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  1. #1
    GPWA Dan is offline Former Staff Member
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    Default Affiliate Manager Interview Series: Gian Perroni - Fairway Casino Affiliates

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    Fairway Casino focuses on live gaming, with real life blackjack, roulette and baccarat dealers dealing out the games. How popular is live gaming vs rng games? And why did you choose to get involved in the live gaming arena?

    In my opinion, live gaming is the hottest thing in online gaming at this time. It helps casino’s differentiate themselves from their competitors while adding additional products for their customers. Players enjoy the realism, and interaction, and most importantly the trust. I joined Visionary iGaming, the software provider for Fairway Casino, as their SVP Marketing, prior to launching Fairway as I felt that they had the best new product on the market, and were (and are) dedicated to being the best. I have managed poker, bingo and rng casino sites in the past, but the live games provide a much better opportunity to be involved with our customers, and our affiliates, which is my preference.

    Online casinos using random number generators for games have been around for some time, so people have become comfortable with how those games, and rngs, are regulated. How are your live games regulated?

    We all know that not all rng games are regulated as well as they should be, and of course some software providers allow operators to set their own payout percentages. While these sites are certainly in the minority, it has caused general distrust by some players, especially many of the more mature and higher value players. Providing live streamed games in itself is self-regulating – if you can see the action, and know that you are watching in real time (not tape delay), then you can trust the games 100%. All the cards in the deck are there, you can see the ball revolving around the roulette wheel, and the fact that we use professional casino equipment and trained supervised dealers provides additional layers of trust.

    One of my favorite aspects of Fairway Casino is the way the live dealers interact with the players, welcoming them to the game by name, accepting tips with a funky routine and a thank you to the tipper, and even flirting with some of the players. Why do you have this focus on personal attention? And have you found it keeps customers coming back to you?

    The personal interaction with friendly, knowledgeable dealer staff is key to our business. While we demand professionalism at all times in the way they deal the games, we encourage our dealers to be outgoing and interactive. We have also added community chat so that players can enjoy conversations with other players as well as the dealers, both at the same time. And yes, it has fostered a greater loyalty among our players then I have seen at many other operations, and of course this will result in a higher life-time value for the players.

    Fairway Casino clearly has a golf theme to it. For you, what’s the connection between golf and gambling?

    Let me start by saying that I am a terrible golfer. In fact my idea of giving away a free sleeve of golf balls to all our players stemmed from my losing so many of my own, and while searching through the brush, cacti, ant hills, or whatever finding others. My hope is that eventually every egg-carton of balls being sold out of some old man’s trunk has at least one Fairway Casino golf ball in the mix! From a marketing perspective I looked at golf as our “purple cow”; our way to differentiate our brand from the rest of the herd of online casino sites, while targeting a demographic that had many of the characteristics that we looked for; predominantly male, mature, and with disposable income.

    How does marketing a specialty casino site differ from marketing the sportsbook-poker-bingo-casino combination offerings?

    In some ways it is more difficult as you have a narrower audience to speak to, but conversely your marketing becomes easier as you have fewer products to worry about. In my perfect world – and we will get there soon – we would add sports because of our golf theme, and we would develop tournaments that would also appeal to players that enjoy poker and other similar activities. Our group chat, which is pretty unique amongst live gaming sites, already provides some of the enjoyment that community games like poker offer.

    You don't offer any poker, bingo or sports betting. Is it more difficult to attract players without the other offerings? Or do you find it easier attracting players with the just the stand-alone casino?

    With just the casino at this time it helps us focus our acquisition marketing and ongoing promotions to prospects that are casino players, however in my experience most gamblers enjoy more than just one activity. For many that may mean roulette and craps, for example, but for others that will mean blackjack and sports, or video poker and Texas Holdem. Many of the largest and most successful gaming companies have multiple products, but it is not necessary to have them to be successful.

    One way to keep affiliates happy is to pay them on time. What steps has your program taken to ensure that they’ll be paid on time? And when do your payments go out?

    We pay by the 5th of every month, with no minimum payments. Our process is easy as our reporting is always up to date, and 99% of payments are through Moneybookers or Neteller, meaning there is no reason for any delay. Frankly I don’t understand programs that pay on the 15th or later – the money belongs to the affiliate and unless they are earning interest on it, give it to them as quickly as possible!

    What are the three most important attributes an affiliate manager must have in order to be successful?

    1. Knowledge and a passion for their product. It needs to be more than a job.
    2. Availability. Nobody is online 24/7, but quick responses should be the standard, and they show respect to your affiliates.
    3. Flexibility. Affiliates know their traffic better than you do, and you need to work with them on developing promotions and supporting materials that help them be successful.

    Affiliates and affiliate program managers have several things in common. One of them is their e-mail inboxes are always full. How long do you give yourself for responding to e-mail? And what e-mail management tips can you offer?

    Too true! My Outlook and I have a very adversarial relationship; I keep wanting to close it and it keeps telling me I have more mail! While I have a family and like everyone lots of other obligations, I have my emails checked very frequently, and when offline they come to my Blackberry. An acknowledgment of a Skype or email needs to be as fast as possible, even if the full response takes longer.

    How do you manage your “to-do” lists? Do you use any special software to help you out?

    To be honest I have tried just about everything, from ACT! to Basecamp, and lots of others, but have settled on old-fashioned lined pads which are updated on a “To Do” Excel spreadsheet. I think we all engage in a little bit of “squeaky wheel” management, so of course the items that are making the most noise and/or are the most urgent tend to get dealt with first, but I try and review the entire list at least several times a week so that items are not lost forever.

    In your mind, what’s more difficult, attracting players or retaining them? And why?

    In today’s crowded market new player acquisition is the most difficult. You have to keep new prospects in the hopper to grow, and to cover the inevitable attrition of your current base. Retention is still challenging when players are receiving new offers from competitors every day, but strong promotions, regular communication, and of course a great product help!

    How can affiliates help in retaining players?

    The answer is similar to the previous question; get involved in promotions and offers, post our newsletters on your sites and in your forums, and if you haven’t seen anything exciting in a while, ask us! Let us know what is working for you in other programs and we will make it work in ours. Keeping top of mind is the most important thing.

    What distinguishes Fairway Casino Affiliates from other affiliate programs?

    Me! Seriously though, we use strong affiliate reporting software that is kept timely and accurate; we provide fast payments with no minimums and will pay by pretty much any method requested; we are very flexible in our promotions and bonus offers; and as an affiliate myself I totally understand the costs, challenges and goals of the majority of affiliates. This is my business, just like an affiliate has their business, and I understand that to be successful we both have to be successful. Affiliates are a very, very important part of my business.

    What advice do you have for someone just starting in the industry?

    Find a niche. Consider a demographic(s) or psychographic(s) that you feel is not over-targeted, and most importantly, that interests you. If you are a golfer, target your site to golfers. If you are a chess player, work to attract chess players. Talk about what you know, and what drives you, and if you are sincere your peers will support you. Talk to other affiliates online and at conferences. Being an affiliate is not about getting rich quick. The most successful affiliates have all worked very hard for many years to get where they are, and most of them will be happy to share some tips with you if you ask nicely!

    You are a serious veteran of the industry. You’ve worked for DublinBet, Absolute Poker, VueTec and CanAffco to name a few, and you’ve been in the iGaming industry for more than 10 years. How has the industry changed (besides the UIGEA) from the time you started to now? What are the biggest changes? What have been the changes for the worse? And where do you see the industry headed in the next couple of years?

    Thanks for highlighting how old I am getting! Yes, I started in this industry in 1997, and previously had worked in land-based casinos. Gaming online was an “aha” moment for me as it was for many – what a perfect fit! While it was sports to start, which was incredibly exciting, and then casino and bingo, it was certainly the launch of online poker that has had the biggest impact. Not only, (thanks to television), did it eventually have the greatest reach, it introduced many of the most exciting features for online gamblers; tournaments, community chat, and competition between players. The worst things to happen, besides the UIGEA, have included the inevitable closing of sites along with associated player losses, and the thankfully infrequent cheating scandals by casino and poker sites. I mean, c’mon guys!!! As for the future, I think the industry in general is overly excited about U.S. regulation. Yes, in some form it is already happening, but what makes the vast majority of online operators assume that this means they will be licensed to do business there? Overall the industry will continue to grow in numbers and in profitability, but the “new site a day” syndrome will make it increasingly difficult for individual operators to be successful. I envision more consolidations through acquisitions and strategic partnerships as the trend over the next several years.

    People in the online gambling industry have been known to party. What’s your best party story?

    It is interesting how most of these party stories involve midgets and Bodog! And how Becky is always in the middle of them! I have to admit to getting older and ducking out early to play poker most nights, but a couple of great parties stand out; the party at Jokers in Barcelona 2 years ago was pretty wild, and the unofficial lobby party at the Grange St. Pauls at last year’s LAC never ended throughout the entire conference. You know it’s a great conference when people are coming in when it is already light out!

    What’s the best movie food? And why?

    Got to go with the traditional popcorn, hold the petroleum by-product topping. Nobody makes popcorn like movie theatres, and I look forward to it as much as the movie I am going to see!

    What is the last book you read? Did you enjoy it? Why or why not?

    The General’s Daughter by Nelson DeMille. Like all of his books his characters are great; smart, sarcastic and a little rough around the edges, and his stories always make you think a little about worlds other than the one we live in ourselves. Good escapism for sure.

    What is your favorite movie? And why?

    "The Sting." Classic poker movie, with class actors. They just have so much fun pulling off their scams that I can watch it over and over.

    If you had a theme song, what would it be? And why?

    Here for a Good Time – Trooper. Try not to take life too seriously – make sure to savor the enjoyable moments; friends, family, etc. “So have a good time, the sun can’t shine every day.” (Raise a Little Hell may be a close second!)

    If you could change one thing about the online gaming industry, what would it be?

    Greed. Almost every time we hear of a problem with an operator it revolves around greed. This is a very exciting business, and while not everyone will be successful, those that are should remember how they got there.

    If you could have dinner with three other people, living or dead, who would they be and why?

    One of the most inspiring individuals that I would enjoy meeting would be Nelson Mandela. I have been fortunate enough to have travelled to South Africa, (and I am married to a South African), and the changes that he has been able to effect in that country have been truly inspiring, especially when compared to many other African countries and their leaders. Jacques Cousteau is another individual that would be great to have a dinner with – seafood I’m sure – as he was a man that truly illustrated that having a deep passion for what you do can make a difference in countless other people’s lives. Third, and I don’t mean to get sappy, but my father died when I was quite young, and to have the opportunity to share my life with him over a (very) long dinner would be the ultimate dream!

    What are three things that no one knows about you?

    The only green food I like is M&Ms. I used to dive for sea urchins for a living. I coach several soccer teams. Ask me for the juicy stuff when I see you!

  2. #2
    davenewgates's Avatar
    davenewgates is offline Public Member
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    Interesting facts from the fairway affiliate manager. I've noticed this just now, will they be doing an interview every month?

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