Deana Scott, Raving Consulting’s new CEO, will have the option to purchase the nearly 20-year-old gaming advisory firm next year.
The transition will allow Conrad, Raving’s founder, more time to pursue his passion of advocating for the Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation. Raving has helped raise more than $150,000 for the NB3 Foundation to support the nonprofit’s work to curb obesity and type 2 diabetes among Native youth.
Conrad, who is currently serving as Raving’s president and chief strategist, formed the gaming marketing advisory firm 19 years ago, initially as a one-man show. He simply sought to aggregate and package together the best consultants and resource companies for the gaming industry. A Stanford University graduate, Conrad previously held senior level positions at Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. and Circus Circus Enterprises, which was later renamed Mandalay Resort Group.
Today Raving counts more than 20 partners — consultants and resource companies — and 70 to 80 percent of Raving’s consulting work has been, and continues to be, focused in Indian gaming.
The firm is widely known for its conferences and educational programs, namely: Indian Gaming National Marketing Conference, Casino Marketing Conference, Table Games Conference, among several other seminars and exhibitions. “These were always designed to share honest, insider-savvy information,” Conrad says.
The firm recently concluded its 19th Indian Gaming National Marketing Conference, at Choctaw Casino Resort, in Durant, Oklahoma. The event attracted a record attendance of more than 300 tribal gaming executives and suppliers. “It is not as easy to grow revenue as it was 10 years ago, so to survive, organizations need to expand their knowledge and create learning environments,” Deana Scott says. “The conference is designed to allow networking and sharing among attendees. I really saw people taking advantage of that this year.”
From the very beginning, Raving took the time and effort to understand the diversity of Native cultures, tribal sovereignty and gaming’s vital role in that. While some outside advisors come off as “patronizing,” Conrad says, Raving has become a trusted collaborator with tribal businesses.
Through Raving, Conrad created the Romero Awards for Excellence in Casino Marketing and the Barona/VCAT Award for Indian Gaming Marketing, and several other honors and industry firsts. Conrad himself has amassed numerous personal achievements throughout his 35-year career, including a Lifetime Achievement Award for Casino Marketing from Casino Journal in 2015. Yet Raving’s impact on Indian gaming remains one of Conrad’s greatest realizations.
“I am proudest of the honest help we have given to tribal gaming, and the trust and appreciation from the tribes that has come from it,” Conrad said.
Raving’s anticipated next owner, Deana Scott, is a patented inventor and owner of TOD Gaming, with 22 years of gaming executive management experience. She has spent the majority of her career focused in tribal gaming. She holds a B.A.in Communication from Marylhurst University; a University of Nevada, Reno Gaming Management Certificate, a UNR Executive Development Certificate; and she recently completed an Executive & Professional Coaching Master’s Certificate from University of Dallas Texas.
“Through Raving, I hope we can help tribes create programs that truly put membership in management positions,” she says.
For about 20 years, Deana Scott has been a colleague, client, friend, collaborator, and partner to Conrad and Raving. “She ‘gets’ Raving and who we are and what we are trying to do,” Conrad says. “She has been a marketing director, a CMO, a CEO, an innovator, and an inventor. It was probably the easiest decision I have ever made” he said of appointing Scott as his successor. “She is immensely talented and a master motivator, much more so than me. Always hire someone better than you, if you can.”
Scott is aware she has big shoes to fill. “I feel a great sense of honor and responsibility in being given the reigns of Raving,” Scott says. “I think our clients can expect me to keep their needs at the forefront of my decision-making. Raving is a trusted resource in our industry and I plan to use the great foundation to build customized solutions to help our clients now and in the future.”
When Conrad likely hands Raving over to the talented gaming executive, he hopes to strengthen his involvement with the NB3 Foundation, for which Raving has held many fundraisers via networking parties at major gaming tradeshows. For instance, Raving developed the Native Strong Comedy Slam event at the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) Annual Conference; the event raised over $30,000 in just two years. In total, Raving has raised more than $150,000 for the Native nonprofit. “I have been to every charity fundraising event that Notah [Begay III] has done and found a way to raise additional dollars there as well,” Conrad says.
Deana Scott’s husband Brady Scott serves as the CEO of Tribal One Broadband Technologies, LLC, for Coquille Economic Development Council (CEDCO), created by the Coquille Tribal Council. When the Scotts purchase Raving, Brady plans to continue his involvement with the Coquille Tribe, while also assisting Raving in financial and strategic planning.
Deana Scott calls her work with casino clients a “360 Strategic Planning process.” She gathers input from all stakeholders to create outcomes and expectations that can be used within a strategic plan or development project.
Among her many accomplishments, she has created a hotel for the Coquille Tribe. “I met with tribal members, Tribal Council, elders and all departments within the casino to create a development plan for the project. This document became the framework for project documents. The project met the financial objectives while becoming a source of pride for membership and the community at large,” Scott says.
Always forward-thinking, Scott is continually investigating new technology and customer trends, and sharing those findings with Raving clients and conference attendees. She offered some thoughts on staying ahead of the technology curve in the gaming industry and the importance of knowing your customer:
“Our primary product, ‘slots,’ is based on a box and old technology,” Scott emphasizes. “If we are to compete, we must begin to create interactive experiences for our guests where they can engage with our games, and have the social interaction they desire. Properties who use technology to create interactive and customized user experiences have huge potential to increase customer engagement and loyalty. We have to stop looking for the ‘quick fix’ technology solution and start evaluating our properties individually to understand how the customer interacts at our facility and make the experience the best it can be.”