A few months ago, I introduced you to someone we had recently elevated to the rank of director. Today, I’d like you to meet Michael Giunti. I met Michael when I came to Isle of Capri Casinos in St. Louis. Like me, he was a transplant. Unlike me, his move to St. Louis was precipitated by the relocation of the Isle’s corporate offices. It wasn’t until I asked for this interview that I even knew he WASN’T from the South! Michael has once again relocated for a great opportunity. Today, Michael is the director of marketing at our Rhythm City Casino property in Davenport, Iowa.
JC: Tell me a little about your background and what got you here.
MG: I started in the casino industry in 1992 when casinos first opened outside of Chicago, in Joliet, Illinois. I got my first taste of working in this business while I was attending college. I briefly left for a couple of years, but once I came back, I never left again. I have worked with Harrah’s, Beau Rivage and the Isle of Capri in several areas up and down the Mississippi River from St. Louis to Tunica to Biloxi and now here in Davenport. I have worked in about as many areas of casino operations as I have jurisdictions — credit/collections, cage, players clubs, and all areas of marketing including some time with our corporate office as a regional direct marketing manager.
JC: What made you realize this was the right opportunity for you?
MG: Even though I enjoyed my time “at corporate”, I always knew I would go back to a property. I just didn’t know when or where that would be until this opportunity at Rhythm City presented itself. I was fortunate enough to have known the staff here already since I was doing their direct mail for the last couple of years. I knew it would be a great fit. The team is small but efficient and very energetic. They are all talented people. I feel I can learn a lot from them, and I hope to share my expertise with them. This is an excellent property to take the leap into a leadership role.
JC: In the few weeks you’ve been in your new role, what has been the biggest surprise or challenge and how did you handle it?
MG: The first day I started in Davenport I couldn’t find any way into the property because all entrances and exits seemed to be blocked off from the main road (River Drive). No matter where I turned there were barricades that read “Road Closed”. Finally after driving around the barricades I made it to the property. The main road was being resurfaced and that lack of easy access was severely impacting our business. Day 1 and I had a huge communication issue. My team and I had to figure out the facts, a message strategy and the tools we could use. We began to communicate to our guests via email, direct mail and print that we were still open, offering tips to help them maneuver around the barricades to get here. The word got out and the impact has since been reduced because the guests are now educated. To this day, the road still remains closed.
JC: So, you basically stepped in to a role with a support team already in place – with lots of existing ideas and habits in place. How did you communicate your vision to them to gain acceptance?
MG: The first thing I did when I got here (after we tackled the road closure) was to sit down with everyone both individually and as a team to hear their ideas. I wanted to know where they saw the future of Rhythm City going, what they wanted to try and what had worked? Once I met with everyone, I shared my vision to make sure we are all on the same page working towards the same goals. We immediately saw some opportunities with the existing advertising and media strategies and quickly made changes…together as a team. The team aggressively revised the weekday and weekend marketing lineup and implemented many changes, again very quickly. Some have worked well. Some haven’t, but so far I’m excited. We are trying new ideas and promotions. So, we’re learning and growing every day.
JC: What do you see as your biggest marketing challenge on the horizon?
MG: Here in the Quad Cities I believe my biggest marketing challenge is to find ways to continue to compete with the local casinos and without getting into promotional or direct mail wars. Rhythm City Casino has a great staff. It’s a fun..clean..and friendly place, but we don’t have a lot of the amenities other area casinos offer. We need to find more ways to drive in some retail business and continue to take care of our loyal guests to keep them coming back time and time again.
Michael was very generous with his time. He even agreed to reshoot his Get To Know video as part of a brand marketing project. Watch it. You’ll see why we had to reshoot.