What? You’re still alive? By Dennis Conrad, Conrad on Casino Marketing (and the Casino Customer) January 4, 2022 at 6:45 pm Yep. I’m back. Now I realize that will make some of you CDC Gaming Reports readers happy. Others will say, “Oh no, not that guy.” And more will wonder, who the hell are you and where are you back from? So, for you readers who know me or know of me, indulge me in a little back story. I’m Dennis Conrad and I’ve been in the gaming industry for 47 years. I realize that makes me as likely to be a dinosaur as a wise old gaming observer. I graduated from Stanford in 1974 and fell into the casino business somewhat by chance, when Nevada was the entire industry. My father thought I had died and gone to hell. The industry then had very few college graduates among its executive ranks. I told very few of then I had graduated from Stanford. I didn’t want to risk not being “one of the boys.” I worked on the casino front lines, in the supervisor offices, and eventually in the executive boardrooms. I started out as a keno writer, dealer and bartender. After a decade or so, I was on my way to being a casino marketing director, Gaming Institute director, and corporate vice president. The industry was exploding, and I was lucky to be a part of it. In the final two decades of my career, I founded and ran Raving Consulting Company, which served casinos and gaming companies all over the world, but mainly in the United States and Canada. The majority of our work was for tribal governments and I owe them everything for their trust, loyalty, and friendship. Native America is the reason Raving Consulting Company was so successful and I’m proud that Raving is now a Native-owned company. I sold the consulting company late in 2017 with the goal to semi-retire and work part-time for a select few clients that “get it” and would value my help. My first year, I had three such clients, but was jetting all over the country to work with them — not at all my idea of semi-retirement. I finally settled on working for one over the next year and a half and it’s the best-run casino in the world. More about that in a future column. Then COVID hit in 2020. Since then, I’ve been fully retired, trying to stay safe, and traveling very little. I visited very few gambling operations, but did stay on top of what was happening in gaming through videos, web presentations, and valuable news sources like CDC Gaming Reports. After writing for Casino Journal and its predecessor, Casino Executive, for nearly 20 years, I was forced into writing retirement when Casino Journal closed its doors early in 2020. I don’t think my column or I was the reason for that, but, hey, you never know. So when I was asked by CDC Gaming Reports if I wanted to write a monthly column, I considered it for a New York minute and said, “Yes!” I still think I have something to add about this crazy but wonderful industry. My promise is to try and always be candid and insightful, as well as entertaining and humorous; who wants “just the facts, ma’am”? Not me. I believe I can bring my decades of casino experience — as a frontliner, supervisor, boardroom executive, consulting-company owner, and industry observer — to bear on the critical issues of the day in Casino Land. I especially promise to represent the perspective of the casino customer, without whom none of us would have careers in this industry. My columns will be written in the vein of “I’m Your Customer” and “Stop Doing the Stupid Stuff” to highlight the many times we unintentionally (okay, occasionally it’s intentional) “hurt the ones we love.” The same goes for casino employees, without whom we don’t have those customers or at not least happy ones. I will occasionally write about stories and companies outside gaming, if there is something for us to learn or copy there. I’ll tell stories of service superstars who created magic for their customers. I’ll pay tribute to some of the casino-industry heavyweights who gave so much to our industry, but are probably unknown or underappreciated. I’ll share some industry predictions, give free advice, and highlight what I see are some guiding principles and paths to success for certain segments of the business and those who serve it. I will welcome all your comments and suggestions, even the ones that tell me I’m full of it. Above all, I promise that “Conrad on Casino Marketing (and the Casino Customer)” will stay faithful to the guiding light that I’ve followed for more than three decades and remains just as true today: “Find out what your customers want … then give it to them.” Dennis Conrad is a long time executive consultant who works exclusively with select gaming clients who truly care about being customer and employee focused. He can be reached at Dennis@conradworks.com.