I just returned from Phoenix where Stephanie Schoenrock, Bree Smith and I attended the NIGA (National Indian Gaming Association) annual convention. The convention combines a trade show with training and seminars and annual elections for the head positions of the association’s leadership. The number of attendees seemed to be down a little, but considering the economy in certain parts of the country, that seemed to be expected.
This year we took part in the exhibition side of the convention for the first time and had a booth at the trade show. Stephanie and Bree also attended several informative training seminars and came away impressed with the quality of information presented. As was to be expected, we met many people, made a few good contacts and did our best to introduce KK BOLD to a wide range of individuals and businesses. The response we received was very positive. We discussed social media, online marketing and data analysis at every turn. Conversations about heavy competition, ailing economies and government turmoil however were common and profitability concerns and maturing markets seemed to loom larger in people’s minds than I’ve seen in many years.
On the flip side though, the one thing that seems to ring clear about difficult times is they tend to make people and business smarter and more innovative. It forces them to deeply evaluate procedures and programs. It makes them put more value on dynamic, forward thinking individuals and it puts a premium on vendors and suppliers who can help take them to the next level. There is no place for wasted talents, over inflated budgets and marketing that misses the mark. The successful properties are hiring the best talent they can find. They are demanding solutions that produce results and they are hungry to know what the market demands are now and what they will be tomorrow.
For me personally, the most impressive part of the convention was far and away the level of talent of the people I met. From marketing directors to slot managers to data engineers, it is clear that Indian Gaming is attracting and retaining some of the best and brightest. People who are pushing the industry forward with their expectations and raising the bar on quality standards to levels this business has not seen before. KK BOLD has been directly involved in Indian Gaming since 1993 and it is an industry we love and because of the people I left the convention feeling really good about where Indian Gaming is headed and proud to be a part of it.
One last note…the people in the convention business in Phoenix do a great job. From restaurants to hotels (we stayed at the downtown Sheraton) to the convention center itself, we had nothing but positive experiences. Thank you.
LaRoy Kingsley is the President of KK BOLD. He neglected to bring back any souvenirs.