ancillary revenue sources such as spa, gift shop, and/or entertainment venue.

The combination of all the data sources, mixed, swirled, and strained provides casino operators with a more lucid picture of a customer’s true worth (or guest equity).

Of course, Barela warns that the data coming into the system needs to avoid the GIGO effect (Garbage In-Garbage Out) by following logic rules that assure validity and reliability.

While Dovetail does not offer consulting services, there are consultants in the market (myself included) that do provide a triage like service of defining data via a type of database audit that defines and standardizes source data so that once it does enter a system like Dovetail’s, the purest information for analysis will result. For further information on Dovetail please see their web-site at:

(Founded in 1996, Yarborough Planning, LLC partners with select clientele to better understand and address business process issues. Core competencies include providing reliable and valid research, strategic / analytic marketing, and accountable Customer Relationship Management (CRM) development and implementation. David Paster is accepting new clients and may be reached at (702) 813-5062 or [email protected])