The past 12 months has been unprecedented for our lives and our livelihoods. As the land-based gaming industry starts to open up again, we sat down with Tristan Sjöberg, TCSJOHNHUXLEY’s Executive Chairman to get his view on the current situation and how the company is planning for the future.
Q: The last year has produced extraordinary challenges for us all. What were your priorities for TCSJOHNHUXLEY during this period?
TS: First and foremost, we wanted to ensure the safety of our team so we took steps very early on to restrict travel and to move those who could work from home, out of the office. As a global business, there were different timetables for this and over the past year we have seen regions close and re-open and close again due to second and third waves of the virus kicking in, however we have been able to operate continually throughout.
We were very much learning in the moment, having to deal with issues as they presented themselves. We realised pretty quickly that the only way to work in a pandemic is with speed and agility, which played to our strengths – we have a global reach but have flexibility to respond to requirements quickly due to our size and structure. Our manufacturing teams were scaled down but continued to produce products throughout the period to ensure that our customers had what they needed and were able to operate.
I was extremely proud of our teams around the world who highlighted ways we could pivot our manufacturing capabilities to produce much needed PPE. This included everything from disposable face shields for health workers, to fabric face masks for young underprivileged children in order for them to attend school with the right protection.
Q: For those casinos that could operate, what did you do to assist your customers through the crisis?
TS: It was evident that operating a casino during a pandemic meant providing players and staff with peace of mind that their environment was safe and covid-compliant. In the first few weeks our teams galvanised to quickly identify a range of products that would assist our customers to operate with health and safety at the forefront. Thus, the Care & Protect range of Covid-safe products was established. Chip sanitising machines that could sanitise up to 600 chips at a time on the gaming floor were devised, as well as Play Safe Shields that divided player positions on gaming tables, slots and ETG’s. More recently, we debuted the Chipper Champ UV, a new addition to our world famous chipping machine. The in-built UV-C light technology, a proven sanitation tool, automatically sorts and sanitises chips at the same time as them being sorted without any delay to the game, which provides players with peace of mind that their chips are constantly being sanitised whilst in play.
Q: As a result of the pandemic, what short term and long term changes do you see?
TS: We had to make some quite drastic changes to the way we do things during this period, some of which have proved beneficial and will be applied as we start to return to normalcy. We have had time to look at, and refine certain products and services we provide, as well as to streamline operations. Our development teams have been very proactive, using this time to develop new innovations which will start to filter through in the coming months. I believe we will see a lot of innovation this year as many companies have been busy making use of the quieter times when many casinos were closed.
We are working closely with our customers and understand the budget constraints they are currently experiencing. If there is any capital available it is very much focused on revenue generating products or with a focus on security – game protection products, that safeguard revenues. Luckily our portfolio is extensive and diverse enough with many products playing to these strengths.
Once the market recovers, and I’m very confident it will bounce back quite quickly, we are ready and waiting with new innovations.
Q: Do you think the pandemic has altered player preferences / demographics?
TS: I do think player profiles have changed, although there are regional differences. As casinos start to re-open properly we are seeing a shift in player demographics with many older customers choosing to stay away from casinos and younger crowds viewing them as a good place to socialise and be entertained (especially whilst clubs, bars and large venues are closed).
Our focus has always been in the live table games space which includes electronic terminal games (ETG’s), that are preferred by younger players as they are seen as more skill-based and socialable. We see this trend growing and as a result, are focused on developing and building more varied and exciting game content across these platforms.
Our Qorex electronic gaming solutions offer comfortable and covid-secure environments that are particularly attractive to players right now. They allow the player to select and play multiple games all from one terminal without having to move around the casino floor, so being able to expand the game portfolio and offer further choice is where our attention is focused. Watch this space… !