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Better Customer Understanding

Carlo Musio, Slot Manager for Groupe Tranchant, talks with Damien Connelly 

Mr. Musio is the Slot Manager for Groupe Tranchant. He is responsible for the 1,986 gaming machines the Groupe operates in its 17 casinos; 16 of which are in France. Introducing new products and developing new concepts to make sure Groupe Tranchant maintains its market position as the number three casino operator in France is the major focus for Mr. Musio, who reports directly to the company’s founder, Georges Tranchant.

“Groupe Tranchant is currently developing a new project to better understand how many visitors we have to our casinos, why people are visiting our casinos, and how much they spend during each visit. This information will be broken down for each casino,” commented Mr. Musio.

The reason for this customer research is very simple—French casinos have seen both the number of customers and revenues decline since 2007. Overall from 1 November 2012 to 31 October 2013 (2012-2013), the French casino industry reported gross gaming revenues down 4.3% to €2.2 billion compared to 2011-12, according to the 2014 European Casino Industry Report from the European Casino Association. As Mr. Musio noted, “A major challenge we have had to deal with during recent years has been the smoking ban, which has seen gross gaming revenues decline across all of France. This has resulted in fewer people visiting French casinos.” According to ECA data, customer visits have fallen from 35 million in 2010-2011 to just under 32 million in 2012-13, which represents a decline in visitor numbers of -8.7% over this three year period.

With fewer people visiting casinos, it becomes ever more important to better understand customers; existing and new. A very important part of Mr. Musio’s role as Slot Manager for the Groupe is to introduce new products and new ways of doing business so Groupe Tranchant remains relevant to its customers.

“We have used technology as well as innovative, new products to try to offset the revenue decline seen in the French casino industry. The ability provided by IGT’s sbX to change the game theme quickly, based on the library of games we have, is an example of the type of product we are using to grow our gaming revenues. IGT’s sbX allows us to rapidly change game theme so we can offer our customers what they want when they want it. This gives us a huge advantage to better meet the needs of our customers.”

I met with Mr. Musio when recently visiting Groupe Tranchant’s flagship Seven Casino in Amnéville. Groupe Tranchant has gaming machines from IGT, Novomatic, Aristocrat, WMS, Bally, and Spielo, as well as from Konami, EGT, and Ainsworth. In September 2013, Groupe Tranchant was the first casino in the world to introduce Iron Man from WMS. This global première shows how ambitious and fast-moving Groupe Tranchant’s plans are. Mr. Musio is especially interested in game themes and cabinets where Groupe Tranchant can have exclusivity for a period of time; for its Avatar (IGT) introduction, Groupe Tranchant had a three-month exclusivity in France. It has continued its three month exclusivity on slots with the introduction of Goliath machines from Konami and the Cat 4 Cash progressive jackpot from EGT—both distributed into Groupe Tranchant by its sister SFM company, Tranchant Gaming Technology (TGT) / Caro Développement.

The reason for using new game themes and cabinets is to both attract new customers, as well as to freshen up the floor to keep existing customers surprised and entertained. “Game themes such as Avatar and Cat 4 Cash allow us to increase our communication activities to attract new customers. Such high profile brands can attract customers from 18 to 90 years old…this surprised us as we initially thought these games would attract only younger people.”

Carlo Musio and Bertrand Meyer

Groupe Tranchant also uses table games to attract customers, as Mr. Musio noted: “Previously in table games, we only had Roulette and Blackjack for a long time. We now have new games like la Bataille, Punto Banco, Texas Hold ’Em poker, and electronic roulette. This gives us a wider range of table games to offer to our customers. The benefit to Groupe Tranchant, and other French casinos, is we can use this wider range of table games to improve the ambiance of our casinos for our customers.” During my visit to Seven Casino Amnéville, I saw how the average customer playing a table game was a lot younger than the average gaming machine player.

However, the focus is most definitely on machines rather than tables. This is logical when you consider in fiscal year 2012-13, 90% of all French casinos’ gaming revenues came from machines, with only 10% of gaming revenues coming from table games. For Groupe Tranchant, this split is more exaggerated as it earns approximately 96% of its gaming revenues from machines.

Maintaining and updating its machine park is, therefore, of critical importance to Groupe Tranchant—which is why Mr. Musio’s role is so important. While he has to take risks to try new games and new concepts, those risks have to be balanced against the commercial needs of the group. Players don't walk into casinos and bet all their money on a single spin…and so Mr. Musio is not going to place all his bets on a single game theme, a single cabinet type, or a single change.

“We will make progressive changes to our machine park. We will probably introduce two or four new machines per casino, and have something like 30 or 40 machines being introduced across all Groupe Tranchant casinos for each new game theme so we can make a big communication surrounding the launch of these new games.”

“We introduce new game themes such as Wizard of Oz, Lord of the Rings, Avatar and Cat 4 Cash, and new cabinets such as Goliath, to attract new customers, and to attract a younger generation in general to visit our casinos. Surrounding these launches with events, we can make a bigger communication about it, and interact more with our customers. We have seen that these new game themes are attractive to all generations, and are not just for the younger generation. These new machines help improve the ambiance in our casinos. Using Seven Casino Amnéville as one example, we usually attract an average of 2,500 people each day. When we run an event such as the launch of a new game like Avatar or Cat 4 Cash, we can increase this to 4,000 people each day.”

This focus on promoting new game themes and cabinets is itself a relatively new concept to Groupe Tranchant. “Before, we used to just place new machines in our slot areas. Now we make a big event surrounding machine launches and place these machines in special areas with a lot of promotional support. This helps us maximise the impact of launching new machines and game themes into our casinos.”

The way in which Groupe Tranchant chooses its new games has also changed, as Mr. Musio noted: “With our new project to understand our customers in greater detail, we are moving away from Slot Managers deciding which machines and game themes to place on our floor to a more analytical approach. This will allow Groupe Tranchant to improve our machine mix so we offer our customers what they want.”

The customer and public exposure each casino gets from introducing new game themes is also supported directly by the slot manufacturers; for example, Avatar images were on each casino’s website as well as being on the main Groupe Tranchant website surrounding Avatar’s launch. Additionally, the impact for the launch of Avatar was maximised by launching in 11 of Groupe Tranchant’s 16 French casinos all on the same day (8 May 2014).

The ability to maximise the impact of new machines is helped by the short lines of communication and trust given to managers such as Mr. Musio: “At Groupe Tranchant, as a privately owned company, we have an open structure with short lines of communication that allows us to operate and make changes quickly. On top of this, a lot of trust is given by the Tranchant family to managers such as myself, which allows me to act quickly when opportunities come up.”

The ability for Mr. Musio to act quickly is increasingly important as our industry sees changes happening more and more quickly—driven not only by new technologies being introduced, but also by significant changes in customer behaviour. A major element of Mr. Musio’s job with Groupe Tranchant is “Innovation…so we can stay one step ahead of our competition. Linked to this is exclusivity of our new machines; for example, we have a 3-month exclusivity on Cat 4 Cash in France. Customer service is also very important. In addition, we are investing a lot of resource to improve the understanding we have of our customers. This improved understanding will allow us to offer our customers something they do not get in other casinos, with the end objective that Groupe Tranchant improves our market position.”

I am looking forward to seeing the changes Groupe Tranchant casinos make based on the better customer understanding it will create from its new project.